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Friday Night Sermon (September 11, 2020): "Can't beat them, join them"



Sermon


There is an old saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them”. It seems like that is what the Arab world is starting to do. After years of fighting Israel and us Jews, they are starting to come around. After seeing that they are not defeating Israel—and in fact Israel is thriving despite the aggression—their attacks are futile.


The United Arab Emirates has just started the process of establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel. Saudi Arabia is allowing El Al, Israel’s airline, to fly over its airspace. Other Arab countries have been reported to also approach opening diplomatic relations or at least conversation with Israel as well.


That’s very positive news for the prospects of peace in the New Year of 5781. Perhaps it is looking the proverbial gift horse in the mouth, but one may wonder what led to this new situation. Of course, it may be advantageous to analyze the cause so that it can be replicated with other such countries.


It could be that Israel acted very quickly to contain the coronavirus and is now on the verge of developing new treatments and vaccines. The Arab countries see that as a solution and would like to be recipients of those medical developments. Israel has shown itself in the past to be generous with technological and medical developments.


It could also be that they are worried about aggression from Iran and their alleged support of terrorist activities in that region. Israel has been successful warding off and containing hostile attacks. These other countries may be worried and see an alliance with Israel as an advantage. They may also be considering strength in numbers and when Iran sees the alliances, they may abate their actions.

In any of these cases, we certainly welcome the overtures. It may not be smooth and there are challenges to resolve (i.e. Palestinian-Israel relations), but it’s a very good start. We want to encourage any and all efforts towards peace.


On the home front here in the United States, we may also be encouraged that such actions may inspire local cooperation as well. It seems like we Jews can’t win. One group calls us a race of greedy people that control the purse strings of many governments and are taking over the world. Other groups of “minorities” see us as “privileged”. Everybody is ignoring the persecution we’ve endured for over the last 1500 years and still managed to survive and thrive. Or maybe that is exactly the reason they are suspicious of us.


After all, how does a people who have been systematically restricted from practicing their religion, restricted from making a living, chased out of country after country, been the brunt of vicious rumors and murdered, not only still exist, but manage to thrive? With all those odds against us, what magical powers do we have? None. We’re a stiff-necked people, remember? We persevere, it’s that simple.


Just as the Arab countries in the Levantine and rest of Middle East see that we’re tenacious and not going anywhere, perhaps local groups will ultimately come to the same conclusion and decide they also can’t beat us, so they might as join us. Or perhaps, they will invite us to join them.


Here in the United States, minority groups are on the rise. They are speaking out about the unfair treatment they’ve received at the hands of the majority society. They are marching in the streets and demanding justice, and to be treated fairly.

Except that some of those same groups are also faulting us. They are saying that Israel, our ancient home, is also oppressing an indigent minority, and they want to address that oppression as part of their call for justice. There has been some talk that recently these people have removed that part of their “manifesto”, especially since many Jews have joined in to support them, as we’ve done many times in the past.


Besides, their accusations are absolutely not true. What is it about us Jews that makes these people want to vilify us? Certainly, we’ve been persecuted probably a lot more than they have, any of those groups.


Wouldn’t it be a lot more productive for everybody if they took it from the UAE and Kosovo and Serbia, and even Saudi Arabia that is at least letting us fly through their air space? Why don’t they partner with us? We’ve shown, time and time again, how we beat the odds! How about learning from experts?


5781 looks like it just may be a year of peace. Of course, we all want to see peace in our region and hope that our neighbors decide to beat their swords into plow shares and make war no more. Everybody gains a lot more from cooperation than by contention.

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