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The Jew As Pacifist

The Real Lesson from the Passover celebration.

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Changing the message of the Passover story into our becoming a nation of peaceful but physically trained and physically competent people will bring respect to the Jewish identity and greatly reduce the increasing world-wide antisemitism. (Photo: Supplied)

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Despite our hopes and dreams, Canada and the world are beginning another round of antisemitism. Jews in the diaspora are again worrying about their future. They have a right to worry. Jewish leadership has reverted to the centuries old formula of asking for understanding and pleading with their political leaders to stop the rising tide of Jew-hatred. Unfortunately asking for understanding has not worked in the past and it won’t work now.  The idea of antisemitism existing because “they are jealous of us” might make us feel better but is not helpful as it doesn’t rid us of antisemitism. 

Jews are again asking themselves why there is antisemitism when Jews are a successful and passive people. In “Julius Caesar” Shakespeare gives us part of the answer when Cassius says “The fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves” that we are underlings. This is commonly and correctly interpreted to mean that we are responsible for our own actions, not fate, nor those that oppose us.  Is Cassius correct that the fault or cause of anti-Semitism lies in our own culture, not in the brutishness of the world, or perhaps in both? 

I am suggesting that Jews are pacifists and although spiritually that is a good quality, in the world we live in it is theoretically but not truly admired by the West and considered to be a serious fault by the rest of the world. One result of this attitude is antisemitism because it is easy to bully someone who does not fight back. 

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Why did Jews become pacifists? Why would we rather negotiate than fight even with Palestinians who have vowed to destroy us? It is not because we are better than others, or that we are afraid to fight. It is our culture. We emphasize study over strength and negotiation over conflict. Our women prefer to marry rabbis than football players.

To understand how this happened we must turn to our major and defining holiday – Passover. 

Every year we celebrate Passover as a major holiday. It tells us that God took us Jewish slaves out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. Our part in this was only to believe in and trust God. The idea that we did not have to fight, that we could concentrate on other matters became ingrained in our culture. God would protect us from societies that would oppress us. Except He didn’t. Jews are small in numbers, are smart because of our emphasis on study, and we prefer not to fight back – we prefer to negotiate, even with our sworn enemies. Why have we adopted the ability to negotiate rather than fight as one of our key virtues?

Every year at Passover we learn that God will take care of fighting for us. All we must do is live moral lives and God will take care of antisemitism. The problem is that this attitude led to 2000 years of oppression. Israel has proved that Jews are fierce fighters who would prefer to negotiate – even with mortal enemies. This is a great moral character, but one that is continually misinterpreted as a fault by our aggressive neighbours. They will not change their values. We must change our culture to take charge in our own defence – to become strong and rely on our own healthy abilities to fight when necessary or advisable, and not to rely on God to do the heavy lifting. We must change the false lesson of Passover into a lesson of freedom achieved not only through belief in God but through our own courage and actions. 

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In the Passover story, God sent the Israelites back into the desert for another 40 years until they were replaced by a new generation that was strong enough to fight by themselves. God instructed us to be strong so that we would not need Him to fight our battles. That should be the Passover lesson. That single change should be enough to promote a change in us from a culture of pacifism to a culture of self-defence and from our neighbours, from a culture of antisemitism to a culture of respect for Jews. God protected the children of Israel only until they could fight for themselves. Then he sent them to fight and win the promised land under the leadership of Joshua. The lesson of Passover must change from “God will be our protector” to “God will teach us to protect ourselves”. The end of the seder is the beginning of a strong Jewish national identity and culture. Israel wins for God not vice-versa. 

In my opinion, changing the message of the Passover story into our becoming a nation of peaceful but physically trained and physically competent people will bring respect to the Jewish identity and greatly reduce the increasing world-wide antisemitism.  

Jonathan Usher was born in Montreal. He graduated from Queen’s Law School in 1963 and moved to Toronto where he has lived since. In the past 20 years of retirement he has become a very prolific and published letter-to-the-editor writer and conservative, social iconoclast.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

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