Thursday, June 04, 2009

Towards A Jewish Mindset

Towards a Jewish Mindset

There are no shortcuts.

Yoel Meltzer
11 Sivan 5769/June 3, 2009

For more than 15 years Israel has been plagued by the "Oslo mindset". This way of thinking, which did not appear out of a vacuum but slowly evolved over the course of years, is still alive and kicking despite all that has transpired. Its current outward manifestation, the much talked about "two-state solution", is gaining momentum every day despite the obvious danger that undertaking such a measure would entail to the state of Israel.

Although the "Oslo mindset" has had many opponents, most have invested their energy in opposing the various outward manifestations of the mindset, rather than focusing on the faulty mindset itself. The result of this has been that Oslo opponents simply gained a reputation of always "opposing", like a group of pessimistic naysayers, without ever proffering any alternative of their own. Moreover, by constantly focusing on the outward manifestation, they repeatedly engaged the Oslo proponents in a battle they were sure to lose, since who can appear victorious when arguing against measures allegedly designed to bring "peace" or "improved security"?

Unfortunately, the Oslo opponents continue to make the same mistake. The real battle should have been, and still needs to be, against the mindset. Moreover, rather than simply wasting negative energy attacking a certain way of thinking, positive energy should be invested in promulgating a different way of thinking. This point is crucial, since changes in the way one thinks, be it as an individual or a nation, are frequently the catalyst for changes in the physical realm. Obviously, it would have been preferable if such an approach had begun 15 years ago, but nonetheless it's never too late to start. Therefore, I would like to briefly present some key points of what can hopefully become the cornerstone of a proper and healthy "Jewish mindset".

Although the following is certainly not an all-encompassing list and many of the points are not new, it is my firm belief that these ideas need to first be outlined in a clear and concise manner in order for them to be easily disseminated, discussed and internalized by as many Jews as possible.

The 18-point list, the basics for a healthy "Jewish mindset", is as follows:

1. There is a purpose to the unfolding events of history and there is a purpose to life. It's not all random.

2. Real, authentic Judaism is much more than what it has been reduced to, to a black and white system of "do's and don'ts". The halachic side, although very important, is only part of the picture.

3. The Jewish people have been chosen for a special role in the world.

4. This role can only be fulfilled by the collective Jewish nation living in the Land of Israel.

5. Establishing complete sovereignty in the Land of Israel and creating a model society, from top to bottom, according to the ideals and morality of Judaism, is essential for fulfilling this role. However, the nationalistic aspect of Judaism is not an end-goal in and of itself, but rather a platform that will enable us fulfill our lofty "international role" of being a "light unto nations".

6. Israel must interact with the world in order to have an influence, but at the same time must remain separate and independent, in order not to be further confused and fragmented by the assimilation of non-Jewish ideas and values.

7. Israel can and must sever the dependency on US economic aid.

8. The real goal of the Jewish state must be alive in our hearts and minds in order to affect our daily lives.

9. Without internalizing these ideas and changing our mindset, and eventually our lives, the endless killing in this region, as well as in the world, will continue.

10. The future of the world is dependent on the Jewish people getting their act together.

11. Properly understood, the real goal of the Jewish state is the most idealistic undertaking in the history of mankind.

12. Continuing along on the same path, functioning within our individual and collective "comfort zones", will not lead us out of the mess. We must, as individuals and as a nation, constantly strive to expand and stretch our comfort zones.

13. Every Jew should feel proud, yet humbled, in the role he has been given, and totally motivated and inspired to do his part.

14. Complaining will not change a thing and it is a waste of precious energy.

15. A positive, vision-oriented way of thinking is essential.

16. The Arab and Iranian threat are serious problems facing the Jewish state and, like any problem, they must certainly be dealt with. However, they are not the source of our problems, but the outward manifestation of our own internal problems. Thus, dealing with them alone will not bring us the desired harmony and salvation. The real problem is internally, within the Jewish people themselves, and stems from a lack of clarity as to our true purpose in the world. This problem, which is largely the result of a non-Jewish mindset prevalent amongst the Jewish people, is the real obstacle that stands in the way of ultimate salvation.

17. There are no shortcuts.

18. The world is waiting.

Yoel Meltzer has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies and lives in Israel.

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