THE CHALLENGERabbi Meir Kahane – 1974
There is a Jewish destiny. That which happened to the Jewish people in the past, that which occurs in our times, that which will happen in the days and years to come, is not haphazard, a game of chance. The Jewish people plays its role in history within the limits of divine ordinance.
We stand today, all of us – leaders, captains, elders, men, women, and little ones – before a great moment in history. Those of us who have been chosen, for some inexplicable reason, to live in these times of unparalleled disasters and unequaled miracles of triumph must surely sense in every fiber of our being that the things that we have seen and experienced are not mere chance.
The soul-shattering Holocaust that ripped away a third of our people, followed immediately by the incredible ending of the incredible Exile, the creation of the third Jewish commonwealth, the Ingathering of the Exiles from the four corners of the earth, the smashing of the enemy in Six Days and the return to the Wall and the liberated lands of Judea and Samaria – all are parts of the great moment in history before which we stand.
But great moments must be seized. They wait to be grasped. They always join together the ultimate deliverance with a potential for preceding disaster. Salvation is invariably coupled with a possible attendant tragedy that wipes away the human blemish with the terrible scourge of pain and suffering.
It need not be. The moments that proclaim oncoming deliverance wait for an instant to be understood and grasped. If we recognize them and respond to them, we are blessed. If we do not, they disappear from view and make us pay a tragic and terrible price before the advent of the deliverance.
And the most terrible part of the price is its avoid-ability: the fact that it need not have been paid had we understood and acted.
The great tasks of our day are to clearly and boldly define, teach, and implement.
To define clearly and precisely the purpose and destiny of the Jewish people; the purpose and reason for the Land of Israel and the state therein; the relationship between the Jew and the state; the relationship between the Jew of the state and the Jew in the Exile; the total aim and destiny of the Jew, his people, land, and state.
To teach and implement that definition boldly and relentlessly; to create the kind of Jew and the kind of Jewish people that is their sole reason for being; to create the uniquely Jewish kind of state and policy within the Land of Israel that is the sole reason for having one; to create the kind of relationship between Jew and Jew and Jew and state that is the only true and honest one in terms of Jewishness
In a word, our people must be a Jewish people, not a pales replica of others. Our state must not seek merely to be like all the rest, but a distinctively Jewish one.
The Jewish people stands or falls on the knowledge that it is not like all other people. The foundation of foundations and the raison d’etre of the Jewish people is that it is the Chosen People, a godly people – the people chosen by the Almighty to do his will. It is a people that was called into being by G-d and whose existence and fate are decreed by him. And from this choosiness, this call to holiness and challenge to greatness, flow certain absolute and necessary axioms. If we are chosen, then we are a certain kind of people with a certain kind of role and a certain kind of state. There is a Chosen People, a chosen land, a chosen state, and a chosen destiny. The normal rules of nationhood and statehood do not apply to us; the normal logic of foreign policy is not ours. If we obey the call of the Jewish destiny and the command of the Almighty we shall endure and live, both in this world and the next. If we do not return to the Jewish role, we will pay a terrible price before the ultimate redemption comes, wiping away our sins with the suffering of pain and war.
The creation of the Jewish people and its survival has a divine purpose. The rebirth of the State of Israel and the miracles that have accompanied that rebirth are part of that purpose. It has been ordained that the Jewish people return home and rebuild their Jewish lives in their land – all of it. Are we capable of understanding this and the fact that only a truly Jewish state is the aim of the divine decree? If we do, we will hasten the advent of the redemption; if we do not, we will not only lengthen it but we will pay a terrible price in the form of our own suffering and the soul-suffering of our youth.
Today our youth, many of them, stand confused. Tomorrow there will be more of them and the ideas that to their elders seem basic and easy to understand will not be obvious or clearly understood. We have taken these ideas as well as our youth for granted, and we stand to lose them both. That will be the price of our neglect and mistaken self-assurance. We have not given our youth the most basic of human needs, the idea – the Jewish idea. Our youth wait for it, as a hungry man for bread. They wait and are prepared to accept – if we give it.
The idea is the weapon. If you have it and believe in it, if you teach it and spread it, if you organize pupils who will teach it and spread it to others, you can change a world. For actions and reactions are predicated upon ideas, and depending on the idea we will act and react in a certain way – correctly or wrongly, with truth or with falsehood.
We in the State of Israel are in a struggle for the souls of the generation that is growing into manhood. If we wish to win them – and not lose them either to the enemy or to the well-meaning fools who would destroy us just as effectively – we must have the idea, believe in it completely and teach it unceasingly. We must fill the minds and hearts and souls of our youth with it daily
Let us not make the most dangerous of all errors, and believe that ideological vacuums can remain. Just like their physical counterparts, they must and will be filled by something or someone. And there are people and groups today who are working hard and tirelessly to fill the fertile minds of our youth with their own ideology. Let us not be so foolish as to believe that small numbers mean impotency or that sacred cows remain permanently sacred.
That which seems indubitably true and axiomatic to us is not necessarily so for the next generation. What is holy to one leaves the second indifferent, while the third looks upon it as profane. We can lose our youth and we can watch them lose our values through our apathy and indifference, our failure to give them burning ideals to match the ideas of others. We can also lose them through weak, unconvincing arguments that leave the youth troubled, dissatisfied, and unfulfilled. And if we lose the battle for our youth, we will ultimately, lose every other battle.
The battle has already started. Already the Left, the wreckers and the moral anarchists, have made deep ideological gains among the youth even though we, in our preoccupation with the more prosaic things in life, do not recognize it. The Left has always understood the power of ideas. It is time that the nationalist camp understood this also. The primary battleground is not the Knesset but the schools, the campuses, the streets – wherever our youth and their minds are.
As one who spends much time among every section of our youth, I can see the danger and the potential opportunity. In these pages I shall try to present ideas, Jewish ideas that your youth will accept and cherish.
Although these ideas are my own, clearly they represent much of the thinking of the Jewish Defense League in Israel. It would be logical to assume that the program of the League in the Jewish state will be based upon many of the ideas in this book. Just as there is a need for physical defense, we believe, so is there at least as great a need for spiritual defense.
The ideas put forward in this book are not only sound ideas; more important, they are Jewish ideas, drawn from Jewish sources and tradition. In the end, that is the only honest program for a Jewish state and a Jewish individual. That which marks us as different and which gives us a right and reason to set ourselves up as a separate nationality, state, and entity is our unique Jewishness. That Jewishness can only be expressed through Jewish concepts and those concepts can only be derived from Jewish sources. In short, I intend simply to restore the fundamental thoughts of Judaism. The pity is that many Jews have never stopped to listen to them.
There may, therefore, be many who will be upset by some of the ideas in this book. Yet they cannot claim that these are not Jewish ideas that have throughout the centuries represented the mainstream of Jewish thought. Those who oppose them would do well to honestly search their own minds and hearts and to discover whether their ideas are not really the products of intellectual and ideological assimilation.
I love the Jewish people and think that there is no greater and deeper pride than that of knowing that one is a Jew. I love the Jewish state, the Land of Israel, and see in it the hand of the Almighty, the realization of the vision of the Prophets. And precisely because one loves the Jew and the land, must he speak up in admonition and criticism. So long as one is motivated by love, that admonition and demand for change are not only valid but obligatory. I would do the same for my sons and daughters, precisely because I love them so. If I did not I would not care what they did or what they would become. It is because a Jew must love his people and state, must care about them and their fate, that it is so important that we define the Jewish people and state, and work to create them in the image of Jewishness.
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