Sunday, April 10, 2005

If You Want to Know Why, Just Look in the Mirror

In an earlier post, I mentioned a column from 1995 by Chaim Shacham, an Israeli diplomat. I found it in the back recesses of my computer. I think it's just as relevant today as it was 10 years ago:

If You Want to Know Why, Just Look in the Mirror

By Chaim Shacham, Deputy Consul-General of Israel to the Midwest

Who then has forsaken the Land of Israel? -- You Have! More than any Israeli, you have voted the loudest and strongest for territorial compromise, because you have remained in the United States. No matter how strongly you feel, how loudly you protest and how much you send to groups n Israel who oppose territorial compromise, as long as you remain here, you remain the primary reason that Israel must consider such a drastic step. The numbers are clear, the Jewish-Arab demography in Israel is a reality, and the large Jewish population outside of Israel is a fact. Roughly half of the world's Jews remain outside of Israel by preference. How can they then demand that the other half -- the half that have sacrificed so much already -- sacrifice even more, and in the judgment of their chosen government risk their very existence, in order to hold on to every inch of the Land, all in deference to those who don't even respect the Land enough to live there?! Pardon me, but even Israelis would consider that to be Chutzpah.

Do we have an historic right to all of the Land of Israel? Of course we do. But with all rights, come responsibilities. How can we expect to actualize our rights if we're not willing to shoulder the responsibilities and inconveniences that are a part of them.

Consider this. There are more than enough Jews in Chicago to change the destiny of the city of Hebron, if they would all move there tomorrow. Imagine, Hebron would become a Jewish city with a Palestinian minority overnight, instead of a Palestinian population center, with 500 Jewish residents who require special security arrangements. There could be signs at the entrances to the city - Now entering Hebron - A gift to the State of Israel by the Jews of Chicago. That's quite a bit more impressive than a sign dedicating the wing of a hospital or a school.

I'm not deluding myself into thinking that such a scenario would actually happen. However, I would like to make one point stick. When you sit in mourning this Tisha B'Av over the destruction of Jerusalem and the loss of the Land of Israel in our past, your thoughts may turn to the painful compromise in the Land of Israel that is taking place today. If you feel the urge to look for someone to blame, just make sure you also look in the mirror.