Jewish People

The Jewish People: Not a Nation of Quitters

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In my previous post I lamented about the state of customer service in Israel. Moreover, I spoke about the apathy with which many among the Jewish people approach major issues in Israel. I wanted to pick up on that point, since it’s an important one that I just glossed over. But it truly deserves its own post.

I think it’s important to remind ourselves what Israel is. These are facts that I try to think about all the time. When I walk down the street and someone almost hits me with their car in a crosswalk, and then leans out of his car, and takes a break from his cigarette to scream at me, this isn’t pleasant. This isn’t magical. And this seems to be the life I lead, every single day.

Nevertheless, the jerk in the car and his revolting behavior don’t detract in the slightest from what Israel is and what it should mean to any intelligent observer.

The Jewish People and Unending Hope

Jewish people

The Jewish People were cast from their homeland a couple of thousand years ago. I can just imagine what it must be like a year or two later, still clinging to the hope that a big return to Israel is imminent. Still praying for an enormous turnaround.

What about ten or twenty years later? Fifty, a hundred, a thousand? At what point do you give up hope?

If there’s ever been a lesson to learn from Jewish History, the answer is never. It’s never a good time to lose faith that better times are coming. They could be around the corner, or they could take a thousand years. But losing hope is not an option. And moving toward a century after our glorious return to Israel, the world should be inspired to know that absolutely anything is possible.

From Hope to War

And what did it look like when we finally got our country back, against all odds?

We fought a war against those who would rather see us drown in the sea than have our own land among theirs. We had nothing. We were weak nobodies whose people had just endured arguably the most cataclysmic tragedy in world history.

And we emerged victorious!

We absolutely should not have won. We should have been swarmed upon from every side. We should have been overwhelmed into quick submission. But that’s not even close to what happened. Despite having no chance of victory, we won and we won decisively. And thus the Jewish People, after waiting mostly patiently throughout two millennia, was finally home.

The Hard Road Ahead

Jewish people

But the work was by no means done yet!

What was the road ahead of us?

We needed to take a land that had been neglected for hundreds of years, a land whose primary purpose since we left was being the staging grounds for massive battles and bloodshed. And what did we do with a wasteland of thorns and dust? We worked together, tirelessly, draining swamps and building homes. And we emerged on the other side of the impossible a prosperous and formidable nation.

We could have settled for utter mediocrity. We could have been content being a nation that’s just slightly better than not being massacred by our former neighbors and friends. But we wouldn’t have it. We fought and slaved away to create a great nation, a nation that is enviable. A nation that can inspire anyone to realize that even against all odds, great things can happen. All you need to do is work really hard and never lose an ounce of hope.

But then we became complacent.

And here we are.

Can it be better?

Jewish people

The Nazis battled the world and came close to conquering it. And now they are reduced to rubble while the Jewish people are massively prosperous. But we throw our hands up and say there’s no chance people could ever be friendly or pleasant in an Israeli store?

We overcame the worst odds history has ever known. Returned to our homeland when any reasonable person would have said the thought is utterly impossible. But now we proudly exclaim, “That’s just the way it is.” We even pride ourselves in having such nonchalant attitudes. Acceptance of such mediocrity has become the hallmark of successful aliyah. The rest are just complainers who should go back to their home countries if they don’t like the way it is here.

I object. I so stringently object.

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This is not a nation of people who should “go back home”. It’s supposed to be home. And that home is supposed to be a place we all work together to make unbelievably fantastic. It’s not some idiot’s ashtray or another moron’s excuse for mistreating people different from himself. It’s supposed to be the center of the world for the Jewish people. The entire Jewish people, even those who don’t like the way things are at the moment.

Good Enough is Not Our Way

Jewish people

To think the best path to a successful integration into the country is acceptance that the way things are is the way they always will be is not only incorrect. It’s downright dangerous. It means we’ve ceased to be the people who got us here in the first place! It means we’ve collectively decided that we conquered adversity only to accept a subpar, excessively mediocre life.

We spent decades growing and getting better, only to later on just stop our progress right in its path in order to proudly exclaim, “We’re more than satisfied with just being good enough.”

But good enough is not our way. Our ancestors didn’t accept death over conversion or perish at the hands of countless aggressors to get us to good enough. The previous generation didn’t bleed on the battlefield so we could be just slightly around average. And I believe those who suffered or worse so we could be here today would be ill if they heard any of us giving up and accepting any of our lackings as being permanent fixtures of our national identity.

Believing we can’t do better is not who we are. It’s not the preferred attitude. It’s not some noble and lofty place that allows you to look down upon the dissatisfied.

No, such lack of faith is shameful. And completely not the Jewish way.

We can do better. And we should. And if we work together, we can make anything happen.

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