It has never been easy for Israel—the understatement of the century—from the day of its establishment in 1948 when it was invaded by seven Arab armies to the present moment when it is facing multiple threats to its very survival. It suffers a history like no other nation in the world, surrounded by enemies, fighting wars on every front, infiltrated by terrorists, confronting the wetware dreams of genocidal regimes, in particular the prospect of a nuclear Iran sworn to the country’s annihilation, and subject to an international delegitimation campaign carried out via the United Nations, the World Council of Churches, spurious NGOs and “peace” organizations, labor unions, university campuses, a hostile European Union, and the efforts of an American president who wants to see the country reduced to indefensible borders.
As if this were not enough, there is yet another menace it has to face, deriving from the Cain and Abel paradigm, which has inwardly corroded the Jewish community since the thunderous instant it purportedly received the tablets from Mount Sinai: betrayal from within. The rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram against Moses and his mission to create a unified and cohesive people set the tone for much of what followed in the history of the Jews. The record is inexhaustible: the backsliding tribes and their idolatrous rulers whom the Prophets railed against, the conflict between the brother states of Israel and Judea, the quarreling Jews Josephus tells us about who were in large measure responsible for the Roman victory and massacre in the first century A.D., the apostates, “wicked sons” and Court Jews who have proliferated through the ages, and those who contracted the wasting disease that Ruth Wisse in _Jews and Power_ called “the veneration of political weakness.”
True, the quietist Jews who took refuge in ritual and scripture caused no material injury, but they, arguably, instilled an attitude of helplessness and defeatism into the plasm of the Jewish sensibility—precisely what the vigorous and determined Palmach fighters and the Zionist kibbutzniks who settled and farmed the land of Israel intended to counteract. They would no longer go “like sheep to the slaughter”; instead they put the debilitating syndrome to rest, struggled valiantly to survive and built a strong and proud country. However, the renegades and turncoats did, and continue to do, immeasurable harm. The motive for treachery seems to be immemorial. As Wisse writes, “For every Mordecai and Esther who risked their lives to protect fellow Jews, there were schemers who turned betrayal or conversion to profit.” Indeed, “the ubiquitous informer, or _moser_” is always with us. In the modern age they beget like rabbits on aphrodisiacs.
But it is not only a question of schemers and betrayers. There are many Jews who have turned against, or disembarrassed themselves of, their own compatriots for ostensibly “noble” reasons, like the Yevsektsiya or European and Russian Jews who joined the Bolsheviks and were instrumental in the formation of the Soviet Communist Party, until they were duly liquidated. Today, these are the Jews who embark on flotillas to abet a terrorist regime in Gaza, validate the Palestinian faux narrative, practice outreach and dialogue with Islamic murderers, vote “liberal,” pride themselves on their pacific and ecumenical ideology—a “universalist worldview,” as Daniel Gordis writes in a poignant Commentary essay, that “does not have a place for enemies”—and celebrate their birthdays in Ramallah bars festooned with “PLO posters advocating the death of Jews.”
Everywhere we look we see these broken Jews who have embraced left-wing causes, or assimilationist fatuities, or the temptations of social prestige, or the fashionable bromides of the zeitgeist that promise peace and understanding with anti-Semitic killers and despots in a pluralistic New World Order that exists only in their own febrile and disarrayed minds.
Their behavior is nothing short of scandalous: Reform and Reconstructionist Jews who profess to have as much (or more) in common with Muslims and Buddhists as with their embattled congeners in the Holy Land, espousing the Sabbatarian fiction of multiculturalism; intellectual and political recreants like Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Michael Lerner, Neve Gordon, Joel Beinin, Charles Enderlin, Jeremy Ben-Ami, Richard Falk and the contemptible Richard Goldstone who labor to abolish the Jewish state or change its character unrecognizably, siding impenitently with its adversaries; artistic Jews—I have in mind people like Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua, David Grossman, Daniel Barenboim, Aharon Shabtai and the late Harold Pinter, among innumerable others—who give or gave succour to the enemy; media Jews who open their op-ed pages, both in Israel and America, to Palestinian “negotiators” and avowed terrorists; American Jews who vote for the most anti-Israel president who ever put his feet up on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, and who, as Isi Leibler says, have “adopt[ed] an anti-Israeli chic”; mogul Jews in the entertainment industry who tiptoe around the Islamic fact and have nothing good to say on Israel’s behalf; filmster Jews like Steven Spielberg, Eyal Sivan, Ran Edelist and Amos Gitae, among a multitudinous crew of pan-and-zoom Israel bashers, who can always be counted on to impugn the nation’s character or justify the Palestinians; and the endlessly ramifying Jewish anti-Zionist and post-Zionist organizations in Israel and the West that accuse the Jewish state of insensate aggression, or immorality, or original sin, or illegitimacy, or inflicting collective punishment on their neighbors, ad nauseam. As I wrote in _Hear, O Israel!_, it is almost as if there is something in the Jewish psyche that breeds sinat chinam, or baseless hatred, in the midst of an historic kinship.
These individuals and groups comprise a veritable host of Joseph’s Brothers who go about their business selling Israel out and, although they may not know it, are quite plausibly arranging for their own eventual misery. As Rabbi David Algaze of Havurat Yisrael said of Tony Kushner, the Jewish playwright who believes Israel was a mistake and falsely accuses it of engaging in “the deliberate destruction of Palestinian culture,” he “is ignoring history and history will come back to haunt him.”
The issue we are broaching is not only whether Israel can survive its obvious enemies both in the Islamic world and in the West. The situation is bad enough as it is. The issue is whether Israel can survive its own. For Israel may not win through if it is constantly maligned and attacked by a swelling fifth column of fellow Jews who may bring the same fate upon the nation as it suffered in Biblical and Roman times. The Assyrians and Babylonians and Romans of yore have not gone away; they have merely transmuted into contemporary forms.
If Israel is to survive it must be defended, or at the very least not undermined, by its ethnic compatriots in the Diaspora or the admittedly small, but influential, cadre of its fractious and deluded citizens. It must, as a minimal condition, be allowed to fight its wars in peace.