The Times They Are a-Changin’

Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call. Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall. For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled. There’s a battle outside and it’s ragin’. It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls, for the times they are a-changin’! – Bob Dylan

The divorce, apparent 68 years ago, is coming. American Jewish guilt swept it under the rug for a while, but with the election of Barack Obama as president, the rupture came out of the closet. Israel and non-Orthodox American Jews are going in two different directions. And in Israel, the secular kibbutznik Left is losing its power and control to a significantly more nationalistic Jew.

After the last Israeli election and creation of the latest Netanyahu coalition, a liberal Jew lamented how right-wing the coalition was. I responded that it’s the most leftist right-wing government you’re ever going to see in the future. It was the leftist, non-Orthodox Rabbi David Gordis, uncle of Rabbi Daniel Gordis, who wrote in Tikkun, “Israel’s accomplishments have been remarkable … its scientific and educational achievements have been exemplary. In spite of these achievements, however, Israel in my view has gone astray. … Sadly, after a life and career devoted to Jewish community and Israel, I conclude that in every important way Israel has failed to realize its promise for me.”

He is honest, and certainly not alone. Reality can be tough on Americanized Jewish liberals. The Left is losing control in Israel. I have heard this sentiment from many Americanized Jews, both lay and clergy. The schism became undeniable with the 2008 election of Barrack Obama. It was crystal clear that Israelis didn’t trust him, as reflected in his 10 percent approval rating at the time. But Americanized Jews dismissed Israel’s concerns and voted for him by a 78 percent margin. Spitting in Israel’s face, 400 mostly Reform rabbis signed a public petition backing Obama – as if their members needed reminding to vote Democratic. And if that election wasn’t dismissive enough of Israel’s concerns, the 2012 American Jewish vote was reportedly at 69 percent despite their awareness of Obama’s overt anti-Israel bias. The non-Orthodox vote alone (the largest Jewish constituency) was probably closer to 80 percent. It takes a great deal of chutzpah for comfortable, non-Orthodox, Americanized Jews, sitting 6,000 miles from the hellholes and terrorists of the Middle East, to tell Israelis what to do. But amid their arrogance and ignorance, their non-Orthodox rabbis can always provide a reason to find the inspiration.

In 1852, the Frenchman Ernest Lahranne, in his book, The New Eastern Question, accused the “socalled progressive Jews of indifference to the fate of the Jewish people; for whenever a project for the restoration of the Jewish state is being considered, they display towards it a naiveté that neither does credit to their reasoning power nor to their heart.” In his 1997 essay, “Against Ourselves,” Boris Shusteff notes, “It is painful to read Lahranne’s words and to realize that the ‘progressive’ Jews of our days are no different. The simple truth is that under the façade of their ‘progressiveness’ there is always a subconsciously hidden attempt to escape from their Jewishness. They use beautiful words and convincing arguments to prove the necessity of fighting for somebody else’s abstract rights instead of proudly defending their own. … They rush to a cosmopolitan universe, where all the uniqueness of the nations disappears and where they can call themselves citizens of the universe.”

Alan King, a strong supporter of Israel, gave an interview in London on his way back from Israel. The British host asked him, “Aren’t you an American? How can you have two loyalties? It’s like being in love with two women.” And King, not missing an opportunity, replied, “That’s right. America is my wife, but Israel is my mother!” Embedded in every Americanized, non-Orthodox Jewish mind is the reality that at any moment the accusation of dual loyalty can arise. As Abraham said to Ephron in Hebron at Machpelah, “I am a resident … but I am also a stranger.” So we are! And nothing accentuates it like Rosh Hashanah. Our New Year’s Day 5777 falls on October 3. The American New Year’s Day is January 1. Celebrate and enjoy, but understand that although Jews in the state of Israel and their nonOrthodox, liberal American mishpachah may celebrate Rosh Hashanah together, the truth is that the once strong, unbreakable connection has weakened significantly—and the problem is not “that right-wing extremist Netanyahu government.”

Americanized, non-Orthodox Jews have repeatedly insisted that Israel be both Jewish and democratic. Be careful what you wish for, lefties. Recently driving through Tel Aviv, I noticed more men wearing kippot, and certificates of kashrut on the windows of restaurants. Walking down to the renovated Tel Aviv port’s new mall area filled with trendy new shops and restaurants along the boardwalk, I noticed four restaurants grouped together, and oddly enough for lunchtime, two were quite full while the other two were pretty empty. I asked the hostess at one of the nearly empty restaurants if I could get a table. She said no problem, but then explained that it wasn’t kosher—and with that, I understood the problem. But the odd thing was that there were plenty of bare-headed men eating at the kosher restaurants! The Food section of Ha’aretz recently noted, “Whether it’s been a deliberate trend or just a coincidence, over the last couple of years a lot of Tel Aviv restaurants have taken pork off their menu. This has occurred at upscale establishments like Hamizlala and Toto, popular spots … and trendy eateries like Zozobra. … The Bulgarian restaurants in Jaffa haven’t gone kosher, but you won’t find pork there anymore.”

Ha’aretz also reports that 38 percent of all Jewish couples in Tel Aviv and Haifa have no children, while in Judea/Samaria the average number of children is five. I find that hard to believe since I have a lot of friends in Judea/Samaria and no one I know has only five. Seven or eight seems the norm.

A July, 2016 Wall Street Journal headline jumped out at me: Jewish Baby Boom Alters Israeli-Palestinian Dynamic. “Usually, as countries become wealthier and as women become more integrated in the workforce, fertility rates plummet… But in Israel, even as per capita income soared above the European Union’s average over the past decade, families began having more children. … Jewish birthrates in Israel have spiked while Arab birthrates in the Palestinian territories … have declined.” In 2015, there were 176,000 Jewish births versus just 37,000 Arab births. It would seem that Israel’s Jewish question will not be a problem in the future, and since these babies are being born to more nationalistic couples, Israel’s Jewish and nationalistic character is now a verifiable work in progress. When the Oslo Accords were signed on September 13, 1993, 110,000 Jews were living in Judea/Samaria, excluding Jerusalem. Today, over 450,000 Jews, both secular and religious, live in Judea/Samaria. It is the fastest growing population area of Israel.

As Israel’s demographics are changing, so is the makeup of its various institutions, most notably the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). At a wedding my wife and I attended in Tel Aviv, the groom had invited his platoon — over two-thirds wore kippot as they danced and celebrated. On a recent FIDF mission, our group met three Israeli F-15 pilots – two of the three wore kippot. There was a time when the kibbutznik officers berated the Orthodox for not serving in the army. Now these same kibbutznik officers are berating the army for becoming too religious. Arutz Sheva reports that 87 percent of yeshiva-track soldiers go into combat units.

Because of the kibbutznik officers at the higher ranks, kippot-wearing soldiers often took longer to climb up the chain of command. Nevertheless, it is now happening—which prompted IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan to state, “If there is something that scares me about the memory of the Holocaust, it is the identification of horrifying processes that occurred in Europe in general and Germany in particular – 70, 80 and 90 years ago – and finding evidenced of them here among us, today, in 2016.” Speaking at the Massuah Institute for Holocaust Studies, Golan declared, “There is nothing easier than hating the other. There is nothing easier than raising fears and sowing terror. There is nothing easier than becoming callous, morally corrupt and hypocritical.” Golan goes on to call for Holocaust Remembrance Day to be a “national day of atonement” for such acts as “intolerance, violence, self-destruction and moral deterioration.” Even Joseph Aaron, uber-leftist editor of the Chicago Jewish News, quickly adds, “His words, not mine.” Even Aaron couldn’t run far enough from Gruppenführer Yair Golan’s stupefyingly disgusting accusation that Israeli society, government and the IDF somehow remind him of Nazis – and this on Holocaust Remembrance Day. I guess Golan hasn’t seen enough Jewish bloodshed at the hands of knife-wielding Arab terrorists who praise Allah as they stab soldiers to death in the streets and slaughter Jewish little girls asleep in their beds. Perhaps former prime minister Ehud Barak can explain his demented warning that the Israeli government has been “infected with the seeds of fascism.” (Times of Israel, 05/20/16).

J. J. Goldberg wrote about an evening in 1987, early in his reporting career:

I was working late in the newsroom … when the phone rang. A deeply agitated woman … wanted to alert us that the Jewish community center had just hosted a speech by a Palestinian terrorist. The speaker urged Israel to “give in to the PLO. He said Israel should be talking to Arafat, that murderer.” I expressed concern… Did she know the speaker’s name? Yes, she said, she had written it down: Yehoshafat Harkabi. I didn’t have the heart to tell her who Harkabi was: a former chief of Israel’s military intelligence, a onetime senior adviser to Golda Meir. … Of late he had written a series of books arguing that Arafat and the PLO had changed direction… (What Israel Means To Me, pp. 157-8)

And yet again from the deranged, elitist, kibbutznik, leftist mentality, former Mossad director and IDF Major General Meir Dagan, interviewed on Israel’s Channel 2 shortly before his death, admitted to committing espionage:

Dagan revealed that in 2010, he went behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s back and informed then-CIA director Leon Panetta that Netanyahu and then-defense minister Ehud Barak were about to order the security services to attack Iran’s nuclear installations. Panetta … substantiated Dagan’s remarks. … Dagan’s actions and his justifications for them indicated that he trusted Panetta, and through him, Obama, more than he trusted Netanyahu… (Caroline Glick, “The Fruits of Subversion,” 05/12/16) Shameful is too kind a word for his actions.

So, the non-Orthodox Jews on the American Left and the old secular kibbutzniks on the Israeli Left have much in common as they feign concern about Israel’s future as democratic and Jewish. Secularized Jews really couldn’t care less. The truth is that in Israel today, more Jewish babies and more kippot are creating a more democratic and more Jewish Israel. As I said, be careful what you wish for. Even liberal Rabbi Danny Gordis recently wrote that the reason why North American Jews are increasingly alienated from Israel lies “not in the political makeup and policies of the current Israeli government,” but in contemporary American Jewish life being “less religious, less observant, less knowledgeable, less committed, and more intermarried. Consequently, if anything is to be ‘blamed’ for the increasing estrangement, it is not what Israel is doing or not doing, but rather the fundamental deterioration in American Jewish identity.” He got it right. No pun intended.

Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova, 09/30/16

Jack “Yehoshua” Berger

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About the Author
Educated as an architect with a Masters in Architectural History, Jack Yehoshua Berger became a practicing architect and real estate developer. In his late 30's he met a Rabbi who turned him on to the miracle of Israel and he began learning how the amazing country, against all odds, came to be the miracle of the modern world.