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The Sign Of Lunacy

Berel Wein- Monday 30th Jun 2003

There is a famous hassidic story about a king and his wise adviser who discover that the grain crop of the coming year contains a substance that, when ingested, induces lunacy. Since the kingdom is wholly dependent on the local grain crop for its sustenance there is no escape from consuming this lunacy-inducing grain.

The king initially suggests that he obtain healthy grain for himself, his adviser and their families. But the adviser gently reminds the king that if everyone else in the country is insane and only he and the king remain sane, they will be judged the insane ones.

The king sighs and says, "You are right. We also will eat from the lunacy-inducing grain to be like everyone else. But let us at least put a mark on our foreheads so that when we look at each other we will realize and be reminded that we are really insane!"

I can think of no better parable to describe our current political, diplomatic and military situation.
What sane country would dismantle outposts, release terrorist murderers from prison, and offer to strengthen the hands of those who are pledged to destroy it - all in the name of an illusory road map to peace that has no more chance of leading anywhere than its ill-conceived predecessors over the past 40 years, all while its citizens are subject to daily terrorist attacks?

So our government and we are insane. Good. That apparently seems to meet the wishes of most of the population here, not to mention satisfying the desires of the famous wise men of the US State Department, the UN, the EU, Russia and other assorted savants, all graduates of Chelm University, who have created such a wonderful world for us to live in.

But at least let us mark our foreheads so that we ourselves will know we are insane.

Let us not stupidly state that terror won't deter us from making peace, that Mahmoud Abbas has to be given a chance, that Arafat is irrelevant, and that a Palestinian state next to us will somehow be a good thing.

And let us protest against Shimon Peres, now temporary head of the Labor Party, negotiating his own foreign policy with world leaders and at international conferences as though nothing had changed in the past decade.

We have heard and experienced all this before, and it has led only to blood and trauma beyond belief. We are therefore insane for pursuing such policies further. But since this is an insane world, we desire to be like everyone else.

Perhaps we have no choice but to follow such an insane policy, what with America and the rest of the world insisting on it. But we should at least mark ourselves so we know we are behaving in an insane fashion. Simple honesty requires at least that.

THE PALESTINIANS may not be much of a partner for peace, but they certainly are our partners in lunacy. Just as that king needed his adviser to be marked, so too the Palestinians serve as our companion in this dance of the macabre.

In an interview last week published in Haaretz (where else?) Dr. Abdel-Aziz Rantisi of Hamas stated that this struggle against the Jews would go on, if need be, for another 500 years.
Imagine that! What sane person would wish to subject his people to another 500 years of abject poverty, social disruption, "martyred" suicidal children and a permanent feeling of alienation, rejection, inferiority and hatred?

Rantisi and the Palestinians keep harping back to the Crusaders and the fact that their kingdom was overcome by the Muslims after 200 years of struggle. Well, the 13th century is not the 21st century, the Jews are not the Crusaders, and Rantisi and his murderous cohorts are not Saladin.
But as long as the Palestinians are crazy enough to continue to think in 13th-century terms, there is little hope that any road map can take us anywhere. If there is no sense of the rational and no acknowledgement of the reality of the situation - only wild dreams of unrealizable claims fueled by fanatical religious beliefs - there will be no chance of accommodation here in the Middle East.

As bleak as that outlook is, it is at least close to sanity. To think otherwise is the triumph of unfounded hope over reality. And that really is a definition of craziness.

We should earnestly pray that our leaders are endowed with a sense of reality and sanity. We should pray that they not throw the dice wildly as they did in Oslo, Wye, Hebron, Camp David and Taba, in the deluded hope of appeasing the tiger.

And it would not hurt our leaders to pray also for guidance, insight, strength, courage and a restoration of sanity.

For as it now stands, we are all marked with the sign of lunacy.



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