Sunday, February 7, 2016

Thinking the Unthinkable: The End of the State of Israel?

Can you imagine a world without the state of Israel?

I can’t, but Ron Rosenbaum can—even if the American Jewish journalist and author hates to even think about the possibility.

In his December 14 essay in Tablet magazine titled “Thinking The Unthinkable: A Lamentation For The State Of Israel,” Rosenbaum writes that “I believe the state of Israel may not survive. That its days are numbered.”

This is an idea, he says, that “nobody wants to say it aloud. Not even whisper it.”

Yet, he fears it is a real possibility. “The entire world has essentially turned on the Jewish state,” he says.

For proof, he cites “the sewer of anti-Semitism that runs beneath the surface of social media,” the rise of ISIS, increasing anti-Semitism in Europe, calls from North America for a boycott of Israeli-produced products, and those who accuse Israel of genocide in Gaza “while ignoring the explicit call for genocide in the Hamas charter.”

For many, this is “no big deal,” he says—it’s been this way for 2,000 years. But things feel different for him now, for two main reasons.

The first one is the declaration of Iran’s Ayatollah Khameini last September that Israel will not exist in 25 years.

"I'd say (to Israel) that they will not see (the end) of these 25 years," Khameini stated in a report carried by CNN and other media in September, last year, referencing the length of some of the restrictions on his country in its new nuclear deal with western nations. 

"God willing, there will be no such thing as a Zionist regime in 25 years," he added. "Until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists."

That was bad enough, but the other reason Rosebaum is alarmed is the so-called “stabbing intifada,” where Israelis are being wounded and killed by knife-wielding Palestinian attackers.

What makes the stabbing Intifada so particularly horrific, he says, is that it not warfare or insurgency, but the “ritual murder of Jews, which is an entirely new form of anti-Semitic horror-show. “

He went on to cite a news story that reported that 80 percent of Israeli children are afraid for the lives, and 64 percent are afraid to leave their homes.

“Talk about feeling precarious. . . . the possibility will haunt every walk in the street, every trip to the market, every stroll in a public place,” he wrote.

“All of Israel’s nuclear weapons cannot “deter these attacks, cannot wipe out the memories, restore the losses. There is no Iron Dome for internal defense of the soul.”

Does this all portend the end of the state of Israel? “I don’t know,” he says. “I do think it portends the end of optimism.”

After reading Rosenbaum’s essay, I asked Alan Green, Rabbi at Shaarey Zedek Synagogue here in Winnipeg, for his opinion. What did he think of what Rosenbaum had written?

“This is an article I could have written myself,” said Green, a passionate supporter of Israel. “The dark picture he paints is completely accurate.  And I would agree that the demise of Israel is a distinct possibility, but not necessarily a probability.”

Where he differs with the author is that Green is a person of faith, while Rosenbaum self-described as non-religious.

Green believes that the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 “is the fulfillment of Divine promises dating back to the prophecies of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah, and intimately tied up with the redemption of all humanity.”

He hopes the worst doesn’t come true, “but the fact that Israel is facing off against the Mullahs of Iran, Hezbollah, ISIS, Hamas, the Al Aksa Martyr's Brigade, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and a whole host of other evil-doers makes for an apocalyptic situation.”

While Green fears for the future of Israel, he isn’t worried about being a Jew in Winnipeg. “I think it's highly unlikely that anyone is going to attack a Jew simply for being Jewish in Winnipeg, or anywhere else in Canada,” he says.

While he thinks that Jews in Canada will continue to be safe into foreseeable future,  “Israel and Europe are an entirely different story.”

From the Feb. 6, 2016 Winnipeg Free Press.

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