IRAN: Will the deal finally end Israel’s policies of restraint?

It’s time for Israel, the state and the Jewish people, to unshackle ourselves from the policies of restraint that enslave us to the UN the EU and the USA. It’s time to internalize the fact that our existence is no longer at the whim of others, or their largesse. It’s time to stop acting as if we had no collective agency; as if we had no country; no IDF; no right to be Jews.

Despite the passing of millennia, I suggest a sliver of slavery remains in our blood that prevents us from acting in our best interest. It’s from the memory of our time under Pharaoh. Every Passover we say, “We were slaves” as if we had been there to remind us of the danger of allowing ourselves to be slaves to others, honouring false gods. Each year we end the Sedar with “Next year in Jerusalem” in memory of the freedom we had for but a moment in time before we were scattered into the wind where we wandered for 2000 years, living under the rule of those who persecuted and prosecuted us, forced us to convert or into ghettos, treated us like second-class citizens in dhimmitude or expelled us from countries in which we had lived for centuries.

Here we are back in Jerusalem, the Jewish capital of the Jewish State of Israel, for which our fathers and grandfathers and forefathers and mothers fought so valiantly. Despite the lessons taught wandering in the desert for hundreds of years, we have enslaved ourselves to others with the shackles of self-restraint.  And I think it began in earnest in Gulf War I (1990-1991) when Israel acquiesced to George Bush and the first coalition against Saddam Hussein.

I was reminded of this when I read “The Oslo Years: A Mothers Journal” by Ellen Horowitz. Israel had agreed not to respond to any attacks on her land for fear of upsetting Arab-Muslim coalition members. I, like millions of others watched this in real time on CNN. “Shock and Awe.” Israelis seeking shelter in safe rooms, gas masks at the ready, their destiny in the hands of America. President Bush himself remarked on Israel’s “Remarkable restraint.”

Did this event lay the groundwork for Israel’s seemingly suicidal tendencies of restraint including the returning of Sinai, the Oslo Accords, the withdrawal from Gaza and the never-ending “peace initiatives” thrust upon Israel?

Ms. Horowitz takes you by the hand and heart to the time of the Oslo Accords. I remember thinking at that time that this must be good, after all right-wing politicians had shaken the hand of the devil, Arafat, reincarnated as the saviour, all the while smiling. What I don’t remember hearing or seeing in the media were descriptions of the terrorist attacks targeting Jewish civilians: from September 4, 1993 when Yigal Vaknin was stabbed to death in his orchard to Salem(Sami) al-Kimlat a Bedouin from Rahat, shot and killed December 22, 2004 while securing a construction site from attack.

Ms. Horowitz wrote in her prologue that she hoped her book would “act as a catalyst to inspire others to write and document a truth that begs to be told.”

It’s taken me 12 years.

We’ve become adept, perhaps too adept, at accepting mistreatment. We remind ourselves at the worst of times that there were worse times. We were slaves: And the best time is to come “Next year in Jerusalem.” So we restrain ourselves, perhaps from the fear of the twisted media reports and accusations of disproportionate response, as thousands of rockets are launched into the country, traumatizing our people for more than a decade, as tunnels are built under the land into our homes and terrorists attack within Israel, kidnapping our soldiers and children, and blowing up babies and mothers on beaches, in buses, pizzerias and at Passover tables-the irony of death at the Passover tables.

And those who wish to do us evil laugh and carry on. Terror attacks on Israel increase as Israel restrains herself. Since September 13, 1993-the onset of the glorious days of Oslo Accords: The Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, more than 1400 Israelis have been killed   and more and  11,000 wounded. From 1948 to 1993 during the many wars and incursions more than 14,500 of our people were killed and 23, 000 injured. From an endangered population of 6 million.

Peace demands a steep price-from the Jews.

Name another country that would have agreed to such things? What other country bows down to the demand of “proportionate response” and restrains itself-to the detriment and safety of its own citizens? Was restraint ever asked of Saddam Hussein?  Idi Amin?  Bashar-al Assad? Where are the calls to Saudi Arabia and Iran for restraint when they murder gays? Where are the calls to North Korea for restraint as it executes 70 officials? Where are the calls to Qatar for the killing of immigrant workers, treated like slave labour? What about calls to Hamas or the PA for restraint when they intentionally target citizens-others and their own?

Where is the outcry against the USA/ Saudi Arabia coalition for collateral damage during their bombing raids against ISIL?

We act as if we live in a Panopticon always under the watchful eye of the jailer and second guess every action we take to the point that we don’t take action for fear of upsetting the jailer-the slave -master. While we remember that we were slaves, let us remember that “Next year in Jerusalem” is here. We are our own masters of our fate-not the UN, the EU or the USA.

I can hear our beloved Hillel screaming to us through the millennia, “If not now O Israel-when?”

We are in Jerusalem. We are on our sliver of land for which our people have shed an eternity of blood. We are free of the fetters of others. Now is the time to free ourselves from our own.  It is time to stand up and demand the respect that we, the State of Israel, the Jewish people have earned. We must not let another generation go by where we willingly restrain ourselves to the detriment of Am Yisrael.

About the Author
Diane Weber Bederman is a multi-faith, hospital trained chaplain who lives in Ontario, Canada, just outside Toronto; She has a background in science and the humanities and writes about religion in the public square and mental illness on her blog: The Middle Ground:The Agora of the 21st Century. She is a regular contributor to Convivium: Faith in our Community. "
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