Pessah – the Jewish celebration of freedom and God's dominion that begins on Saturday night – provides a timely insight into the foundations of Jewish faith and human nature.
Jews believe in a God without form. The Jewish God is ineffable. To Abraham himself, God appeared only in visions, never in the "flesh." And yet, the story of God's deliverance of the Children of Israel from Egyptian bondage is packed with physical proofs of this consummately non-physical God.
God exposes himself to Moses in the burning bush. And then, from Moses's first appeal to Pharaoh through the parting of the Red Sea, God exposes himself and his mastery of the universe and all that is in it again and again, in progressively powerful ways.
At the Pessah Seder, Jews recount these astounding manifestations of God's existence, presence and dominion. That is, at the Pessah Seder, Jews celebrate the physical manifestations of the God we know to be formless and ubiquitous.
Why would God feel the need to reveal himself? And why do Jews, who accept an ineffable God, place so much stress on his self-revelation?
By our nature, human beings are skeptical. Before we believe something, we require proof. Whether that proof is collateral for a bank loan, burning a bush without harming it, laying waste to Pharaoh's Egypt or parting the Red Sea, the fact is that without proof, humans will not long believe. To convince the Children of Israel to accept him and his laws throughout time, God showed us signs and wonders in Egypt that were powerful enough to keep us united as his people ever since.
Contrast this natural human skepticism and the Jews' reasoned faith in God with the international and Israeli Left's engineered credulousness and blind faith in Peace.
This week, former US president Jimmy Carter arrived in the Middle East on a "peace mission." Shunned by Israel's senior political leadership for his overtly hostile positions toward Israel and Jews, Carter had to suffice with a public dressing down for his incendiary anti-Israel rhetoric from otherwise friendly, and "pro-Peace," President Shimon Peres, and visits with Israeli doves affiliated with the non-Zionist Meretz party.
From Israel, Carter continued to the Fatah-led, Israel-defended Palestinian Authority in Ramallah where he laid a wreath at the grave of arch-murderer and master terrorist Yassir Arafat, and hugged and kissed Arafat's Fatah and Hamas heirs. Both visits, of course were conducted against the backdrop of Carter's well-publicized plan to meet with Hamas terror master and Iranian proxy Khalad Mashaal in Syria.
By meeting with Mashaal, Carter is arguably breaching US law, which prohibits American citizens from assisting terror groups. His planned meeting elicited criticism from the Bush administration. His radicalism fomented Israel's informal, but fairly firm boycott of his visit. And yet, his faith in Peace being what it is, Carter brushed off his critics as men and women of little faith. For their part, Carter's Israeli allies, Yossi Beilin, David Kimche and their fellow believers in Peace embraced him. These Israelis, like Carter, are not averse to meeting with Hamas.
The fact is, while Carter may be the loudest proponent of negotiating with Hamas, he is far from alone. To advance this view in America, Carter's Jewish-American and Israeli fellow believers just set up a new lobbying group in Washington. It is staffed by former Clinton administration, Peace Now, and Democratic Party officials. It is supported by the Israeli signatories to Yossi Beilin's European-financed 2003 Geneva "peace accord" with the Palestinian Authority's former propaganda minister Yassir Abd Rabo. The new lobby, "J Street," is tasked with financing the campaigns of American politicians who are willing to sacrifice the US alliance with Israel in the interest of Peace. Presumably, it is conversely tasked with scuttling the political fortunes of US politicians who refuse to do so.
It is hard to know what to make of either the Bush administration's criticism of Carter, or for that matter the Olmert-Livni-Barak government's shunning of the former president. Legal restrictions on maintaining contacts with terror operatives aside, Carter's hostility to Israel and his enthusiastic embrace of Hamas are the logical outcome of their own policies. Indeed, several government ministers from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's Kadima party have expressed willingness to engage Hamas. And at present, through Egypt and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government is negotiating with Hamas toward a temporary cease-fire that would leave the Hamas regime in Gaza intact and armed.
The basic belief that informs both the Olmert-Livni-Barak government and the Bush administration is the same as Carter's. Namely, they believe that the Palestinian war against Israel is the consequence of Palestinian statelessness. Then, too, both governments accept the Arab and European assertion that the lack of Palestinian statehood is the root cause of the Arab and Islamic world's rejection of Israel's right to exist and of the larger pathologies of the jihad-supporting Arab and Islamic world.
This basic ideological premise has been the core belief of the Israeli and American policy-making classes since the advent of the Israeli-PLO "peace process" in 1993. And in light of this premise it is hard to see how the official boycott of Hamas is sustainable or even logical. The belief that the root cause of all the Middle East's troubles is a lack of Palestinian sovereignty generally, and more specifically the view that Israel's continued control over areas it secured during the third Arab war against Israel is the root of the conflict, renders Israel solely responsible for resolving the conflict. It is Israel, after all that is blocking Palestinian control over Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. It is Israel that is putting up obstacles to Palestinian sovereignty.
This is the view that informed Israel's 1993 decision to embrace the mass-murdering father of modern terrorism Yassir Arafat and his PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. It was this view that caused Israel to turn a blind eye to Arafat's transformation of Palestinian society into the most jihadist society in the Arab world through the constant indoctrination of his official Palestinian media organs, education systems and mosques.
It is this view that still brings Israel's leaders to refer to Judea and Samaria as "occupied"; to negotiate the partition of Jerusalem; to outlaw Jewish building in Judea and Samaria and limit Jewish building in Jerusalem; to demonize Jewish opponents of their view as "extremists" and "enemies of peace"; and to ignore the need to defend the western Negev from the Palestinian rocket campaign in Gaza.
It is this view that causes Israel's leaders to embrace Arafat's successor and deputy of 40 years, Mahmoud Abbas, as a "peace partner" while turning a blind eye to his open support for terror and Israel's violent destruction; his Fatah party's deep involvement in terror attacks against Israel; his financial support for terrorists and families of jailed and dead terrorists; and his operational ties to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Syria and Iran.
It is this view that has caused the US to treat Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria as moral equivalents of terrorism; to support the establishment of a Palestinian state that will be ethnically cleansed of all Jews; to pressure Israel to allow pro-terror Palestinian militias to deploy in Judea and Samaria and to curtail its counter-terror operations; to provide financial, military and political support to pro-terror Palestinian militias; and to pressure Israel to stop building homes for Jews in Jerusalem.
And, of course, it is this view th
at renders the US and Israel's current boycott of Hamas unsustainable and illogical. If Israel is to blame for the lack of Palestinian statehood, then nothing the Palestinians believe or do is relevant. The organizational separation of Hamas from Fatah is irrelevant. Hamas's subservience to Iran is irrelevant. Just as is the case with Fatah, so too, Hamas's embrace of terror as a means of advancing Israel's complete destruction is not a reason to boycott it. It is blameless. Carter is right.
To maintain their belief in Peace through Israeli capitulation as a panacea for all the Middle East's deformities, Peace adherents have been forced to replace their natural skepticism with artificial credulity. For in contrast to the Children of Israel in Pharaoh's Egypt, not only have they received no evidence that their faith in Peace is reasonable, they have seen in the terrorist murder of more than 1,500 Israelis since 1993 and in the daily incitement for Israel's destruction and massing of Palestinian terror armies of jihad overwhelming proof that their faith is unfounded. Indeed, just this week, Israel Radio reported that Abbas was planning to bestow the highest official PA honors on two female terrorist murderers jailed in Israeli prisons.
Actually, the story about Abbas's plan to publicly embrace mass murderers is instructive of how the blind faith in Peace has been maintained now for 15 years. The Israel Radio broadcast forced the Olmert-Livni-Barak government for the first time to acknowledge Abbas's support for terrorists and so placed in question the rationality of their entire policy of capitulating for Peace. At their insistence, Abbas announced he was cancelling the awards.
But as Prof. Mordechai Keidar from Bar-Ilan University pointed out in a radio interview Wednesday, the only thing extraordinary about Abbas's planned ceremony was that it was reported by the Israeli media. The PA has been annually bestowing its highest honors on jailed mass murderers. It's just that the flock of Peace faithful who run Israel's media have never reported the story before.
Yet, in spite of its leadership's and media's attempts to hide the truth from them, the Israel public has insisted on maintaining its natural skepticism and limiting its faith to its revealed God. Tel Aviv University's monthly Peace Index, which surveys the Israeli public's views on issues relating to the "peace process," showed that despite the government's and media's pro-Peace rhetoric and attempts to obfuscate reality, the majority of Israeli Jews have not accepted their views.
The majority of Israeli Jews view Judea and Samaria as "liberated" rather than "occupied" territories. They do not believe that signing a peace treaty with the Palestinians will bring peace, and they oppose destroying the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. A poll of the public's views of the government's plans to negotiate the partition of Jerusalem taken this week by Bar-Ilan's Begin-Sadat Center showed that 71 percent of Israelis oppose partitioning Jerusalem and ceding the Old City to the Palestinians.
All told then, Pessah's lesson of reasoned faith in the true revealed God over blind faith in a false God has not been lost on the Jews. And the celebration of faith and freedom that Pessah embodies should instill us with certainty that one day soon, our leaders who uphold the irrational belief in fake Peace will be replaced by others who reject it.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.