Nevertheless: The Illness & the Remedy

I. The Illness

In The First Tithe, by Israel Eldad, the fearless leader of the Stern Gang laments his people’s response towards British denial of Jewish sovereignty and civil liberties. He describes their reaction as a “nevertheless” attitude, because the people constantly found excuses to continue to work with the British even as it committed egregious civil rights abuses against them. He writes:

The English are ‘nevertheless.’ Yes, they were nevertheless … better than the Nazis. Some compliment! They were especially sensitive about religion and about medicine. Notwithstanding a few cases in which they allowed detained or arrested individuals to slowly die, there were also cases in which they did not allow people to die. I have already noted the futility of searching for a consistency governing their actions. Give them your bodies for their cannon, and your country’s resources for their industry, and they will agree to cure you of the corns on your feet and will allow you to worship your God to your heart’s content. Yes, the English are ‘nevertheless.’

Eldad berated his people for accepting parcels of freedom from the British when it was not theirs to give to the Jews in the first place. Freedom was never subject to what the British did or did not do and was something which the British could never take away from the Hebrew nation. Eldad believed that a people could not merely claim to be free. They had to act in a manner befitting their freed state. Collaborating with the British — whose foreign presence on Jewish soil was itself an immoral act against absolute Jewish freedom — could not simultaneously bring about the freedom of the Jewish people.

I believe this was an astute observation that provides lessons that are relevant today.

The world at large, and, in particular, the West, has maintained a similar position of pandering to the Palestinian Authority (P.A.), a despotic government ruling in Judea & Samaria (a k a “The West Bank”) which calls for the death of all Jews and persecutes its own people. Western nations have accommodated the P.A. because it is “nevertheless” not as bad as its counterpart in Gaza.

The P.A. is the governmental organization presiding over Arabs living in Judea & Samaria. It was established in 1994, with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) consisting as its largest component. Since the P.A.’s inception, it has engaged in promoting vile anti-Semitic propaganda across its airwaves and has called upon its people to attack and murder Israelis. For example, on official P.A. TV children’s television shows encourage children to display racism against Jews, calling them, “barbaric monkeys, [and] wretched pigs.” Moreover, The Telegraph has reported that aid from the U.K. has been used by the P.A. to pay the salaries and bonuses of convicted terrorists. Indeed, in 2005, Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, stated on television that the terrorists should be released from Israeli jails because, “They are human beings, who did what we, we, ordered them to do. We — the [Palestinian] Authority.”

Yet, these terrorists have committed brutal crimes — which include axing elderly Jews to death, mob-lynching of a reserve officer in the IDF and the murder of two friends hiking in the mountains of Gilboa. Such attacks against the Jewish people continue with impunity.

The P.A. continues to receive aid; the P.A. is still perceived to be a “viable peace partner” that Israel should negotiate with. I can hear the constant refrains of “They may do some horrid things but nevertheless, they are not as bad as that detestable government Hamas (with whom the P.A. just entered a unity agreement) which merely commits terror attacks more frequently than the P.A.

Indeed, Western leaders who seek to continue the “peace process” do so by encouraging despots who preach war: receiving Mahmoud Abbas and other members of the P.A. with open arms without holding them responsible for the terror they produce.

But just as Eldad warned his people not to be duped by shoddy promises of liberty from a foreign occupying power, as a citizen of the United States of America, I call to conscience our leadership and implore them to refrain from engaging with tyrants who stand against the moral standards we hold in high esteem. We cannot claim to stand for the principle of justice and simultaneously enable evil by bankrolling the P.A. — which is fundamentally unjust. Doing so is hypocritical and goes against everything we profess to be.

On the question of Israel’s role in this discussion, I understand that this is a delicate issue. Many prominent leaders and representatives in Israeli circles view the P.A. as a necessary evil, and that cooperation with its armed forces provides Israelis with security in the disputed territories. Yet my contention is that in the long run, this arrangement has brought and will continue to bring Israel more despair and vulnerability rather than peace and comfort. Israel enabled the formation of the P.A. when it signed the 1993 “Declaration of Principles” (commonly known as the Oslo Accords). We have since witnessed the horrors of this arrangement.

Caroline Glick, the senior deputy editor of The Jerusalem Post, writes;

“Since 2007, the US has spent billions of dollars financing and training Palestinian security services and transforming them into a professional military. Trained using US doctrine, they are the strongest military force the Palestinians have ever fielded against Israel . . . Moreover, these US trained forces are already involved in terrorism. Over the past six months, IDF commanders have repeatedly pointed fingers at PA security forces claiming that the steep rise in terrorist attacks against Israelis in Judea and Samaria is being organized and directed by them.”

So the same forces that have been partnering with the IDF — ostensibly to ensure security is maintained in Judea & Samaria — are the same forces that have been working diligently to undermine stability in the region.  Benjamin Netanyahu, who would later become Prime Minister of Israel, accurately described the PLO’s real intentions in 1972: “Let’s keep in mind, that what we’re talking about here is not the attempt to build a state, but to destroy one.”
By cooperating with an entity whose ideology is the destruction of the Jewish state, Israel inadvertently confers legitimacy on such a cause. I believe that this is the reason, in part, that Israel is viewed so negatively on the world stage. Israel cannot expect others to believe in her own right to exist when she is willing to permit an entity that works against said right. This is a paradox and is ideologically inconsistent. In accepting, even in principle, the possibility of negotiating with a corrupt regime that desires perpetual occupation of the homeland of the Jewish people, Israel is sowing the seeds of the erosion of her own sovereignty.

Moreover, partnering with the P.A. does nothing to end the rampant child abuse foisted upon young Arabs who are indoctrinated into believing that the Jew is sub-human.

While it may seem that cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian Arab forces helps maintain short-term security measures, I submit that the long term problem of dealing with a generation of men, women, and children raised on hatred has larger, more lasting, negative implications and jeopardizes the superficial safety measures in place. A store owner who is threatened with death by a gang unless he pays a fee is not truly “protected” by that gang. And one cannot truly experience freedom by working with thieves who pillage the land and call for the wholesale slaughter of the free men and women whose security they claim to preserve.

II. The Remedy

In a sermon entitled “But If Not,” prominent civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also used the term “Nevertheless” to teach his congregation a lesson in how to pursue freedom. But in King’s case, he did not use the pulpit to scold the people but rather he exhorted them to maintain their resolve and refuse to ever acquiesce to the wiles of evil men. To illustrate his point, Dr. King expounded on the story in the book of Daniel of the three Hebrew boys who refused to worship the image of King Nebuchadnezzar. Even though such a decision was punishable by death, they were firmly determined to see their actions through:

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this manner.
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
“But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

Dr. King described this kind of faith as a “though faith.” It was a faith whose sacredness would never expire, although persecution would come because of adhering to said faith. It was a faith that was absolute and indivisible.

Regardless of the outcome, the three boys refused to recognize the validity of the kingship and its unjust laws. They did not give in even though doing so would have enabled them to escape death. If they had given in, they would have secured their lives but would have also broken the law of their conscience and conferred legitimacy on an illegitimate ordinance — empowering it in the process. Instead, they refused to worship the image of the dictator. Dr. King gave further commentary, saying:

“There is a ‘though’ faith, though. And the ‘though’ faith says ‘Though things go wrong; though evil is temporarily triumphant; though sickness comes and the cross looms, nevertheless! I’m gonna believe anyway and I’m gonna have faith anyway; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof, the LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”… somewhere along the way you should discover something that’s so dear, so precious to you, that is so eternally worthful, [sic] that you will never give it up. You ought to discover some principle; you ought to have some great faith that grips you so much that you will never give it up.  …  Where you are going this morning, my friends, tell the world that you’re going with truth. You’re going with justice, you’re going with goodness, and you will have an eternal companionship. And the world will look at you and they won’t understand you, for your fiery furnace will be around you, but you’ll go on anyhow. But if not, I will not bow, and God grant that we will never bow before the gods of evil.”

This concept of “nevertheless” as explored by Dr. King is a positive commandment to refuse to give in to those who promote injustice. It is also a reminder that to cooperate with those who perpetrate evil in any capacity is to enable that evil. Conversely, if one refuses to obey an unjust law or collude with an unjust government, those laws and organizations have no power over the dissenting naysayer. He is free and moves of his own volition. This is the true state of liberation.

I believe this is a lesson that both the West and Israel should learn. Indeed, we have seen the painful truth of this lesson manifest in the forces of the P.A. funded by the West which persists in promoting evil, and by the new generations of Arab children who are raised to hate. Our esteemed political leaders have thought that to collaborate would bring about peace. But they have been wrong.

Collaborating with evil never brings about its antidote. Rather, we can only defeat evil by rejecting its proponents outright. We cannot compromise with it, nor should we wish to “reach an agreement” with it, for in doing so we diminish our ability to make distinctions between right and wrong. If we base our decisions on the ostensible material comfort that comes from them, then we are not free. Instead, we become swayed by sentiment; slaves to our passions. And if we base our decisions solely on the opinions of others and the approval of our peers, then we become slaves to public approbation, and lack the courage of our own convictions.

Instead we, as Zionists, must be free both in word and in deed. We must refuse to submit to those who say that peace can only be achieved by cooperating with criminals and assassins who have blood on their hands. Such attitudes are not true, nor, indeed, can they be. Peace is not merely the absence of conflict, but the constant affirmation and pursuit of justice that creates a real synergy between human beings. This is the true meaning behind the slogan, “No justice, no peace!”

Frederick Douglas, an abolitionist and former slave, understood the importance of resisting injustices. He wrote: “The old doctrine that submission is the best cure for outrage and wrong does not hold good on the slave plantation. He is whipped oftenest, who is whipped easiest; and that slave who has the courage to stand up for himself … becomes, in the end, a free man.”

This was the lesson Eldad and Dr. King attempted to teach their people. Freedom does not come bit by bit. As King stated, “It cannot be had in installments. Freedom is indivisible — we have it all, or we are not free.” The P.A.’s existence — with its judeophobic hatred, brutal totalitarianism, rampant corruption and insidious abuse of Arab children — hinders the freedom of both Jews and Arabs. Thus it must ultimately be dissolved.

III. Conclusion
The questions that will naturally be asked both now and in the future are: “Even if you are correct, Chloé, how do we actually go about dissolving the P.A.? ” “What are the proper routes to take?” “How can we even attempt to disband the P.A.?”  “Do we seek an alternative group among the Arabs themselves?” The answers to these questions are important but beyond the scope of this article. I could never claim to know all of them.

There are experts who have written much more extensively on the question of “How?” who are more qualified than I am to analyze this matter. I merely hope that I can provide my readers with the “Why?” At any rate, potential solutions should be debated, analyzed, brainstormed about, and evaluated.

I recognize that there are those who will still disagree with my position on this issue who say that it is “impossible” to seek alternative methods to negotiating with the P.A. because they are the lesser of the two evils. I seek to persuade the reader that this is not the case. It is also important to note, however, that the lesson of Zionism rejects the notion that anything is impossible.

There is nothing impossible for a people who have turned the desert into an oasis. There is nothing impossible for a people who went to battle against seven conquering armies and defeated them all. There is nothing impossible for a people who, with the help of the Almighty, crawled out from under the tyrannical clutches of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Spanish, Germans, British and Arabs to fashion once more for themselves their glorious nation-state.

This people has accomplished wonders before. Surely, they can accomplish wonders again.

This essay was originally published in Israel National News.

About the Author
Chloé Simone Valdary is an expert in Israel-Engagement in the millennial space. As a Tikvah Fellow at the Wall Street Journal, she developed a blueprint on the topic of Israel advocacy on campus -- namely what works, what doesn't, and how to make it better.