Alexander Branover

Emulation Game

The events of October 7th, 2023 have not only altered our understanding of reality but have also presented a rare and genuine opportunity to witness and replicate processes previously confined to the pages of literature, online archives, or movie theaters. I would posit that the past three months have provided an emulation platform, allowing for a swift and vivid depiction of a reality that was unforeseen or unknown to most of my contemporaries, especially the younger generation.

The pundit’s perplexity over the possibility of a Holocaust in the 21st century has been demonstrated by crystal-clear indifference among the overwhelming majority of those around you today. It is not excessively challenging to envision a comparable level of silence should actions against you intensify, much like they did 75 years ago. Additionally, the silence has been augmented by the prevailing fear among the Jewish population in the Western hemisphere to venture outside their comfort zones of spiritual support for the State of Israel, lest they compromise their security and well-being.

Contemporary antisemitic groups, openly thriving within educational institutions and fueled by radical left ideologies and an influx of oil money, mirror movements orchestrated and implanted by communist parties and security services in the Eastern Bloc and non-aligned countries over half a century ago.

Drawing parallels to the TASS broadcasts in the summer of 1982, which consistently labeled Israeli forces as ‘Zionist invaders’ fighting the Syrian army, PLO, and Amal gangs (massively shelling Israeli towns across the border and involved in cross-border raids that triggered Israel’s invasion in the first place) in Lebanese Tyre and Nabatieh, BBC, NPR, and Al Jazeera now collectively accuse the IDF of combating genocidal Hamas terrorists in and around Khan Yunis and Gaza City. The shared traits in tactics and objectives have turned this “honest reporting” into a contemporary emulation of a not-too-distant past.

Soviet anti-Zionist Jewish committees, meticulously curated by the propaganda machine of the USSR Communist Party in their perverted portrayal of the Zionist movement as the modern-day Nazis, have emerged as the moral forebears of groups like ‘Jewish Voice for Peace,’ ‘IfNotNow,’ or publishers like Judith Butler, Masha Gessen, and others. The latter ignore the barbarian nature of the genocidal enemies the Jewish people are in a fight with, adopting an equidistant pseudo-intellectualism (quoting Russian-Jewish author Victor Shenderovich), and even echoing chants (‘not in our name’) like those used by their ideological ancestors, albeit in different languages and through distinct communication channels. Contrary to the traditional once-a-month Soviet TV broadcasts spreading lies about world Zionism, the so-called ‘un-Jews’, a term coined by Nathan Sharansky and Gil Troy in 2021 to describe those attempting to delegitimize Israel and Jewish peoplehood, now disseminate disinformation through widely used social media platforms while maintaining a similar underlying message.

The claims made by conspiracy theorists, asserting that the Israeli government contrived to lure Hamas into the October massacre to justify subsequent counteractions, bear resemblance to the mindset of Sep 11th apologists or those who quoted and promoted the “Protocols of Zion Elders” a century earlier, as evidence for most of the current or upcoming world cataclysms.

We found ourselves living in a reality where millions around the world openly revile the only Jewish state—a landmass equivalent to New Jersey—that is currently engaged in its second struggle for independence, as well as those who follow their traditions and remain loyal to the ancestral homeland.

How do we confront this challenging reality? By participating in our own emulation game. It’s crucial to identify the right reference point—an individual whose approach, actions, and mentality is worth emulating.

Abraham, the forefather and the first patriarch, comes to mind—a leader who operated in a much tougher environment, navigating a grossly corrupt, idolatrous world on the edge of moral disintegration. Not only did Abraham act in accordance with a moral code (some 600 years before the code was presented on Mount Sinai in a human-digestible form), but he also achieved a monotheistic comprehension—a feat that would have merited the first Nobel Prize, had such prizes been awarded for breakthroughs made more than thirty-eight centuries ago. Inherently associated with the virtue of mercy (“hesed” in Hebrew), he advocated to save the morally corrupt and doomed people of two cities slated for destruction.  Abraham also resorted to the use of deadly force when necessary to safeguard his extended family (his ‘moral bubble’) as he did to defeat the army of Chedarlaomer to rescue his nephew Lot.

In an act of unfathomable wisdom, Abraham purchased the Cave of Machpelah (in Hebron) as a burial place for his family, thereby establishing a legal possession act for the Jewish people—a step followed by King David in legally acquiring Jerusalem from the Jebusites, and by Zionists officially purchasing an uninhabited, desolate and malaria-prone land in the 19th century outskirts of the Ottoman Empire.

This column does not delve into an analysis of whether the world is at a stage akin to Sodom and Gomorrah. In my view, it hasn’t reached that point, but the tangent is nevertheless dreadful. Moreover, determining such a stage is not within our purview. Emulating Abraham entails exercising freedom of choice guided by a moral code, wisdom, and a set of beliefs in a morally challenged and justice-deficient world. It doesn’t involve persuading the world into better understanding but rather making principled choices. Emulating Abraham also means disregarding calls from egregious human rights violators or sidelining renegade politicians, some of whom have furthered the reality we are facing now and fail to grasp their irrelevance.

For the past three decades, a recurring sentiment has suggested that Israel’s propaganda efforts have struggled, leaving the information war dominated by entities that demonize and vilify the Jewish state and its people. While recognizing a discernible shortfall in how Israel shapes its global narrative, I question the feasibility of prevailing in the information war through conventional means – essentially, operating in the same space as those seeking to demonize you.

In most sciences, one typically addresses the issue at its source, figuratively trying to present the source with a set of facts to change its understanding or actions. In the reality we live in, this would be tantamount to boiling the ocean. Trying to convince millions with our moral compass is impractical and is not meant to be the force shifting the narrative. In Abraham’s times, this approach would not work, even if Abraham engaged in practicing it for 175 years of his blessed long life.

Rather than addressing external sources, Abraham elevated the world by taking independent action. Speaking in the Cartesian terms, Abraham forced the world to follow him by adding a new vector to the already existing multi-vector system governing the lives of each individual. Emulating Abraham means following our code, setting a moral trajectory, and demonstrating steadfast adherence to these principles. This includes wholehearted support for the State of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces, and the Jewish People, regardless of how unpopular or uncool it may seem. It requires stepping out of the grey area, making our principles clear and resolute, and acting accordingly. Emulating Abraham also involves applying these principles on an individual or communal level, rather than expecting a top-down or third party-driven transformation of reality.

Our principles and moral stance, including the necessity of using lethal force, may not be immediately understood in a world deeply immersed in wokism, and adoption may take time. It requires persistence and courage to make the right choice, rather than the much easier path of conformity.

The freedom of choice is a fundamental virtue in Judaism. Making moral decisions based on principles deeply embedded in our DNA and upbringing may be a solitary endeavor. It is much easier, or seemingly more secure, to side with popular voices (like ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’) and act in the same field with those who are indifferent to our cause at best or demonize us in many other cases. Serving as an uplifting factor for the world is a challenging task, requiring courage, moral integrity, and determination. Abraham undertook a much more difficult mission in a world on the edge of moral collapse, acting alone. Following his lead is an emulation game for the Oct 7th generation.

About the Author
Alex Branover is a father of two, residing just outside Boston, MA. Professionally, he serves as a Senior Fellow at AMD (Advanced Micro Devices). Alex holds a Master's degree in Computer Engineering from the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion). Beyond his professional endeavors, Alex is a co-founder of the Torah Lovers Club of Greater Boston, dedicated to promoting Jewish education and thought within the community. He contributes blogs and columns to the online editions of the Times of Israel and IsraelHayom. In his leisure time, Alex is an avid skier.
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