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December 1, 2015 / 19 Kislev, 5776
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A Jewish Response To Annapolis

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As Condoleezza Rice began orchestrating plans for the Annapolis Conference, which included extending invitations to governments notorious for their evil intentions, it was easy to guess what the message would be. She invited Middle Eastern Islamic participants to join the Palestinian Authority, whose terrorist policies are dedicated to wiping the State of Israel off the map.

The result of the Annapolis fiasco would present the nations of the world with a clear blueprint of how to destroy Zionist goals and obliterate the basic rights of the independent Jewish state. All the more so because the United States, the European Union and Russia were in agreement that tens of thousands of Jews living in Judea and Samaria should be uprooted from their homes in Eretz Yisrael. It was obvious to me that our leaders, especially Prime Minister Olmert, were accountable for this frightening outcome.

I decided not to express my views and thoughts immediately, preferring to wait until the time had come that the Jewish people would be able to absorb the grave reality of the situation and understand the responsibility we have to preserve our people and our country.

Now that we have just celebrated Chanukah, the special message projected by the victory of the Maccabees serves as a guiding light for my response. Matityahu, his sons, and their inspiring group of followers had the courage and determination to oppose not only the well equipped Greek army, but also their fellow Jews who were weak, faithless, and frightened into accepting foreign Greek culture. The Maccabeans were victorious over the Greek forces that wanted to annihilate the essence of Jewish faith and holy life, and instead restored Jewish values to the Land.

Our festive Chanukah mood of victory and praise for the Almighty prepares us to understand our dangerous situation today and take the proper steps to confront it. That is why I am commenting on Annapolis now.

It was a horrible mistake for Olmert to participate or possibly even initiate a conference whose objective was ostensibly to “end the occupation.” In practical terms that means the uprooting of tens of thousands of Jews from their homes in the towns and cities of Kiryat Arba, Beit El, Shilo, Eli and others located in the hills of Judea and Samaria, the heartland of Israel.

It seems that all of the Annapolis participants, including the leaders of the Israeli government, agreed from the onset that these 300,000 Jews living in Eretz Yisrael are residents of an occupied foreign entity. This precondition had to be established in order to realize the “united vision” of a terrorist Palestinian state whose “democratic” system will not allow any Jews to live there. Do the Americans and Europeans really believe that a secure peace for the Middle East can result from the creation of a terrorist state that won’t allow Jews to enter?

In accordance with these intentions, the Palestinian leader Abu Mazen spoke of the “rights” of the Arabs, of the end of occupation, of Arab Jerusalem, and of allowing the return of thousands of terrorists to mainland Israel. His speech was accepted with understanding, sympathy and compassion by all participants.

The prime minister of Israel, in his words to the conference, neither rejected the lie of “occupation” nor even mentioned the rights of the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael. He did not bother quoting Ben-Gurion’s pronouncement of a Jewish homeland in the Israeli Declaration of Independence, which included passages from the Bible to prove our rights to the Land of Israel.

I suspect Olmert considered these references old fashioned and too primitive for this modern conference of enlightened politicians. Our prime minister did mention our willingness to make painful compromises on our land – including parts of Jerusalem – thereby paving the way toward yielding large parts of our country to the rule of Arab terror. In addition, as a goodwill gesture, large numbers of convicted terrorist prisoners would be released so they can continue their evil activities.

By participating in this conference and giving such an irresponsible speech, Olmert lent legitimacy to Israeli capitulation and credence to the deceitful Islamic propaganda of a so-called Jewish occupation of Israel. By such actions, Mr. Olmert allowed the infiltration of anti-Semitic roots into the international diplomatic arena – roots that will certainly dominate the policy of the world toward the independent state of Israel.

All this with the official endorsement of Israeli leaders who are tired and confused, who lack Jewish pride and faith and have lost their Zionist road map. We pray that the God of Israel will save us from the ill-fated course of this Israel government.

The time has come to renew our true Zionist path by drawing inspiration from the faith, determination and bravery of the Maccabeans. The miracle of Chanukah is described in the prayer of Al Hanisim, where we mention the remarkable victory of the Jews against the Greeks, achieved not only by the few who overcame the many, but by Judah and his followers whose devotion to Torah brought them to arouse and mobilize their fellow Jews to fight the enemy instead of surrendering.

Many of the Jews and their leaders were tired and ready to submit to foreign Greek culture and alien values, abandoning Jewish faith and pride. Only those immersed in Torah study and Jewish faith had the courage and determination to fight and destroy the enemy who endangered Jewish existence. The lesson of the Chanukah victory was that the courage and strength drawn from the devotion to Torah life was the secret Jewish power of the Maccabeans – and it is still valid in our process of redemption.

Today, our Torah community is in the forefront of the struggle for Jewish existence; many Hesder soldiers are in commanding positions in the IDF while religious Zionist families are establishing new towns and cities in the Negev, Galilee, and Judea and Samaria which have become bastions of authentic Jewish life. We are not tired and cannot afford to be tired. We are ready and willing to defend Jewish pride and values by fighting for our land; our Zionist direction is clear and with God’s help we will arouse this spirit among the multitudes of our people who will become the faithful leaders of tomorrow’s government.

We must return to the basic Zionist ideology as described by the late Rabbi Kook, who portrayed Israel not just as a place for the protection of persecuted Jews, but as a land for the rebirth of our people and renewal of Jewish culture and Torah values, which eventually will, as God promised Abraham, bring a blessing to all the nations of the world.

About the Author: Rabbi Eliezer Waldman is rosh yeshivaof Yeshivat Nir Kiryat Arba.

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