Behold, I place before you today a blessing…
These are the laws you must carefully keep in the land that
G-d, Lord of your fathers, is giving you to settle in it
all the days that you live on Earth – Opening of this
week’s Torah portion (Deuteronomy 11:26; 12:1)
All your children will be taught about
G-d; great will be the peace of your children… They may gather to attack you,
but it will not be from Me; whoever comers to fight you shall because of you.
Behold, it is I who created the smith who blows beneath the forge, and makes
a weapon for his work. I have also created the ravager to destroy. No weapon
that is formed against you shall prosper – This week’s Haftorah (Isaiah 54:13-17)
If I was a supporter of
Hezbollah and Iran I would be elated. The so-called “cease-fire” allows Hezbollah
many new opportunities: To declare victory; to announce that it will be rebuilding
Lebanon and thus be heralded as hero and savior; to replenish its supply of
depleted missiles, arms and resources; a source of newfound respect pride
for the Muslim world; to forge an ever-deeper relationship with its sponsors,
Iran and Syria; most chilling of all – to get one step closer to its stated
goal: the destruction of Israel.
Emboldened with all these
victories, Hezbollah – an extension of Iran (and Syria) – is a stronger force
than ever. With Iran’s bottomless coffers, fueled by the Western World’s addiction
to oil, its equally endless hatred of the Jewish Land and unlimited brazenness
– what does the future hold?
Iran – via Hezbollah – has now only tested the mettle of
Israel and the world. And Israel and the international community
have blinked, badly. Now Iran and its cohorts can plan accordingly
and prepare themselves for an all-out attack, at the time
and place of their choosing.
Israel, on the other hand,
has suffered a great loss. Not only have they not achieved any of their stated
goals – Hezbollah remains an armed force, fully capable of attacking with
impunity and even the two kidnapped soldiers haven’t been returned. They have
also lost credibility, billions of dollars, not to mention hundreds of lives
and shattered homes, families and communities. All for what?
Above all, how does the
cease-fire address the continuing declaration of war against Israel? What
is Israel’s response to this deceleration of war? Either you eliminate the
enemy or you have them surrender and rescind their call for your annihilation.
Since Israel did neither,
the question on everyone’s lips is: Why? Either Israel does not take their
threats seriously (hard to believe), or arrogantly feels that they would never
dare in fear of Israel’s military might (stupid), or is just buying time (even
stupider), or is choosing to ignore the threat for some other reason. Most
ominous of all – perhaps Israel does not have the capability or the will to
fight this war (G-d forbid).
Bluntly put, the “cease
fire” was a victory for Hezbollah and a capitulation for Israel. Hezbollah
now has a time-out to regroup, rebuild and rearm (does anyone believe that
they aren’t doing that already?). Israel suffered an ambush no less than the
ones they faced in confronting the guerillas in Southern Lebanon, and now
enters a future even more uncertain than before this last ill-fated battle.
From Israel’s end the
cease-fire was supposed to secure its boundaries, protect Israeli cities from
being attacked and disarm Hezbollah. None of these goals were achieved. The
Lebanese Army, UN and multi-national force are now supposed to assure this
– whom are we kidding?! Neither Lebanon or the UN have even attempted to disarm
Hezbollah in the past – and are now announcing that they will not do so in
the future – so what did Israel gain from this arrangement?!
And if Israel whose very
survival is at stake was unable or unwilling to disarm them, how and why in
the world will a multi-national force do so??!!
The entire cease-fire,
under the farcical cover of “multi-national forces” replacing the Israeli
ones, seems more like a “face-saver” for Israel – if even that – covering
up the humiliation of outright defeat. As one top Israeli official stated
(I believe it was Shimon Peres) that Israel cannot win this war militarily,
and cannot withstand international pressure. How then does Israel exactly
propose to win the war against its very existence?!
I’m sorry if all this
sounds depressing. But the cure to any disease or problem is not to minimize
its impact and significance but to face it head on, acknowledge the mistakes,
make sure not to repeat them, and devise a powerful strategy with newfound
wisdom and fortitude.
But before we get to the
good news, some more sobering confessions are necessary.
Everyone can make a mistake
once, twice, three times. But for heaven’s – and earth’s – sake: Why How can
Israel keep repeating the same mistake again and again. The mistake is: Concession
after concession, with nothing to show in return.
Since the miraculous Israeli
victory of the Six-Day War in 1967, the policy of every Israeli government
has been one of appeasement. Instead of negotiating from a position of strength,
the Israeli leadership time and again showed weakness. This may have been
due to overconfidence or arrogance, or a misplaced fear of “what the world
will say.” But the tragic results are undeniable. Every Israeli conciliatory
gesture was met with more aggression and demands.
Every piece of land returned
has been used to build a launch pad and tunnels for future attacks. Though
the return of Sinai – and the billions of US aid pledged to Egypt – has brought
peaceful relations between Egypt and Israel, no one can guarantee what the
future holds for that region. Regimes rise and fall, and the climate of radicalism
can easily overtake Egypt as well.
When you return land for
an agreement on paper, when your actions are in return for verbal promises,
there is a fundamental disproportion that reflects weakness. Your land is
gone, and all you are left with is a hollow promise. Action must always be
met with equal action, or else any agreement is bound to fail. Take the current
cease-fire: Israel has stopped its defensive for a verbal and written UN agreement
that is now unraveling at the seams. What does Israel do now once it has agreed
to a cease-fire and Hezbollah rearms itself and rebuilds its fortifications
in Southern Lebanon?!
No one wants war or bloodshed,
but how can you negotiate with a party whose “no-starter” axiom is your destruction?
What do all these concessions
show? They reflect fundamental core errors or delusions, or perhaps even worse
– unwillingness to acknowledge and face the true enemy.
Concessions make sense
when both sides are committed to the same goals. Not when one side calls for
the destruction of the other, and makes no effort in hiding the fact.
They are calling for your
destruction. What is your response?
They say they will not
disarm. What is your response?!
It’s simply not enough
to reply that all we want is that you do not kill our civilians. Why are they
killing your civilians? Because they firmly believe that Israeli civilians
are illegitimately occupying Palestinian territory, which they absolutely
feel belongs to them.
What is Israel’s response
to that statement?
In time of war the best
insights can often be found by the enemy (“my enemies make me wise”).
Much can be learned from
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Iran, after all, is the powerful force
behind the latest battles. As abhorrent as some of his statements may be,
Ahmadinejad comes across as chillingly calm, confident and absolutely convinced
in the justness of his cause. When you read his writings – he subscribes to
the philosophy of the late Ayatollah Khomeini – he talks about the Divine
vision of Islam and its need to bring justice and peace to the world, to bring
about a “Second Islamic Revolution.” Britain and America, with their godless
Western liberalism, attempted to corrupt and hijack Iran – which has been
at the center of civilization for over two millennia – as well as the rest
of the world, and they remain the Great Satan that needs to be vanquished.
vision is a religious one, and he is certain that Iran and all its satellites
will prevail, because G-d is on their side. In a speech last Tuesday in Teheran,
Ahmadinejad declared that Hizbollah had emerged the winner in Lebanon. “God's
promises have come true,” Ahmadinejad told a huge crowd waving Hezbollah banners
and Iranian flags. “On one side, it's corrupt powers of the criminal US and
Britain and the Zionist...with modern bombs and planes. And on the other side
is a group of pious youth relying on God.”
To further understand
this thinking, listen to the speech Ahmadinejad delivered last September before
the General Assembly of the UN (click
here for the full text):
“With the passing of the
era of agnostic philosophies, today humanity is once again joined in celebrating
monotheism and belief in the Creator as the originator of existence. This
is the common thread which binds us all. Faith will prove to be the solution
to many of today's problems. The Truth will shine the light of faith and ethics
on the life of human beings and prevent them from aggression, coercion and
injustice and will guide them towards care and compassion for fellow beings.
“Another hope is the common
global appreciation of the sources of knowledge. Although reason, experience
and science are among valuable sources of knowledge, the darkness of the Middle
Ages deprived major portions of the Western world of appreciating [true knowledge].
This reactionary tendency deprived many of access to various scientific findings
and knowledge and led to the exclusion of other sources of knowledge namely
God and knowledge based on revelation from the life of human beings in the
West; Divine knowledge that was carried and disseminated by such prophets
as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammad (peace be upon them).
“Today, agnostic thinking
is on the decline and presently humanity is equally enamored with religion
knowledge and spirituality. This is an auspicious beginning. Divine prophets
teach us about proper regard for the exalted state of human beings on earth.
The human being is blessed with dignity, most importantly manifested in being
the viceroy of the Almighty on earth. The Almighty placed humans on earth
to develop it, institutionalize justice, overcome their egoistic tendencies
and praise no lord but the Almighty.
“Faith and good deeds
can bring deliverance and the good life even in this world. Attaining this
depends on human will, that is the will of each and every one of us. We must
heed the call of our common primordial nature and achieve the realization
of this good life…
“How can we influence
the future of the world? When and how will peace, tranquility and well-being
for all come about?… We believe that a sustainable order, nurturing and flourishing
peace and tranquility, can only be realized on the two pillars of justice
and spirituality. The more human society departs from justice and spirituality,
the greater insecurity it will face, so much so that a relatively small crisis,
such as a natural disaster, leads to various abnormalities and inhuman behavior.”
And in conclusion Ahmadinejad
stunned the audience with his Messianic vision: “From the beginning of time,
humanity has longed for the day when justice, peace, equality and compassion
envelop the world. All of us can contribute to the establishment of such a
world. When that day comes, the ultimate promise of all Divine religions will
be fulfilled with the emergence of a perfect human being who is heir to all
prophets and pious men. He will lead the world to justice and absolute peace.
“O mighty Lord, I pray
to you to hasten the emergence of your last repository, the promised one,
that perfect and pure human being, the one that will fill this world with
justice and peace.”
Later Ahmadinejad reflected
on his speech: “On the last day when I was speaking before the assembly, one
of our group told me that when I started to say ‘In the name of God the almighty
and merciful,’ he saw a light around me, and I was placed inside this aura.
I felt it myself. I felt the atmosphere suddenly change, and for those 27
or 28 minutes, the leaders of the world did not blink. When I say they didn't
bat an eyelid, I'm not exaggerating because I was looking at them. And they
were rapt. It seemed as if a hand was holding them there and had opened their
eyes to receive the message from the Islamic republic.”
This is the enemy speaking.
Now, what is our response?
The secular, Western world
– which has deeply affected many Israelis, including those in power – is loath
to accept the religious nature of this war, as so clearly stated in Ahmadinejad’s
Many reasons can be posited
to explain this resistance, but two are most noteworthy: The effects of the
war of Enlightenment against religion, or more broadly, the centuries of persecution
in the name of religion, continue to haunt the West, and they remain convinced
that religion is backward and unworthy of legitimate recognition. This profound
condescension does not allow the West – and Israel – to acknowledge the true
magnitude of the Muslim animosity to secular values and its impetus to Jihad.
The second factor is simpler
but equally crucial: Western prosperity has created a deep complacency and
wishful hope that these problems are just passing clouds, which will soon
drift away and then we can return to our movies and sports. A sense of entitlement
has spoiled the Western world to the point that it refuses to accept that
there is a new world war being waged, and a spiritual one at that.
Thus, negotiations and
concessions, diplomacy and UN resolutions are the options of choice. And when
that fails – military options are employed. But no matter how well intended
Western diplomacy may be, we cannot forget that a large majority of Muslims
see their cause in absolute terms, as a Divine battle for the “two pillars
of justice and spirituality.”
True, the Muslim world
is angry, humiliated and full of hatred to Israel and the West. Many are plain
Jew haters. But it would be a grave mistake to dismiss the Muslims with these
negative, primitive representations (even if they may be true), and forget
that they are also educated with deep religious conviction. And even if some
(or much) of their religious indoctrination is radical in its worship of martyrdom
and turns young children into murderers, we must remember that the spiritual
vision behind it all (no matter how reprehensible) is compelling and seductive,
especially in comparison to the lame alternatives of the West.
Military might, diplomatic
channels, dillying and dallying political rhetoric – all the newfound tools
and toys of the West – are simply no match for a powerful spiritual message
(no matter how distorted).
Our only true response
– and our most powerful, unwavering weapon – will be a majestic spiritual
vision that will speak to all peoples of the world.
Historically this has
always been the role of Israel and the Jewish people – the people of the book,
who brought us the great prophets beginning with Abraham and Moses – and who
delivered the Divine message of universal justice, spirituality and peace
This same book also declares
the Divine covenant of the Promised Land, in which G-d promises the Land of
Israel to the Jewish people.
This is the question I would have liked
Mike Wallace to have asked President Ahmadinejad in his 60 Minutes interview:
What do you think about G-d’s promise in the Bible to give the Land of Israel
to the Jewish people? In light of that, how can you call for the destruction
Ahmadinejad may have his
Islamic viewpoint as he articulated before the UN, but the original Divine
vision for mankind was delivered to Abraham and Moses. Sinai brought civilization
to this world and offered us a blueprint how to transform the material world
into a spiritual environment.
The time has come that
a leader in Israel should rise and passionately declare Israel’s spiritual
vision for the world; A global view that charts a course for the future; A
powerful appeal that will resonate from one end of the world to the next.
Sadly, until that day comes, military force will be the
only remaining power we have to keep the Islamic radicals
at bay, and buy us some more time…
* * *
Question of the week: Who won the
war – Hezbollah or Israel?
a question for future weeks.