The day I came across this Tweet referencing this Gallup poll titled “Majority Say Moral Values Getting Worse“:
The age of Obama has led to a real sea change in moral attitudes in a variety of areas. https://t.co/PuAUSa5VsE
— Avi Woolf (@AviWoolf) September 7, 2015
I also came across this story picked up by IMRA titled “On the Eve of the Jewish New Year, PM Netanyahu and his Wife Sara Host a Meeting of the Tanakh Study Circle at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem.” The account of a politician’s Bible study reads, in part:
Prime Minister Netanyahu: “I am pleased to see you all here, including the President of the Supreme Court. Whoever participates, or has participated, in this Circle on a regular basis knows that I once said that the Tanakh is the rock of our existence. Simply put, there is no other significance to our being here without our link to our land and to his book. I read it every Shabbat, with my son if he is on vacation or without him if he is not. I draw great inspiration from it. We are presently finishing the Book of Deuteronomy. After it comes the Book of Joshua. The custom that I have with Avner is that after we finish the weekly Torah and Haftara readings, we simply read sections from the Tanakh. It always reflects on contemporary events. It always touches on the present and on the eternal life of humanity in general and our people in particular.
It is important to me that Israeli children read the Tanakh and establish their knowledge of our culture and our heritage, which are the story of faith, history and morality between man and man and between man and G-d, morality for all humanity. This is first and foremost.
I say this at a time when there is a contrary trend among the nations of the world, a trend that would continue to deny our rights and our link to this land and indeed to life.
What Netanyahu cites as a “global trend” I see on clear display in American politics. I see it in the Iran deal. I see it in Obama’s condemnation of Democrats who support Israel. I see it in the president’s brash lecturing of American Jews regarding their support of Israel. I see it in the federal government’s involvement in Israeli elections and the BDS movement. I even see it in the vicious sentiments of Donald Trump supporters. Anti-Israelism is on full display here in the United States. Anyone who argues to the contrary has their head buried in the sand.
What those of us who recognize this fail to ask is why. Why do our leaders feel so free to establish a culture of hatred towards Israel, so much so that they’re willing to negotiate with fascist dictators and spend millions of tax dollars intervening in foreign elections to prove their point? This is where that Gallup poll comes into play. Our morality has spiraled downward at a rapid pace, that is for sure. So, what do morality and Israel have in common? The Bible.
We, as a nation, have forgotten the Bible. Not that long ago, my mother’s Silent Generation would read from it every morning in public school. A simple Psalm, a prayer to a non-denominational Judeo-Christian God. This is the same God called on repeatedly by America’s founders and cited by great leaders like Abraham Lincoln who made it a point to draw political wisdom from Biblical text. “A house divided against itself shall not stand,” the Great Emancipator once quoted from Proverbs. We have forgotten this, the core of our cultural being known simply as the Word of God. As a result we have become a nation divided against our very self and this is why we’re falling.
— Jewish Voice (@JewishVoice) September 3, 2015
We Jews are about to celebrate Rosh haShanah. Known simply as the Jewish New Year, in truth it is Yom Teruah, the day of Trumpets. The sound of the shofar kicks off a season of redemption, the horns acting as an audible reminder to perform teshuva, to repent and return in anticipation, not only of God’s judgement on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) but of God’s presence dwelling with us on Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles). America needs a Yom Teruah and the teshuva that goes along with it. We need a return to our God, our Bible, and to ourselves. We need a return to our true allies.
Israel is not the only nation susceptible to powers that seek “to deny our rights and our link to this land and indeed to life.” With all good acts of teshuva there is a turning away from what caused us to fall off course in the first place. We need to turn away from destructive behaviors like berating both Scripture and the people who brought God’s Word into our world and our culture. We need to turn away from making deals with leaders bent on destroying us and everything that made us great.
We have this terrible habit of associating the Bible and those who put their faith in it with images of apocalyptic fire and brimstone. This is because we do not read the Bible for ourselves. If we did, we would have a very clear understanding of cause and effect, much like the one expressed by Netanyahu in his speech before Congress last spring. To the Jew, this cause-and-effect scenario goes a little like this: They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat. As it stands now, America’s comprehension is to the contrary: They want to kill us. We’ll sign paperwork and hope for the best. As G.K. Chesterton wrote, those who do not believe in God become “capable of believing in anything.”
America’s anti-Israelism is the sad effect caused by our turning away from the Word of God. The one nation whose leaders are turning toward that Word is the nation determined to survive what seeks to destroy us all. Upon our establishment Ben Franklin likened Americans to the Biblical Israelites crossing the parted sea to freedom. Thank God Israel is still around to show us the pathway to redemption today. It is time we Americans re-learn what we’ve forgotten.