Where's The Chutzpah?
ome time ago, I was walking
the streets of Haifa and came
upon a small "off-Broadway"
theater. I stopped and read
this on the marquee, "William
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet —
Translated and Improved."
Yes, they "improved" Shakespeare,
these Israelis did. That's chutzpah! To
an American like me, doing volunteer
duty, this was charming. What could
you do but smile?
But as I said, that was some time ago.
Meantime, what happened to that
Israeli daredevil spiritedness that
astonished the world? What happened
to, we're small, you're big — so what?
What happened to, we're right;
you're wrong — go to hell!
Where's the chutzpah? That's at least
worth a bumper sticker.
Militarily, few nations can match
Israel for courage. But when it comes
to "One Resolute Nation Under God"
— nope. Instead, even after a get-tough
mandate, the political talk is about
more "painful concessions" to please
Jack Engelhard is a former radio and
newspaper editor covering the Mideast
and a former American volunteer in the
Israeli' Defense Forces. His e-mail address
Osirak; among those heroes
nation is being debated.
and appease. That's far from chutzpah;
the glorious F-16 pilot Ilan
it's nearer to kvetching
Ramon. That's chutzpah.
repeated self-doubt, ambiguity
Israeli reporter Danny Rubenstein
The world gasps and pro-
that leads to: "Post-Zionism ...
recently wrote about the Haj, how Israeli
"That's so wrong,"
The Oslo Surrender ... Is
restrictions imposed upon Palestinian
when Israel goes it
Arabs make it difficult for them to under- Jerusalem worth the trouble?
take the pilgrimage to their "sacred sites"
in Mecca. They face so many "obstacles."
from such a
Jews face no "obstacles" when trying
ENGEL HARD tiny country.
thing they want and hope for
to visit Joseph's Tomb — they have no
Chutzpah is spunk, feisti-
the best ... Shouldn't we all
Joseph's Tomb, after it was plundered
boldness even when
pack our bags and go back to
and destroyed by Palestinian Arabs.
outnumbered 100 to
When I was a kid in Montreal, I was sunny Germany?"
going somewhere with my father. We
(a precursor of the
were on Park Avenue, a boulevard full
"New Fighting Jew"). — what was that
interests, what will the neighbors say?"
of people. I must have been 11 or 12
if not chutzpah?
For lack of Jewish chutzpah
and was upset about something. From
The greatest example of chutzpah is
out of nowhere, a dog jumped out and * (resolve), the nations bark. That's one
David, so fearless before their
reason why academics in Britain and
started barking at me.
Later, my father asked why the dog had
No, I'm wrong. That honor goes to
to announce that their boycott of
picked on me, of all people. I shruKed.
who actually bargained with
"I'll tell you why," he said. "Because you
to spare Sodom. -
were walking with your head down."
Abraham had the nerve, the chutzpah,
eous, feels the time is right to dump
Then he said: "Dogs know. So do
to challenge God, and say, "Shall not
on Israel's version of the Red Cross.
the Judge of all the Earth do justly?"
Like-dogs, they smell the scent of
Isn't that Israel walking with its head
Wow! My sense is that God smiled.
down ... on the defensive, in retreat?
feeling is that God said to
Dithering in their tents, the hand-
"This is My kind of guy."
wringing intellectuals have put the
also defiant. He stood up
nation in a straightjacket.
ingly) admires Israel when Israel aston- to Pharaoh with no fear of "world
opinion." Unlike Shakespeare, that
ishes, as it did at Entebbe, and
may not be something Israel can
Ethiopia. That's chutzpah. Or when
improve, but definitely translate. ❑
The very existence of Israel as a Jewish
Israel's 'Light' Is Slowly Fading
n 1927 in Chicago, the
American Jewish and Zionist
leader Rabbi Stephen Wise
debated the famed attorney
Clarence Darrow on "The Merits of
Darrow claimed that Zionism's
aspiration of a Jewish state was
unrealizable, and America's Jews
should give up this goal and consid-
er the United States their home.
In his rejoinder, Rabbi Wise
stressed that the re-established
Jewish state and its Jews would once
again "become moral leaders and
spiritual benefactors of the human
race." This state would fulfill the
dreams of the prophets and be "a
Robert Rockaway, a firmer Detroiter, is
a professor in the Department of Jewish
History at Tel-Aviv Universi t y. He has
lived in Israel since 1971. His e-mail
address is email@example.com
light unto the nations." This was the
hope and belief of Rabbi Wise and
that of generations of Zionists.
Sadly, the Jewish state has failed
them. Israel has not become a light
unto the nations. Neither is it
presently a light unto the Jews. How
did this happen? Why is the dream
We can begin with the ongoing
occupation of the territories con-
quered in the Six-Day War of 1967.
All the justifications for continuing
to build settlements and rule over
another people — that the area is
"disputed territory"; that it is the
birthright of the Jewish people
promised by God; that it is the
ancient home of the patriarchs and
the historic kingdom of Solomon;
and that a Palestinian state would be
a terrorist enclave and pose a mortal
danger to Israel — ignores what the
occupation has done to us, individu-
ally and as a nation.
History has shown that there is no
among the leading western
such thing as a benign occu-
nations in the amount of
pation. I spent a good deal of
in the school.
my reserve duty in the occu-
The deadening of our sen-
pied areas, and I experienced
sitivity toward injustice so
this reality. In order to exer-
alarmed a group of
cise and maintain control
Holocaust survivors that
over another people, harsh
they recently published a
and sometimes brutal meth-
manifesto stating, "Israeli
ods must be employed. This
is descending into a
has a negative effect on the
of violence, brutal-
occupiers, dulling their sensi-
tivity to injustice and com-
rights and contempt for
promising their morality.
human life." Furthermore,
Unfortunately, we have
of another people
learned nothing from the experience
contradicts the les-
of other nations and are paying a
terrible personal price for it. As a
humanely, and politically."
consequence of our occupation, we
have become more violent and cal-
lous, not only toward the Palestinian
Arabs but to each other as well.
much of our wealth and resources
Violence by husbands toward their
been poured into maintaining
wives, parents toward their children,
and its settlers that lit-
as well as in our daily lives has
tle remains to improve the condition
increased dramatically in the last
ROCKAWAY on page 32
decade. And Israel is now ranked