While pondering with sadness and wasted time and emotions by the continuous bickering and fighting between Jews of different believes, from Ultra-Orthodox in Jerusalem to Ultra Reform in America, I turned to relax watching Youtube. And then Putin woke me up. In a short video, he told a joke about the Israeli military to a small group of his military commanders.
Putin told this story in a joyful mood: An Israeli soldier is asked: what would you do if a group of terrorists attacks you? the Israeli answered with great confidence: I would turn my advance gun on the terrorists and finished them all. What would you do if an armored vehicle will shoot at you? The Israeli replied: “no problem” I will grab my advanced automatic, Israeli developed weapon and finished the enemy on the spot. Then what will you do if a tank arrived? The Israeli s said with a smile: I would use our advanced self-propelled automatic canon and destroyed it; and then if an airplane comes to bomb your community? The Israeli answered I will use our accurate anti-aircraft weapon and shoot it down. But then he asked, what will you do when all of them attack you at the same time? The terrorists, cannon, tank, and aircraft together, so what will you do now?
The Israeli answered, “What do you want from me, I am only one.”
And they all laughed together at Putin’s joke. But we should not!
The story can be interpreted in several ways, what Putin was saying is: the Israeli are so proud of their accomplishments, their military strength and amazing Air Force, but in the end, they are so small and so few, that if they really tried to play in the big league, like against huge countries from Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea or the Russian Army, the Israelis would not last more than a few minutes.
And that is the reality we American Jews must grasp. Israel is much weaker and on precarious grounds than we are willing to grasp. American Jews of all varieties attack Israel for its lack of perfection. For not being in their own image. The fact that it has a large military budget, integration of Jews from many cultures, the rapid population increase, the non-ending Palestinian terrorists, the continuous real but masked fear they have to live under, the threat of Iran nukes and 100,000 Hezbollah rockets. All these are ignored since we do not feel it here in this vast, powerful USA, Israelis want and deserve respect, brotherhood, emotional support, not continuous criticism for not being in their image. Do not compare it to the miserable state the US population is actually in, they expect perfection and unanimity in Israel. They want Israel to be in their image. And they believe Israel can withstand that anger and criticism with ease. Israel is much, much weaker than we think. They mask their own illusion of invincibility. Hezbollah alone can shoot one thousand missiles a day into Israel for several months. And no Iron Dome weapons of any amount can stop many of them. It is not possible.
Under this kind of attack, Israel’s life would be miserable. With a severely damaged Israel that many will escape. And then few Jews around the world could live in peace, both externally or emotionally. We live with a big illusion. It is nice to feel strong, powerful, smarter than Syria, Iraq, Jordan, maybe even Egypt, but Israel can be wiped off the map if it antagonizes any of the real big boys, not the little weak Arab countries or the Palestinians.
And do not imagine that peace is possible with the Palestinians in the foreseeable future. They strive on the hatred of Israel. It is the core belief of Islam that any -one time- Muslim land can never be given away-to eternity. Muslims in Muslim countries are unable to live peacefully in a viable, normal country of their own due to their varieties of beliefs and intense tribalism.
It seems to me that we Jews are one of the most thoughtless people on earth due to our arrogance, and divisiveness due to “my branch of Judaism is superior to yours.” We believe that that is Ok to fight one another, Orthodox KNOW that they are closer to God and their ways are the only right ones. The Conservatives are superior to the Reform who looks down at every other Jews and the Israeli Left is better than the Right etc. etc.
The Jewish people around the world live by the grace of the leaders of the other nations that could change their mind in a second. As Jews, we feel so smug and superior, after all, God gave us Abraham, Moses, and the entire miracle in our history.
But in today’s world, a slight provocation, and mentalities like Iran’s or North Korea could put us into an unimaginable mess. We respect other religions: Christians of all colors, Buddhists, etc. more than our brothers in faith, tradition, and core beliefs. What we share in our tradition, our faith, and way of life are so much wider and deeper than our difference in religious practices. Remember, Jews over the generations were often destroyed because we fought one another rather than cooperated against our enemies.
Is it not about time to mellow down little and realize that the many fractions of the Jewish people have so much more in common rather than the religious practices that divide us? Judaism is wide enough and deep enough to allow us to respect one another at least as we respect Judaism differences from other religions.
I pray we learn to feel and appreciate our commonality and sameness before we are put to a severe test, we may not be able to recover from.