Israel politics has known a lot of name-calling. I suppose there’s name-calling in almost any political arena anywhere in the world. But here in Israel many times it has somewhat racist overtones.
Way back in 1981 during an election campaign in which Menachem Begin was up for re-election, an Israeli actor named Dudu Topaz, who later committed suicide in prison after having been charged with assault, during a pre-election speech, used the word chakchakim to describe Israeli Jews of an oriental origin, in other words Sephardic Jews from Tunisia and Morocco and other such places. It’s a very derogatory term and the use of this word to describe them could be understood as a very kind of racist remark, dealing with a very large number of Jews that live in Israel.
A few years ago during the previous previous election campaign an artist named Y, Garbuz referred to the same group of Jews as mezuzah kissers and also made very derogatory remarks dealing with religious Jews, particularly those of the Sephardic tradition, again from the same origin, from Tunisia and Moroccans and others.
And this week we will were treated to similar headline news when a former head of the Israeli Security Services, Shabitai Shavit, labeled the same group of people who voted for Binyamin Netanyahu, as people without any sense whatsoever and having the intellect of a lawn. Here again, extremely derogatory, racist remarks.
One of the leaders of the Labor party who was number three in the labor list for the last elections and is now campaigning to be the head of the Labor party, a woman named Stav Shafir, said that she agreed with and supported exactly what he said.
There was though, another phrase that Shavit was quoted as having said.
Most all of these people, who have been labeled as having little or no intelligence by the racist Israeli left, are usually right-wing, or center-right, and are very traditional or religious. One of the main things that that they all believe in and support is that of the right of the Jewish people to live in all the land of Israel, as Hebron as Tel Aviv as Be’er Sheva as Haifa as Jerusalem, all of Jerusalem and Beit El.
Shavit said that the Eretz Israel, the land of Israel, as spoken about by Betzalel Smotrich who is one of the heads of the unified Jewish National Party, he, Shavit, wouldn’t stay there, even for one moment.
I think that this is very possibly or even very probably, the main focus of all of these derogatory remarks. The remarks are anti- religious and racist, but are also directly opposed to the rights of Jews to live in the land of Israel.
This Shabbat we read the weekly Torah portion about how Moses sent 12 Spies to seek out the land of Israel and see where the strong points were, to see what the weak points were, to see who lived there, to see what kind of land it was, what it grew. And of course, we all know the end of that story when 10 of them came back and claimed that the Israelites in the desert would never be able to conquer the land because it was a land of giants, a land that eats and swallows its residents.
As a result of these statements, because of the slandering of the land and because the people of Israel in the desert cried and believed the spies there was a decree by Hashem that this would remain a day of infamy throughout history.
And as we know, many many horrible events took place on this day, the 9th of Av, such as the expulsion from Spain in 1492 on this date, as were the destruction of the first and second Temples and to the best of my recollection World War One also started on this day.
One of the ways to rectify this sin, this terrible rejection of the land of Israel is of course to express the exact opposite, to express our love for the land of Israel and not just to talk about it but to do it, to live here, to continue to have our families here, to continue to do whatever is necessary in order to be able to stay and live in all of these very very special places. This is in our land.
However, there are still people who continue to act as did the spies and reject the notion of Jewish presence in the land of Israel, in all of the land of Israel. Shavit and his cohorts reject the concept of a State of Israel throughout all of the land of Israel.
We continue to witness throughout the Israeli left a desire to chop up our land and to abandon it to our enemies. This is of course an ideology that goes straight to what the spies said and declared.
Fortunately we know that the majority of Jews living today in Israel reject this idea of giving away our land, abandoning it to our enemies. The idea of a so-called Palestinian state is slowly but surely disappearing and eventually will fade away into infamy. For this notion is a direct result of, and continuation of what the spies wanted to do 3,500 years ago when they rejected Jewish presence in the land of Israel.
Our job is to continue to strengthen our presence everywhere in Israel, be it here in Judea or be it in Samaria or in the Benjamin region or in Tel Aviv, or wherever, we must continue to strengthen our presence as This Is Our Land. It was given to us by God. We have known this to be our land since the days of Abraham when he lived here and when he was promised that his offspring would return after being in Exile. We’ve come back home to stay, despite the words of people like Shavit and Garbuz and Shafir and others that use racist remarks to describe people of faith. Not only to slander people, but also to reject our land. These remarks are made by a very few and they will eventually disappear. For the ideas behind them will be defeated. We know that our strength is in our faith, in our rejection of the slander of the spies, and our remaining in our land forever.