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Eyal. Gilad. Naftali. After eighteen days of prayers and tears I removed the piece of paper with these three names from my siddur. And I mourned their loss along with Jews the world over.
I am saddened by this tragedy and I am also angered. Angered at the policies put into place that paved the way for the brazen killing of Israel’s finest youth. These strategies, pursued by both Israel and the international community, defied the current reality on the ground and the predictable reality of what would be.
Too many tragic missteps ignited this domino effect of disaster, from Oslo to the Disengagement to the subsequent Hamas takeover of Gaza to the recent PA/Hamas unity government. Indeed, while Israel was scouring the fields and hills of Hebron for the kidnapped teenagers, Hamas was busy bombing Southern Israel.
For a country famed for its brainpower and innovation, Israel failed miserably at foreseeing the end result of a dangerous game of wishful thinking. Despite all its inventions and technology, it failed to adhere to the sagest and simplest dictum in Pirkei Avos (2:9): “Who is wise? One who sees that which is to be born.”
But Israelis are not alone on this ill-advised path. While they were searching for the missing victims of a crime their government inadvertently enabled, Americans beheld the results of their own recklessness.
Two days before Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali disappeared, Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, fell to the al Qaeda-linked ISIS army. Eleven years of thwarted and misguided efforts to roust al Qaeda out of safe havens have resulted in the same crusading jihadist terrorists digging in even deeper.
In literature we call this tragic irony. For the thousands of American soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq, we call this tragic sacrifice.
Every day Jews pray to be able to serve Hashem in a way “so that we do not struggle in vain nor produce in futility.” The fulfillment of just such a prayer seems to have eluded America in a seeming war of futility in Iraq, with close to 5,000 killed, more than 30,000 wounded, and a cost, up to now, of well over $1 trillion.
Futility may actually be a misnomer. A June 20 congressional report states that the ISIS army “ultimately wants its emerging Islamic state to be a launching pad for attacking the U.S. homeland.” Like the vacuum left by Israel in Gaza and filled by Hamas, the void left by America in Iraq is being filled by the very terrorists Americans sought to eradicate.
President Obama’s stated intent in 2011 to withdraw all American troops from Iraq and his gradual actualization of that announcement also resulted in more deaths among Iraqis themselves, with 2,417 deaths last month alone. And without the protection of American troops, the Sunni battle against the Shia in Iraq has gradually erased all vestiges of any American gains in the push for democracy in that country.
More than a decade ago, that push seemed to have been George W. Bush’s underlying aim after removing Saddam Hussein’s still-unaccounted-for weapons of mass destruction. Heavily influenced by Natan Sharansky’s 2004 bookThe Case for Democracy, Bush and his fellow neocons thirstily imbibed the words of the Jewish-Russian hero who successfully stood up to the cruelty of the Soviet empire and drew upon his experiences to detail a passionate argument against any compromise in the pursuit of democracy.
I have always been an enormous fan of Sharansky, who was and is a superstar in the battle of good against evil. And like all patriotic Americans, I cheered implementation of the Bush Doctrine to preemptively protect American lives from the perceived threat of WMD. At the same time I always had qualms about the viability of successfully disseminating democracy around the world.
About the Author: Sara Lehmann, a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, was formerly an editor at a major New York publishing house.
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Dalai Lama: In the interest of Tibetans today to have peaceful co-existence with the Chinese.
However, 40+ countries still use capital punishment for a variety of offenses.
The War projects to lower Israel’s 2014 GDP 0.5% but will have little influence on foreign investors
Hamas and Islamic Jihad are actually fighting to “liberate Jerusalem and all Palestine.”
The bad news is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are on the Syrian Golan. The good news is that every terrorist in Syria is killing each other.
The congregants, Ethiopians spanning generations, were beaming with joy and pride.
The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security.
How does a soldier from a religious home fall in love with a soldier from a non- religious kibbutz?
In 19th century entire ancient Jewish communities fled Palestine to escape brutal Muslim authorities
Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.
But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.
If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.
Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.
I understand how two governments can negotiate a ceasefire, but terrorists by definition are not playing by the same rules as you are.
Though the school district eventually pulled the assignment after coming under pressure, the fact that an American school would ask its students to debate whether the Holocaust was “merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain” is both astounding and frightening.
It is not the role of schools or government to make people feel good about themselves. Self-esteem comes with productivity, not in the absence of it.
Despite the exodus thousands of years ago and our break from the ghettos hundreds of years ago, the slave mentality follows us like a long shadow.
While Brooklyn College is famed for its plethora of Jewish professors and students, it is not a Jewish institution. The 92nd Street Y is. According to its own mission and history statement, it’s “a proudly Jewish institution since its inception.”
In a recent tirade on a public radio station in Albany, Governor Cuomo lambasted New York conservatives in one broad stroke. While lashing out against New Yorkers who oppose his SAFE Act, a draconian gun-control bill rammed through the New York legislature soon after the Newtown massacre, Cuomo targeted all Republicans and conservatives as the enemy.
Proud as I am of my daughter’s enthusiasm and her proclivity for outreach, I somehow can’t shake a niggling regret that it had to be in Germany. As the daughter of a Hungarian mother who escaped deportation by running with her family from the Nazis and the daughter-in-law of a Dutch Jewish man whose parents were shot by the Nazis and who was liberated from Bergen Belsen at the age of 12, I am one generation closer to the Holocaust than my daughter. And one degree closer to the idea of shunning anything and everything German.
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