ANZAC Day message for the Federation of Australian Jewish Ex-Service Associations, from Rabbi Raymond Apple, AO RFD, emeritus senior rabbi to the Australian Defence Force
Anzac commemorations always engage in navel-gazing. This year will be the same, but different. Not simply because the world has suffered such an economic shake-up. That is not specifically an ex-service problem. But as veterans of Defence life we have our own anxieties. In particular, a new type of warfare has evolved, and it needs a new type of response. No-one enjoyed warfare as it was, but it was more defined: one always knew where the war was. It was also more confined: one always knew who the fighting forces were. What is happening today is that there is no longer a front line: everywhere is the front line. It is not basically a clash between armies: everyone is involved. It is not fought with weapons, however sophisticated: it is mental as well as physical.
The new warfare is
- Psychological; it creates fear and anxiety since no-one knows where it will strike.
- Unpredictable; it is hard to forestall since no-one knows what is going to happen.
- Ideological; its theomanic war cry is “I am God and I am punishing your sin”.
- Remorseless (“I can’t possibly be wrong: I don’t care if I die and I hope I will”).
How do we defend ourselves against the new challenge?
There is still a need for traditional defences and for stricter security in vulnerable places.
We need also to broaden our range of weaponry. We have to handle psychological warfare with brainpower and steady nerves.
In response to the enemy’s Four Cs – cold-heartedness, callousness, cruelty and corruption – we need to build a capacity for courage, care, comfort and counselling.
We need to be both reactive, bringing healing where there is hurt, and courage where there is fear… and proactive, envisioning and working for a world where everyone can sit under their vine or fig tree with no-one to make them afraid.
In a sense that makes every decent person a front-line soldier bearing arms, taking sides in the ideological/psychological battle, wielding the affirmation that man, though made in the Divine image, is not God; that every man is precious, and death is not worth more than life; that hearts are meant to be flesh, not stone; and the glory of being human is to spread, not terror but love and human respect.
Let us embrace this role and be wise enough to help the decision-makers make their policies. Let us speak calmly and courageously to all who are on our side and try to steady their nerves. Let us also pray that our words may, aided from Above, reach the other side and help to stir their minds, soften their hearts and speak the message of mercy.