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December 2, 2015 / 20 Kislev, 5776
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The Responsibility Of An Israeli Government And Its Army

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I must begin by expressing that our hearts are with our soldiers on both the northern and southern fronts, and our prayers beseech the Almighty to protect them so that they all return home safely.

Also, we implore the God of Israel to grant wisdom to our leaders so they have the courage to make the decisions that will achieve the goal of destroying our enemies. In times of war, the Jewish people’s secret weapon is the power of unity. Thank God this power is the active driving force in Israel today.

As we reflect on what has happened to us these past few weeks, we must not stop ourselves from recognizing and analyzing the weaknesses and mistakes that brought us to such alarming circumstances. Going back to the Yom Kippur War, I cannot remember a situation where our enemies succeeded in humiliating us by invading our sovereign territory, killing and kidnapping soldiers – and this despite the fact that intelligence sources specifically warned of such intentions.

The best way to express my feelings as an introduction to the harsh words and thoughts burning within me is by quoting Rav Kook, who wrote: I am lifting my voice loudly not because I have the strength to speak, but because I don’t have the strength to keep silent.

I believe that for years the leadership has been weakening the army. The IDF is highly technological and ultra-modern in its weaponry but its leaders depress the morale of the troops and suppress their motivation. It began with Oslo – creating the illusion of peace and turning our worst enemies, whose goal is to destroy us, into so-called partners for peace. And all this was done while blinding our people, especially our soldiers, to the reality of the evil intentions of these “peace partners.”

When an army created to protect the land and people of Israel is inculcated with distorted codes of morality which suddenly dictate that foes are friends, the result is confusion – the illusion of peaceful borders and an inability to recognize the enemy. The tragic events on the Gaza border and the endless barrage of deadly rockets on the North are direct results of that confusion and illusions of peace.

There can be no greater distortion of Jewish values and confusion planted into the hearts of our soldiers than when disengagement – meaning the uprooting of Jewish communities and synagogues – becomes Zionist policy. This situation has created a mentality that weakens motivation and alertness, which are so essential in preventing disastrous mistakes like those which preceded the Hamas and Hizbullah infiltration, kidnapping and murder of soldiers.

All the recent humiliating military failures stem from the uncertain policymaking of Israeli leaders in recent years. Specifically, there are three policy concepts – illusions, really – that express a basic misunderstanding of the responsibilities of a government surrounded by enemies bent on its destruction.

First illusion: By disengaging from our enemy and from our land which our enemy claims, we will lessen the friction and achieve peace. No one heeded our warnings that by fleeing from our enemies, yielding parts of our homeland and uprooting Jewish life, our enemies would be stimulated to attack us even more. Historically, Zionism always held that the best way to strengthen the Jewish position was by building up our settlements and communities in Eretz Yisrael.

Second illusion: By building a fence we will ensure security and the enemy will be unable to attack us. The truth is, rockets can be fired over the fence and tunnels can be dug under it. The intention of our enemies has never changed. They mean to destroy us.

Third illusion: They will remain there and we will remain here and never the twain shall meet. We have heard our leaders expressing this “logical ” philosophy to justify disengagement and building fences. How silly not to understand that the enemy on the other side will continue to seek the annihilation of the State of Israel by sending rockets from there to here, as indeed we are experiencing right now.

I do hope that any Israeli leader who has the courage to face reality will be able to recognize the tragic blunder of disengagement – a blunder that has brought the enemy’s rockets to Sderot and Ashkelon.

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

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