Platform of Action

    The Jews today do not know who they are, what makes them Jewish, why they are Jewish, who they should be and the role they should play in the world. They feel different, although they claim not to be. They feel persecuted even when they are not. They feel obligated and responsible but do not know to whom and for what.


    For more than three thousand years, the Jews have been, at times, a nation with their own country, but more often a wandering tribe. Dispersed throughout the continents, today, like so many times before, they have their own country and, like so many times before, are about to lose it. From time immemorial, the Jews have been a divided, divisive and quarreling people. They read the same Bible and the same sacred texts, but interpret them in many different and conflicting ways.


    The rabbis discussed and annotated the Bible and ended up with two Talmuds (studies) - the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud - as if one, counting some ten thousand pages including commentaries, were not enough. They were compiled during centuries and, to a great extent, completed sometime during the sixth century AD. The study of these Talmuds continues to this day and is kept alive and promoted almost exclusively by the Haredim (the ultra-orthodox). When, in 1948, Ben Gurion, out of the desire to be inclusive, welcomed the Haredim into the Jewish state, he promised to subsidize yeshiva schools and Talmud students. To allow for the scholarly study of the Torah, and with the population of Israel soon to number one million Jews, he committed to exempt from military service and support up to four hundred yeshiva students. Much later, he admitted to have made a mistake when he realized that his promise was used by the Haredim to extort from the Israeli government exemptions and assistance for thousands, and today, tens of thousands, from military service and their insistence on the total segregation of the Haredim from Israeli society.


    The overwhelming majority of Jews view the Haredim as their own. They may judge them as comical, sometimes bizarre, and even bordering on the insane, but in any case, still deem them to be fellow Jews. The Haredim consider modern Jews as Goyim (gentiles) and believe that they are at odds with and a danger to their real Judaism. Instead of openly engaging the progressive Jews in brotherly dialogue, the Haredim have hermetically isolated themselves and have become the fifth column bent on the destruction of the progressive Jews and their Jewish homeland. Until the vast majority of modern Jews realize the looming menace and take drastic counter measures, the existence of Israel, hence of Jews, is in imminent danger. The attempt at destroying Israel is based on the deep seated belief that the Jewish state will be reestablished only upon the coming of the Messiah. The solution to this gravest of problems may be to encourage and financially help resettle the Haredim in the diaspora until the sighting of the Messiah.


    The second existential mistake that Ben Gurion and Chaim Weizmann (the first president of Israel) made was to refrain from expulsing the approximately five hundred thousand Muslims living then in Israel as retaliation for the Arab countries, and Iran, brutally expelling some eight hundred and fifty thousand Jews and confiscating their wealth. Both Ben Gurion and Weizmann committed to do it, but their Jewish ethics prevented them from carrying it out when the Muslim countries refused to welcome their “brothers and sisters.”


    Both of these decisions, as it turns out, sowed the seeds of harm to the Jewish state. Many Jews living in Israel understand the dangers and are already making plans to secure for themselves and their families a place in the diaspora. Is it the beginning of a reverse Aliyah?


    The behavior of the Arabs and many of their Muslim allies towards the Jews at the rebirth of their nation has been forgotten. Who remembers that, at the onset of World War II, the beloved Mufti of Jerusalem was instrumental in keeping the Jews fleeing death from reaching Palestine. Or his helping Hitler assemble three Muslim divisions to fight for the Reich. Or that he had on his hands the blood of twelve hundred Polish-Jewish children. The enmity of most Muslims towards Jews dates back to the birth of Islam which rose and conquered by cunning, fire, sword and murder. After fifteen centuries of existence, almost two billion Mohammedans, after enjoying the Arabic golden age, installed themselves comfortably into a Middle Ages environment. They have, however, not forgotten one of their guiding principles: a land once occupied by Islam is forever Islam’s. The Arabs and their allies have cruelly, although cleverly, surrounded Israel on all sides, and are waiting for the opportunity to assail and destroy a weakened Israel. The nuclear weapon, when used against the Arabs, would annihilate the Israeli Jews as well. Are they prepared to commit suicide?


    The United Nations, the United States, all democracies and the educated people everywhere should stop criticizing and undermining a country and a people in search of independence with defensible borders, and yearning for peace and survival. The Jews must continue, in the meantime, to pursue knowledge, research and be a guiding light in truth, decency and charity.

    In the last forty years, Israel went from a country of dreamers, enthusiastic altruists, tireless pioneers and incorruptible leaders to a nation of cynics, egoists, and an unenthusiastic corrupt leadership. It is remarkable that a state, with a population smaller than Sweden’s, managed to have criminally indicted a president, two prime ministers, two chief rabbis, and some forty other public figures, including ministers, Knesset members, and mayors. How many hundreds or thousands of others escaped justice, no one knows. Three out of four Israelis do not trust their religious and civic leaders. Statistics and projections lead experts to conclude that by 2055 Muslims and the Haredim together will make up the majority of the population of Israel. It may spell the end of the Jewish state as we know it. Lebanon is the best example of the reversal of fortunes in that part of the world. Israel may survive, but undemocratic and empty of the Jewish genius. Wringing our hands will not save it. It may be too late, but if Israel has a chance to survive, progressive and modern educated orthodox Jews worldwide must unite in guiding Israel away from its present course.


    Instead of aggressively and vehemently responding to the world’s accusations, criticisms and anti-Semitism, the Jews’ response is meek and confusing. The Jews have allowed Israel’s Muslim population to occupy the high moral ground and turn the world’s opinion against Israel and Jews in general. The Jews must repair this error and demand that their stolen wealth be used to relocate the Muslim’s coreligionists. These Muslim countries should stop mistreating their “brothers and sisters” by keeping them far away from their own lands, in miserable camps, trained to become cannon fodder and, instead of threatening them with bodily harm should they sell their property to Jews, allow them to do so.


    The Haredim must acknowledge that with safety and privilege comes responsibility, and that there should be:

    - A universal, compulsory secular education through high school for all Israeli citizens and residents.

    - No exemptions, for any man or woman, from military service, except for about three thousand yeshiva Talmudic studies students to proportionally honor Ben-Gurion’s commitment of the four hundred.

    - No funding of any sort from major secular organizations like Financial Federations, the Jewish Distribution Committee, the proceeds from the Claims Conference, or the Israeli government, without detailed disclosures or the donor’s express permission to do so.

    - Severe punishment for corrupt public officials and prominent citizens. The state must finally establish a constitution that strengthens, not weakens, its institutions to achieve absolute separation of the executive, judicial and legislative branches.


    Our rabbis worldwide, and the machers of individual congregations, should be encouraged to schnorr less and urge their congregants to behave ethically and generously more. The ganuvim (plural of ganif) who bring great shame to the tribe should be ostracized and cast out, and as an example to others, buried, like it had been practiced not so long ago, outside of the walls of a Jewish cemetery, in an area reserved for the “impure.”


    Many other measures should be implemented in order to save the Jewish state, but those enumerated above are absolutely essential for Israel and Jews to regain the high moral ground and survive.


    For three thousand years, the Jews have pursued knowledge, sought to enshrine laws to elevate the human condition and made the world laugh while the world made and continues to make them weep. The Jews have emerged in the last few centuries as the globe’s intellectual elite. They have proven themselves to be the most charitable and the most humorous. It should not surprise anyone to learn that it is a Jew, a revered professor at UCLA, Norman Cousins, who discovered and implemented The Laugh Therapy. His contributions are emblematic of the fact that the world needs Jewish knowledge, humanity and humor now more than ever.