Will Jews Buy Umbrellas When They See Clouds in the Sky?
19th century Zionist philosopher, Max Nordau, was quoted as telling Jewish leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky that “the Jew learns not by way of reason, but from catastrophes. He won’t buy an umbrella merely because he sees clouds in the sky. He waits until he is drenched and catches pneumonia.”
On so many counts, Nordau’s words remain completely accurate and reliable today.
In Israel, in the aftermath of Jews being removed from Gaza, disastrous peace talks, and the capitulation to terrorism, Hamas is still firing weapons at the State of Israel. Throughout Europe, Jews are attacked and in danger. In America, American Jews – wrongly – think that without Judaism they can retain Jewish identity – and thus assimilation rates continue to skyrocket. And throughout all of it, the world unfairly continues to condemn Israel.
During these frightening times, it is interesting to remember Zionist heroes, such as Max Nordau, who first raised the concept of what he termed at the time a “muscle Jew,” at the Second Zionist Congress in Basel on August 28, 1898. During a recent trip to France, I met countless Jews who discussed the need to emigrate to Israel – and thankfully today there is an army to protect the Jewish State.
These tough Jews strengthen our entire people in so many ways. As Nordau described it, this Jew “would help form a regenerated race of healthy, physically fit, nationally minded, and militarily strong Jews.” Indeed, as Nordau noted, Jews must “no longer passively accept their fate as impoverished, weak, and powerless ghetto Jews…”
At the Second Zionist Congress, Nordau talked about “the assimilated, Western Jews whom had long since ‘fallen away’ from Judaism and [went] to synagogue but once a year,” and said they “must reclaim the richness of their Jewish heritage…”
How great would it be if today’s American Jews responded to the attacks on Israel by growing closer to our people? In the same speech, Nordau urged Jews all over the world: “Don’t rest until you have convinced the indifferent and downright hostile world that your people have a right to live and enjoy life just like other peoples.”
It is incumbent upon all decent people to simply stand up for the rights of the Jewish State of Israel. The more things change, the more they stay the same. How right this speech was then – and how right it is now.