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Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Tough Luck, You Lose

By Moshe Feiglin


The journalist who visited Karnei Shomron intended to write an in-depth article. He wasn't interested in details of the Likud Conference and didn't even mention Rabin's murder. He asked substantive questions and our conversation became increasingly serious. "You say that Sharon is incapable of extricating us from the crisis", the journalist stated. "So who is capable? What's your alternative?"

"No current politician, whether from the Left or the Right, is capable of confronting reality", I replied. "They lack the tools to understand reality, and certainly those needed to deal with it. This is the same as expecting a Chinese person to analyze a text written by Agnon in Hebrew."

"So what's the solution?" he added.

"The solution is to establish a Jewish State here", I replied.

"You mean an Halachic State?"

"I don't know what an Halachic State is. I haven't come across halachot related to running a country in the Shulchan Aruch and, unfortunately, the world of the yeshivot has not developed such halachot over the course of the last two thousand years. No, I don't mean an Halachic State. I mean a country that is constantly aspiring to implement its Jewish identity.

The role of Manhigut Yehudit is merely to indicate the way. The process will take place by itself. We have to make every effort, because the faster we advance, the more blood and bereavement will be saved."

"How will a Jewish State solve the problem of terror?", the journalist continued to ask.

"The fundamental solution is based on the fact that when we realize what we are doing here - why we came and why we must remain - we shall radiate determination, and the belief that we are right. The other side will then automatically lose its hope of expelling us. Furthermore, the Israeli Army will act in accordance with Jewish moral principles, instead of adopting the false Western-Christian morality. When we understand that this is our country we shall have no inhibitions about expelling those who challenge our sovereignty and are doing their best to destroy us. We shall not only pursue the direct murderers, but the entire supporting neighborhood will pay a heavy price. In short, a Jewish State that believes that it is in the right can overcome its enemies."

"I understand", said the journalist. "But you know, I have a problem. Actually, you've got a problem. I'm not religious. I'm the eighth generation of my family in Israel, and my grandfather was a Rabbi in Tiberias, but I don't believe in all this. Hebron means nothing to me, and as far as I'm concerned it's OK to exchange Eastern Jerusalem for peace. So what can you do with someone like me who prefers Israel the way it is? I don't want your Jewish State."

I didn't really believe what he was saying. He didn't seem to me to be a strong supporter of Tommy Lapid. It seemed more likely that he was protesting in order to induce me to make an interesting remark for the interview. I thought for a moment what to answer him.

"Tough luck, you lose", I said to him in the end.

"What do you mean, 'You lose'?", he asked in amazement.

"Look", I replied. "The current issue is not peace or war. We are at war whether we like it to not. The real issue is the identity of the state: Shall we have a Jewish State, or one of all its citizens. Those who wish to eliminate the Jewish identity of the state are also those who wish tirelessly to get rid of the territories associated with our Jewish identity: Shechem, Hebron, the Temple Mount. In contrast, those who hold on to their Jewish identity are also holding on to Eretz Israel. The greater their personal Jewish identity, the deeper their link with, and hold on, the country."

"Your problem is that because Israeli consciousness lacks identity you are incapable of facing up to reality. You board a bus and don't know if you'll get off it. You enter a coffee-house and they check to see if you're concealing a bomb in your shoe. The IDF enters Gaza and then withdraws, and the Kasam missiles continue to fall on Sderot. It's only a question of time until the Hizballah starts bombarding Haifa - and the average Israeli has no answer. Your life is slowly becoming uncertain. You don't change your plans when you hear of a terrorist attack, you don't even stop eating a hearty meal when you hear that another bus has been blown up. This is somewhat reminiscent of what happened to the Ghetto Jews - after a certain stage they became used to the dead bodies surrounding them."

I let the journalist absorb my words, and then continued: "You were in exile for two thousand years. Every time you encountered a similar situation you got up, packed the contents of your home into a suitcase and made your way to another country. Now you have citizenship, but the State of Israel has removed your option of receiving a UN refugee's certificate. In short, you're stuck with your Israeliness and your life is rapidly losing its meaning, in the physical sense also.

The question whether we will have a Jewish State or a state of all its citizens, whether to be Jewish or Israeli, is no longer a theoretical one. This is a question of life or death. You have no option of choosing whether to be a Jew or an Israeli. The question that is becoming increasingly more clear, is whether to be a Jew or not be at all. "It seems that we are once again in a situation in which we are faced with no real choice, as at the time when the Jewish people received the Torah on Mount Sinai: Either accept your Jewish identity, or be buried here (or, as expressed colloquially: tough luck, you lose)."