On Friday night, Jews throughout the world will gather around their Seder tables and read the Haggadah, the story which celebrates our freedom from bondage and our independence and sovereignty in the land of Israel.
As many of you know, the Seder opens with young children asking the Four Questions. As we get ready for the holiday, I would like to suggest my own version of the Four Questions:
Why are Israel and the Jewish people different from all other people?
The Hagaddah tells us that there are four types of sons who represent four different ways of asking questions.
To the wise son, you explain that the modern rebirth of the state of Israel and the return of our people to our ancient homeland is a story of emancipation that should inspire anyone who has doesn’t have a heart of stone. That this rebirth was not only forged through war, but through the consent of the United Nations and the international community.
Yet, Israel is the only nation on the planet that is forced to forever justify and re-justify its existence. That, despite what you might hear in classrooms and on university campuses, Israel still has relentless enemies that want to destroy it today. You tell him that Israel has made incredibly generous offers of land for peace to the Palestinians time and time again, and that the Palestinians have rejected every single offer. That the Palestinians have managed to turn this on its head, and wage a relentless war on the Jewish state, not only using physical weapons, but cunning and deceptive rhetorical ones. You tell him that the Palestinians have manipulated the truth and have managed to win the sympathy of far too much of the civilized world in many refined quarters of society.
Tell the wise son as well that Iran has already amassed two tons of highly enriched uranium and that it is extremely close to a nuclear weapon. Tell him that Iran has tested several missiles inscribed with the words “Death to the Zionist Entity.” That, given the opportunity, the Islamic Republic would not hesitate to use that weapon on the State of Israel to obliterate its very existence.
You can tell him that Iran, too, has managed to deceive much of the world, which believes that there is no alternative to the negotiations in Vienna, no matter how much we have pandered to them and promised to enrich their coffers, compromising the security of the State of Israel, as well as that of our Sunni Arab allies.
Tell him that that inevitably will come back to haunt us here at home. Tell him, as well, that many people in power have willfully blinded themselves to the true, brutal nature of the regime in Tehran and that there are millions of Iranians who despise the regime, but are forced to live under their brutal conditions. They do not want to see sanctions lifted, because that will just cement the regime’s power for generations to come.
To the recalcitrant son, you come back to him with a series of questions of your own. You ask him why he has given up on the long, proud history of our people; why he has taken up the banner of universalism, or even worse of BDS, without first learning the history of our own people, and of our constant struggles for independence and for freedom. You ask him if at the core of this is simply a desire to “blend in,” a deeply-rooted Jewish self-consciousness and a fundamental lack of pride in his identity as a Jew.
You ask him why he is willing to take up every cause under the sun, but that of his own people. You ask him if what truly motivates him is the desire to be loved by everyone, to engage in “virtue signaling” by advocating for our enemies, including those very enemies who want to destroy our brothers and sisters in Israel.
To the simple son, you give a basic overview of what has happened to our people over the last few centuries: the relentless pogroms in Europe, culminating in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. You tell him about the humiliating dhimmi laws in the Sephardic lands, about the forced conversion of the Inquisition. You tell him about the notorious Farhoud pogroms in the Arab lands where mobs destroyed Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues and murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews only decades ago.
To the son that doesn’t even know how to ask: You tell him how proud he should be of his Jewish identity and of his Jewish heritage; that despite so many attempts to obliterate us, the Jewish people are alive today, and that we are strong and resilient. Tell him that Israel is a military powerhouse in the Middle East and a source of strength and friendship to her newly- forged Arab allies; that it is a technological powerhouse and a continuous source of innovation.
Explain how compassionate the Jewish people are and the Jewish State is. Tell him that Jews, despite the fact that we have so many enemies of our own, always remember and give way beyond our numbers to the most vulnerable in any society we are found. Explain to him that when a condo collapsed in Florida, when a tornado ravaged Kentucky, when Russia invaded Ukraine – the state of Israel is the first to arrive on the scene and help out with its hard-earned wisdom from the battlefield. Let him know that as of today, the state of Israel has already taken in 12,000 Ukrainians, half of whom are not even Jewish.
We at EMET are proud to stand with the state of Israel every single day, despite attempts to demonize it from every quarter conceivable. We do this by educating members of Congress and their staffers on Capitol Hill; through our weekly webinars; in our analysis through our articles and papers and in our advocacy to the community at large.
In order to do this, we depend on the support of each and every one of you.
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