The God Factor

A major difference between the two sides involved in the ongoing conflict in Gaza is that while Hamas is fighting for what they believe to be a sense of justice, Israel is fighting to restore calm (“quiet will be met with quiet”). Moreover, although we can say that Hamas’s justice is warped or based upon lies and evil, it doesn’t matter. They believe in something and they’re ready to die for it while the Jewish leaders of Israel, descendants of spiritual giants who brought faith and monotheism to the world, for the most part don’t believe in anything beyond achieving peace and quiet in order to live a comfortable pseudo-American lifestyle.

Unfortunately this outlook on the part of Israel is not new and in fact was partly responsible for its unilateral disengagement from Gaza nine years ago. In addition to the obvious connection between the mistaken claim that Israel’s security would improve as a result of it removing all Jewish presence from Gaza and the Hamas missile threat that has intensified ever since – a strategically costly blunder that those responsible for its promotion have yet to apologize – there is another sad irony from that affair which is directly related to the current hostilities. While in the present situation many Jews living close to Gaza are choosing to flee of their own volition, as part of the Disengagement Israel decided to forcibly removed thousands of Jews from their homes. What is more, unlike those who are currently abandoning their homes, those who were expelled from Gaza were for the most part faith-oriented people who had a strong sense of mission and therefore didn’t budge despite all the hardships they endured at the hands of the Arabs. Once they were removed, however, the softer underbelly of Israel became fully exposed to the Gaza menace with the understandable result that many normal, everyday Jews have simply packed up their bags and headed north.

This tragic lesson should be remembered the next time the Israeli authorities want to systematically crack down on the “hard-core settlers” in places like Yitzhar or Bat Ayin since any attempt to weaken those Jews with the strongest of faith will only help our enemies.

In light of the above, it’s becoming clearer every day that what is sorely missing from Israel is the “God factor”. In other words, although some of us remain individual “religious Jews” in our own private lives and in our own limited world, the broader nation is not jointly striving to be holy or united around a higher mission. As a result God is relegated to the realm of the individual which is essentially a continuation of Judaism of the exile.

A case in point is the fact that in the endless press conferences and news reports over the past two months the word “God” was conspicuously absent from the lips of nearly every Israeli politician and media commentator. For them God is simply irrelevant on a national level.

Unfortunately, without ideas such as the “will of God” or the collective mission of the Jewish people having any bearing on the decisions of Israeli leaders or on the subsequent direction of the nation, Israel will forever be stuck in a box of “they kill, we kill, they kill” with no way out.

With the influence and power of Islam growing in the region and in the world, Israel is literally digging its own grave by continuing to forsake God, the same God who brought his people home after a long and bitter two-thousand year exile.

(Author’s note: Although this article was written before last week’s ceasefire, the point is still relevant.)

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2 Responses to The God Factor

  1. jimjames says:

    I find this assessment to have some points to it but not the ways you make them. Faith based behavior is NOT what Hamas in particular or Islamists in general practice. If you were, in any way familiar with their ideology, you would know this. What they practice, albeit in slightly varying degrees, is something about 180 degrees from what the God of the Bible actually teaches. Islamist are completely absent of the Golden Rule for instance. That fact is enough to take any reference to their “faith” out of spiritual context and place their obsessions in more of an ideological frame of reference.

    Faith can be expressed through quotes or references but this method is closer to preaching and usually divorced from more true “spiritual behavior”. Mr. Nitanyahu is, in his personal demeanor, “philosophical” in a very Jewish way. He attempts, by my observations, to juxtapose Jewish values to whatever he hears from the Arab community be they Hamas or the PA. The conduct of Israel during the recent “operation” was nothing less than greatly disciplined and self-controlled . Put the balance of power in reverse and it is easy to see how barbaric would be the Hamas Islamists. This correct and disciplined behavior is nothing less than an incredible display of “faith” in action. Practicing under very extreme conditions self-control to the point of putting yourself and perhaps some of “your own” people in jeopardy so as to avoid extreme loss of life (from the opposing population). Excuse me, sir, but his is, in fact, incredibly a “faith based” orientation.

    • Yoel Meltzer says:

      Thank you for your comment. My point was not to initiate a discussion about “faith”, known in Hebrew as emuna, but rather to stress the point that God/the collective role of the Jewish people is not a real factor for Israeli policy makers or in the subsequent direction of the country. Instead, for the most part God is relegated to the realm of the individual Jew in Israel (as was the case during the exile). Moreover, I believe that only by incorporating God into the broader national picture can Israel eventually find a way out of the endless insanity and bloodshed. This however is not the current situation and instead Israel is mainly trying to achieve some peace and quiet (which of course is not something bad but it’s a far cry from what the Jewish people in the land of Israel are supposed to be doing).

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