Israel turns 60 this year. There is much being said and written about this. Some is laudatory, some is vile. Much of it tries to explain the root of anti-Semitism. This is a fancy though inaccurate word that simply means ‘hatred of Jews’—of all Jews everywhere whether religious or secular, especially those Jews living in Israel. But any Jew will do.
Some of these attempts to explain Jew hatred are erudite and complex. Mine will be neither. It is simple and direct. I read it this morning in fact.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you. (Genesis 12:3)
These words were spoken by God to Abraham 4000 years ago. He promised to make Israel a great nation, a ‘Chosen People’ in fact. He kept His word.
And nothing so aggravates the non-chosen as the existence of a Chosen as an example of God’s provenance for His Creation. The deadly sin of Envy rears its abominable head and seeks to destroy all that does not share its own mediocrity.
We need to remember that of all the ancient peoples who once walked the earth in those days only the Jews remain. This survival is in spite of an entire host of nations who did as much as they could to destroy the pesky Hebrews. We recall Egypt under Ramses, the Assyrians, Chaldeans, Seleucids and Romans, the Soviets and Nazis in our own times. All of these cultures are gone with the wind, though they were all immensely powerful.
The Jews are still around. It sure seems like nations who persecute Jews come to bad ends. Maybe there is something to that 4000 year old promise.
What of the Arabs today? They obviously have a thing against the Jews. There are 350,000,000 Arabs whose entire lives and cultures and politics are dedicated to eliminating 14,000,000 Jews. This is beyond an obsession. It is grotesque and bizarre. There are manifest problems that beset the Arab world—poverty, disease, tyranny, ignorance, misogyny—all of which need immediate attention if the Arabs are to be anything more than a wild ass of a nation.
Those words are not mine, they belong to the same Guy who made that 4000 year old promise.
He shall be a wild ass of a man,
his hand against every man,
and every man’s hand against him;
In opposition to all his kin
shall he encamp. (Genesis 6:12)
Thus is described Ishmael, son of Abraham and Hagar and half-brother to Isaac. The founder of the Hebrew nation had sons, Isaac who founded the Jewish nation, and Ishmael who founded the Arab nation. Mohammed himself traced his own lineage to Ishmael.
We see now that the Arab-Israeli conflict is really a kind of civil war, of half-brother against half-brother. We also see why the Arab nation is so mired in violence and grubbiness, ‘a wild ass of a man.’
One can predict with confidence that any nation that hates Jews will come to a bad end. History demonstrates this without a shred of doubt. Keep this in mind when the latest rantings of an Iranian madman appear. Keep this in mind when you read of American political figures who despise Israel.
And keep this in mind as well. It is a parable of sorts, one written two years ago.
There was a certain house in a certain neighborhood. The owners of this house and his family were unpleasant. They did not keep their house very tidy. On some nights a horrible screaming could be heard coming from the house.
Sometimes the sons of the owner of the house would go into the neighborhood to rob and kill. None of the neighbors were strong enough to protect themselves.
One day that house caught fire. The neighbors were afraid that their houses too would catch fire, and so they called the firemen. The firemen arrived and almost put it out. Before they could fire-starters from two neighboring houses rushed up and threw gasoline on the smoldering house. The firemen began their task anew. The fire-starter neighbors again kept the fire going and from time to time sneaked up on the firemen and killed one of them. The firemen kept at their duty, knowing that if they failed the entire neighborhood would go up in flames.
But soon those people whose homes were as yet untouched by the fire began to complain. “Why can’t these fireman work faster?” a man said. Some said, “Those fire trucks are so noisy. Why can’t the firemen work in silence?” Others complained, “Why do those firemen waste so much water?” One was overheard stating, “Why are the firemen here anyway? Everyone knows that the fire would have gone out on its own.”
A college professor walked by and shook his head. “How good for me that I am educated and so never had to become a fireman,” he said. A skinny man with the professor remarked, “And look how they fight the fire! What idiots! Why, I know how to put out the fire better than they do!”
Soon a large group of complainers gathered around the busy firemen, squawking and yelling. They taunted them, demanding that they go home and leave their neighborhood. “Enough is enough!” they yelped. But the firemen kept at their thankless task, even though many of them had been killed.
The complainers called the fire station and demanded that the firemen be removed. The fire chief was a stubborn sort who loved his firemen. He explained that unless his men put out the fire their homes will be also catch fire. But the complainers scoffed at this, saying “There was no real problem until your firemen arrived! And look! Why, their presence has created more fire-starters!”
Some of the complainers went right to the fire house and marched around it, protesting with signs and bull horns. “Bring the firemen home!” they screamed. One of the fire-starters from the neighborhood was there too. He laughed at the fire chief, threatening that he would soon set ablaze the firehouse itself.
One of the neighbors watched all of this but did not complain. He appreciated the firemen immensely, and even from time to time would talk to the firemen and share information with them about the neighborhood.
The man was old but wise in the ways of the neighborhood. His family had lived there for so long no one could remember when it had not. On his once muscled forearm were numbers long ago tattooed there. They reminded him every hour of every day of the men who had branded him so.
The man understood. He had seen this all before. The old man went to his home. His family awaited him there. No words were spoken. They brought out an ancient book written in an ancient tongue. To the light of seven flames upon seven candles they covered their heads with cloth and began to chant in that ancient tongue.
They finished, and the old man gathered his sons around him. He had been greatly blessed, and his sons were as numerous as the stars. They embraced as their women wept. The old man wept as well, for he knew that some of his sons were living their last night on earth.
The sons left their house and slowly walked toward the fire. In their determined hands were powerful things of metal, all new and dazzling and terrible to behold. The sons were not noticed by the crowd, but one of the firemen saw them. They exchanged glances, and a grim smile appeared on the muscled jaw of the fireman.
The sons made their way to the houses of the fire-starters, walking in a darkness only broken by brilliant flashes of fiery light. But the shiny, terrible things the sons carried in their hands would soon light up the sky so brightly that nothing else could be seen but its brilliance.
Later when all was done many remembered that night. Some say that there had been a thunder in the heavens. Others swore that they had seen four terrible horses race across the sky. Still others claim to this day that there had been winged creatures flying overhead and chanting, “El Shaddai! El Elyon! El Yisrael!”
No one saw the fire-starters ever again.
Few understood the things of that night except the firemen and an old man with a tattooed forearm.
Let us not forget that one of the reasons why America is great is because she protects Israel. If she ever ceases to do this she will no longer be great.