It is the fifth week of the war named: Iron Swords by Israel and Operation Al-Aqsa Flood by Hamas. Whatever the title, the unforgivable atrocities perpetrated by Hamas brought a monsoon of fire and brimstone that could be called; Apocalypse Now, upon them. The grief, pain and stress are palpable everywhere but so is the feeling of solidarity. The threat of escalation in the northern border hovers menacingly. Last night on the news there was a report that some of the Wagner brigade are now stationed in Iraq. The axis of evil appears to be lining up. On Thursday afternoon I went grocery shopping while my youngest daughter was at her violin lesson. Usually she’d take the bus, but I now prefer to chauffeur her rather than worry about her safety.
The greatest propaganda tool in human history also known as the Internet has now turned against Israel and as expected is mostly sympathetic with the innocent civilians of Gaza. The Free Palestine narrative is enthusiastically supported by various influencers and celebrities who have the power to sway public opinion with hollow mantras and empty slogans like: From the river to the sea. The people of Israel are now one big grieving but closely-knit family. At the funeral of a soldier buried at midnight a few days ago in Jerusalem, more than ten thousand total strangers from all over the country and from all sides of the political spectrum joined in grief and wept for Staff Sgt. Roi Wolf z”l, a fallen hero. His death, along with all the others has increased our love for each other, their sacrifice is a symbol of all that is good and pure in the Jewish people.
I’m in a state of constant prayer and dialogue with our holy father in heaven, so I’ve been thinking about my actual father as well. He has been gone for almost thirty years, but I still remember watching the news with him during the Yom Kippur War on the BBC. He was a tall, handsome and charming gentleman. He spoke seven languages fluently and was a painter who studied with Oskar Kokoschka. In his mid-fifties, after fathering seven children from three wives, my mother being the third, he moved us from Zichron to London and became an antique dealer. Most of his clients collected Judaica but he also specialized in Gothic and Baroque Christian art. His father who was murdered at the Gestapo Headquarters in Munich in 1938, had owned The Neue Gallery in Salzburg before the war, and so my father had been exposed to and inspired by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. I would often go to auctions at Sotheby’s with him. I’d learn a lot and laugh even more. Whenever he was asked what sort of art he traded in, he’d quip: “Everything is for sale but the children, the wife has a limit.”
My father had either a Yiddish expression or joke ready for almost every situation. He never told a joke outright, but only if it was apropos something that reminded him of it. Whenever he would see an ärgerlich programme -aggravating news item or a biased anti-Israel Panorama debate, he’d say: Der Olam ist ein Golem– the world is a Golem. In Hebrew the word Golem means a Pupa, as in, the third stage of the metamorphosis of a butterfly. The word is also used as a childish slur and means stupid dummy. The most famous Golem is an artificial being or creature in Jewish folklore created with practical magic from clay, by the Maharal of Prague. Based on the idea that life can be fashioned from dead matter through alchemy, the myth of the Golem dates back to the Kabbalah the code of Jewish mysticism, which is as old as the bible. It was probably the inspiration for Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, who was 19 years old and pregnant when she wrote it . The Golem was also a famous German silent horror film.. I suppose that my father meant it more like the saying usually attributed to Wallis Simpson: The masses are asses. I’ve never seen greater proof of this than on Tiktok and Instagram in recent days.
The Free World led by President Biden is now beginning to push for a humanitarian ceasefire, and this reminds me of a joke my father often told: Two Jews sit on a bench in Regents Park outside the Zoo in London, and one says: ‘Moishe, did you hear that the Pandas have mated for the first time in captivity?’ And Moishe answers: ‘Tell me Itzik, is it good for the Jews or not good for the Jews?’ This was his attitude to basically all the news, and I can appreciate this more than ever today especially when it comes to the United Nations.
I think that David Ben Gurion got it right with his famous expression Um Schmum. UM is the acronym for the UN in Hebrew Umot Meuchadot, it is like saying Oedipus Schmoedipus. It is hard to take the UN seriously when we see they have appointed the Islamic Republic of Iran as the chair of the UN Human Rights Committee. It appears that Hamas has successfully brainwashed the western world into believing that terrorism can be justified. On October 30th Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk openly stated: The tunnels in Gaza were built to protect Hamas fighters, not civilians; protecting Gaza civilians is the responsibility of the U.N. and Israel. Antonio Guterres has more or less become the spokesman for Hamas. It has become obvious to most Israelis that we should just ignore public opinion and get on with the job.
I believe that this war should be called : Milchemet HaToda’a– The War of Perception, as this is the greatest challenge the people of Israel and world Jewry now face. Saturday night it was reported that Israeli intelligence had helped thwart several terrorist attacks about to be executed in countries all over the world. It highlights our destiny and ultimate purpose. On Friday I noticed the Ynet headline quoting Yossi Cohen, the former Mossad chief, confirming my suspicion about the situation with the hostages. He said: We are negotiating with Satan and we will have to pay a price. I feel we’ve already paid a heavy price and wonder what else they will demand. I guess he meant, evil will always demand an extortionate price.
This evil showed its true face when last week the Givati unit led an operation to capture the central base of Unit 17 of Hamas in Gaza. Hundreds of stone-throwing women and children came out of a building acting as human shields for the terrorists. This story was not reported by the foreign press, probably as our boys did not massacre the innocents but were badly hit in the trap set by Hamas. My heart breaks for those women and children who are obviously victimized as much as our beautiful soldiers who will forever see their faces in nightmares and struggle with the ability to feel fully alive. It seems that when Israel tried to create a path for the civilians of Gaza to go from the Northern to the southern part of the strip, the engineering corps vehicles and the mobilized civilians trying to escape were shelled by Hamas terrorists. And just when I thought it could not get more horrific, my housekeeper who is from Dalyat-el-Carmel, a Druze village nearby, told me that on Saturday night, two men, who were eventually apprehended, tried to steal the body of Lt.-Col. Salman Habaka a Druze fallen hero, out of his grave to hold it for ransom. They are not just evil, they are macabre.
When my father retired, he went back to painting and in 1984 he did a series in oil of biblically themed scenes. The one I have hanging in my home is of the prophet Samuel taking King Saul’s crown as despite God’s command, Saul had shown mercy and compassion which prevented him from killing Agag, the King of the Amalekites. I am not surprised that the world has turned on us, just by how quickly it has happened. The call for a humanitarian ceasefire is asking us to have compassion for the undeserving. I hope that this time we will not fall for it as we are forewarned about the danger posed by our bleeding hearts. My older son came for dinner on Friday night and told me that on his Instagram feed he could tell that his New Age spiritual friends now seemed to be in crisis, unable to sum up any empathy. I told him to google: New Age Nazis for the reason and that Rabbi Elazar said: He who has mercy on the cruel, will end up being cruel to the merciful.
In IDF intelligence there is an expression: Daa et Ha’oyev– know the enemy. In biblical analysis the hateful enemies of the people of Israel are considered eternal , reincarnating and possessing different forms or individuals throughout history. Yet, they are always the same souls who possess new bodies or nations. Esau, Ishmael and Amalek. To cut a long story short; we are told that initially Esau will battle Ishmael and then they will join forces and turn on Israel together. Israel will stand alone and be saved by God until the Lost Tribes return, a story that makes Game of Thrones seem like a snooze fest. I feel a bit like Rabbi Akiva who laughed when he saw the foxes running through the burning Temple, as if the prophecies of destruction were true, then so would the prophecies of redemption come to pass.
Golda Meir said: We want to live. Our neighbors want us dead; it leaves not much room for compromise. When Zvika the father of a boy being held in Gaza was asked how he imagined the release of the hostages, he answered: I imagine a fantastic script, something unrealistic, something miraculous. I am praying to God for a miracle and for the IDF or the international community to get it done and Bring Them Home Now.
Am Yisrael Chai