Pragmatic Fish Eaters

Many are familiar with the ancient parable about the slave who cooked for his master a stinking fish. The master gave his slave three options: Either eat the stinking fish, receive 100 lashes, or pay with his money for the fish. The slave opted for the punishment to eat the stinking fish, but after eating more than half the fish with great effort, he could not take it anymore, and announced to his master that he can’t continue, and would like to receive the lashes. The master began thrashing the slave, and after several lashes, again the slave could not stand the pain, and chose the third punishment – to pay. And so, in the end, he ate the fish, received lashes and paid a high price to atone for his sin….

One can easily remember this parable when watching Prime Minister Netanyahu in action. While one may pity the poor Prime Minister, one can not forgive his wretched and dangerous deeds. Behold, at the beginning of last week, the Prime Minister apparently had made a positive decision concerning the settlements. What was the decision? It wasn’t what he had originally intended, which was to add a new neighborhood to Bet-El, because America and the Shin Bet vetoed the move. And so instead, he decided to give the settlements preferential housing incentives. To all the settlements? No. According to reports, only 20% of the settlements were to fall in such preferential categories. Did this decision have any practical ramifications? Probably not, since the government itself publicly informed the United States that the decision was only a “declarative” one.

But none of this helped in the slightest. For a full week the entire world, from the U.S. to the U.N., to the Arab world, to the Israeli left, to part of the Likud party rose up and sharply attacked and condemned the Netanyahu government in a fashion we have not yet seen, as if the Israeli government at the very least had began an all-out war against the Arab world at large, expelled the Arabs from Israel, and as a late-night snack, annexed all the territories. Ah, the eaters of stinking fish – suffering the lashes and having to pay for it in the end, anyway.

In the middle of last week, an announcement was made from the office of the Prime Minister that could have made one think that we have a government which could bring the Messiah. Here is the exact “Maariv” headline story quote a week and a half ago: “Israel: American Criticism Will Not Dictate To Us Our Way Of Life”. Awesome. Tremendous. Just what we had been waiting for! But only a few hours passed, and Israel was already back on it’s knees, pleading to the U.S. they “didn’t mean it”, and there was a “misunderstanding”, and “things were taken out of their context”. Did this groveling impress the U.S.? Hardly. This was the reaction of the American foreign department to the Israeli children who had the audacity to almost raise their heads up: “This is not a polite way to relate to the words of the President. President Clinton is friendly to Israel, and when it expresses it’s opinion, we hope that friendly governments will treat it respectably.”

As of this moment, the Israeli government has backed down completely. If a week ago it had appeared that someone in the government had some idea about building houses in the Land of Israel, nothing of the sort will be raised today. It’s like we said: Eat stinking fish, receive the lashes and in the end, pay full price.

If the Israeli government had a modicum of pride, it would casually remind Mr. Clinton about his blatant interference in the Israeli elections in support of the losing candidate, and that he should “chill out” a bit. In the meantime, a normal Jewish government would establish new settlements as something taken for granted. For in the Land of Israel, Jews settle the land. The world gets excited? Condemns? The U.N. security council will stay up all night to draft up an Israel-bashing decision? Great. That’s precisely what happened last week, and unfortunately, it was all about nothing. If they are going to condemn us anyway, shouldn’t we at least get something out of it, like start some new settlements? If the security council is going to stay up all night to discuss Israel, wouldn’t it be preferable to give them a good reason to do so – for instance, to expel a few hostile Arab villages near Ramallah from the borders of Israel?

What is there to be afraid of? Did not King David say in Tehilim (2): “Why are the nations in an uproar, and people utter a vain thing? The kings of the earth raise themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His annointed, saying, Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision”.

Goyim? America? The U.N? It is dandruff you brush off, for the Master of the World stands with us, and it is He who changes the hearts of kings and determines the destinies of the nations.

This is what Netanyahu does not understand. Anyone whose world outlook is not based on faith in G-d can never understand this. And so, Netanyahu looks as he does only six months after taking office. He is deteriorating every step of the way, and taking the State of Israel down with him. And he has no other option – because if he is afraid of what America will say, then he will constantly be rubbing them the wrong way no matter how much he tries to placate them, and by doing so, he will bring our country to greater tragedythan the Labor party would have brought us to.

Our sages taught us that the redemption is dependent on faith. And when we finally seize onto this weapon of faith, we will realize that no one and nothing is relevant, other than our firm decision to go in the way of G-d, even if the way of G-d means provoking the gentiles.

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