Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.
The guns are now stilled. Criticism and debate, suggestion and advice, censure and fault-finding are being unleashed – as befits a Jewish society to which analysis and self-search are as natural as sunrise and sunset are to the realm of nature.
No one need doubt that questions into whether the government of Israel was right in announcing a unilateral cease-fire, or whether the Israel Defense Forces should have pushed forward in Gaza to attain various specified or unspecified goals, will be raised and discussed endlessly.
Be that as it may, we need to stop for a moment, put all differences aside, and raise from within the innermost wellsprings of our being a silent shout, a collective outcry of “hurray” to our valiant soldiers who so fearlessly and unhesitatingly faced a task fraught with utmost danger.
Together with the reservists who responded to the urgent call-up, they forged ahead on a battleground pockmarked with mines, booby-traps, and tunnels meant to facilitate their abduction. They forged ahead to free southern Israel from the continual threat of missiles and rockets, Katyushas and Grads.
These are our heroes, infused with a spirit of dedication to the safety and welfare of our country and its population, wanting to live but ready to die for our homeland. We owe them a debt of deep gratitude, these soldiers and their officers, many of whom ignored their wounds and forced their way back from the hospitals with arms and bodies bandaged to rejoin their comrades on the frontline.
Not so long ago, many intelligent people were predicting the demise of Zionism and sounding the death-knell of Jewish patriotism. Many self-appointed fortune tellers in Israel claimed that the spirit of the chalutzim, the founders who were ready to face up to privation and want, was gone and now we would need to deal with a generation nurtured and pampered on materialistic goals and luxuries.
Well, the prophets of doom were proven utterly wrong by our young generation. The Jewish heart cannot help but swell with pride in the presence of such spectacular devotion to our people as has been exhibited these wondrous days.
Our gratitude goes out to our young soldiers who revived in us the faith and trust that had begun lagging in the capability of the Jewish people to face up to the enormous pressures placed on Israel by enemies who wish to see our imminent destruction and by civilized nations incapable of honoring merit and justice.
We are indebted not only to the young generation for its readiness to sacrifice and for its zeal and enthusiasm in safeguarding Israel but also to our army for being the most unique defense force on this globe. Show me another army that would make a quarter of a million telephone calls warning the very people who offer support and cover to the enemy to distance themselves from their homes so they would not be harmed in the approaching attack.
Show me another army that would airdrop millions of leaflets warning an antagonistic population of its plans to momentarily attack installations of resistance in their area. Show me another army that would suspend hostilities for three or four hours daily to allow the delivery into enemy territory of humanitarian supplies – a great portion of which would be immediately sidetracked to the terrorists.
Having praised the spirit and determination of our soldiers and the nation as a whole, it may not be out of place to make some observations and tentative conclusions regarding the 22-day Gaza war.
The first thing to note is that a war against a terrorist group backed by a local population cannot be “won” in the classic sense of the word. The best example is the experience of the great Napoleon Bonaparte. When historians consider the cause of his downfall, they refer to his disastrous invasion of Russia. However, Napoleon himself stated while in captivity that what ruined him was “the Spanish ulcer.” He was referring to the guerilla war that had erupted in Spain against French occupation two years before his Russian campaign, costing him half a million fighting men.
Terrorist groups are not mandated to fight in uniforms. Hence they melt into the local population and become indistinguishable. Consequently, a war against terrorist or guerilla groups has to be judged by altogether different standards. Unless a country harassed by terrorists is willing to obliterate the total local population, victory against terrorism consists of containing the source of terror.
About the Author: Dr. Ervin Birnbaum is founder and director of Shearim Netanya, the first outreach program to Russian immigrants in Israel. He has taught at City University of New York, Haifa University and the University of Moscow; served as national superintendent of education of Youth Aliyah and as the first national superintendent of education for the Institute of Jewish Studies; and, at the request of David Ben-Gurion, founded and directed the English Language College Preparatory School at Midreshet Sde Boker.
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Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.
The question of anti-Semitism in Europe today is truly tied to the issue of immigration.
Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.
Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.
Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters: “‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’…This is an outrage.”
Do you seriously think that as you kidnap our children we should medically treat and help yours?
Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it must enforce the dismantling of Hamas.
The Arab Spring has challenged Jordan with the task of gradual reform with regard to its monarchy.
Israel offered Syria the entire Golan Heights, only to find that the Syrians were demanding MORE!
Israeli hasbara too can be described at best as pathetic, at worst non existent.
A ‘good news’ story from the Nepal avalanche disaster to warm your heart. Take out your Kleenex.
Journalists see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as morality play: Israel=evil; Palestine=innocent
Warsaw Ghetto: At its height, the Nazis walled in some 500,000 Jews within the1.3 square mile area.
While police officers face dangers every day on the job, Jews also face danger in their daily lives.
In the course of the ages there wasn’t a Jewish community more convinced of its capacity for survival than the Jewish community of Hungary in the 19th and 20th centuries.
By bus Lidice is a 35-minute ride from Prague. It is a ten-minute walk from the Lidice bus stop through the well-kept gardens to the main building and entrance of the Lidice Memorial Museum. In the season of bloom the gardens display thousands of roses. There is little that suggests the vast human tragedy that transpired there in the course of one night seventy years ago.
What made the deportation of more than 80,000 Jews from Slovakia during World War II unique? It was this striking fact: In contrast with other countries, the Slovak government actually appealed to the Germans to enact deportation.
Barely five weeks after the Wehrmacht’s onslaught against Russia, Reich Marshal Hermann Goering issued the following directive on July 31, 1941 to Chief of Gestapo Reinhard Heydrich:
The place that holds the record for murders in a day – even over such ghastly places as Auschwitz and Treblinka – is Babi Yar. A ravine on the outskirts of Kiev, it is today incorporated within the urban, inhabited sector of the Ukrainian capital. The events described here took place seventy years ago, in 1941, on Rosh Hashanah.
With Israel surrounded, as ever, by implacable enemies and forced to endure withering assaults of negative international opinion, we can take needed comfort and learn an important lesson from the Torah context of some key phrases in the Yom Kippur liturgy we recited just days ago.
It was evident, in the years preceding World War II, that humanity had no desire to throw a saving rope to the drowning Jewish people.
When the sons of Jacob went to Egypt for food they became victims of a cruel ruse. As we recently read in the weekly Torah portion, when the provisions the brothers had acquired were loaded on horse and wagon for the return trip to Canaan, the Egyptian viceroy’s cup was stealthily planted into the sack of the youngest, Benjamin.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/gaza-looking-back-and-to-the-future/2009/01/28/
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