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Virtual Talmud


After Lebanon: Jewish Identity Crisis?

In the aftermath of the war in Lebanon, Israelis have begun a round of soul-searching into what went wrong. How was it that Israel’s vaunted military–the pride of a nation and unquestionably the best-equipped army in the region–could barely make progress against a few thousand militiamen? Of the many casualties of this war, one will surely be the myth of Israeli invincibility, and this will have repercussions for Jews throughout the world.

In truth, this myth was already in questionable shape–the last entry into Lebanon in 1982, the intractable intifadas of the last 20 years – these have taken their toll on the Israeli psyche. For those American Jews raised on glorious stories of 1948, 1967 and, to a lesser extent, 1973, these debacles can be disorienting. But the truth is that for a younger generation of American Jews, these long, complex, and painful stand-offs have been the norm and not the exception. The clean, morally unambiguous victories of the past fall into the realm of history and nostalgia. For Jews around the world, the question is: How does our relationship with Israel change when it is no longer identified with legendary military prowess?

Some, perhaps, will not question their relationship with Israel, seeing it as the victim of international opprobrium despite being the country that was, after all, attacked. But for many, this turn of events with lead to some sort of reevaluation, whether conscious or not, of their feelings toward Israel.

Most American Jews’ relationships with Israel were built on a steady diet of glossy images of Israel, reinforced through synagogues, Jewish community centers, Israeli promotional material, and missions. Just recently, I attended a performance by the Tzofim–Israeli teen scouts who serve as cultural ambassadors. The image they presented through their performance–of kibbutzim, of falafel, of making the desert bloom, of Jewish unity, of a mighty IDF–was better-suited to the Israel of Golda Meir than that of Ehud Olmert. If American Jews are going to build the sustainable, organic connections with Israel necessary to forge support for the next generation, then the picture needs to be updated as well so they don’t suffer a bout of cognitive dissonance every time they pick up a newspaper.

Israel needs and deserves our support. But we need to understand that the country we are supporting is not a one-dimensional Israel: It is a place with deep social, political, and religious divisions. Nor is it the country that defeated four surrounding armies in six days in the 1960s. And if the myth of Israel’s military might is displaced, I personally think this will lead to a healthier relationship with Israel and our own Jewish identities–rooted not in a feeling of pride based on superior military strength but rather on a relationship grounded in love of the land, learning, integrity, and justice.



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Chakra Das

posted August 25, 2006 at 7:32 am


Maybe the God of Israel finally had it with their inhumane treatment with their Muslim counterparts and decided to not help them for once.



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harsh

posted August 25, 2006 at 4:02 pm


yes israel needs and deserves our support.jews is a brave race.we t he democratic people support israil to fight from islamic fundamentalist. india is also facing such problem



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Cheryl

posted August 25, 2006 at 4:17 pm


This is such a good article – thank you Rabbi Waxman. What a wonderful legacy for the Israeli’s if what their country becomes known for is genuine work toward peace, including taking responsibility for their role in the conflict, listening to the other side, creating a space for being heard honestly, and developing humane solutions. I’m sure that many of the people in Israel and the rest of the Middle East have wonderful ideas for living peacefully, knowing that each side wants the best and safety for their families. If the politians can be reached to listen to their people and stop posturing for power, maybe peace is possible. Re-framing the identy of all the nations involved is an excellent start. What would any nation be proudest of? Being a military might? or the crafters of peaceful communities?



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Warren

posted August 26, 2006 at 9:05 pm


God is unhappy with current Israel and He never has broken promise 1: He is in the process of “Breaking The Pride” of Israel’s power. Israel today is found in the Mid-East, What is left of Great Brittain and America. Indeed Israel does have an issue with their identity. They do not have a clue as to who they are today. His-tory has been “blinded”. Current events are our “Wake-up call”, unfortunately our world leaders are so busy managing “fire fights” and failing economics – that they cannot hear. II Chronicles 7:14 has the answer we need to reply to the questions inherent in Leviticus Chaps: 23-26(with focus Chap:26, vss 16-26. I am very interested in your response, please RSVP.



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Larry

posted August 27, 2006 at 6:29 pm


There are two issues and two answers. 1) The image of Israel as viewed by people. a).. G_d is in control of Israel, to include when Israel is not doing what the world expects or wants. Israel could satisfy most negative opinion of people by hiring a public relation / advertising agency to place TV ad’s, give news releases,and more, but the survival of Israel is not dependent on public opinion, Israel follows a higher power. 2)..Is Israel under the protection of G_D. a) G_D will always protect Israel and the Jewish people. In Genesis 12:3; G_D says anyone against the Jews,G_D will curse them and later said He would bring His people back to the land He promised even thought the world will still hate the Jews. This happened in 1948. For thousands of years Israel did not exist and in one day the Jewish Nation of Israel was re born. Anyone who believes G_D is against the Jews and Israel has not taken the time to discover the truth. Everyone makes mistakes because we can not see the future, only G_D can see the future.



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GM Schwartz

posted August 27, 2006 at 9:26 pm


As a committed convert, I too feel a certain degree of pain vis a vis Isreals’ incursion into Lebannon–not too disimilar to the type I feel regarding my country’s insane war in Iraq! We are still the people of the Book! War is not the answer—“War creates losers and more losers”… No, I don’t like it! Blessings, Gloria



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GM Schwartz

posted August 27, 2006 at 9:26 pm


As a committed convert, I too feel a certain degree of pain vis a vis Isreals’ incursion into Lebannon–not too disimilar to the type I feel regarding my country’s insane war in Iraq! We are still the people of the Book! War is not the answer—“War creates losers and more losers”… No, I don’t like it! Blessings, Gloria



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Cheryl E.

posted August 28, 2006 at 12:59 am


“Maybe the God of Israel finally had it with their inhumane treatment with their Muslim counterparts and decided not to help them for once.” To Chakra Das: Such anger, lack of logic, and lack of historical knowledge! Hmm. Do you think you need to go in for a chakra tuneup??



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Richard B. Cook

posted August 28, 2006 at 1:46 am


Modern Isreal is a european country located in the Middle East. Lebanon helped create the current situation by legitimizing Hezbalah. ATTENTION: World effectivly dealing with Islamic Militant Extreamists is tyhe real issue. Think about that next time you are at ground zero; on a british under ground; or anembassy building in Africa. I am a Jew. I have been a supporter of Isreal since I bought stamps to plant trees in Isreal in primary grades of sunday school. The IDF is the greatest tactical fighting force in the world when using conventional weapons and battlefields. The Nature of Armed Combat has changed and is anyconvevtional army ready? If Islam writes the rules, the bottom line is Islam always wins.



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Deborah

posted September 6, 2006 at 10:32 am


God is unhappy with Israel and America for accepting sin as the norm’ and not saying anything about it, for accepting religions that do not worship the true God and letting them have their way with our own people and our lands. Israel, without many knowing, are holding until the last Gentile is in the fold. America is waking up, too. We do love the Lord God Almighty and we need to reach out to our own while we can, and we will support Israel. Bless Israel, and you will be blessed, curse Israel and you will be cursed. If we do bless Israel just to be blessed we do well, because God said to do it, but if we do it because we love God and Israel and the Hebrew people, we exceed that. Some people hate the Jews it is said, but they curse the Jews, and God said, ‘Don’t do it, I will curse you.’ The Jews didn’t say that, God did and if they serve the same God, why don’t they know it?



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Deborah

posted September 6, 2006 at 10:38 am


About Islam Islam has been writing the rules since 635 or 638A.D. The mosques built in Jerusalem on the Temple prove it. Does ANYONE think the Jews would have allowed that if Israel had not been invaded by the Muslims or Islam? I don’t believe it was God’s plan either, but God will make good out of bad, just you wait and see.



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Lily Powell

posted September 26, 2006 at 2:17 am


After Christ was crucified, there were thousands of JEWS who were following him, and they were hunted down and slain for thier beliefs, killed in a most terrible manner, with the little children as well. Today you have a nation which has been given a great promise of a home land, but have lost the “power” given by G-d, because of thier stiff necks, and unwillingness to seek the G-d of their fathers, and unite under his promise. So they have ‘confusion’ as thier guide… is there any question as to why that would translate into such inability to fight off the smallest of enemys? They have lost the way, when they turned from G-d, and his will for Isreal. I pray that the nation of Isreal will come to realise what they have lost, the Holiness of the nation is were G-ds power will be found. And not in Progress, and materialism. ‘Faith’ is a powerful thing, the nation of Isreal has lost her’s. I write this with much sorrow for the sons lost to G-ds enemys, I pray that G-ds children will one day find thier salvation and free the land once again. Lily Powell



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