Closing and opening doors

Rosh HaShanah 5778 has ended. We await the solemn day of Yom HaKippurim, when we atone and are at-one with our inner selves and with our Creator. The doors have not yet closed. They will remain open for another week. Plenty of time to reflect upon the closing of the old year and the opening of a new year.

So many closings. President Trump has closed the Washington headquarters of the PLO. Prime Minister Netanyahu has closed our embassy in Asuncion, Paraguay. President Abbas is on the threshold of closing relations with the United States. And sadly, the supporters of our new and unnecessary Nation-State law are closing the door to equality for our beloved and loyal Druze and Circassian minorities.

We began the new year with only a few openings. President Trump is considering a second meeting with the leader of North Korea in an effort to reach an agreement on nuclear arms.

The Foreign Minister of Iran sent a warm message of greetings to the Jews of the world. Not only to the 8,000 Jews in Iran but to the 14.7 million Jews of the world. In it, he wished us a happy Rosh HaShanah.

We Jews who consider Iran a dire threat to Israel need to separate in our minds religion from politics.

Iran has never been an anti-Jewish country. It respects all monotheistic religions. Jews are free to worship today in their synagogues.  Jewish holy places and cemeteries have not been defiled nor desecrated.  That is the religious side.

On the political side, Iran ,like most Muslim countries, despises Zionism and Zionists. We are regarded as colonialists who have stolen the property of indigenous Palestinians. Teaching the Iranians of our past history from the biblical eras will be to no avail. They know much of our history which was connected with theirs and their benevolent monarchs, Koresh (Cyrus) and Daryavush (Darius) .

And Iranian Jews remember fondly their lives under the rule of Shah Reza Pahlevi, the last king of Iran.

History is often changed by revolutions and changed once again by counter-revolutions. So it was with the birth of the United States, with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, with the separation of the two Koreas, and with the Jewish revolt against the thirty year reign of the British Mandate in Palestine.

Doors close and doors open. We know full well what we have experienced in the year now past. We cannot know yet what experiences the new year will bring to us.

The Arab chill from Saudi Arabia and from the emirates in the Gulf states is beginning to warm up. Meetings and discussions between Israel and Saudi Arabia and Kuwait would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago. And while they have no formal recognition of our statehood, nevertheless they meet and speak with us cordially.

Much credit needs to be given to the tireless efforts of our Foreign Ministry and our Prime Minister. They have successfully proved that we are not a threat to them, that we are not their enemy. That title is reserved for Iran, a Muslim but non-Arab country.

While some doors are creaking slowly to possible eventual peace agreements, I predict that our war with Hamas-led Gaza will continue for too many more years. That door is sealed closed and can be opened either by an internal revolution or by an external war. I would prefer and hope by the former.

On the human side of the Jewish people and nation, too many Jewish hearts have been closed for too many years. Too much antagonism. Too much hatred. Too much lack of respect.

Haredim vs. Hassidim. Ashkenazim vs. Sephardim and Mizrachim.  Secularists vs. the Chief Rabbinate. White Jews vs. Black Jews. Residents of south Tel-Aviv vs. African asylum seekers. Jews vs. Arabs. Arabs vs. Jews. Knesset coalition members vs. Joint Arab List. Joint Arab List against the Jewish State of Israel.

What does it take to open Jewish hearts in the tradition of ahavat achim and rachmanut… love of one’s fellow man and mercy?

Remembering the words of Theodor Herzl, father of the Zionist dream, can aid us in opening closed doors and hearts.

“Im tirtzu ain zo agadah”… if you will it (want it), it is no legend. If you want it and work for it,  it will be.

Hopefully in this new year 5779.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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