Monday, January 12, 2009

The Audacity of the Yefe Nefesh

This past January 8, 2009 Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) blasted Cardinal Martino, the Vaticans Justice and Peace Minister for his outrageous remarks about the Israeli incursion into Gaza. Martino apparently compared the conditions in Gaza to a concentration camp reminiscent of the Nazi regime. Hikind was upset by the remark – I wasn’t. Hikind reacting to Martino said:

“I cannot recall a single instance in the last four years where Martino voiced any concern about the daily barrage of rocket and missile attacks against Israelis, or the suffering they have endured at the hands of these terrorists, Hikind said. The comparison to Gaza…is extremely offensive to the memories of the millions who were slaughtered….”

As I said I do not share the same disappointment in Martino’s remarks as Hikind because oddly enough I find something comforting in the consistency of the Vatican. The same position was expressed in July 2006 when the Pope denounced Israel.

Then Cardinal Angela Sodano said “the right of defense on the part of the state does not exempt it from its responsibilities to respect international law, particularly regarding the safeguarding of civilian populations”. Where was the Vatican in 1943? Why was there no concern then for the safeguarding of the Jewish populations of Europe? What about the Europeans wringing their hands over the civilian population in Gaza. How do they sleep at night knowing that the Jewish blood on their hands has so saturated their skin it will take centuries to purge? How dare they or the Vatican express their opinion about human pain and suffering, especially when it was their knowing and complicit hand that contributed to the pain, suffering and murder of my people?

If we have learned anything from our recent history it is that Jewish blood comes at a premium, a very high premium. Under normal circumstances one could say that your blood isn’t redder than mine. But this adage cannot be applied to us. We are Jewish and held to a different standard – a higher standard by the gentile world. We’re expected to take the moral high ground even when our children are being blown to bits; our cities are being rocketed or our civilians targeted by deranged suicide bombers. If we are held to this higher standard I would submit too, that our blood is redder and comes at a very, very high premium. Our enemies must realize that to exact our blood will cost them ten and twenty fold.

We aren’t Christian and we don’t believe in turning the other cheek. It isn’t one of our ethics. On the contrary we believe in taking the initiative – if we feel threatened we have the moral obligation to terminate the threat. The Talmud TB Sanhedrin 72a sums it up succinctly when it ruled: “Im Ba L’hargecha, Hashkem Laharog” If someone attempts to kill you, forestall and strike first. It is an act of self defense. There is no discretion here. I don’t need Alan Dershewitz’s hechsher that the IDF’s reaction was within the accepted norms of proportionality. In this new equation proportionality is not a factor – not if it is the destruction of my people sought by the enemy and their enablers who voted them into office.

I have however another issue with Hikind’s reaction to Renato’s despicable remark. Why didn’t Hikind choose to critique Renato and not the Yefe Nefesh and the J Street pac. Their remarks after all aren’t that much different than Renato’s. They paint a graphic picture of the IDF charging into Gaza, guns ablaze with the force that the Wehrmacht attacked the Warsaw Ghetto: a picture of the suffering old and feeble Gazans; defenseless women and children at the mercy of the brutal IDF. Are these not the same Arabs who dance in the streets every time a Jewish mother and child is blown up by one of their terrorists or suicide bombers? J Street of course has gained much support from some of our liberal rabbis and Jewish leadership, the Yefe Nefesh.

Rather than waste time and go after the Renatos of the world, Hikind ought to invest his energies on our own miscreants, the Yefe Nefesh. They are potentially very destructive because they feel they are on a mission of “tikun olam”; even if that means degrading the strength and security of Israel. The irony is that they would prefer to spread love and kindness, not at their expense, but at the expense of the Israelis. How noble! Sad it is that they forgot the most important mitzvah – more important than tikun olam – Ahavat Yisrael.