Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Enemy Within

In this past week’s parasha (Va’Yishlach), Yaakov prepares to meet Esau, his twin brother, for the first time since fleeing Cana’an due to the danger Esau posed to him. As he agonizes over the first meeting with his brother in 21 years, Yaakov continually refers to him as ‘Esau, my brother,’ (Genesis 32:18). Why would Yaakov refer to him as Esau and also as his brother? Those around him must have already known that Esau was his brother; couldn’t he just easily have said ‘Esau’ or ‘my brother’? Why both titles? Rabbi Abraham Twerski comments that Yaakov said this because he saw two potential threats: Esau, the man who swore to kill him and my brother, the man whose way of life could turn Yaakov away from the path he wanted to lead. He was wary of both threats and stressed it to those around him. Seeing the enemy, even if he's my brother, is an important part of survival, and this has been rather evident this week during the International Conference questioning the Holocaust in Iran.

On yet another stage where Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that the “Zionist regime [will] soon be wiped out,” the people who stole the spotlight were 6 ‘Jews'. Yup, you read that right, 6 ‘Jews’. In a conference where European and American writers gathered to argue the validity of the Holocaust, 6 members of the ultra-orthodox anti-Zionist Neturei Karta stood out. Dressed in the typical ultra-orthodox garb, they refuse to exactly say what they were doing at the conference but nonetheless, managed to slip in their usual, hate filled, anti-Zionist rhetoric: “It is the work of Satan that Zionists are able to convince the world that they represent Jews and Judaism and everybody who speaks against it is anti-Semitic.” How on earth can Jews attend a conference that portrays the Holocaust as a Jewish/Zionist lie? Despite the presence of famous holocaust revisionists and anti-semites, like David Duke (a former Ku Klux Klan leader) or Michele Renouf (a supporter of "Holocaust skeptics”), the conference's credibility was seemingly legitimized by the 6 ‘Jews’. With their photographs “given pride of place in the Arab media.”, these ‘Jews’ are what really allowed this conference to be a ‘success.’ Still hard to believe that they’re standing with people who want to destroy the Jewish presence in Israel – where do they honestly think us ‘fake’ Jews will be going? Absolute idiots.

I couldn’t care less about Neturei Karta's views about Israel; It’s their actions that I find disappointing and extremely dangerous. Posing with Palestinian terrorists, the Hitler wannabe in Iran and holocaust deniers misrepresents the opinion of the dominant majority of the Jews in the world today. Their actions are dangerous not only because they give the Arabs extra fuel to hate Israel and justify any attempts to attack us, but because they also mislead an already misinformed world about the Jewish stance with regards to Israel & the Holocaust. I guess that’s what ‘Torah abiding Jews’ should be doing, increasing the danger to their ‘brothers’! Their utter hypocrisy is sickening (and rather infuriating to read about). Twerski’s comments about Yaakov’s awareness fit in perfectly here – our enemies are not only the 'taken for granted' ones, they are also the ones who claim to be a part of the Jewish nation and to know what’s best for us.

Three last comments about the conference:
1) It is important that there is worldwide condemnation against the conference. Perhaps now the world can also realize why stopping Iran from becoming a nuclear power is so essential to world stability and Israel’s existence … Words are great and all:

“I think it is such a symbol of sectarianism and hatred toward people of another religion. I find it just unbelievable, really”
Tony Blair

“We absolutely reject this. Germany will never accept this and will act against it with all the means that we have”
Chancellor Angela Merkel

“Conference showed a resurgence of revisionist theories which are quite simply not acceptable.”
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy

“I want to state my firm condemnation of any attempt to deny, trivialize or minimize the Shoah. Anti-Semitism has no place in Europe; nor should it in any other part of the world.”
EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini

But actions would be far more meaningful

2) I think it’s also important to mention the few Arabs who actually spoke out against this conference. Several Arab MKs told the Knesset of their unhappiness with the conference taking place and that they were ashamed of their fellow Arabs for taking part in the conference. Nazir Majali, the Israel affairs commentator for Al-sharq Al-awsat, a daily published in Lebanon, rightly told Haaretz that Iran did a dangerous thing by “using the built-in hatred for Israel ... in order to deny the Holocaust. As an Arab and a Muslim, I am ashamed."

3) The conference actually marks a rarity as I find myself agreeing with Yoseph ‘Tommy’ Lapid, the former leader of the anti-religious Shinui Party. I’m sure those who know me well are surprised by this as I abhor Lapid’s racist and elitist stance on many issues. However, when Lapid called the Neturei Karta buffoons, how can I really disagree?


Daniel said...

Piha, considering that everyone within Orthodoxy knows that that group is baffoons, why should you or anyone be bothered by their presence at the conference? No one takes them seriously in Israel or outside, I think most people -- jews and non-jews know the Holocaust is real. Of course that doesn't mean we should sit silently and let Iran do what it wants or say what it wants -- but to pay attention to six people is a complete waste of energy and time.

Avram said...

why should we be bothered? because the world isn't as educated as some to know how these people are NOT a dominant part of our religion at all ... if we ignore them and allow them to preach their message of hatred etc, they'll make an impact with the people who are looking for reasons to butcher more Jews ... Staying silent is not the way to go - it didn't work during the Holocaust, it won't work as the Iranians plan Part Deux.

Anonymous said...

Avram, once again, we have differing opinions here. I grant that you have brought out the issue and can choose to agree with Mr. Lapid on this group. But, at least Mr. Lapid is consistant with his views; I expected better from you.

What's my problem? I'll tell you...

This group aren't buffoons. That assumes that they are just idiots without harming anyone other than themselves. Until now I MIGHT have agreed with you and Mr. Lapid - Might have...

Not now.

Now, they have moved up the ladder to "negligent" to DARE represent ANY part of judaism and work with avowed enemies of all jews is not mere tomfoolery, it now becomes criminal, not merely idiocy.

As far as I'm concerned, they have made themselves criminally liable to K'lal Yisroel for taking active part in such a dangerous forum. To actually take part in something sponsored by the group that wants you dead goes way beyond idiocy when its not just you that's impacted.

So if you want to say that you agree with Mr. Lapid, Kol Hacavod. I'll remain in my normal position of looking with disdain at Mr. Lapid and all HE stands for as well.


Avram said...

They are buffoons ... and while I was only being 'half-serious' with Lapid, I understand your point of view and the severity of their actions. But you must remember, even in the 'bad' (Lapid's aforementioned racism & elitism), you can find good ... Just like Esau can be lauded for his honoring his father, so can Lapid be lauded for his important role in educating people wrt holocaust (he was a survivor after all)

Anonymous said...

Just remember, Yakov was punished for giving esau respect - by bowing down 7 times B'nei Yisrael had to wait for 7 rulers to rule over Canaan before they could come back into the land.


Anonymous said...

Also, as to his being a survivor and teaching people, I'll make one last lateral comment for your benefit:

When the previous Gerer Rebbe was on his deathbed, the chassidim asked him who to approach for berachos after him. The response was this: "if you see a yid who has a number/tattoo on his arm AND he is putting on tefillin, ask him for a bracha"

I don't think any further explanation is needed.


Anonymous said...

I would agree with you on some points, but as I have said to you, these 'Neturei Karta' have no concept of the essence of Jewdaism so like sbgh613 says... not worth the effort!!

IsraLuv said...

I fail to understand at all where the Neturi Karta come from. There as always been Jews living in the Holy Land regardless of time and who was ruling the land. How can I look at my fellow brothers from the Neturi Karta sect and not feel total and complete hatred for them? It is one thing to be a religious zealot - that I can accept. It makes me angry but if their beliefs come from a true place -that G-d really did not and does not intend for us to live in Eretz Yisrael until the Third Beit Hamikdash is re-built, then I can accept our differences within our nation. But to represent and attend a Holocust denying conference where THEIR OWN families must have been effected by the murdering of 6 million jews - that i cannot and will not accept.
To me these are not Jews. A Jew NEVER turns his back on another Jew. A Jew does not and cannot ignore the terrible events that occured to the Jewish people as a nation.

Avram said...

Mr. Brill - would you had the same attitude with the Kapos were you alive during the Holocaust? These people do not represent us WITHIN our world BUT they are represented AS US in the foreign media and the uneducated masses ... We need to be aware and fight this because the 'media war' is just as important as the 'war' we fight with guns and tanks.