Have you heard? The Jews have a secret weapon…

Tags: Living Israel, Bloggers, Advocacy, Jewish Unity, Justin Amler

By Justin Amler

I’m not sure if you’ve heard but the Jews have been developing a secret weapon in their fight for their security and for the Jewish homeland of Israel. It’s taken a while to develop, but the original plans are still in place, being worked on constantly.

This secret weapon of theirs is not really all that secret, but you don’t hear about it much, because it hasn’t been developed in any factory or armoury warehouse, or high tech development plant. This weapon of the Jews is… well… the Jews themselves.

We are constantly told by many non-Jewish people around the world, especially in regard to Israel, of what is best for us and how to live our lives to an ‘acceptable’ level. For instance, we are told that the lands we are living on are not ours so we must get out. Or we are told that our belief system is wrong and we must change it or be condemned. Sometimes we are told we don’t know our history or who we are, or even that our history is wrong. Sometimes we are told we do too much or don’t do enough. We are told to show compassion for our enemies even while our enemies show only contempt towards us. We are told what we need to do to achieve peace and security… what we need to do, and no one else…

It seems everyone is an expert on how the Jews should live their lives – everyone except us. And yes – while there are Jews who also join the chorus of our critics in a vain attempt to fit into the world – I don’t believe they represent the real Jewish ethos among most Jews.

For some reason, we get excited when the leaders of countries say things like: Israel has the right to defend themselves. We whip ourselves up into a frenzy of exhilaration… and for what? To be told the bleeding obvious? I guess we all want to be loved… but loved unconditionally, not loved only on the basis we’d carry out this action or perform that one.

For instance, there have been many many examples of non-Jewish people who have helped both the State of Israel and the Jewish people themselves. In Yad Vashem, many of those are honoured in The Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations. Household names such as Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg, who saved Jews unconditionally. And also names that you may not have heard of like the Serbian couple of Slobodan and Milenija Knežević, who hid a nine month pregnant Jewish woman Julia Irenfeld in their home in 1943. Julia’s son, born in hiding, now lives in Haifa with his three children.

These people, and many others, carried out acts of extreme bravery, knowing that if they were caught and some were, it would mean certain death. And yet they still carried them out because inside their hearts lived an echo of humanity that was sorely missing at the time.

Then when we look at the modern state of Israel, there were those such as the British officer Orde Wingate, who helped train and develop Israeli army tactics in the late 1930s while the Jews were under constant attack by Arab terrorists. Orde was a massive supporter of Zionism, so much so that his British army superiors found it quite distasteful and removed him from his command in 1939.

And there was also Mike Flanagan, an Irish soldier, who died just a couple of weeks ago. Having participated in the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp Begen-Belsen, he was then stationed in the British Mandate of Palestine. And in June 1948, he stole two British Cromwell tanks and delivered them to Israeli forces in Tel Aviv – Israel’s first tanks. Mike subsequently converted to Judaism later.

The important point to make is that all these people above saved Jews and worked towards making Israel a more secure place at great risk to their careers and their personal safety. They did not try to lead us or dictate to us, but rather tried to help and support us. They did not place conditions on their activities, but rather did it out of a sense of doing something that was morally right in their hearts. They were exceptional human beings.

But in the end, the responsibility of saving ourselves does not lie with anyone else, but us alone. Even American Vice-President Jo Biden knows as much when he told a gathering of Jewish officials last fall that no matter how hospitable countries may be, or how much Jews form part of its daily life, the only one absolute guarantee of Jewish safety is the State of Israel.

Countries can and do change.

The former leader of Canada was a great friend, a true friend based on a great sense of morality but he’s gone now and his successor fails to even mention Jews at a Holocaust memorial.

France was once Israel’s greatest ally – but after the six day war, they made a decision to choose the Arab side and broke ties with Israel.

Iran, of course, was also an Israeli ally, but after their revolution in 1979 became Israel’s greatest strategic threat and still is, constantly threatening to annihilate them as they still do.

And even Americans, while we hope will vote in a candidate friendly to Israel, cannot be expected to base their decisions on Israel’s needs. They’re Americans after all and will make their decisions based on their own future – not Israel’s.

But importantly, just as those countries don’t need to be explicitly told they have rights to make their own decisions or rights to their own sovereignty, Israel and the Jews also don’t need to be told the same thing – we already know that. We should be confident in our place in the world, because it is a place steeped in 4000 years of history. We weren’t ‘invented’. We’re not a project of some benevolent political dictatorship. And we certainly don’t have to justify where we are and where we belong – it’s already justified.

There are great well-meaning advocates out there, but in the end, it’s our skin in the game and our safety and security at stake - and Israel and the Jews will need to rely on themselves, because saving us won’t come from Washington or Europe or any other place – it will only come from within.

It was Moses that led us to our freedom, not Pharaoh.

We’re an old people who have seen empires rise and fall for thousands of years, and despite the violent storms of intolerance that rage around us, or the arctic winds of pessimism that blows through us, or the prophets of doom who continue to preach that we will not survive… despite all of these things, we’ve somehow been able to remain a part of this earth, thriving not withering. Standing tall and making our mark in the world, not vanishing in the desert sands of time. Under fire – for sure! Under threat – absolutely! Disappearing – not a chance!

For our secret weapon also remains as strong as it ever was – ourselves.

And I, for one, believe in that.

Justin Amler is a South African born, Melbourne based columnist who has lived in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia and is currently working in the Information Technology industry. He is a regular contributor to international publications, including the Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel. Justin is also a valued Israel Forever blogger, writing about his connection to the Jewish state. You can reach Justin on Twitter, Facebook & Google+.

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Tags: Living Israel, Bloggers, Advocacy, Jewish Unity, Justin Amler

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