The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
A recent headline in the Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot reported that certain military advisers are putting pressure on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to initiate talks with Syria for fear of a Syrian attack on Israel this summer. Those who advocate this policy are controlled by their fear and dread of another summer of the horrors of war.
Syria has made it known that any talks with Israel must include relinquishing the strategic Golan Heights and uprooting Jewish settlements as a pre-condition. Only when the Syrians return to the hills above the Kinneret and have full control over the entirety of northern Israel will they even consider deliberations with Israel, which they have sworn to annihilate.
Surrendering to our enemies and yielding land only strengthens them and tempts them to attack us even more vigorously. They are encouraged by our fleeing, which our foes interpret as both physical and moral weakness.
Unfortunately, our leaders haven’t learned a lesson from our recent history. Under foolhardy terms of internationally negotiated agreements such as Oslo, we transferred the cities of Ramallah, Jenin, Shechem and parts of Hebron into the hands of so-called Palestinian police along with weapons and funds, all in the name of peace. Almost immediately, the terrorists took control and attacked us from these areas, eventually forcing the IDF to return.
The embarrassing fiasco, orchestrated by Ehud Barak, of our running in the middle of the night from Lebanon, led the way to Hizbullah replenishing its arms and positioning thousands of rocket launchers in the direction of Israel. Hizbullah dedicated six years to the ultimate strike on our northern cities, including Haifa, which had never been attacked before.
The shameful uprooting of the Jewish communities in Gush Katif and relinquishing of the land to the terrorists of Gaza – which was supposed to bring quiet to the area – ruined the lives of thousands of loyal Jewish citizens and only stimulated greater terror activities. The abandoned Gaza area quickly became training camps for Hamas guerillas, and underground tunnels convey tons of arms under the border from Egypt. Rocket attacks on the Jewish cities of Sderot and Ashkelon have increased significantly in recent months and have resulted in a number of civilian casualties.
Talks with Syria will produce no solutions but only cause horrific damage to Israel by bringing Iran and its bloodthirsty government so much closer to our borders. The illusion of talks bringing peace is rooted in fear and lack of faith on the part of our leaders, who prefer to turn a blind eye to reality.
Realistically dealing with our situation means preparing ourselves for the harsh reality of war and its consequences and not yielding to moral fatigue. At the end of 2005, while Ariel Sharon was still prime minister, Ehud Olmert speaking in New York, exclaimed that Israel was tired of fighting, tired of being victorious, tired of being heroic, and now just wanted peace. Mr. Olmert, as prime minister, is continuing this policy of fatigue, which is weakening our position and provoking more terrorist attacks on Israel.
It has been proven again and again that the continued progress of Zionism demands faith and a willingness to work hard and fight for our survival. Fleeing cannot be an option – even if it means pain and suffering. We recognize that this is necessary for our lasting existence in our land, and only this approach will help to achieve complete victory over our enemies who desire our destruction.
This Shabbat, Jews worldwide will hear the divine words of Parshat Shelach and be reminded of our weak leaders in the desert on the way to the Promised Land, leaders who became known as “spies.” The God of Israel delivered the Jews from Egyptian slavery and led them through the desert on the way to the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Eretz Yisrael.
On the verge of entering the land, twelve Jewish leaders were dispatched as spies to explore the best ways of liberating the land. Ten of these leaders returned and reported, “We will not succeed … because they are stronger than us” (Bamidbar 13:31). They too were blinded by fear when observing the enemy; they described what they saw in Eretz Yisrael and said, “There we saw giants … and we were like grasshoppers” (Bamidbar 13:33).
These same leaders witnessed countless miracles as the Almighty lead the nation of Israel victoriously out of Egypt and helped the Jewish armies defeat the armies of Amalek. Nonetheless, they did not recognize the divine protection of the Almighty guiding the Jewish people toward their redemption, and delivered negative accounts of what they had seen in Eretz Yisrael. They only perceived the gigantic powers of the Canaanites, while seeing the Jewish people as weak and inferior to them.
Even though Moses asked them to recognize the divine essence of Eretz Yisrael, they were blinded by their fear and came to the conclusion that the Jews could not prevail. The other two spies, Joshua and Caleb, were authentic leaders and reported that the land was very good and if the Almighty brought them there, He would surely ensure their success in inheriting the land. Their perception was a clear expression of a policy of faith and recognition of divine guidance and Jewish destiny, and ultimately their vision prevailed and the Jewish people were led into a land of milk and honey.
In the Six-Day War forty years ago, the Almighty saved us from Nasser’s proclamation of utter destruction by inspiring the Jewish nation to arise, fight and destroy its enemies. The victory brought us a great step forward in our process of redemption and ensured our existence as a Jewish nation by returning us to the heart of our homeland, to Jerusalem and Hebron, Jericho and Gush Etzion, Shilo and Eli, Elon Moreh and Beit El.
This policy of faith in our divine mission aroused thousands of Jews to restore Jewish life to our ancient towns and cities and created the astounding phenomenon of 300,000 Jews living in these renewed biblical areas of Eretz Yisrael. This reality is not just one of numbers but of flourishing Jewish life and of worshipping the Almighty in joy, which has helped us overcome all the pain and suffering from Arab terror and the anguish brought upon us by irresponsible and shameful acts of our own government.
I want to share with all my dear friends and readers my unwavering feeling of confidence regarding our future. Hesitant and weak elected officials will not determine the future of our homeland. What will determine it is the spirit of faith embodied by our nation, which motivates us to be ready to fight for the existence of Eretz Yisrael against all enemies who want to destroy us.
Leaders devoid of Jewish faith and lacking recognition of the divine guidance of this Zionist process of Jewish redemption have led us along the path of the ten disloyal spies who saw themselves as grasshoppers, forced to flee our enemies. Leaders who continue this policy, which has brought so much pain and suffering upon our people, have lost the trust of the people and therefore forfeited the privilege to lead our nation to redemption.
We, the Jews of Judea and Samaria who continue in the path of Joshua and Caleb, inspired by our divine mission of redemption, can still hear their resounding proclamation: “We will continue to go up and inherit the land for we will succeed” (Bamidbar 13:30).
About the Author: Rabbi Eliezer Waldman is rosh yeshivaof Yeshivat Nir Kiryat Arba.
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