The other day, Tzsvi Fishman published on his blog a giant pro-aliyah rant in which he first accuses everyone who does not immediately drop everything and make aliyah at once of cowardice, and then proceeds to demolish his own case by claiming that waving orange ribbons and hiding from the cops at Homesh constitutes the Pinchas-like struggle to overthrow the illegitimate erev rav regime called for by The Holy Martyr Rebbe Meir Kahane (z”l) toward the end of his career. In support of this, he extensively quotes “Or HaRayon”, a book compiled from R. Kahane’s unpublished writings and ghost-published after his death by his close associates in an effort to present their idea of the Martyr Rebbe’s ideology. Moreover, most of the particular passages Fishman quotes were written in the early 5740s and were tied to R. Kahane’s belief that redemption “at once” could be brought by revolution before the expiration of the forty-year “divine credit” of miracles that led to the creation and temporary strengthening of the State of Israel despite the wickedness of its rulers. A few of the latter passages were written just before R. Kahane’s turn toward Medinat Yehudah as the solution to the problem still facing us today. Obviously, the forty-year limit is long past. Its end was marked by the beginning of the Oslo Process, signaling a definitive commitment to redemption “in its time” or else the destruction of Israel and a reset in the process of redemption back to square one. At the end of his life, R. Kahane himself was committed to Medinat Yehudah, so much so that his last speech was given before the provisional banner of Medinat Yehudah.
At any rate, this is not very important. What IS important is to ignore the kind of ranting Fishman indulges in on almost a daily basis. Those who take Fishman and others like him seriously do a disservice to themselves, and more importantly, waste a valuable, scarce set of resources that will be needed in good time, namely their lives, health and money. To explain why, I will resort to the ancient rabbinical method, and tell you a tale to think about over Shabbat. So here is how it goes:
Not long ago, in a place not very far away, Flatbush to be precise, there lived a young man named Ephraim Khantsis. He was not unintelligent and quite brave in the fashion of young men who think themselves immortal. Young Ephraim had been born in the Ukraine, but his family had emigrated to America when he was quite young and so he had never known what it is like to live in a totalitarian society. All his life he had spent in America and was thus used to the inviolate nature of basic freedoms and human rights enshrined in the American constitution. So used was he to these freedoms, that he could not even imagine a society in which they would not exist, a society in which there was no freedom of speech, nor free elections, nor a free press, nor a right to keep and bear arms. He knew that such societies could exist, intellectually, but he could not even imagine how they function.
In due course, young Ephraim grew up and understood that a Jew had no place living under goyshe rule. Naturally, he became a Kahanist, as is the fashion of all decent Jewish young men aged between sixteen and thirty or so. Indeed it is fair to say that if a young Jewish man is not a Kahanist by twenty, he has no Jewish heart. Of course, if he is still a Kahanist by thirty, he has other problems. But young Ephraim was still too young to know this.
As a young Kahanist, Ephraim did all the usual Kahanist things. He read Kahane books, he hung out at Kahanist websites, he communicated with Kahanist activists. In due course, he became committed to making aliyah and helping to build a Torah State in Eretz Yisrael. Of course, he had little idea how to do this, but he assumed that if he just got to Israel and went to Yosh, he would find others who would help him and guide him, and all would be well.
As soon as he graduated from SUNY Stony Brook with his degree in Computer Science, young Ephraim got on a plane to Ben Gurion airport. When he got off the plane in Lod, he enrolled in Machon Meir and made his way to Kfar Tapuach, hoping to lend a hand to the building of a Torah State. There, he linked up with all the usual suspects. Yekutiel Guzovsky, David HaIvri, Baruch Marzel, all the tired old men who represent the sad spectacle that is modern-day Kahanism in Israel.
But, you see, no one, not the Kahanist websites, not the Kahanist “leaders” and certainly not blogs like Fishman’s, educated young Ephraim on the reality of the situation in Eretz Yisrael. All his life, he had lived in a democracy. All his life he had been used to human rights, such as freedom of speech, being inviolate. All his life he had been used to the idea that if enough people just get together and demand stuff, the powers that be will seek to accommodate them for fear of losing their votes. He thought that Israel was a democracy, too. Everyone had told him this. Heck, there are even elections and multiple political parties that keep switching the number of seats in the Knesset. Politicians get indicted for corruption on a routine basis, there is a lively press hotly debating all kinds of topics… At first glance, it looked a lot like America, only smaller and louder. Why would he think differently?
No one told young Ephraim that Israel is a totalitarian police state about as free and democratic as Brezhnev’s USSR. No one told him that in Israel there is no freedom of speech, human rights are protected only for those who have the right protektsia, elections are rigged in advance, all electronic communications are monitored by the secret police, the press can discuss in a lively fashion only those things permitted by the powers that be, corruption indictments have nothing to do with actual corruption, or even evidence, and the average citizen cannot take a step into the bushes to relieve himself without a Shabak snitch running to tell the powers that be all about it. No one told him that the people he hung out with live under a microscope. No one told him that the very act of saying hello to them lands one on a secret police watchlist. No one told him that they are surrounded by snitches on all sides and that some of them are forced to snitch on their own comrades for fear of their own lives and the lives of those whom they love. No one told him that the vast majority of Jews in Eretz Yisrael worship the State of Israel as an idol no different in nature from the Golden Calf, but far more dangerous in substance. No one told him that the people who should be busy trying to change this sad state of affairs by advocating Jewish independence and Jewish self-sufficiency are instead busy running internet cafes, or writing blogs to urge ignorant young men like Ephraim to make aliyah, or taking nature hikes, or trying to increase their number of Knesset seats from two to three.
The moment young Ephraim opened his mouth and started telling others what he believed, a snitch in Tapuach ran to tell the Shabak. The mamlachti whores whom he mistook for rabbis at Machon Meir demanded that he change his views or else. The Shabak made threats and ordered him to stay out of Yosh. But young Ephraim lacked the basic knowledge to understand what it all meant. He proudly stood his ground. He refused to change his views because his views were right. He refused to recant his statements because he had spoken the truth and, in the democratic society he was used to living in, no one is punished for merely speaking his mind. He refused to stay out of Yosh because, in a democratic society, the police cannot simply ban a man from half the country on a whim, so he could not comprehend how such an “order” could even exist, much less be legally enforced.
And no one, not the tired old men he was hanging around with, not his Tapuach peers, not his classmates at Machon Meir, NO ONE took the trouble to educate young Ephraim as to the kind of society he was really living in. First of all, they did not know him and therefore did not care about him. Second, there was the language barrier. But third and most important of all, in order to tell Ephraim the Truth, they first have to admit the Truth to themselves. And they cannot do it, because the Truth imposes upon them obligations they are simply unwilling to fulfill.
And so Ephraim was simply arrested by the Shabak and thrown into Eshel prison without charge or trial. In a totalitarian police state, the secret police can do anything. After all, unlike in democratic societies, in a totalitarian police state like Israel, there is no law. There is only the appearance of legality to paper over the reality of arbitrary naked force lurking just below the surface. The “law” guarantees all kinds of freedoms in Israel, just like it did in the USSR and still does in Syria, Iran, North Korea, Zimbawe or any other similar country. But only children and naïve immigrants who do not know any better would actually believe what the “law” says. In actuality, the secret police need only point a finger, write a memo, and a man disappears into the gulag. If he is lucky, he might make it out. If he is unlucky, he might have an “accident”, “die of disease” or be “shot while attempting to escape”. Or he might just rot away in some dungeon forever, and never again see the light of day. In Israel, the façade is prettier than in Zimbabwe or North Korea, and the authorities are more restrained by the need to maintain the façade, but only when the cameras are watching. When there are no cameras watching, Israel might as well be Zimbabwe.
Now, once he was arrested, Ephraim did all the right, good and noble things a proper Jew is supposed to do when arrested by the Israelis. He refused to acknowledge their authority to arrest him. He refused to talk to them. He refused to recognize the legitimacy of their “courts” or their “law”. He refused, in short, to be treated as anything other than what he was, that being a prisoner of war seized arbitrarily and illegally by a foreign force illegitimately occupying his country.
But then a funny thing happened. While Ephraim was bravely defying the Israeli occupier, the other Jews in the Holy Land did… absolutely nothing. No one protested on his behalf. No one sprayed graffiti on buildings or pasted posters with his face on every street corner, demanding his freedom. No one took Israeli soldiers hostage to exchange for him. No one blew up border cops or ambushed policemen to avenge his illegal detention. He was utterly alone. No one was actually struggling to build a Torah State. The few who should have been busy inspiring the struggle were busy with nonsense. The many who should have been struggling were never inspired. And the few brave heroes willing to sacrifice their lives to actually do battle with the regime as urban guerrillas would not do so for him, because they did not know him and he was not one of them. And thus his noble defiance was utterly useless.
In a way, Ephraim Khantsis was lucky. Unlike numerous underage girls at Amona, he wasn’t sexually assaulted. Unlike Yaakov Teitel, he was not tortured to within an inch of his life, driven insane and forced to confess to every unsolved police case since the shooting of Arlosoff. Unlike Chaim Perlman, he was not subjected to strappado. Unlike Rav Binyamin Kahane (z”l), he was not murdered. In the end, he was simply deported back to America. One hopes that he is wiser for the experience.
The story of Ephraim Khantsis, dear reader, is a cautionary tale about the utility of new American olim at this stage of the national liberation struggle. Unless you speak good Hebrew, can blend into Israeli society, have good connections in Eretz Yisrael and thus many places to hide from the enemy, and can pass for an Israeli at need, you are of no use whatsoever in Eretz Yisrael. All you are going to do is get yourself arrested and deported if you are lucky. If you are unlucky, the Shabak will quietly murder you. And no one will care.
If you are an American Jew who wants to make a difference, do not listen to the aliyah rants of Tzvi Fishman and his ilk. Your body is not needed in Eretz Yisrael. Today, what is needed is your time, your voice, your money and your political support. The idea of Medinat Yehudah must spread and you must help to spread it. Once the idea spreads far enough, there will be a national liberation struggle. During the coming struggle, Jewish communities in Yosh will need funding. Jewish self-defense organizations will need weapons. Medinat Yehudah activists struggling in Eretz Yisrael will need equipment, technical aid and moral support. Even today, though most of the money that goes to Yosh is simply wasted, organizations like the Central Fund funnel millions of dollars to worthwhile projects.
When the time comes and there is a Stage One transition, you might be useful as a fundraiser in America or as a participant in the War of Symbols in Israel. When there is a Stage Two transition, you will be useful as both a fundraiser and, if you wish it, a fighter. When the War of Independence begins in earnest, all who want to fight will have ample opportunity to do so. Until then, have patience. Advocate. Spread the word. Gather skills. Learn Hebrew. Save money. Wait. And ignore the aliyah rants. That is all you can do.
10 Elul, 5770