When Uri asked me to talk in our synagogue on the Shabbat that the Palestinians were presenting their statehood bid at the United Nations, I hesitated. I admit to being a secular, rather than religious, Jew. But, in my advocacy work for Israel, I use as a cornerstone of my hasbara the fact that we share a God-given land as an integral part of our rights as the Jewish people possessing our national home.
I only agreed to give this talk if I could link this week’s Bible portion to my recent intensive advocacy activities for Israel, particularly taking into consideration this weekend’s events at the UN.
I have also been involved in highlighting the association of an increasing number of Jews with the pro-Palestinian lobby, and against Israel. When it goes beyond criticism to delegitimisation is when they have crossed all red lines.
I even have one who is a leading member of the Palestinian Solidarity Movement in Britain. He insists that Israel should stop its Law of Return. Let everyone living here share full and equal rights as Israelis and stop calling ourselves a Jewish state. Of course he feels it fair to allow all the Arabs who once had any claims here to return as, to him, they were once an indigenous part of the land. They, apparently, do have the right of return.
In other words, we would become Palestine. Anything else would be, for him, a racist state.
So, when Uri pointed me to this week’s portion, several passages leapt off the page. Let me share with you some of these passages that, for me, a passionate advocate for Israel, have special relevance. With the growing Jewish support for anti-Israel activism this took my eye;
“Lest there be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart has turned away this day from the Lord our God to go serve the gods of those other nations.”
This, for me, speaks of the Jews who not only criticize Israel, but actively plot and act against us. For our God is one who promised us the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and who led the Jewish people out of bondage to the Promised Land as mentioned in Vayalech.
Then it makes reference to a strange expression of these people who say “I walk in the stubbornness of my heart – that the watered be swept away with the dry.” What does this mean? The Commentary describes it as those people who should be in our tent, that devour the narrative of our enemy to the extent that they add drunkenness to their thirst. In other words, they add hate to criticism of Israel to the extent that they demonise and delegitimize us. I know this is true. I know this happens. As I said, I am currently writing to one such person.
It seems that, on this matter, we have God on our side as it is written, “The Lord will not be willing to pardon him, and the anger of the Lord shall be kindled against that man, and all the curses that is written in this book shall be upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven.”
Wow! I would hate to be in that man’s shoes!
And it is written, if these people, these Jews, reject God’s Covenant to the Jewish people, the Covenant that He made with us when He brought us out of Egyptian slavery, the Covenant He made with us as He guided His Chosen People to our Promised Land. If they then go over to serve our enemies, then surely they will feel God’s wrath.
The portion mentions the choice that God gives us in the form of the blessing and the curse. Choose which path you choose. Are you with us, or against us? And here God asks these people to return to the fold, to our tent, to avoid the curse.
He also promises to gather in the Jews from the four corners of the globe, and we have seen this in action. I am involved with the recent revelation of the Anusim, known as the Secret Jews, who are slowly emerging from centuries of Christian persecution and reclaiming their Judaism here in Israel.
He also vows that we will multiply and we have surely seen that in Israel. He also says that we will live and rejoice, and we have seen that in our developing economy in a world of financial woes.
For those who think this command is somewhat holy, mystical, supernatural, think again!
It clearly says that this promise and commitment is not something out of reach, or made in heaven. It is not something that is inaccessible, or beyond the seas, in some distant land, among strangers, but the act is here at home. As it says, it is in your mouth, and in your soul. So speak up for Israel, bravely.
He gives us another choice. To choose good, and live, or evil and death.
What I found astounding in NITZAVIM and VAYELECH is that it clearly states Israel’s rights to a land that is God-given, and it says where it is.
It says Choose life. Love God. Listen to His voice. Read His words. For it is His Covenant that we will dwell in the land that is west of the Jordan that God swore to our forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as an inheritance. And this is where we are today.
VAYELECH clearly commands us to live in the land over the Jordan, that means here in Israel, to possess it. To read this, this week, of all weeks, is mind blowing.
It closes by saying “Be strong and of good courage!”
If you want a supreme example of advocacy for Israel - this is it. Israel cannot have a better advocate than God.
This is a message I have rushed to deliver to the thousands I have on Facebook, email, LinkedIn, Twitter. They will send it out to thousands more.
So, thank you Uri. God works in mysterious ways.