Fear Not, Jacob

Bibi knows there's nothing like fear for closing ranks. That is why he will use it as he wishes. If he hasn't achieved everything he wants by means of divide and conquer, perhaps he will do so by means of scare and conquer.

Two weeks have passed, but our eyes are still wide open and our ears are ringing: 10,000 Jews roared, and the sound of war was in the camp as they danced around the golden microphone.

"Some people are calling the speech delivered by [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu at the convention a 'war speech,'" wrote the daily Israel Hayom in its report on the AIPAC conference. The audience rose to its feet 14 times, it added, and the speech was drowned out by thunderous applause 46 times. The sorcerer's apprentices provided the reporters with the precise figures. That is what should be done for the Dear Leader.

AIPAC is a hostile organization: Those Jews over there are endangering our lives here, now more than ever. If only they would leave us alone, if only they would stick to their own affairs and release us from the punishment of their support.

Now, after the carnival is over, after you've returned home to your American children, for whom Israel is a Birthright - aren't you ashamed of your ugly duckling-like quacking? How good it is for brothers to sit together over a long weekend, and how pleasant to hear two presidents, one prime minister and three Republican candidates who are suffering from crucifix shock.

It's not for me to intervene in your domestic considerations, which I fail to understand: Why do you insist on being portrayed as the ones who are pushing your country into another war? Why are you doing this to yourselves? After all, we have already been suspected - we and you - of causing the unwarranted war in Iraq. President George W. Bush set out, with our encouragement, to find smoke, and found fire. Is it right for you to once again reawaken the question of dual loyalty? And will you or your children be sitting in the ejection seats over the skies of Bushehr?

I am intervening only in the considerations that affect us. Let's say that Bibi Netanyahu is a man after your own hearts, one of yours, whose dandified English and body and facial language are like balm to your souls. And let's say that your Jewish conscience is bothering you because of your community's impotence during the Holocaust. And let's even say that war with Iran is inevitable, in your opinion.

But in the name of the God of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, why cheer a "war speech"? What's this cheering for a war that is not yours? If we are really fated to go to war and the die has been cast, Netanyahu's speech should have been received with an oppressive silence, with a restrained sense of responsibility. It should not have been received with the triumphant roar of the battle-hungry. Even those who gather in Tehran's central square show more restraint.

I doubt whether you really understood what you heard, whether you got to the bottom of the speaker's shallow opinions. It's important to understand that what's at stake is the survival of Israel, which you love so much from a distance.

Let's say the preemptive strike is launched and goes wrong in the middle. Let's say that it doesn't achieve all its objectives. Or let's even say it isn't carried out at all, for diplomatic or operational reasons. What then, is that the end of us? Will Israel arrive at the end of its history, at Holocaust Now? Has Zionism failed to fulfill its main role - to serve as a refuge for Jews everywhere - with no chance of being resurrected? Is that the only possible conclusion?

But there's another possibility, which is far worse: In spite of all the efforts, after a war or without it, Iran nevertheless succeeds in producing a bomb. Is that it, is all lost? And does every sane person have to pack his bags immediately and take the first flight out?

We, with our children, are staying in Israel, for now. Don't cheer for us, we beg you. We're carrying on, even if we are forced to accept a new reality from now on. We won't die, we will live. Fear not, Jacob, my servant - or free man.

But Bibi knows there's nothing like fear for closing ranks; it's the great unifier. That is why he will use it as he wishes. If he hasn't achieved everything he wants by means of divide and conquer, perhaps he will do so by means of scare and conquer.