Solzhenitsyn comes to Gaza

I was feeling a little aggravated and depleted after having missed my flight from Miami to Tel Aviv via Toronto (due to ridiculous Canadian visa requirements). Only a little aggravated, since I had managed to resolve the issue relatively quickly and cheaply via Frankfurt. I was making my way to an available seat next to a cell phone charging station (one of the most in-demand locations in the terminal) when I passed close to a regular young mild and intelligent looking fellow and a second after passing him reflected upon the one word that I suddenly thought I may have heard him utter…..’murderers’…

‘What?!’…’surely not’…..was it my yarmulke/Jew/Israeli appearance that had brought out the popular contemporary liberal associative expletive label?

I’m not a naturally confrontational person from a starting position, so there was virtually no chance that I would pursue him and confirm this, but an immediate anger began to well up in me and I could imagine screaming at him hysterically and coming to blows and spending a night confined to Miami, which I had only recently managed to avoid with the change of my airline ticket.

Even if I was mistaken and I sincerely hope I was, it is entirely feasible that this is what he said given the current social and ‘intellectual’ climate in America today. And so I was left to reflect more rationally.

And what could/would I have said/liked to have said? ‘Well, not as much murderers as you guys who dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and carpet bombed Dresden’.

And of course common to these instances, the basic rationale is the Talmudic dictum

‘׳הבא להרגך השכם והרגו or very crudely put, ‘kill ‘em before they kill you’.

It was estimated by the military experts at the time, that a mainland invasion of Japan by Allied troops in 1945, would have been at the cost of a million soldiers’ lives. Soldiers who were also sons and husbands.

Our Gaza border situation is no different as we well know. Let them in and the loss of life on both sides will be much greater.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn delivered the Commencement address to Harvard University in 1978.

In that address, Soltzenetzin harshly criticised modern American society and badly ruffled feathers, particularly those of the liberal press. What he said then remains startlingly relevant.

‘The notion of freedom has been diverted to unbridled passion……..

A sense of responsibility before God and society has fallen away. “Human rights” have been so exalted that the rights of society are being oppressed and destroyed. And above all, the press, not elected by anyone, acts high-handedly and has amassed more power than the legislative, executive, or judicial power. And in this free press itself, it is not true freedom of opinion that dominates, but the dictates of the political fashion of the moment, which lead to a surprising uniformity of opinion’.

(And so the liberal press prattles on mindlessly….)(my comments in parentheses)

‘The reigning ideology, that prosperity and the accumulation of material riches are to be valued above all else, is leading to a weakening of character in the West, and also to a massive decline in courage and the will to defend itself,….not to mention a perplexity in the face of terror. But the roots of this social condition spring from the Enlightenment, from rationalist humanism, from the notion that man is the center of all that exists, and that there is no Higher Power above him….

(I have long contended that the smug arrogance of the liberal ‘intelligentsia’ is rooted in basic ‘apikorsus’ so evident too in the hubristic attempts to manage the earth’s climate).

Solzhenitsyn concluded with the following dramatic prediction…

If the world has not come to its end, it has approached a major turn in history, equal in importance to the turn from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It will exact from us a spiritual upsurge: We shall have to rise to a new height of vision, to a new level of life where our physical nature will not be cursed as in the Middle Ages, but, even more importantly, our spiritual being will not be trampled upon as in the Modern era.

This ascension will be similar to climbing onto the next anthropologic stage. No one on earth has any other way left but — upward’.

And so, my wayward friend, you are simply the victim of a society in a state of decline, lacking any clear moral direction or courage. You are part of a far greater community afflicted with a pervasive epidemic of political correctness, which entirely inverts good and evil. Terrorists and murderers are hailed as heroes while heroic soldiers protecting themselves and others, are labelled ‘murderers’.

I no longer find this (at least potential) interaction that surprising, and do not side with those who blame the bias against Israel on Israel’s weak efforts at public relations. (I believe the forces of anti-semitism and general ignorance to be much greater a factor).

I do fear that just as ancient and modern civilisations declined and collapsed through moral decay, we too remain prone to such and that the story isn’t over yet…

About the Author
Rabbi Larry Shain headed up Ohr Somayach of South Africa for 30 years and now resides in Ramat Bet Shemesh with his family where he is Rov of the Carlebach Shul and Menahel of Yeshivas Ateret Yaacov.