Servitude in Israel



By Prof. Paul Eidelberg

Recall the ten plagues or attacks that struck Egypt before the Children of Israel left that house of bondage. During the first five attacks, Pharoah ignored Moses. The early attacks conclude with comments to the effect that Pharoah hardened his heart, did not listen, and refused to set the Jews free. (See Exodus 7:22, 23; 8:28; 9:12.)

Consider the sixth attack, that of hail, which some commentators refer to as "missiles." Pharoah is warned: "I am going to bombard you this time tomorrow ." (9:18), and "you had best arrange shelter for . anything else outdoors, because any man . caught outside will be pelted by hail and die" (9:19).

Despite the devastation already wreaked upon his country by the previous attacks, Pharoah pays no attention to this warning. The Sages, with their profound insight into human nature, explain Pharoah's stubbornness as if he were saying to his advisers: "Are we now going to start paying attention to Moses after all this!?"

In other words, Pharoah is resolved to continue his policy of ignoring G-d no matter what his people have to suffer. G-d then strengthens Pharoah's heart to enable him to endure the attack of missiles and the attacks that follow. Contrary to all reason, the Egyptian despot remains willfully committed to his policy no matter the cost to his people.

Now consider this commentary of Rabbi Matis Weinberg: "Unable to respond to elementary reality, acting against his own best interests, Pharoah is here exposed as a sham, a rebel without a cause..' (10:7) The exposure of . his need to assert an irrational will, of his compulsion to control even while self-destructing is the first hint of what lies in store for Egypt at the sea. Pharoah craves domination, and his now naked motives deny him any moral posturing."

This commentary describes the character and behavior of Israel's ruling elites. Evident among them is an irrational commitment to the Oslo land-for-peace policy despite the awful loss of Jewish life this policy has produced. It were as if they were saying-like the Egyptian despot-"Are we now going to stop the Oslo peace process after all this!?"

Perhaps we should mention the names of some Israeli Knesset members (MKs) who supported the policy of "unilateral disengagement" from Gaza (a policy somewhat analogous to the present government's unilateral ceasefire in the war against Hamas).

  • MK Ehud Olmert (Kadima, formerly Likud)
  • MK Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud), of who not only voted for unilateral disengagement from Gaza when he was a cabinet minister, but his glib policy of "reciprocity" in negotiating with the Palestinian Authority suggests he is still wedded to Oslo.
  • MK Yuval Shteinitz (Likud): "I think that this [disengagement] plan, under the conditions, is appropriate for our confidence. It's not a simple plan, but it has a high probability of improving our geo-strategic situation."
  • MK Silvan Shalom (Likud)
  • MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima, formerly Likud): "There is an argument according to which [withdrawal from Gaza] will be a threat . on the Negev communities. I have never before heard such a ridiculous argument."
  • MK Yisrael Katz (Likud)
  • MK Ran Cohen (Meretz): "The disengagement is good for security.. I'm telling you, whoever wants to spare not only Sderot but also Ashkelon, both of them, must understand: if we don't go out of the Gaza Strip in two or three years, maybe after one year, the range [of Hamas rockets] will reach Ashkelon."
  • MK Limor Livnat (Likud)
  • MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima, formerly Likud): "I am convinced the act is necessary and right, it can grant greater security for the residents of Israel and can reduce the burden on the security forces, it can break the current stalemate and open a door to a new reality that will enable . negotiations for coexistence."
  • MK Tzipi Livni (Kadima, formerly Likud)
  • MK Pines-Paz (Labor): "Honorable Knesset Chairman, before I arrived in the Knesset today, I brought my son to the Tel Hashomer base, he received his first call-up order to the IDF. I must thank Ariel Sharon for the hope he gives me and my wife that my son, when he is recruited, will not have to serve the nation of Israel in the Gaza Strip."

Have any of these politicians repented? Or has G-d hardened their hearts, just as He hardened the heart of Pharoah? Can it be that the evil they inflicted on Israel is so enormous that, like Pharoah, they are no longer free to repent? Since they have not repented, they will not rfesign from office and will surely pursue the same deadly policy.

On the other hand, why is there no institutional mechanism by which the people of Israel could remove them from office?

Can it be that the Jews of Israel are enslaved, even though they live in a democracy? Alternatively, can it be that, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, Israel is not a democracy?

posted: January 20, 2009   |   permanent link  |  

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