The God factor
A major difference between the two sides involved in the ongoing conflict in Gaza is that while Hamas is fighting for what they believe to be a sense of justice, Israel is fighting to restore calm (“quiet will be met with quiet”). Moreover, although we can say that Hamas’s justice is warped or based upon lies and evil, it doesn’t matter. They believe in something and they’re ready to die for it while the Jewish leaders of Israel, descendants of spiritual giants who brought faith and monotheism to the world, for the most part don’t believe in anything beyond achieving peace and quiet in order to live a comfortable pseudo-American lifestyle.
Unfortunately, this outlook on the part of Israel is not new and in fact was partly responsible for its unilateral disengagement from Gaza nine years ago. In addition to the obvious connection between the mistaken claim that Israel’s security would improve as a result of it removing all Jewish presence from Gaza and the Hamas missile threat that has intensified ever since – a strategically costly blunder that those responsible for its promotion have yet to apologize – there is another sad irony from that affair which is directly related to the current hostilities.
While in the present situation many Jews living close to Gaza are choosing to flee of their own volition, as part of the Disengagement Israel decided to forcibly remove thousands of Jews from their homes. What is more, unlike those who are currently abandoning their homes, those who were expelled from Gaza were for the most part faith-oriented people who had a strong sense of mission and therefore didn’t budge despite all the hardships they endured at the hands of the Arabs. Once they were removed, however, the soft underbelly of Israel became fully exposed to the Gaza menace with the understandable result that many normal, everyday Jews have simply packed up their bags and headed north.
This tragic lesson should be remembered the next time the Israeli authorities want to systematically crack down on the “hard-core settlers” in places like Yitzhar or Bat Ayin since any attempt to weaken those Jews with the strongest of faith will only help our enemies.
In light of the above, it’s becoming clearer every day that what is sorely missing from Israel is the “God factor”. In other words, although some of us remain individual “religious Jews” in our own private lives and in our own limited world, the broader nation is not jointly striving to be holy or united around a higher mission. As a result, God is relegated to the realm of the individual which is essentially a continuation of Judaism of the exile.
A case in point is the fact that in the endless press conferences and news reports over the past two months the word “God” was conspicuously absent from the lips of nearly every Israeli politician and media commentator. For them God is simply irrelevant on a national level.
Unfortunately, without ideas such as the “will of God” or the collective mission of the Jewish people having any bearing on the decisions of Israeli leaders or on the subsequent direction of the nation, Israel will forever be stuck in a box of “they kill, we kill, they kill” with no way out.
With the influence and power of Islam growing in the region and in the world, Israel is literally digging its own grave by continuing to forsake God, the same God who brought his people home after a long and bitter two-thousand year exile.
(Author’s note: Although this article was written before last week’s ceasefire, the point is still relevant.)