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There is one thing that we can all agree upon and it is is that the existence and policies of the State of Israel, no matter which party is in power, makes Jews the world over feel uncomfortable. There always is some untoward incident, bad behavior, foolish governmental policy or controversial and aggressive stance that makes many Jews squirm in their seats.

Because of this discomfort, there are many Jews, representing all shades of religious observance, political belief and personal inclination, who in their heart of hearts just wish that Israel would go away and not perturb them any longer. There are those in the observant Jewish world that simply cannot come to terms with the fact that the state was created in a seemingly rational and ordinary way. Nor can they come to terms with who the leaders of that state were and are.
This is also true for the atheistic and agnostic Left – a powerful and pervasive force in Jewish society here in Israel and throughout the Jewish world – that cannot come to terms with the fact that, in the main, the Jewish state is quite Jewish in outlook, behavior, and values, much to its chagrin and disappointment.
So even aside from the current controversy and fallout regarding Israel's position on the Iranian nuclear situation, there still is plenty of room for discomfort amongst many Jews regarding the State of Israel. And this discomfort expresses itself in many different ways, ranging from outright Israel-bashing in public forums and throughout the media, to subtleties regarding the absence of wholehearted recognition and the acceptance that the State of Israel is worthy of our prayers and support. In short, the State of Israel remains a disturbing presence in the world and Jewish society.
Lest this phenomenon remain completely mysterious and inexplicable to us, I would be bold enough to suggest that to a certain extent this was the case in Second Temple times as well. Most of the Jewish world then did not live in the Land of Israel. Major Jewish communities existed in Babylonia and Egypt as well as in Rome and North Africa.
In Alexandria in Egypt the Jews even built their own Temple to compete with the consecrated one located in Jerusalem. The Jewish community in Rome cowered in fear and shame while their brethren in the Land of Israel struggled against their Roman oppressors. It was not easy or pleasant to be a Jew in the Roman Empire during the first century of the Common Era.
One need only read the works of Josephus and of Philo centuries later, in order to sense the anguish of these Jews struggling to remain Jewish in a most alien and hostile environment. Being a Jew in the Greek city of Alexandria or in the Roman city of Rome was an uncomfortable experience.
Throughout the exile of the Jewish people the world over, this discomfort has been experienced again and again. It existed before there was a State of Israel, though the founding of the state focused and intensified the problem. Individual Jews always find it difficult to remain loyal to the Torah in a world and society that, in the main, rejects and denigrates it.
As the assimilationists in the Jewish world become farther and farther removed from: Torah knowledge and values, their animosity towards the State of Israel becomes more public and intense. Muslim terrorism against Jews and the State of Israel is almost always given a pass while pietistic handwringing over alleged Jewish wrongdoing receives banner headlines and universal condemnation.
These Jews are ashamed of being Jewish. In their tortured existence they lash out at themselves, all the while proclaiming their noble compassionate values and unique wisdom. They are very uncomfortable with the government and people of Israel.
Herman Wouk in his masterful book, This Is My God, described a scene in the lobby of a magnificent Manhattan skyscraper where a completely assimilated Jew suddenly espies a Chasidic Jew, beard, garb and all, about to enter the elevator with him. That combination of horror, surprise, shame, guilt and curiosity so graphically described by Wouk is a true picture of how much of the Jewish world today views the State of Israel. The existence of the State of Israel imposes harsh choices and uncomfortable decisions upon Jews the world over. Apparently, this is what Heaven intended, discomfort and all.
Shabbat shalom

Berel Wein

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