A different kind of unity
by Jonathan Rosenblum
Jerusalem Post International Edition
October 20, 2000
All the festivals are times of joy, but only Sukkot is called the Time of our Rejoicing. The cleansing of Yom Kippur leaves us with a sense of renewal, of worthiness in G-d’s eyes. And five days later, we enter our Sukkah, reminder of G-d’s sheltering presence in the Desert, and savor our newfound closeness.
When we leave our homes for a temporary dwelling, we lessen our connection to the physical world and show that our ultimate security rests with G-d. Entering the realm of Spirit, not only do we deepen our sense of connection to G-d but to our fellow Jews as well. In the world of Spirit, our fellow Jew is no longer a competitor over a fixed piece of pie but a partner in a common quest.
Well, Israel’s Jews are more unified this Sukkot than in a long time, but they are hardly feeling secure. That unity, unfortunately, is one of common despair.
Nearly 70% of Israelis last week expressed doubts about the future existence of the state in a Yediot Aharonot poll. And that was before Joseph’s Tomb became a mosque and our prime minister reminded us of our worst days as parents: "If you don’t come here by the time I count five. . . . I’m counting – 1, 2, 3, 4, 4 ¼, 4 ½, 4 5/8, . . . , 4.89 . . . ."
An editorial cartoon in Maariv cartoon depicted a tombstone marked Joseph’s Tomb. Next to it were a series of open graves – Rachel’s Tomb, the Temple Mount. And finally, the State of Israel.
Oslo ended the Right’s dream of a greater Israel; our latest war has ended the Left’s dream of a small Israel living in peace and harmony with her neighbors. So what remains?
Oslo stands revealed for what it always was: a unilateral withdrawal disguised as a peace process. Unilateral withdrawal, Douglas Feith points out in the September 11 New Republic, was not without its merits, including relieving us of the responsibility for the day-to-day lives of over a million hostile Arabs.
But by selling Oslo as a peace process, our leaders created lethal illusions among their own people and among our sworn enemies. They placed themselves on an ever accelerating treadmill of concessions in return for yesterday’s promises. Yet eventually the game had to end as Palestinian negotiator Na’abil Shaath told an Arab audience it would four years ago: When Israel finally says it has given all that it can, we return to violence.
Since Erev Rosh Hashana, we discovered not only the absence of a Palestinian peace partner but also that Israeli Arabs have cast their lot with Palestinian national aspirations and against the state of Israel. Suddenly we are asking ourselves: Can Israeli democracy survive when 20% of its citizens – who produce nearly one out of every three new babies – identify with our enemies? Even left-wing columnists write of a "fifth column" and warn of the possible necessity of population transfer.
The scales have dropped from our eyes, but wisdom remains elusive. After weeks of being unable to travel freely – sniper fire reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and a motorist on the main Tel-Aviv-Haifa highway was killed by a thrown boulder – no one has any idea how to prevent another intifada both inside and outside the Green Line. Only this time we thoughtfully armed our enemies in advance.
If this Sukkot we lack the sense of security that is the essence of the Festival, perhaps it is time to stop putting our trust in the gods of the earth – the Israeli Defense Forces, our American patron, or the fleeting moment of international favor after Camp David, and turn to the One Who has preserved us since we first followed Him into a howling Desert.
Related Topics: Jewish Holidays, Succot
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