Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The Rebbe on Arab and Israeli Youth

Motti Eden of Kol Yisrael Israeli radio. 1980 Private audience with the Rebbe.

I know that Jewish children’s rallies were critically important in the Rebbe’s eyes. So I asked him, “why children’s rallies?” I remembered that every time there was a call for a rally from the Rebbe it was before some critical event. It happened before the Yom Kippur War. I remembered that well. Why? 

Children's Rally in 770

Then the Rebbe explained. He spoke of the situation as being very grave...The Rebbe reply: According to Torah one must be careful not to frighten Jews, for we are commanded “to serve G-d with joy”. But according to the intelligence I have from Washington where intelligence is gathered from all over the world – the situation is extremely grave, for two reasons. 

There is a trend growing among the Arabs. Thirty or forty years ago, for just a few lira, or just a few dollars, it was possible to bribe the most senior Arab Sheikh.  How much more so the younger ones; and the younger ones obeyed– they did nothing on their own without asking the Sheikh. You could bribe him with a car or the like, and he would do anything you wanted. 

Now the situation has changed from one extreme to the other. The young generation are more fanatical and more zealous for religion, for independence, than all the Sheikhs and more than any in that generation. The younger the Arab, the more zealous he is. He cannot be bought, not with money or with honor. For him, this is Allah, and this is his self-sacrifice. There is nothing more glorified in his eyes than this. 

Painfully and unfortunately with respect to our own Jewish youth, the direction is just the opposite. Thirty years ago in Israel, pioneering was good currency. No one needed convincing to be a pioneer; he came on his own and demanded “Give me a plot of land in a settlement, in the Negev desert,” where he would prove his self-sacrifice. Now they are saying “Enough already! We have lived under pressure for 32 years. Now we deserve to live a peaceful life, a fun life.” 

The first and most crucial item: We must change the outlook of the youth about their personal connection to the Holy Land: that they are a single continuum of thirty generations of Jewish men and women. That thirty five or forty generations ago the Jewish People entered the Holy Land which was given to them as an eternal inheritance. It is not theft, there is no injustice here. The Arabs came a thousand years later, and then they left and were not interested in it. All these explanations are simple. 

But a young boy or girl has no patience for theoretical concepts. They need something concrete that they can actually participate in. When they are told there is a verse in the Torah “Hear Israel, G-d is our G-d, G-d is One” and that was not just addressed to someone named Israel who stood at Sinai 3,000 years ago, but it was meant for this ‘Avraham’, ‘Moshe’, and ‘Shlomo’ who lives in Tel Aviv on such-and-such a street. It was they whom G-d had in mind when He said “Hear [listen] Israel!” 

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