Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Numbers Game - Reflections on Parashat Masei 5774

This week's parasha, Masei, is the last portion in the Book of Numbers. 

Numbers, numbers, numbers. I've been ruminating a lot about the numbers in the last few days, particularly in light of the three weeks, the nine days, and especially the ongoing Israeli campaign in Hamastan, now in its 17th day.

Last week, Israeli Economics Minister Naftali Bennett was ambushed by a shockingly hostile BBC news presenter who repeatedly accused Israel of a "disproportionate" response in Gaza. Since several hundreds of Arabs are dead, and only a score of Jews have died, ipso facto Israel's response is disproportionate. (I don't mean to single out the Bevin Broadcasting Corporation; the same sanctimonious mantra can be found on NPR, CNN. MSNBC, ABC; take your pick.)

Similarly, in the first days of the ground assault, the US Secretary of State was caught on a hot mike stating it was, "...a hell of pinpoint operation," saying that Israel had taken the military operation too far. After all, despite the launching of thousands of rockets against every part of Israel (which continue unabated at the time of this writing) there have miraculously yet to be any mass Jewish casualties.

The streets of London and Paris are ablaze from Arab and leftist protests, and the UN Commissioner on Human Rights wants Israel investigated for "war crimes." (I'd almost be disappointed if she didn't.)

So the media elites and most world governments are obsessed with the numbers, with proportionality. To them I must ask: if Israel has acted disproportionately, what manner of response would you deem to be proportionate? Inquiring minds want to know.

I will not enter into a discussion of whether Gaza Arabs are innocent civilians - people who freely elected Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood to rule over them because the PLO/Fatah wasn't extreme enough; people who have repeatedly endorsed their Jihadist beliefs; people who in 2005 burned down tens of millions of dollars in assets abandoned by the Jews and then gleefully peed on the ashes; people who willingly live in poverty and shanty towns (aka refugee camps), diverting the allocation of international aid away from housing, food, infrastructure and healthcare, towards missiles and armies for the ultimate Jihad against the Jews (Oh yeah, and the massive graft. I'm not sure which is the bigger kleptocracy - the PLO regime in Ramallah or Hamastan in Gaza. Tough call.) The Gaza Arabs are as innocent as the Germans who elected and sustained Hitler; show me a Jeffersonian Gaza protester and I'll show you a fat-free Big Mac.

But let's, for argument's sake, equate a Gaza Arab citizen with an Israeli citizen. We have been told that 700 dead Gazans to 35 dead Jews, a 20:1 proportion, is disproportionate. What proportion would make the world happy?

How about one dead Jew to one dead Arab? That sounds fair. But only last month, Hamas executed a cool, premeditated kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teens in the Gush Etzion.  The world reacted to this monstrous outrage laconically, with barely a mention in the international media. Tragically, after their bodies were found, an innocent Arab boy was cruelly tortured and murdered by a mentally deranged Jew in revenge. The world erupted in vituperous condemnation of Israel and the Jews on news of the Arab boy's murder. We learn from this that 20:1 is disproportionate, and 1:3 is still disproportionate, so clearly we need more dead Jews. Call central casting.

How about one Arab to 100 Jews? to 1000 Jews? How many Jews have to die before the BBC is comfortable with the proportionality of the response?

Here's the dirty little secret in the international Numbers Racket: it's a shell game, Jewish blood has no value at all. To the BBC and their ilk, seven million Israeli lives aren't worth the life of one Arab, or one Brit, or one Iranian. Europe can get rich trading with Iran, and all it has to do is be prepared to look the other way when Iran launches nuclear weapons at Israel. Sweet. They can build a new holocaust memorial from the profits.

In fact to the West, Jewish lives aren't even worth mere money: in 1944, the Nazis would have traded the lives of 100,000 Romanian Jews for 5 million dollars - $50 a life. There were no takers among the Allied Powers. Ah, for the good old days. So you see, any act that a Jew takes in self-defense is "disproportionate." 

The Ghetto Jew isn't supposed to fight back. The Ghetto Jew is supposed to thank his oppressor for beating him, humiliating him, robbing him, raping his wife and daughters - thank him, because the oppressor leaves him just enough breath in his lungs to survive. And that ghetto mentality is alive and well in the Jewish world - just open the Forward or Ha'Aretz, or google J-Street, the New Israel Fund or your local Federation leadership.

Israel is supposed to be grateful that the Nations suffer her presence in their midst. The Nations created her in 1947, and so the Nations can, by right, determine her borders, expropriate her land to others, rewrite her narrative, dictate her defenses, her very viability; or, as they are now attempting, dismantle her altogether. The Jews might be allowed to survive, but they must on no account be allowed to prevail. That would be disproportionate.

Fortunately for us, the A-lmighty is the "Ba'al Milchamot," the determiner of war or peace, of victory or defeat. And Gcd uses a very different calculator to figure the odds in the Big Numbers Game. Keep the Covenant of Sinai and "...five of you will pursue a hundred, a hundred of you will pursue ten thousand; and your enemies will fall before you by the sword." (Leviticus 26:8)

No one wants war, but never again will we be complicit in our own murder to satisfy the world's twisted aesthetic, their sick sense of proportion. We would far prefer to live in peace, but if we must live in war, live we will.

Am Yisrael Chai - that the People of Israel Live - is not hollow sloganeering; it is the essential Divine promise.

Shabbat Shalom.

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