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[KE CyberTorah] The end of Masada

08/06/2021 01:55:16 PM

Aug6

The end of Masada

For many years, Masada was the driving myth of Israel. Israel is on the mountain, surrounded by enemies, making a last stand. Israel narrowly won the war of Independence and remained surrounded by nation after nation at war. The Arab League declared a boycott against Israel to further isolate them and attempt to break Israel economically. Coca-Cola broke the boycott, while Pepsi did not. For this reason, Israelis still prefer Coke products.

Even after the sea-change that was the 1967 war, the Masada myth still influenced Israeli reality. Golda Meir felt this way during the Yom Kippur war, worried that this war would be the last stand by the Jewish state before it was driven into the sea and its people slaughtered. 

Yet in recent decades, the myth of Masada has receded. Israel now has a cold peace with both Egypt and Jordan. They have free trade agreements with dozens of countries from every continent on Earth. When votes come to the United Nations today, Israel has leverage and support from these trade partners. While American Jews continue to visit Masada as a quasi pilgrimage site, few Israelis even go. Israelis instead are obsessive travelers. They go to Europe, Peru, and India. Weekend trips to Greece or Istanbul are the norm. Israel is open to the world. It still has many dangerous enemies, but it also has many powerful friends.

The Abraham Accords are one more step in this process. The Gulf States weighed their geo-political needs and came down in favor of normalization with Israel as their best strategic and economic move to limit Iranian adventurism. It may also be meant as a counterbalance to Russian influence in the region. I believe it is a critical step for Israel in achieving peace with all her neighbors and finding a path to creating a stable state for Palestinians.

I have never been to any Gulf state, nor heard directly from government officials in one. A friend of mine, Rabbi Charlie Savenor at Park Avenue Synagogue, connected me with an expert on the UAE, Daniel Fefferman, and he has helped organize an incredible virtual tour for us. Click here to register for our Virtual UAE Trip.

Over the next two weeks, I invite you to join me on a virtual tour of the United Arab Emirates along with an in depth look at the meaning of the Abraham Accords.  Daniel will show us sites and places to get to know the UAE and its culture and people. Hopefully, this will whet your appetite for an in person trip sometime in the future when such things are possible.

In addition, we will meet with a panel of experts including UAE government officials to talk about their perspectives on the Accords. We will explore their meaning to the UAE and what they see as the hopes for the future. It will give us an opportunity to learn  and then judge for ourselves what these Accords mean for Israel and how the Gulf States view them.

This unique trip is a chance to see a place previously closed to Israelis and to learn directly from UAE officials how they are seeing these Accords. I hope you can join us! It will take place via zoom from 12:15-1:15 on Tuesday August 10th and 17th.  Click here to sign up now and join us!

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi David Booth

Sat, November 27 2021 23 Kislev 5782