Tuesday, August 9, 2011
A world without Israel?
Why do we “afflict” ourselves for 25 hours when we have returned to the Jewish state and built a wonderful country from the ground up?
Each year in recent times, as the ninth of Av approaches, we ask the question: How can we sit and mourn for Jerusalem, when the city has been so magnificently rebuilt? Why do we “afflict” ourselves for 25 hours when we have returned to the Jewish state in amazing numbers, and built a wonderful country from the ground up, with a superb army, world-class universities and a brilliant economy? Has Tisha Be’av become passé? These thoughts were reinforced last week when my wife and I took a Segway tour on the newly-refurbished Armon HaNatziv promenade. Led by our expert guide Chaim, we beheld a magnificent view of Jerusalem rebuilt, with its many sparkling new neighborhoods against the ancient villages and walls of the Old City. From that elevated view, one can truly appreciate how unique our Jewish capital is, and how it so brilliantly melds the past and the future.
Yet despite all this, I will still recite lamentations on Tisha Be’av; I will still add the somber Nachem plea for consolation to my prayers. Not only in remembrance for the spiritually-elevated world, centered around the Temple, which vanished when Jerusalem was destroyed (twice); but also for the shuddering thought of a third destruction, God forbid. For only when we force ourselves to consider what the effect would be of another Holocaust – this time on Israeli soil – can we begin to relate to the destruction that was visited here.
And so, with apologies to the History Channel’s “Life After People” series, I ask you to gather up your courage and consider A World Without Israel.
THIS SCENARIO – may it never come to pass - occurs sometime in the future.
The combined forces of Syria, Hezbo- Lebanon, a radicalized Egypt and an only semi-reluctant Jordan – spurred on by the Palestinian masses, now fully under the sway of Hamas – have flooded Israel with millions of combatants.
After bombarding the Jewish state with tens of thousands of missiles, causing hundreds of thousands of Jews to flee (no easy task after a shell-shocked Ben- Gurion airport is closed), Arab mobs have crossed our borders, overwhelming the courageous but hopelessly outnumbered soldiers of the IDF. The smell of victory finally in their noses, the Arabs reject all international calls for a cease-fire and unleash a brutal assault on the civilian population. The government considers using nuclear weapons, but the enemy is already within the gates, and the Opposition effectively blocks the proposal.
Independent Israel, as we knew it, has ceased to exist.
Three months after Israel: The last pockets of Jewish resistance have been brutally suppressed. Thousands of Jewish fighters, summarily executed for carrying arms, are slaughtered in the public squares. MKs – present and former, including Arab MK’s – having been charged as war criminals and accomplices to genocide, are also killed.
(Pointedly, the first to be shot are members of the Israeli Left, who zealously defended the Palestinian cause .) The haredi population is not spared; they, too, are slaughtered, despite their protests of being apolitical. Only a handful of Neturei Karta are left unharmed – a reward for their strident anti-Zionism through the years.
Six months after Israel: Hundreds of thousands of Israelis, seeking asylum, find they have no place to run. The Arab League has ordained an oil embargo against any country opening its borders to survivors. The EU has declared a moratorium on all immigration, wishing to “carefully study the situation before inflaming any further passions.”
Even those holding American passports are barred from entering the United States if they have resided in a war zone during the past year, in the interest of “national security.”
Meanwhile, those Jewish homes still intact are given to Palestinians, while their former residents are placed in refugee camps, now called “holding centers for foreign workers.” Starvation and sickness are rampant, as the UN finally decides it will no longer be administering the camps.
One year after Israel: Judaism is no longer acknowledged as an official religion in the new Palestine. Jewish practice among the skeleton Jewish population is permitted only in private, and even then is subject to constant harassment.
The last remaining synagogues – branded as “centers of terrorism and racism” - are consecrated as mosques, in line with Islamic law forbidding any non-Islamic places of worship on “holy ground.” While most churches are similarly converted, several of the more famous ones are designated as “museums” and “cultural attractions” so as to continue to attract Christian tourists.
The most dramatic moment comes when the Western Wall is dismantled, stone by stone, as the foundation is laid for the Grand Al-Buraq Mosque.
Western criticism is muted.
10 years after Israel: Diaspora Jewry, devastated by the loss of Israel, is in a state of rapid decline. In-fighting within the shrinking communities pits those whose love for Israel still lingers against those who blame Israel’s founders for having established the state in the first place and bringing such destruction upon the Jews. The American administration, anxious to maintain ties with the ascendant Islamic world, categorizes Zionist organizations as “harmful to American interests,” and forbids their funding and publications. Jewish schools continue to operate, but their curriculum is subject to constant inspection and are carefully monitored for signs of “subversive” activity.
50 years after Israel: As world economies experience a deep decline, democracies declare a state of emergency.
Jews are scape-goated and subjected to increased discrimination.
Pogroms break out in several countries as Jews are accused of parasitism and disloyalty. All Jews aged 18-25 are drafted, with no exemptions or special privileges.
For their own protection, Jews are moved into closed-off sections of major cities, and their contact with the indigenous population is limited. The lack of Jewish influence and the absence of a homeland leave Jews exposed to every form of abuse.
100 years after Israel: Intermarriage among Jews now exceeds 80%. The combination of high costs and low demand results in only a fraction of Jewish children receiving a Jewish education.
In the Middle East, internecine fighting between Arab nations over the past three decades has left the region in shambles. Palestine, with no natural resources and no wealthy donors, has become bankrupt and largely desolate.
The once-flourishing agriculture is but a memory, as fertile fields revert to wilderness.
In secluded places across the world, small groups of Jews gather to discuss the idea of returning to Zion and reestablishing a land of their own, a place where they may again walk proudly with their God. They decide to meet in a special assembly, which they will call “the Herzl Congress.”
Can it happen? I think not and I pray not. But I certainly will not take this great country, or Jerusalem of Gold, for granted.