In last week’s column I related the story of a legendary city in which the harvest was poisoned and rendered people mad. The citizens were confronted by a hard choice -eat and become mad or die of starvation. After much deliberation, the king decided, “In order to live, we must eat, but we dare not forget that we have gone mad, so everyone must place a sign on his forehead reading, ‘Don’t forget, we are mad.’ Thus, we will be able to gauge our actions and one day return to normalcy.”
Our world, too, has gone mad, but we don’t have anyone to remind us of our condition, so we don’t realize we are mad. For example, the plan to build a mosque on the spot where Mohamed Atta and his cohorts cried out, “Allahu Akbar” as they struck the most brutal wound, in the heart of America, in our nation’s history.
It’s one thing for Americans to go mad, but it is something else again when Israel loses it. Israel is too small a country, and too vulnerable to lose it. She cannot afford to take chances, surrounded by nations who aim to annihilate her, and must be constantly vigilant.
What is incomprehensible is that Israel – the Jewish people, renowned for their brilliance – “A nation that is wise and understanding” can be so obtuse, and self-destructive. “They have eyes and they see not; they have ears and they hear not; they have memories and yet they do not remember.” How else can one explain Israel’s willingness to sit down once again to give away land to those who do not recognize her existence?
Was it only five short years ago that Israel embarked upon “disengagement,” a sanitized word coined by the Sharon government for the deportation of Jews from their G-d-given inheritance?
After almost 2,000 years of suffering, pogroms and Holocaust, we rose from the ashes and returned to our homeland. We redeemed the barren soil, converted deserts into gardens, planted orchards and forests, which none of Israel’s occupiers have ever done. We did that which was miraculous, but for us, it was normal, for our prophets predicted it. We are the generation that has been privileged to see the fulfillment of prophecy, but we too ate of the poisonous products of the 20th and 21st centuries and have lost our faith, our vision. Yes, we too have gone mad. How else can one explain that five short years after Gush Katif, we are at it again, but this time the stakes are higher – Yehuda, Shomron, and parts of Yerushalayim are on the negotiating table.
As mentioned earlier, “disengagement” was a euphemism invented by the Sharon government to market this catastrophic, suicidal travesty to the nation. It was the largest non-combat operation in the history of Israel. Fifty thousand Israeli soldiers were deployed to forcibly evict over 9,000 Jewish citizens and render the area “Judenrein.” The Israelis, so cruelly uprooted, had toiled and sacrificed for almost 40 years. They built houses, synagogues, schools, planted gardens and created hot houses, from which they exported produce, boosting Israel’s economy.
Twenty-one beautiful Jewish communities were demolished and their people expelled. Their tears surely pierced the Heavenly gates, but here on earth the “wise” politicians sold this under the label of “disengagement.” “It will be better for us. We will no longer be trapped in Gaza. We will have peace on our southern borders. The nations of the world will respect us for our sacrifice. The Arabs will applaud our willingness to resolve the conflict with a two-state solution. They will grow economically, prosper and we will live in harmony.”
Not only did the opposite occur, but Israel gave credence to the lie that a Palestinian state had existed, which Israel destroyed and was responsible to recreate. No sooner did Israel evacuate her people and demolish her settlements, than the entire area became a terrorist base from whence missiles rained day and night on Israel’s towns and villages. Children huddled in fear in dark underground shelters and could not go to school.
It is against this background that we must understand the present demand that Israel withdraw from Yehuda, Shomron and parts of Yerushalayim. This would require that Israel forcibly uproot over 100,000 of her citizens from the West Bank. Such a withdrawal would, G-d forbid, jeopardize the entire existence of the state.
Some argue that it is not Hamas, but “moderate” Fatah that would be in charge of the West Bank, but Gaza disproved that. Even if Fatah were to rule, it would make little difference; there is really no difference between Fatah and Hamas.
Thirty-six years ago, Yasir Arafat was given a standing ovation at the UN when he proclaimed that Israel has no right to exist. Since then nothing has changed. If anything, the situation has deteriorated. Just recently, in Mahmoud Abbas’ capital, a square was renamed in honor of Dalai Mughrabi, who in 1978, with 11 other terrorists, highjacked an Israeli bus and slaughtered 32 Israelis and one American. These so-called “Fatah moderates” glorify the murder of Jews and idolize the murderers.
Yet we have not learned. Like madmen we continue on our suicidal course, trusting the nations of the world, hoping they will champion our cause. We fail to understand that our destiny has always been to stand alone – “Hen am l’vadad yishkon…” for it is through our loneliness that G-d’s Hand becomes manifest in history. David defeated Goliath, not through might, but through his faith and trust in Hashem. When that faith is eclipsed, when we no longer place our trust in Him, we become easy prey.
In previous columns, I mentioned that my husband, HaRav Meshulem HaLevi Jungreis, zt”l, would always form an acronym from the letters of the forthcoming New Year. I believe that were he with us today, he would say that this New Year of Tav, Shin, Ayin, Aleph be a symbol of “Tehei Shnat Am Echad.” Let us unify our nation around our Torah and G-d, and if we do that, we can bring redemption to ourselves and the entire world.