By Moshe Feiglin
Adar I, 5768
Translated from the NRG website.
Have you ever been on a military maneuver, climbed a mountain, and then, as you try to catch your breath, discovered that you are sitting on top of the wrong mountain? I don't think that anybody who has passed through IDF officers' training has not had that experience. After the searing moment of realization sinks in, there is no choice but to go all the way back down and then to climb up the right mountain. One thing is for sure. There are no shortcuts, and before you can ascend the right mountain, you must go all the way back down to the bottom of the wrong mountain.
That is more or less what is happening now in Israel. Two thousand years of exile had passed until we reached the absolute bottom of the mountain - the place where killing a Jew was just like killing a mosquito. And then, approximately one hundred years ago, the Nation of Israel began to search for its fitting place in history. Paradoxically, the very religion that had preserved the Jews during the two thousand years of exile, was perceived during that period as the obstacle to returning to history. The national culture that had contracted to 'religion' when the Temple was destroyed and Israel exiled could not unzip itself like a computer file. Culture takes time, and likely hundreds of year will pass until the Torah will truly be our national culture.
But the historical alarm clock was ringing. It was time for the the Jews to return to the Land of Israel and to become a nation once again. Those who managed to get the most energy together and to begin the climb up the mountain were Jews who had rejected their religion. The mountain that they chose to climb on their ascent back into history was not the Jewish identity mountain. It was the normalcy mountain. It is easy to understand why. They reasoned that they would establish a state just like all the other enlightened states, join the family of cultured nations, be rid of the Jewish exile hunchback and be a nation like all other nations.
The success of Zionism was dizzying. We miraculously reached the summit of the mountain. It was no longer possible to kill the Jews like mosquitoes. Just the opposite. The Jews had learned to be superior warriors.
The ascent had been successful. But more or less about the time of the Yom Kippur War, the first signs that we had climbed the wrong mountain began to appear. It turned out that even after the amazing victory in the Six Day War, the neighbors still did not recognize our right to exist. The anti-Semitism that reminds us of the Judaism that we so wanted to forget and that Herzl promised would disappear as soon as we established a state - simply changed its form. We tried to fool ourselves and flip a different switch. Instead of being a normal nation by conquering the land, we would be normal by surrendering it. We convinced ourselves that the hatred of Israel stems from the "Occupation" and the settlements, and that if we just retreat to the pre-Six Day War lines, we will finally merit our longed-for normalcy. But the more that we destroyed the settlers and disengaged from the land, the more the hatred grew. Worse yet, the price of the blood of our children began to decrease. Currently, the murder of a Jew in Sderot or Ashkelon has once again become a trivial matter which we must accept.
So now what do we do?
For ten years, Manhigut Yehudit has been trying to explain that we are climbing the wrong mountain. When Rabin shook Arafat's hand, we warned that rockets would explode in Ashkelon. When nobody listened, we blocked the roads. Nothing helped. Reality has proven time and again that we were right. But the illusion that we had finally discovered the secret to turning into a normal nation is very strong. Now we are sliding down the mountain, nearing the point at which even here, in the Land of Israel, in our super-high-tech normal state, armed to the teeth - killing a Jew is like killing a mosquito. And the world accepts and justifies it.
I read an interview this week with Professor Ze'ev Tzachor, the dean of the Sapir College in Sderot, where a student was killed by a Kassam last Thursday. (This is the same college at which an Arab lecturer forced a student out of class because he was dressed in his army uniform). Professor Tzachor explained how his British colleagues rationalize the reason for hatred of Israel in England:
"We had dreamed of a place in which the new Book of Books would be written as a prelude to world-wide redemption. After all, you are G-d's treasured nation and the world has expectations. But look at what you have done."
Do you understand? The world does not expect us to be normal! The world expects us to be ourselves and to develop our unique culture so that we can be a source of inspiration and hope for all mankind. In the eyes of the world, when we insist on being 'normal,' we lose our very right to exist!So now we are sliding down the slippery slope. Gush Katif, Sderot, Ashkelon. Everybody knows that sooner or later, it will get much closer to home. But unfortunately, we have not yet reached the bottom of the mountain. When we do get there, we must be sure to begin our climb up the right mountain. Not the mountain of 'normalcy,' but rather, the mountain of Jewish identity.