21 Adar 5776
March 1, 2016
Last night Ora and I attended a ‘sheva brachot’ – a wedding party for a newly married couple. Being that the Purim holiday is just a month away, we sang Purim songs. Just as we were finishing one of them, its words dealing with how the Jews overcame their enemies and won, and as a result, many of their foes were killed, there was a sharp knock on the door of the apartment. Then, without warning, a large group of Israeli security forces burst in, screaming, ‘everyone with hands up. Down on the floor!’ Having little choice, but also little room, everyone obeyed, squished together, not having any idea what was happening.
Then, one of the officers pulled out a recording machine and played back the song we’d just sung. In an accusing voice, he declared, ‘this is incitement to kill. You are all arrested.’ And with that, they started handcuffing, and legcuffing us all…
Well, it actually didn’t happen that way, but I cannot say that the thought didn’t run thru my head. Over the past few days, numerous military orders were renewed against Jewish youth, strictly restricting their movement for the next four to six months, without any recourse, any attempt to defend themselves. At the same time, inciters, such as Arab instigator-terrorist – Issa Amru here in Hebron, and Yehuda Shaul, head of Breaking the Silence, continue to walk around freely, totally unrestricted.
OK – after that first paragraph, let’s move on to more serious matters.
I’m sure everyone’s aware of the fact that at present, major companies around the world are trying to invent new products. International conferences take place, with thousands attending, to get a first look at the ‘latest thing.’
I am aware of such a project, not yet announced publicly, but very much in the works. It really isn’t a new invention, rather a renovation, with major changes, in an age-old idea.
For sure, all of you reading this have heard of such a place – that is, a zoo. Almost everyone has visited a zoo, at least once in their lifetimes. At zoos, people walk around, visiting caged animals of all kinds. Kids usually really have fun.
Well, an Israeli entrepreneur has decided to revamp this concept, and is reportedly investing a tremendous amount of money to ensure its success.
The idea behind his proposal is actually quite simple. Rather than have people walk around, tiring themselves hour after hour on their feet, going from cage to cage to see the animals, this businessman has a revolutionary idea. He is going to encage the people, and have the animals stroll around, visiting them. That way the people will see everything without any exertion on their part. Different kinds of enticement will be utilized to make sure that all the animals visit all the cages (divided by age, sex, nationality, etc).
Of course, the caged people will be required to remain caged for a period of time. After all, it won’t be possible to change them on a daily basis. As the animals continue to wander around, they will get used to seeing the same people and will undoubtedly get used to them and become friendlier as time goes on.
This major new project is on the verge of beginning, in the very near future, here in Israel. The Prime Minister is backing it 100%. He spoke about it not too long ago, reflecting on how the state of Israel will be totally surrounded by a wall. All Jewish communities and cities in Israel will also be encircled with fences, thereby preventing, in his words, the wild animals’ from have access to Jews. We will all be inside the barred cages of the ‘zoo,’ while our neighbors, the ‘wild animals’ will be outside, looking in.
Ok, so now, really seriously…
Earlier this week I read a fascinating article on the first established ghetto in the world. To my embarrassment, I had no idea where the first ghetto was, and when it came into being. The CNN article dealt with the marking of five hundred years since the inception of the first ghetto, in Venice, Italy.
The word itself is an offshoot of the Italian word ‘geti,’ where, five centuries ago, Jews were forced to live. At night the area was locked down, but during the day Jews could leave, as long as they wore a badge, identifying them as Jews.
That’s where it began, and continued throughout Europe, until Napoleon initiated breaking down of the ghetto walls.
But the insignia continues, through the present, most recently with the EU, and US decisions, to mark Jewish products produced in Judea and Samaria (including major parts of Jerusalem) and the international BDS anti-Semitic (pre-Jihad) activities.
So, what will be five hundred years from now? Will future media mark the establishment of the new, self-imposed Israeli-Jewish ghetto-zoo, with the Jews inside, and the ‘wild animals’ in the words of Netanyahu, on the outside, looking in?
This is absurd. But it’s happening.
At this point, concluding, I am forced to reiterate what I’ve told people, so many many times, in the past. When we sing the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah – ‘the Hope,’ we recite the words, ‘to be a free people, in our land.’ Which land? The verse continues, Eretz Tzion, Yerushalayim – The land of Zion, Jerusalem.’
So we’ve got to decide. Are these words only symbolic illustrations of an idealistic concept, or do we mean to live them, as a reality?
As far as I know, from what I’ve studied over the years, we came to Israel to escape the ghetto, to make sure that Jews are never again zoo-like creatures, with our revolting enemies, seeking our annihilation, watching us from the outside. We cannot be a ‘free nation in our land’ enclosed, fearing the ‘wild animals’ just waiting to pounce.
Our policy must not be self-Zooism, rather it must be – I repeat, must be, one whereby those creatures are enclosed within the cages, or perhaps, as sometimes happens with dangerous animals, driven out of striking distance, while we, the Jews returning to Eretz Tzion, Yerushalayim, are totally free, in our Homeland.