The Oslo Accords of 1993 were a hard sell. Israel had agreed in private meetings between Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat ym”sh held in Oslo, Norway, to cede good portions of Jewish-liberated Judea and Shomron to the control of the PLO for the purposes of making peace. Arafat openly spoke in Arabic to his Arab audience, saying that the agreements were just a subterfuge to entrap the Israelis into surrendering land.
Shimon Peres was well aware of this double-talk, but dismissed it in his pithy way by saying, “We will judge him by his deeds, not his words.” Of course, his deeds proved to be a disaster. Terror reigned supreme and thousands of Jews lost their lives as a result. Arafat remained the murderous terrorist he always was. Kever Rachel was radically changed from its classic picturesque look to the fortress that it has become. A real peace bonus.
Prime Minister Rabin callously referred to the martyred Jews as “korbanot ha’shalom – sacrifices of peace.” President Bill Clinton was only too happy to allow Israel to become ensnared by the promising illusion of peace and prosperity for all.
So how did the Israeli public manage to be convinced of these accords, which were seen doomed to fail by any observer with half a brain?
In about the year 2000, an article was written by Jay Shapiro (Jlaw.com), in which he explained how this great con job happened. It’s called the boiled lobster syndrome. The lobster is a cold-blooded creature, but intelligent at the same time. It can deal with a cold atmosphere and can tolerate a warm one to a point. Once it realizes the environment around it is too warm for comfort, it reacts by wildly stirring around it.
One of the methods of cooking a live lobster is to immerse it in a pot with cold water, then turn on the heat. As it gets warmer, the lobster still is comfortable with its surroundings and behaves. By the time the pot gets to cooking temperature, it’s too late for the lobster and he submits quietly to its fate and onto the dinner plate.
That is how Israelis were conditioned to gradually accept the promising lures of the Oslo Accords. By the time they realized what was happening, it was too late. Jews throughout the country were offered as sacrifices by terrorists throughout the country.
We have become like that lobster. Gradually, our society has changed before our eyes, and by the time we have woken up to the new reality, it’s too late. We are cooked.
Many issues just a few years ago were considered too radical to consider. For example, same-gender marriage was overwhelmingly disapproved of even by such notable Democrats as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Then the discussion began to be accepted in polite company. Then we read stories of same-gender celebrities and politicians getting married. Nobody disapproved openly and whatever wall of opposition there was totally collapsed. It has even worked its way into Open Orthodoxy while little is said to publicly object.
Now we find that this applies to every other social and economic issue, as well. We have allowed the current American administration to destroy our borders, embarrass our world prestige with its surrender in Afghanistan, bring about skyrocketing inflation from the gas pump to restaurants, destroy race relations, encourage he/she-ism, neuter the police, stifle freedom of expression in the media and in school districts, suppress personal scandals, cause a crisis with the supply of goods as store shelves become empty, remain silent in the face of growing leftist anti-Semitism, and threaten Israel by pushing for a consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem, as it sets the stage for a socialist type of budget in Congress. Most of us knew this administration would be bad. But not this bad. And not this quickly.
I thought I was the only one wondering out loud what happened to us? What happened to organized Jewry? Why the silence? But a rabbi in a very well-known Orthodox shul told me that his members are constantly asking him, “Why are we silent? Where are our organizations? Where are our leaders?” He says he has no answer for them.
My answer is that we have become like that lobster in the pot. We allowed ourselves to become too complacent, too comfortable, as things gradually began to boil over.
We as a society – Jewish and non-Jewish – have accepted everything that’s thrown at us. We don’t even complain about the price of gas anymore. Nothing bothers us. But let’s not forget: The temperature will rise. Start kicking before it’s too late.
What is the best thing we can do right now? Vote! And vote for the candidate you think will best serve the city and combat the lunacy – even if you think your candidate has no chance of winning. It’s important to get out the message that we are still alive.
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld is the Rabbi of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, Vice President of the Coalition for Jewish Values, former President of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, and the Rabbinic Consultant for the Queens Jewish Link.