The British phrase “Fog in Channel — Continent Cut Off” is well known though its true source, whether in WWII or earlier or later, is obscure (as I have learned from a simple search on the net). This decades-old phrase had been source for much ridicule in the British Isles, more so since some local residents in the then decaying British Empire failed to understand what was so extremely disproportional about this statement, perhaps some not understanding to this day (Brexit…).
I am occasionally reminded of this joke when I consider how the world is continuously monitoring, with a magnifying glass, the Jewish state even in these harsh times in the Middle East.
Why does the world decline to disengage from Israel even now, when fog engulfs us all around?
Why does the world not allow itself even a short moment of pause from that annoying constant monitoring of the micro-management of the Jewish state?
How is it that even now the world does not turn all of its attention to where it is crucially needed, where people are daily massacred, and instead continues to continuously look for minor departures from acceptable standards supposedly taking place in Israel, deviations that pale by comparison?
Before addressing these questions, let us be clear: Claims leveled at Israel worldwide are basically claims for immorality, namely, for not abiding by the Ten Commandments (and derivatives). The claims may outwardly and superficially appear to be of different varieties, like breaking international law, violating human rights or not pursuing decisions rendered by the assembly of nations (supposedly represented by the UN and its various branches). Yet in essence, at their roots, all claims are of same ilk, boiling down to a single reproach:
Why you, the Jews, do not meticulously abide by the Ten Commandments, as you have been preaching to the world for millennia?
The world’s “zero tolerance” to any deviation of the Jewish State from the Ten Commandments (and its moral-related derivatives, as expounded in the Torah and later expanded by Jewish prophets and in Jewish scholarship), has always been for me personally both a source of annoyance and irritation and at the same time also source for hope and optimism.
Let us first address the former. The harsh and constant criticism of Israel is for me, a local inhabitant who has been living in this country since birth, mostly baseless. Not that all that Israel does is right; but the truth is that most of what Israel does is right. And the sense one gets living here is that of constant striving to be a moral nation, striving that is more alive and kicking here than in most other nations of the world. This is particularly extraordinary given that Israel is required to face a disproportional share (relative to other nations) of moral issues, forced on it by its unique circumstance as a state established to absorb people returning to their ancestral homeland after being absent from it for two millennia. This unique circumstance poses non-routine moral issues to political and military decision-makers, pertaining to Jews and non-Jews alike (like the uprooting of Jewish families from the Gaza Strip in August of 2005). And these moral issues have to be struggled with on the backdrop of a hateful environment, consisting of non-sympathetic neighbors that for over a century now daily challenge Israel’s very existence and very right to exist. A direct consequence of the hateful environment in which Israel exists occasionally causes security needs and human rights to be incompatible with one another, something that a non-resident of this country, monitoring Israel from afar, often fails to understand.
So why is Israel so exceptionally singled out of all nations, even today, and why does the world fail to “disconnect” even when fog is all around us?
Here comes my sense of hope and optimism, particularly for us in Israel, who are at present witnessing firsthand, with a growing degree of apprehension, the growing fog assembling on all of our borders.
Singling out Israel as an object for continuous monitoring and criticism by the world is nothing new. In fact, it had been prophesized long ago by prophet Zechariah (believed to have been prophesizing at the end of the sixth century BCE, at the time of building of the second temple):
“Behold I will make Jerusalem a cup of poison for all nations around it…and on that day I will make Jerusalem a burdensome rock for all the nations; all that burden themselves with it will surely be injured…” (Zechariah 12:2-3).
If this vision of the prophet is unfolding in front of our very eyes, when Israel, with Jerusalem under Jewish rule, has become a “burdensome rock” to incessantly engage the world, perhaps some other prophecies, predicting a more hopeful and tranquil future, may also come to pass in front of our very eyes:
“And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills; and all the peoples shall flow unto it. And many nations shall go, saying; “Let us go and come up to Jehovah’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths…; they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation will not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they train for war anymore” (Isaiah 2: 2-4).
Given the dark clouds assembling in the Middle East, with “the world” still unwilling to let go of constant monitoring and harsh criticism of Israel, perhaps these two prophecies may serve as some source for comfort, hope and optimism.
Let it be.