web analytics
January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Words Dishearten, Demoralize – And Kill

     ITEM: The Jerusalem Post (March 10) vividly recounted the heroism of Capt. David Shapira, a former student at Mercaz HaRav, who, hearing gunfire at the yeshiva during the recent terrorist atrocity, grabbed his weapon, left his nearby home, and ran to the rescue of Jewish children:
 
      “At the entrance to the yeshiva in the capital’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood, Shapira ran into a group of police officers who were standing outside the building, listening to the gunshots from inside. They warned him not to go in, but Shapira pushed them aside and entered. The officer tracked the terrorist to the library, and shot 16 bullets at the terrorist, immediately neutralizing him.”
 
      Were Jewish police officers actually “standing outside the building” while Jewish children inside were being methodically, systematically murdered?
 
      ITEM: The next day, the Post reported Israel had apparently agreed to an Egyptian initiative of a 30-day “period of calm” in which Jerusalem would cease “ground and air attacks in the Gaza Strip and refrain from retaliating for the terror attack at Mercaz HaRav.”
 
      Undoubtedly, this will enable the enemy to smuggle in more and deadlier weapons as it prepares for the next round of hostilities against a nation that apparently will not defend itself or its citizens.
 
      PERSONAL ITEM: On March 11, while driving home on Route 443 (the popular Modiin-Jerusalem highway), my sister and brother-in-law’s car was stoned by Arabs less than a kilometer from the Atarot checkpoint and within sight of an army base. Within minutes, more than a dozen cars arrived, stoned like theirs, with shattered headlights, broken windshields and dented hoods. Police and army personnel, duly informed of the danger lurking within walking distance of their location, told their fellow citizens that because the Arab assailants were standing behind the security fence, there was nothing they could do about it.
 
      Words kill, dishearten and eventually demoralize decent, law-abiding people who are proud to live in a Jewish state. Words maim and injure – but in real time, when uttered by policemen, by soldiers, by politicians to their citizens that they will not be defended, that their lives are expendable, that their personal safety is not a priority. And words demoralize.
 
      Had American naval hero John Paul Jones declared to the attacking British in 1779 “I will not begin to fight”; had Winston Churchill stood in the House of Commons in 1940 and proclaimed “We shall not fight in the fields nor in the streets, we shall not fight in the hills; we shall surrender”; had Douglas MacArthur left Bataan in 1942 with the stirring words “I shall not return,” they would all be – justly – disreputable figures, scorned by their nations and forgotten by history. The battles they fought would have been lost.
 
      But such is the dispirited and dysfunctional leadership provided by the Olmert government and its immediate predecessors to the people of Israel today – a relentless message of defeatism, hopelessness, vulnerability and despair.
 
      In the current issue of Azure (Winter 2008), Assaf Sagiv lamented modern Israel’s peculiar inversion of normative security policy. Usually, a nation risks its soldiers’ lives in order to protect its civilian population. That is why nations maintain armies to secure their borders and police departments to keep order in their cities. But in Israel today, the civilian population – in Sderot, Ashkelon, and elsewhere – is left in jeopardy in order not to risk the lives of the soldiers in combat. It is worse than unprecedented; it is a policy that crosses the line separating the simply bizarre from the truly inexplicable.
 
      Certainly no sane person wishes for a war that will cost lives, but no sensible nation (that is, a nation that does not have a death wish) allows its civilians to be the constant targets of rockets, missiles, bombs and bullets without an effective response, in order to protect its soldiers from carrying out the missions for which they were drafted and trained.
 
      Such pusillanimity – combined with Israel’s adoption of the enemy’s narrative that any military response is “disproportionate” and that every attack kills “innocent civilians” – only emboldens the enemy and eviscerates whatever feeble deterrence Israel still has.
 
      Is it possible the Olmert government is laying the foundation for future horrific concessions on the grounds that Israel’s weak security posture leaves it no choice but to cut the best deal with the surging enemy and hope for the best? Sadly, it is, and would explain as well why Israel – alone among the countries of the world – cannot seem to say “no” to Secretary of State Rice. It is a nifty two-step, of asking to be pressured and then “caving in” to the pressure, but also fecklessness of an unimaginable magnitude.
 
      Worse, Olmert’s constantly discouraging words completely underestimate the resilience, faith and courage of the Israeli people and its security forces. They endanger the lives of every man, woman and child in Israel, every resident and every tourist who walks its streets and travels its roads.
 
      Islamic fundamentalism – the modern incarnation of Amalek – will not disappear as a result of wishful thinking and wild fantasies. While the Jews of Shushan were perplexed and bewildered upon learning of Haman’s nefarious scheme, their leaders Mordechai and Esther – Torah Jews and thinking people – formulated a plan of action to turn the tide, transform the situation and take the war to the enemy. They did not sit back passively bemoaning their fate, pleading weakness or making empty threats with blustery words that are mocked by the enemy (words that ultimately kill innocent Jews). And their efforts were rewarded with the intervention of the divine hashgacha that effected the salvation of the Jewish people and the annihilation of our foes.
 
      The Jewish people will always respond to a leadership that instills in us faith and fortitude based on the wisdom of Torah, the imperatives of Jewish history and the call of Jewish destiny. Such leadership is sorely lacking today. Instead, Israel’s current band of incompetents has already led the country into one failed war and is incapable of planning for and successfully waging the next. Their speeches are clueless and their policies are incoherent.
 

      Those are the real words that kill, and when that vacuous rhetoric is replaced by a truly Jewish leadership of ideas, substance and strength we will merit a revolution of Jewish life and fortune, triumph over the Amalek of our day and salvation as in the days of yore.

 

      Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck, New Jersey.

About the Author: Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is the spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun of Teaneck, New Jersey, and the author most recently of “Judges for Our Time: Contemporary Lessons from the Book of Shoftim” (Gefen Publishing House, Jerusalem, 2009). His writings and lectures can be found at www.Rabbipruzansky.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Words Dishearten, Demoralize – And Kill”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A poster in Gaza showing Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, shortly after Morsi's election in 2012.
Egypt Designates Hamas a Terrorist Organization
Latest Indepth Stories
Eli Weiss

Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.

Resnick-013015-Pilot

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Eller-013015

His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.

IRAN-US-POLITICS-MILITARY

An Israeli strike could theoretically damage Iran’s nuclear program; only US can terminate program

At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel

“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”

Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning

Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

More Articles from Rabbi Steven Pruzansky
Torah-Hakehillah-121914

The travail of Yosef was undoubtedly the greatest trauma of Yaakov’s life, which certainly knew its share of hardships.

Pruzansky-Steven-NEW

The brilliance of Yaakov’s approach – and by extension, any type of individual or group effort – is that it appealed to three different modes of salvation.

There is a certain unwordliness to the pope’s call for a two-state solution, an obliviousness to the reality on the ground.

One can’t only take; one must give as well. Giving – not taking – is the essence of the righteous person.

Much of what we know about 19th century Orthodoxy is false, including the provenance of the term Orthodox.

A president who today used the language of FDR or JFK would be derided. If he were a candidate, the media elites would bury his chances of winning the election. He would be a laughing stock to the aimless young people whose uninformed opinions on public affairs seem to matter more than they should.

With the constant drumbeat of articles about “Orthodox” female rabbis appearing in the media almost weekly – essentially the same articles making the same points to the same eager audience, all to make the phenomenon of such “rabbis” seem commonplace – it is important to take a step back and examine how we arrived at this destination.

The Wall Street Journal last month featured a front-page article titled “After These Jewish Prayer Services, Things Come ‘To Life’ at Open Bar,” with the sub-heading, “To Woo Worshippers, Synagogues Compete with Food and Booze.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/words-dishearten-demoralize-and-kill/2008/03/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: