A fundamental principle of Jewish teaching is that there is no excess in Holy Scripture; every word is essential. So why is the story of Aaron’s elder sons, Avihu and Nadav, who were consumed by fire when they offered “strange fire” at the dedication of the Tabernacle, mentioned four times in the Torah (Lev. 10:1-2; 16:1; Num. 3:4; 26:61)?
God’s law is immutable. We can speculate whether the sons were unrestrained, intoxicated, immodestly dressed, vying to replace Moses and Aaron, or worse, but amid the many explanations of their sin it becomes clear pride was a root cause.
And so it is today as well.
After a brief period in modern post-Holocaust history, when the majority of nations sympathized with the Jewish people and allowed them their own state, the world quickly reverted to a hostile stance. So, as the open enemies of Israel expressed their rejection of the Jews through war, terror, boycott, deligitimization and lawfare, the civilized nations of the world responded by expressing official concern, but generally doing nothing. Trade and access to oil took precedence over morality.
There were exceptions, chief among them the United States, but that depended on who was president at the time.
At the governmental level across Europe, there is thinly veiled contempt for Israel today. Recent studies reveal that some forty percent of Europeans consider Israelis as evil as the Nazis. Academic and technological exchanges with Israel continue, deals are made, but an air of disdain for Jews is ever-present.
One area where this is manifest is in the European Union position regarding Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Israel’s rights are grounded in irrefu-table international law, but the EU brazenly ignores this, parroting the Muslim world, and declares Israeli growth “illegal settlements.” In two hundred areas worldwide, there are unresolved border disputes, but only the one involving Israel bears continued worldwide denunciations. Ironically, Israel’s expansion of Jewish communities over the “Green Line” has been lower under the current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership than during the terms of Prime Ministers Ehud Barak or Ariel Sharon in previous decades.
Indeed, in March, when UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki moon referred to the Western Sahara Desert as “occupied” by Morocco, instigating a regional uproar, his office apologized within days and he withdrew his remarks.
Arrogantly, the EU wants products from the disputed areas labelled as non-Israeli, a blatant double-standard demand made of no other disputants in the world, not the Turks in Cyprus, the Chinese in Tibet, nor anywhere else. Eventually, the EU modified its demands, but the bullying manner of EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini was bigoted and offensive.
Even before the emergence of the EU, Israel was treated as a second-class citizen-nation of the world. In an alarming expose by Swiss journalist Marcel Gyr (Swiss Years of Terror: The secret agreement with the PLO, 2016), he reveals that in the 1970s, as terrorist skyjackings of airlines made monthly headlines, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland were making deals with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), promising not to prosecute terrorists within their borders as long as their nations remained unharmed. Terrorists such as the infamous Carlos the Jackal even boasted that they always felt safe in Switzerland, immune from harm (“Terrorism and European Democracies,” Manfred Gerstenfeld, The Jerusalem Post, March 27, 2015).
Morals meant nothing to governments. They paid off terrorists, harbored and protected them, while Israel was prevented from bringing them to justice.
Corporations were complicit in the deals. In one case forty years ago, a large American bank paid the PLO undercover so its Beirut, Lebanon, affiliate bank would remain safe, a classic case of protection money being paid to gangsters. It was a common practice among corporations wanting an entry base in the one-time financial capital and cosmopolitan playground of the Middle East.
As terrorist groups became richer, their cells protected by Western governments, the crimes against Israel increased. The Jew was the world’s proverbial scapegoat. While Israel, or its citizens and emissaries abroad, remained the prime target of terror, the world turned the other way.
It reached its zenith with the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. There was no deception by Iran regarding Israel. Iran’s intention of wiping out the Jewish state was stated over and over again by Iran’s spokesmen, and still is. Yet the negotiating nations were never deterred from their quest for any deal with Iran. The one they got was a poor one. By abiding by the guidelines, Iran will have unfettered access to nuclear weapons within a decade or so, and Europe will have unfettered trade with Iran.
As of today, Iran has already violated conditions of the agreement several times. It has continued to develop and test-fire ballistic missiles that can be armed with nuclear warheads and can reach Israel and Europe. And, with billions of dollars of frozen funds being released to Iran, and multi-year trade agreements being signed, Iran’s sponsorship of terror groups worldwide has grown.
Israel, already threatened on all sides, is the sacrificial lamb again. Ostensibly a member of the community of nations via the United Nations, Israel is, in fact, not counted among the nations, just as Balaam had prophesied (Num. 23:9).
Murmurings from Washington suggest that President Barack Obama may blackmail Israel this year into giving up land. He would accomplish it by threatening not to shield Israel from UN Security Council attempts to impose decisions on Israel and create another Palestinian state. Whether or not Obama exercises the veto, either way Israel would lose.
But actions have consequences, as in the case of Avihu and Nadav (cf. Acts 5:1-5).
The self-righteousness of European governments, proudly declaring themselves a post-Christian continent, and certain they know a better way than the “obsolete” biblical dictum of blessing and protecting Israel, has resulted in punishing, self-destructive policies.
As European and North American doors to immigrants have opened, Muslim refugees have poured in, bringing with them a culture and value system alien to Western nations. Free nations foresee benefits believing the immigrants will supply much-needed laborers and population growth. Flight from persecution is the usual explanation for the open-door policies. A significant portion of the “refugees” surely are fleeing persecution, but a large portion are economic migrants. The plurality of them are working-age men aged 18 to 49, suspiciously unaccompanied by their families.
Unconscionably, others are being ignored. Christians are the most-persecuted people in Muslim countries. (Jews were killed or exiled decades ago.) Genocide is being carried out in Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria and Syria. By the thousands, Christian men are being murdered, women and daughters are being sold as wives and sex-slaves, children as slaves. They are being beheaded, burned and crucified (“Inconvenient Genocide,” Caroline Glick, in The Jerusalem Post, April 8, 2016). Yet, the survivors among them are the ones with the least access to refuge in Europe and North America. They are wildly under-represented in immigrant figures.
Instead, cities are being deluged with a population that will change the face of Europe within a generation. One capital, known for its museums and classical music, already has 150 Muslim kindergartens: Vienna, Austria. The teachers are all Muslim, and in many of the classes, lessons aren’t even taught in German according to Professor Ednan Aslan of the Institute for Islamic Studies at the University of Vienna (Kurier, Austria, December 15, 2015).
Biblical principles are being jettisoned, replaced by secular, humanistic, even economically motivated fashions du jour falsely dubbed “social justice.” If the Messiah tarries, the generation of our children will bear the consequences of pride.