Thursday, April 28, 2011

Feiglin: The Dangers of Make-Believe

Moshe Feiglin
Manhigut Yehudit
24 Nissan, 5771
(April 28, '11)

Rabbi Moshe Talbi, may G-d avenge his blood, was murdered on the same day that the bomb exploded near Jerusalem's Binyanei Ha'umah. His body was discovered near Revava in the Shomron. The police hurried to announce that he had committed suicide, opened the roadblocks that had already been put into place and caused immeasurable pain and grief to the widow, orphans and murder victim's relatives and friends. Actually, after the Arabs murdered Rabbi Talbi, the police murdered his memory once again. The beleaguered family, however, did not give up. They hired professional investigators, who brought undeniable evidence that Rabbi Talbi had indeed been murdered. This week, the police were forced to re-open the conveniently closed Talbi file.

"The IDF rightfully relates to the incident as a serious mishap and not as an act of terror," the Ha'aretz editorial explained how to relate to last week's murder of Ben Yosef Livnat, may G-d avenge his blood, in Shechem.

The approach that shows understanding for the murder of Jews and places the blame on the victims is not new. "What were they doing there in the first place?" asked former Labor party minister Chaim Bar Lev after six yeshiva boys were murdered in Hebron back in the eighties.

"He went to look for a bargain on eggs," PM Yitzchak Rabin scoffed after Chaim Mizrachi, may G-d avenge his blood, from Beit-El was murdered while trying to do business with his Arab neighbor.

In all these cases, reality was studiously disregarded. Let us claim that in one case the victim committed suicide, in another it was his fault in the first place and in a third that he was being greedy (and that he deserved what he got). We will hide behind sophisticated technology and we will make believe that there is no problem at all.

The pathological response that avoids the truth at all costs, blaming the victim to ensure that the facts do not get in the way of our perceptions - is not new. It is the same pathology that motivated a group of local celebrities to declare 'Palestinian' statehood in Tel Aviv last week. The flip side of the same pathological coin invents dubious solutions for Israel's security, like missiles against missiles instead of exacting a steep price of our enemies every time a rocket explodes in one of Israel's cities or towns.

This mentality reminds me of an article that I wrote over five years ago:

He had come for a visit in Israel, and we met in a Jerusalem hotel. We talked about Jewish identity, my analysis of today’s reality in Israel, about the need for belief-based leadership that can deal with the challenges facing our nation. We also talked about how hard it is to change the public’s perspective on reality – even when time and again the facts disprove the illusion. We talked and talked. The man had a remarkable grasp of the truth and I hardly noticed the time that had passed. Unexpectedly, he turned silent. He looked out the window and his eyes misted over. “I want to tell you something,” he said.

“It was Shabbat, and I was in the synagogue with my father. Our seats were near the center. Mine was an aisle seat. It was the central synagogue. The congregation prayed fervently and a warm atmosphere of holiness enveloped us all. True, there were a lot of rumors that had reached the Jews of Hungary, but nobody took them seriously. We relied on our rabbis, our community leaders and politicians. Life seemed stable and reassuring.

Suddenly, the door burst open. A black specter stood in the entrance. I was a young boy, and I thought that it was the angel of death. It was dressed in rags and looked like a skeleton that had re-emerged from its grave. The words of our prayers hung in mid air. Everybody gazed in horror at the figure in black. It ascended the synagogue platform and banged on the table. ‘I escaped from there,” rasped the specter. I escaped from Auschwitz to warn you. Your leaders do not want to meet with me, so I came to speak with you, dear Jews, directly.’ And then he began to scream, ‘Run away! They are burning all the Jews with gas!!!’

My entire body shook. I clutched my father’s hand, mesmerized by the ghastly scene just three steps away from me. The synagogue leaders hurriedly ascended the platform, gripped the hands of the poltergeist and dragged him, screaming, out of the synagogue. As they passed me, the specter touched me. Later, I, myself, was in Auschwitz. But the horrific smell of that man as he was being dragged away has remained etched in my memory forever.” (Excerpted from: The Specter in the Synagogue, June 2006 by Moshe Feiglin)

We have not learned the lesson of the Holocaust. The attempt to buy quiet by ignoring the tragic situation of those who find themselves on the front lines always leads to widespread tragedy. The destruction of Gush Katif was preceded by the destruction of the home of Livnat Ozeri, widow of Nati Ozeri, may G-d avenge his blood, who was murdered in his Hebron home by an Arab terrorist. Just two short months after the murder, the widow and her five small children were driven out of their home by Israel's police on a cold, rainy night, and dumped on a sidewalk in Jerusalem. Their home was destroyed. The faith-based public by and large ignored the outrage.

Avoiding the facts and shirking responsibility for our war against the murderers of Jews only tightens the international noose around Israel's neck. When the IDF insists that the murder of Jews in Shechem is nothing more than an unfortunate mishap that does not require it to hunt down the murderers - the lives of Jews in Tel Aviv are in danger.

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