Daniel Gordis has another very powerful dispatch called Back to the Mishnah. I encourage to read the whole thing and not just the excerpts that I share with you here.
In this particular dispatch Gordis provides an explanation for why the Palestinians continue to make ridiculous claims about our having no connection to Israel whatsoever.
â€œNow,â€ you might be tempted to say, â€œIsnâ€™t this all just a tempest in a teapot?â€ After all, who really cares what Abu Mazen or Saeb Erekat say about Israel as a Jewish state? Arafat is dead, and Abu El-Haj is pretty irrelevant to most of the world. Whatâ€™s the big deal? Let Israel call itself Jewish, and let the rest of the world say and believe what it chooses. Why should we care?
We should care because these people are very strategic. And what theyâ€™re engaging in here isnâ€™t mere public relations. What theyâ€™re doing is preparing the ground for the next assault not just on the definition of Israel as a Jewish state, but on the Jewish state itself. And if you believe, as I do, that without a Jewish state, the Jews have a bleak future, indeed, then what theyâ€™re actually doing is preparing the next assault on the Jewish people, period.
How so? The Palestinians have come to realize that theyâ€™re not going to destroy Israel with suicide bombers and Kassams. True, Nassrallah can put up a good fight in the summer of 2006, and lead Israel into paroxysms of self-doubt about the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the IDF. But even Nasrallah himself later admitted that â€œYou ask me, if I had known on July 11 … that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not.â€ Without planes, without tanks, without the weaponry of Israelâ€™s army, they can train and train and do more and more damage, but they canâ€™t ultimately win. (Iran poses a new sort of threat, of course, but one hopes that that will be dealt with unambiguously before too much more time passes.) Suicide bombers and terrorists can make Israel miserable but they canâ€™t destroy the state.
What then? Well, the Palestinians have decided, the war can be won demographically instead of militarily. And one of the key ways of winning the demographic war is to deny Israelâ€™s Jewish character. For if Israel is not a Jewish state, what reason could there possibly be not to allow the millions of Palestinian refugees back into Israel? Israelâ€™s objection has been, of course, that doing so would turn Jews into a minority in Israel almost overnight. As long as Israel is meant to be a Jewish state, thatâ€™s a powerful argument. But if Israelâ€™s not necessarily a Jewish state, then what difference does it make if Jews are a minority? Theyâ€™re a minority in America is that so terrible? The only reason not to allow the refugees into Israel would be callousness, or worse, racism. â€œIs racism what the Jews are all about?â€ Abu Mazen is getting ready to ask the world. Itâ€™s actually a pretty clever setup.
Thatâ€™s why this is not a tempest in a teapot. Thatâ€™s why smart people like Abu Mazen, Yasser Abed Rabbo and Saeb Erekat utter what sound like idiotic sound bites. Theyâ€™re not trying to win a debate theyâ€™re trying to win a war. And as the Mishnah can be read to suggest, the more you claim, the more youâ€™ll get. So we claim half, they claim the whole thing, and before you know it â€¦
And one more piece for you
Back to the Mishnah. Permit me one more reading, even further out on the proverbial interpretive limb, but stillâ€¦. Itâ€™s not about fairness, or justice. Itâ€™s not even about realpolitik and â€œstreet smarts.â€ Itâ€™s about love â€“ if you love this contested entity so deeply and such passion that you genuinely believe that it should all be yours, and deep in your heart, you canâ€™t imagine sharing it with anyone else, then your â€œopponentâ€, who likes it and wants it â€“ but doesnâ€™t love it â€“ doesnâ€™t stand a chance. Love always wins.
â€œWhatâ€™s love got to do with it?â€ one might ask, with apologies to Tina Turner. Love has everything to do with it. The non-compromising stance of the Palestinians may sound backward or unsophisticated to us, but to their own population, it communicates pure, unadulterated love, and a non-negotiable sense of entitlement. â€œWe love this land. Itâ€™s always been ours, and no one elseâ€™s. We wonâ€™t give it up. It belongs to us, and only to us.â€ Exactly what we say when we love someone.
And on our side? Love is not to be found in the abundance it used to be. I had occasion to interview a small group of Israeli high school kids a short while back, for a friend in the States who needed the transcript for a project. My only job was to sit around a table with them and talk to them, while a photographer snapped some shots, and a reporter fiddled with a tape recorder.
Read the whole thing. It is worth it.