A silhouetted soldier extends his arms to the sky. Here’s hoping for a sunny day wherever you are on the planet.
Posts Tagged ‘arms’
Editor’s note: This column, updated from its original publication in The Jewish Press in mid-2009, is highly relevant to today’s situation.
Recent warnings by President Obama to Israel against an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities are reminiscent of the period prior to the 1967 Six-Day War. Then, as now, Israel was faced with an existential threat. Then, as now, the U.S. pressured Israel not to take action.
Despite the fact that after the 1956 Sinai War Israel received a signed U.S. guarantee of intervention in the eventuality of an Egyptian obstruction of the Straits of Tiran, America ignored its commitment and threatened Israel that if it would attack Egypt, the U.S. would not stand at its side. President Lyndon Johnson lamely excused his betrayal by telling Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol that he “couldn’t find his copy” of the document.
America’s approach to Israel prior to the Six-Day War was patently negative. It imposed an arms embargo on the Middle East, while Soviet arms continued to flow freely to the Arab states. But after the successful Israeli attack – that also included the destruction of the USS Liberty in the waters off the Sinai Peninsula – the American approach to Israel completely changed. Arms and vast amounts of aid began to flow from our “great ally.” The flow of aid was downgraded only after Israel surrendered the Sinai to Egypt in the Camp David Accords. Currently, only one-sixth of the American arms sold to the Middle East are directed to Israel. The rest is sold to the Arab world, directly endangering the Jewish state.
The situation was not much different in 1948. The American government did not want to lose a market of 400 million Arabs and planned to vote against the establishment of the State of Israel. Public opinion after the Holocaust forced the U.S. to vote in favor – but only because they were convinced that the Arab armies would destroy the fledgling state in no time. For those who still hold the “great friendship with America” cliché dear, it should be noted that in those difficult pre-state days, America also imposed an arms embargo on the Middle East – in other words, on the Jews. Jewish-Americans who were caught smuggling arms to Israel were imprisoned.
There is no doubt that healthy relations with the (crumbling) American superpower are an important Israeli interest. But we must remember that those relations have always been founded on mutual interests and nothing more. If we were to evaporate in a radioactive plume, God forbid, Obama would respectfully lay a wreath at the new wing of the Holocaust Museum in Washington. Nothing more. So the American warning on an issue that is existential to Israel must not be taken into account at all.
One of the main lessons that we should have learned from the Holocaust is that when a Jew-hater who heads a country declares his intention to destroy us – he means it. As we have not yet attacked Iran after all of Ahmadinejad’s blatant threats, we have not really learned the Holocaust’s lesson.
In the Six-Day War, Israel initiated an aerial attack against its enemies that involved the entire Israeli Air Force. In the technological reality of those days, it was a mission no less complex than the proposed strike on Iran today. It demanded evasion of the Jordanian radar, total radio silence, and difficult navigation at extremely low altitudes deep inside enemy territory – all with mechanisms that can only be described as primitive relative to the weapons systems used today by Israel’s Air Force. Failure then would have left Israel with no air defenses against the attacks of all the Arab armies.
In other words, we have been in this scenario before. Israel has no choice but to attack Iran. America’s relations with us should not be part of the question of whether to attack. At most, we can ask ourselves how America will relate to us following a strike. And the answer is simple: A successful attack will improve relations, while no strike or an unsuccessful one will, God forbid, worsen them.
A report by NBC News quoted unnamed US officials as saying that the string of assassinations of nuclear scientists in Iran is the work of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), and that the group receives funding, training and arms from the Mossad.
This marks the first time that US officials have confirmed that Israel is behind the hits.
The NBC News website also quoted a senior aide to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying “[t]hey (Israelis) are paying … the Mujahedin. Some of their (MEK) agents … (are) providing Israel with information. And they recruit and also manage logistical support.”
If the recent pictures of destroyed outposts had been of Bedouin villages or illegal houses in the Galilee, the whole country would have been up in arms. Leftist author Amos Oz would have run to build the destroyed homes with his own two hands, the media would have incessantly interviewed the children who were thrown out of their beds in the middle of the night, and enraged Arabs would have ignited all the mixed Jewish/Arab towns throughout Israel.
But pajamas-clad Jewish children standing in the freezing cold outside their destroyed houses, and Torah scrolls crumpled in the mud amid the ruins of synagogues, is not “news.”
There is no dearth of rivalry within the Left – both personal and ideological. But when they face off against the settlers and the Right, they present a united front. There are no “extremists” in the Left camp. You can be funded by foreign governments to directly undermine your country and aid its declared enemies. You can organize violent demonstrations weekly, stoning IDF soldiers and injuring over 700 soldiers and border police. You can refuse to serve in the army. You can break the law and riot as much as you want. If you are a leftist but fighting the Left’s battle of disintegration and retreat, you are in the consensus.
On the other hand, if you settle the Land of Israel with dedication, but not exactly according to the ideological nuances of one yeshiva or another, you are alone. On the morning after the destruction, no Amos Oz or other spiritual leader will be there for you. The rabbi of one subgroup will be afraid to encourage and lend legitimacy to the outpost of the other subgroup.
When Nati Ozeri’s home was destroyed and his widow and small children were thrown out into the frozen Hebron night, I came with just a few people to help. No settler leader or spiritual guide was there. In my eyes, this is the underlying reason that the thousands who considered themselves firmly ensconced within the consensus and the law suffered the same hell just a few years later.
The fear of supporting the basic rights of the person we perceive as more extreme than us paralyzes us all. One does not have to agree with the controversial book, Torat Hamelech, or the “price-tag” operations in order to stand with the families whose husbands were expelled from their homes by army orders originally reserved for terrorists – and were then charged with spying.
As a resident of Samaria, I feel humiliated by the way we treat ourselves. Is it a surprise that we get the same treatment from the pogromchiks and Israeli society? The way that society relates to the settlers is simply a reflection of how we relate to ourselves. If the heads and rabbis of the settlement movement do not pick the Torah scroll out from the rubble and mud and rebuild Mitzpe Avichai with their own hands, their message is clear: Those people in the outposts are “extremists,” so the abomination that was perpetrated against them is legitimate. Why should the rest of the Israeli public think otherwise?
Meanwhile, the evil winds are blowing. And every week the militias in black show up in the middle of the night, biting off another house and another family.
Even if Prime Minister Netanyahu supports the legalization of the outposts, it will just be a temporary respite in the losing battle that the settlers have been waging ever since the Oslo Accords were signed. Today, nobody even remembers that Neve Dekalim was built by the Labor Party and Yitzhar by the Likud. Netanyahu has declared his intention to establish a Palestinian state; every week Jewish families are thrown out of their homes; the only city being built in Judea or Samaria is the Arab Wahhabi; and on their way to work, the settlers must drive through international border crossings.
The inability of the leaders of the Right and the settlement movement to give their full backing to the different subgroups within – and their inability to establish an ideological alternative to the direction in which Zionism is retreating – plays into the hands of the Left, thus perpetuating the Oslo Accords.
Peace Now did not petition the court against Gush Katif and no legal problems threatened it. The evil winds that threatened Gush Katif are still threatening Ofra and Beit El, Migron and Givat Asaf – with or without the law to legalize the outposts.
Ordinarily, Chanukah is a time to hug and kiss the kids as we sing in front of the menorah. This past Chanukah was an exception. Instead of putting my arms around my children, I watched them light the menorah on a streaming video from my iPad while I rested comfortably in my hospital bed.
It was a bittersweet moment, one I would not trade for anything in the world – because this year for Chanukah, I gave the gift of life.
Ronit, a mother of three children from Petach Tikva, had been on dialysis for years. Her body was slowly shutting down due to her genetic kidney disease and the doctors did not give her much longer to live. Over the past several years, Ronit literally traveled the world and explored every option to find an altruistic kidney donor willing to save her life. Yet as time continued to run out, she never gave up hope.
Meanwhile, halfway across the world, I had a sudden urge to launch an educational lecture series in my shul about Jewish medical ethics. I spent a great deal of time researching, studying and teaching about the medical and halachic perspectives of organ donation. The lectures were stimulating, interactive and well attended. My conclusion was always the same: “Not only is living kidney donation permitted by halacha, but if a person is in good health and is inclined to donate – saving a life is the among the greatest mitzvot we can ever do.”
After hearing myself repeat those words so often, it forced me to look in the mirror and ask: Would I ever consider doing something so crazy as to donate a kidney to a total stranger?
I continued researching the topic and quickly realized it actually is not so crazy. I learned the surgery itself is extremely safe and highly successful, and that a person can live a perfectly long and normal life after donation.
By contacting organizations like Matnat Chaim and Kidney Mitzvah, I was matched with Ronit. Unlike finding a bone marrow donor, which is tantamount to searching for a needle in a haystack, finding a kidney match is not all that difficult. The hardest part is finding someone who is actually willing to make the donation.
My wife, Chana, was incredibly supportive throughout the process. She wisely suggested I go through the testing and take it one step at a time. It turned out to be the best advice I received. Rather than getting overwhelmed, I carefully took my time testing, researching and talking to others who had previously donated. A year later I was approved as a perfect candidate for kidney donation.
At that point, I sat down with my two older sons (11 and 8) and explained to them that my kidney could save the life of a woman in Israel. I assured them I would not go ahead with the donation unless they were fully on board. As I explained the process to them, my eight-year-old son began crying and said, “Totty, please don’t do it. I am scared and I don’t want anything to happen to you.” I responded with a hug and assured him that if he didn’t want me to donate my kidney, I wouldn’t do it.
At that point, my older son asked if the recipient had any children. I explained that she had three children but was a single mother. Immediately my boys both responded that I should definitely give her my kidney.
I looked quizzically at them and inquired about their sudden change of heart. The response I received knocked the wind right out of me. They both said basically the same thing: “Totty, if you die, we will be very, very sad, but at least we will still have Mommy to take care of us. However, if this lady dies, her children will become orphans. That is why you must give her your kidney”.
Their words echoed with simplicity and resounding clarity. I could live a perfect life with one kidney. However, without a transplant, Ronit would surely die.
Thus, in late December I went to New York’s Montefiore Hospital to donate my kidney. When I met Ronit for the first time, I was overwhelmed by the tears flowing from her eyes and the look of pure joy and gratitude on her face.
The two-hour laparoscopic surgery was a huge success, and after two days in the hospital I was home recuperating. Just one month later I feel great, and am back to my usual routine – even running a few miles each day. Ronit has begun a new life – full of energy and free of the constant tethering to a dialysis machine.
I don’t view my “Chanukah present” as being heroic or righteous. In the prayer of Shema we constantly state our desire to serve Hashem “b’chol me’odecha” with all of our me’od – our excess. To me, my second kidney was my me’od and I was glad to share it.
The UN Security Council is convening on Tuesday regarding the unrest in Syria.
Russia is coming under increasing pressure from the West to fall in line with a draft resolution condemning the Syrian regime and demanding President Bashar al-Assad’s resignation, amid a surge of government violence Monday that left 100 dead.
Russia has persistently objected to resolution that places the blame solely on Assad and calls for a halt in weapons transfers to Syria, and has promised to veto one if it came to a vote.
“The draft has statements in it calling on the member states to stop arms deliveries to Syria,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said. “But there is no clear line between arms contraband that some countries engage in to support extremist forces in Syria, and the legal military-technical ties with this country.”
Two Azerbaijani citizens have reportedly been arrested for their roles in an alleged plot to assassinate the Israeli ambassador to Azerbaijan, Michael Lotem, and two employees at the Chabad Jewish school in the capital of Baku.
Rasim Farail Aliyev and Ali Huseynov have been charged with smuggling arms and explosives into the country. A third suspect, Balaqardash Dadashov, an Azerbaijani residing in Iran, is still at large.
Azerbaijan’s Security Ministry claimed that Iranian intelligence agencies contracted the three Azerbaijanis to perpetrate the assassinations for $150,000.