Some Thoughts Prior to Shabbat Va’etchanan
I’m not sure how to tie this in with the parsha–or if it really needs to be. I was extremely inspired by a guy I met today and wanted to share part of what he told me because it has a lot to do with an article I recently posted that dealt with learning from our enemies.
I was on the phone, holding conversations in three languages, when one of the people seated close-by turned in my direction, and asked what my native language was. We started talking and it turned out the man was well-traveled (he was born in France, had lived in Morocco and spoke some 4-5 languages well) and knew quite a bit about Islam.
When we realized we were on the same page when it came to dealing with long-standing grievances between Muslims and Jews and were both aware that solving a conflict–any conflict–demanded a deep understanding of the cultural, historical, national, and religious backgrounds of the parties involved, he shared the following story with me:
The man had apparently been in some far-off part of the world–Morocco, I guessed, when two young Arabs approached him and told him to follow them. He realized they were armed and wanted to kill him. He knew that if he were to turn around and walk in the direction they had signaled, it would be the end of his life. But he was armed with the most dangerous weapon known to man: knowledge. He spoke in Arabic and told them that being a “good Muslim” involved not hurting a fellow human being–much more so a “a Jew; a man of the Book.”
I know of cases in which this type of persuasion–or any type of dialogue would only encourage the potential murderers to carry out his mission. Honestly speaking, I don’t think I could have said anything to make matters better in a situation like this. Muslims are known for murdering thousands of their fellow Muslims. I realize that if they had an opportunity to wipe out all the world’s Jews, they’d probably seize the moment without thinking twice about it. But this case happened to be different and maybe we can learn from it.
The youngsters turned around and were about to go their way, when the man urged them to come back. Needless to say, they were a little surprised. He asked them if they had wanted to kill him. They said they had indeed and he replied by telling them he’d be happy to sit down and learn the Koran with them. That’s as much of this story as I’m aware of. I have no proof of its validity other than that it was told to me by a complete stranger who didn’t stand to win anything by making it up. Besides, I told him I was very right wing and I believe he was as well.
Everything happens to us through hashgacha pratit. There’s no such thing as a “chance encounter.” I believe this man was a messenger sent to teach me something. I realize this is a very “spiritual” approach to life, but that’s just where I’m at at this point. So what was this story meant to teach me? Where was it meant to take me?
My political approach does not involve appeasement of any kind. I’m not interested in making the Arabs feel good in order for them to leave us alone. This has never worked and it never will. But there’s something to be said for the existence of an inherent difference between “individuals” and “groups.” This is the case with the Jewish people as well.
We’re at war with the Arab/Muslim world. As a group, they are our enemies. Modern day Amalek if you will. As individuals, there’s such a great variety of them that it might be safe to say that we, Jews, can’t even compare to it.
Take the example of my good friend, Anette Haskia, whom I interviewed recently. Her three kids all served in the IDF, and she loves Israel like few of us do. She dares to stand up to terrorist-wannabe’s–as well as actual terrorists. She’s engaged filth like Arab MK Zoabi in tense debate, telling them Israel is her “only home” and there’s “no place for them here.” To be sure, there are many individuals like Anette, just not a lot who have the guts to voice their opinions.
We need to understand and learn not only from our friends, but even more importantly, from the groups of people who are at war with us. We need to focus on understanding the Koran (we obviously don’t have to agree with it) and Arab culture in order to have the capacity to deal with the substantial threats facing us and the Western world.
Shabbat shalom from “occupied Jerusalem” and may we merit to know and understand our enemies as well as they do.