This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/2163
July 26, 2006
|The Responsibility of an Israeli Government and its Army
by Rabbi Eliezer Waldman
I must begin by expressing my feelings that our hearts are with our soldiers on both the northern and southern fronts, and our prayers beseech the Almighty to protect them so that they all return home safely. Also, we implore the G-d of Israel to grant wisdom to our leaders so they have the courage to make correct decisions that will achieve the goal of destroying our enemies, so they don't dare attack the Jewish people again. In times of war, the Jewish people's secret weapon is the power of unity. Thank G-d that this power is the active driving force in Israel today.
Upon realizing what has happened to us these past few weeks, we must not stop ourselves from recognizing and analyzing the weaknesses and mistakes that have brought us to such alarming circumstances. Since the Yom Kippur War, I cannot remember a situation where our enemies succeeded in humiliating us by invading our sovereign territory, killing soldiers and kidnapping others - all this, despite the fact that intelligence sources specifically warned of such intentions.
The best way to express my feelings as an introduction to the harsh words and thoughts which are burning within me is by quoting Rabbi Kook, who wrote: "I am lifting my voice loudly not because I have the strength to speak, but because I don't have the strength to keep silent."
I have the feeling that, for years, the leadership has been weakening the army. The IDF is highly technological and ultra-modern in its weaponry, but it depresses the morale of its troops and suppresses their motivation. It began with Oslo - creating the illusion of peace and turning our worst enemy, whose goal is to destroy us, into a so-called partner for peace. All this being done while blinding our people, and especially our soldiers, to the reality of the evil intentions of these "peace partners". When an army created to protect the land and people of Israel is instilled with distorted codes of morality, which suddenly dictate that foes are friends, the result is confusion - creating the illusion of peaceful borders and literally not being able to recognize the enemy. The tragic events on the Gaza border and the endless barrage of deadly rockets on the north are direct results of that confusion and illusions of peace.
There can be no greater distortion of Jewish values and confusion planted into the hearts of our brothers and sisters in the Israeli army than when "disengagement" - meaning the uprooting of Jewish communities and synagogues - becomes major Zionist policy. This situation has created a mentality that weakens motivation and alertness, so essential in preventing disastrous mistakes like those which preceded the Hamas and Hizbullah infiltration, kidnapping and murder of soldiers.
All the recent humiliating failures in the functioning of the army stem from uncertainty in policymaking by Israeli leaders in recent years. There are three concepts that have expressed a basic misunderstanding of the responsibility of a government surrounded by enemies bent on its destruction.
The first illusion is that by disengaging from our enemy and from our land, which our enemy claims, we will lessen the friction and achieve peace. No one heeded our warnings that by fleeing from our enemies, yielding parts of our homeland and uprooting Jewish life, our enemies would be stimulated to attack us even more. To the contrary, Zionism always believed that the best way to strengthen our position is by strengthening our settlements and communities in Eretz Yisrael.
The second illusion is that by building a fence we will insure security and the enemy will be unable to attack us. Rockets can be fired over the fence and tunnels can be dug under the fence, as the intention of the enemy is to destroy us.
The third illusion is that they will remain there and we will remain here, and never the twain shall meet. We have heard our leaders expressing this "logical" philosophy to justify "disengagement" and building fences. How silly not to understand that the enemy on the other side will continue to seek the annihilation of the State of Israel by sending rockets from there to here, as we are experiencing right now.
I do hope that any Israeli leader who has the courage to face reality will be able to recognize the tragic blunder of "disengagement", which has brought the enemy's rockets to Sderot and Ashkelon. Can our leaders still dream and plan another irresponsible crime called "convergence", which will, G-d forbid, bring the Arab rockets from disengaged areas of Judea and Samaria to our coastal plain, Tel Aviv, Petach Tikva, Netanya and Ben-Gurion Airport? All this, in addition to the planned uprooting of 80,000 Jewish men, women and children, synagogues, schools and yeshivas. The very thought of another "disengagement" is beyond any human logic and Jewish morals.
I pray and hope that our leaders have learned their lesson, a very painful lesson, suffered by families bereaved by the loss of their loved ones along this irrational path. How tragic that it took the blind hatred of the Iranian president, implemented by his prodigy Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon, rockets exploding in the Galilee and Haifa, to awaken the national instinct and pride of the Jewish leadership in Israel.
I hope that I am not overly optimistic by expecting our government and armed forces to have the determination and resolve to achieve our goal of subduing the enemy and obliterating their stockpile of weapons of destruction. We cannot allow ourselves to be enticed, and disillusioned, to curtail this mission by yielding to a ceasefire and negotiations, which will eventually allow our enemies to re-arm and rebuild their forces of destruction, as we have naively done in the past. We certainly will not want another round of rockets to attack us in the near future.
We are now in the period called the Three Weeks of mourning for the destroyed Temples, which in Hebrew is called bain hamaytzarim, meaning "between the straits." I have a feeling that we are on the verge of getting out of the narrow straits we have created by deluding ourselves with distorted concepts like "disengagement" and "convergence". If my feelings are indeed correct, then we must open our eyes to the Divine guidance arousing the Jewish People and its leadership to a revival of Zionist faith, which will bring security and renewed pioneering activity in the Land of Israel. In place of "disengagement", an intense movement of re-engagement - re-engagement with the Land of Israel, re-engagement with the Jewish People, re-engagement with the G-d of Israel, re-engagement with the destiny of Zionism. Instead of uprooting thousands of Jews from their land, we must deepen the roots of Jewish faith and Zionist fervor in the soil of our holy land of Israel.
Hopefully, this will bring us to the ultimate ideal of Lamentations, which we read on Tisha B'Av: "Bring us back to you, O Lord, and we shall return. Renew our days as of old."
--------We Are Waging a Milchemet Mitzvah
by Rabbi Dov Begon
We are at the height of a milchemet mitzvah, a compulsory war, as Rambam taught: "What is a milchemet mitzvah? It is a war to assist Israel against an enemy that has attacked them." (Hilchot Melachim 5:1)
During such a war, the people's morale must be strengthened. A kohen is therefore appointed to address the people during the war. He is called the Mashuach Milchamah [the anointed for war]:
He stands on a high place with all the armed forced before him, and he says to them in Hebrew: "Hear O Israel! Today you are about to wage war against your enemies. Do not be faint-hearted, do not be afraid, do not panic, and do not break ranks before them. The L-rd your G-d is the One who is going with you. He will fight for you against your enemies, and He will deliver you." (Rambam, ibid., quoting from Deuteronomy 20:3-4)
Rambam also says there:
When a person enters the thick of battle, he should place his hope in G-d, who saves Israel in time of trouble. He should be aware that he is waging war for the sake of G-d's Oneness. He should muster his courage and have no fear.... Whoever starts to think too much in battle, alarming himself, violates a Torah prohibition: "Do not be faint-hearted, do not be afraid, do not panic, and do not break ranks before them." Moreover, the lives of all Israel depend on him. If he does not do all he can, with all his heart and soul, to be victorious in battle, it is as though he has shed blood, as it says, "Let him go home rather than have his cowardliness demoralize his brethren...." (Deuteronomy 20:8) Whoever fights with all his heart, without fear, and his intent is solely to sanctify G-d's name, can rest assured that he will not be harmed and no evil will befall him. He will build a strong family in Israel, bringing merit to himself and to his descendants for all time, and he will merit the World-to-Come. (Rambam, ibid., 15)
Today, we are in the period between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av, when we recall the destruction of the First and Second Temples. Together with that, we must look toward the future. We must learn, understand and gain awareness that we are at the beginning of the building of the Third Temple, which began with the ingathering of the exiles, the establishment of a sovereign Jewish entity, the State of Israel.
All the prophets and sages who relate to the rebirth of the Jewish People in their land after the two-thousand-year-long exile note that the Third Temple will be built amidst wars. As our sages said, "In the seventh year there will be wars. At the end of that period, the son of David will come."
The nations of the world have not resigned themselves to the idea that our people is rising to rebirth. They are striving their utmost to extinguish the flame of Israel, which is burning brighter and brighter.
Thus, our wars are milchemot mitzvah - compulsory wars. The ideas aired in recent years by political leaders according to which we are fighting to achieve peace have no foothold in the cruel reality that we face. They are mistaken, and they are based on the unfortunate fantasies of dangerous diplomatic programs such as Oslo, the Separation, the Disengagement and the Convergence Program. To our enemies, all these programs send a message of surrender and weakness. Such programs, which confuse the heads of the army and demoralize the troops, are the result of an error in understanding reality.
At present, we must pray, and call to the nation and to its leaders: Open your eyes! Know the enemy and his goals. Fight back hard. Smite the enemy and deter him. By such means, G-d's name will be sanctified on Earth.
We must be strong and courageous on behalf of our people and on behalf of the cities of our G-d.
MIM: Compare this to Ehud Olmert's cynical sentimentality when he tells Gaza deportees ala Clinton that 'he feels their pain - while assuring them he intends to destroy more communities. These two takes on the present situation epitomise the deep rift between the religious and secular mindset in Israel.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert indicated Monday that the fighting in the north and south has not dampened his enthusiasm for realignment, telling Gaza evacuees in Nitzan that other settlements will be evacuated.
"Your difficulties are clear to me and we will solve the problems," Olmert told representatives of the evacuees living in temporary housing in Nitzan. "We will yet evacuate communities and it is important to me to complete this chapter as soon as possible so that we will be able to continue as a strong and united nation for the challenges that await us." Olmert said Israel was "fighting for its right to live." Olmert also told the Nitzan residents that he was "convinced that we made the right decision to carry out the disengagement plan, and it is better for Israel that you are not living in the Gaza Strip at this time." "I know that you are angry," he said. "I know that you think that you need to be in Gush Katif. We think differently. The government will invest so that each evacuee feels that the State cares about him and so that your children love the country like your grandfathers did. It is important to me that you know that we are acting out of the same love for Israel that you have." Olmert went to Nitzan as part of a visit that took him to the Hatzor Air Force base and Ashkelon.
This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/2163