Photo Credit: Avi Ohayon / GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits IDF troops inside northern Gaza, shortly before Hamas transferred the third group of hostages to the custody of the Red Cross, who then delivered them to Israeli officials. Nov. 26 2023

Rabbi Sholom Ber Wolpe, Chairman of SOS Israel (Ha’Matteh L’Hatzolat Ha’Am V’Ha’Aretz), has written an open letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling on him not to repeat the mistakes of the past and to listen to the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s directives. The letter, dated December 1, 2023, is entitled: What’s after our victory? A letter to Benjamin Netanyahu.

I have written to you in the past about the absolute necessity that, following the war’s completion, an Israeli administration should be established in the Gaza Strip.


Allow me to add here several more points:

1. The [Israeli] government has let it be known that the Army will continue to complete its proclaimed goal, which is the destruction of the Hamas terrorists from the Gaza Strip. The cabinet continues to proclaim this at all times: evening, morning and noon. But no one answers the simple question: What is the difference between the Gaza terrorists and those of Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem, and Benjamin [the so-called “West Bank”]? On the contrary, the situation in those areas is much more severe because terrorists are intermingled among the [Jewish] settlements, using the same means of access and traveling through the same intersections, so that every day [Jewish residents] need special miracles that those accursed villains be unable to implement their evil schemes (as they regrettably succeeded in doing last weekend at the entrance to Jerusalem – may G-d avenge [the victims’] blood). Accordingly, Mr. Netanyahu, why don’t we hear from you emphatically about this, too, that the campaign to destroy the terrorists will continue also in Judea and Samaria and anywhere else under the sun where they exist?

2. You deserve special appreciation for repeatedly letting it be known that you will not agree, under any circumstances, that the terrorist Mahmoud Abbas and his minions will govern Gaza (and indeed, we applaud you for these words that are expressed fearlessly, despite the fact that US President Joe Biden repeatedly proclaims the absolute opposite). If so, however, why do you continue to say that the people of Israel will not retain control of Gaza? Who else should be in control there, some “Israel-loving” Islamist group that will sprout up in place of the Hamas terrorists? Is it for this that we have sacrificed hundreds of selfless young soldiers in order to give some Islamist mob the place where the patriarch Isaac lived? Moreover, if you indeed recognize Abbas’ villainy, why do you gift him millions of dollars every month?

3. I start this paragraph with an apology to you: It is no secret that Mr. Netanyahu was involved in one of the Knesset votes during the process of Mr. Ariel Sharon‘s perverse plan to destroy and lay waste to 26 flourishing [Jewish] settlements [in the Gaza Strip]. Everyone is aware that the dreadful failure occurring on Simchas Torah, 5784 [October 7, 2023], derived mainly from uprooting those Gush Katif settlements 18 years ago and transferring Gaza to Hamas control. Accordingly, let me ask you (in the above spirit of apology): Hasn’t the time come to repent correspondingly by rebuilding and resettling anew the Gush Katif settlements? Don’t you realize what a sacred enthusiasm this would ignite among soldiers when they feel their self-sacrifice has been for something positive? Because what is the literal meaning of winning this war and destroying Hamas if we leave the entire Gaza region full of all sorts of terrorists? When will we manage to convince our esteemed Prime Minister that only conquest of the entire Gaza Strip and establishing IDF control there, both military and civil, is the meaning of “annihilating Hamas”?

4. As I have written at length in my previous letter, the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s opinion is that there is no difference between military administration and civil autonomy, because any administration that does not itself conduct also civil affairs will be unable to retain its power and will eventually collapse. Therefore, just as you have let it be known that the State of Israel will retain control over Gaza from a security standpoint, so is it obliged to control Gaza also in all other affairs (including refugee affairs, for every problem has a solution). And who knows as well as you that all the Rebbe’s words have proved to be utterly true, and how we have been made to pay sufficiently for not having heeded his warnings!

5. From here we come, in brief, to the Rebbe’s words about what is called the “two-state solution.” Clearly, this is no solution but only a dangerous and terrible ruination, and it is regrettable that we don’t hear anything clear about this from Mr. Netanyahu. It is shocking to realize the simple truth that the fence between Gaza and the settlements around the Gaza Strip –the actual expression of that “two-state solution” – was shattered in a single moment to wreak the terrible slaughter [of October 7].

6. Regrettably, many Israeli citizens, including Knesset members and party members, can hardly wait until the war ends and are already now starting the campaign of “anyone but Bibi.” I know you don’t want to speak about “political” affairs until after the war’s goals have been completed. But what for you is politics is for us a life question. Therefore we will fight for you until we know clearly that you have been chosen again to stand at the head of the government. But you need to provide us with the “flame.” When you reflect carefully on this, you will realize that the only way we will be able to draw the wider public to follow you is when you will proclaim about the establishment of Israeli control over all parts of Gaza and setting up anew the Gush Katif settlements. Only you can thereby excite the Jewish public in Israel and the Diaspora (who will also be happy to invest in the rebuilding). And only you are capable of deflecting the pressures by the world’s nations when the issue of annexing the Gaza Strip is raised for consideration.

What The Rebbe Said About Concessions of Land
Translated from the Rebbe’s reply, 3rd Teves, 5738-1977, to Rabbi Isaac Schwei, member of the Montreal Beth Din (Likkutei Sichos Vol. 15, p. 489)

I repeat again my words that all those expert military personalities (known to me, obviously) who have been asked [about this] have replied, without exception, that any cession [of territory] in Judea, Samaria, or Golan absolutely imperils lives without any doubt.

This is not contradicted by what has been attributed to several such [experts], particularly referring to the five [military commanders] whom you mention (at least regarding some of them). It is known that they have said (and I think the general point appearing below was also published in the press, but not in the “language of Halacha” [Torah law]) that “although [making concessions] involves danger of imperiling lives, [nevertheless] since it is possible that peace will result eventually, and also, a primary point, that by making concessions, the US will continue sending armaments and funding, etc., [therefore] it is essential to incur this danger.”

(An analogy for this would be an expert doctor who says that medical considerations compel that [even] Yom Kippur [the Day of Atonement, holiest day of the year] must be desecrated [even] by the Kohein Gadol [the High Priest, the holiest Jew, if he is the only one able to save some individual’s life], etc. But since saving this life is only for a single sick person and will be only for a limited time, etc., [consequently] religious considerations [“fear of G-d”] should compel the decision that the Kohein Gadol continue his Divine service and prayer in the “Holy of Holies” and the Temple building for the benefit of the public and the whole Jewish people!)

When [Israel’s leaders] were asked: Surely, by giving in [i.e. not acting on intelligence reports of impending invasion] on the eve of the [1973] Yom Kippur War, this caused hundreds of casualties the following day, and the prohibition by the [Israeli] Minister of Defense [to Israel’s troops during the 1967 Six Day War] of shooting at the Arab Legion forces perched on the church in the Old City of Jerusalem (or the United Nations building?) in order not to anger the Vatican (or the UN) caused tens of casualties? They replied that there was no choice because of those above political reasons.

The main point is (or to use different language): The doctor’s opinion is what determines, according to Halacha, when he speaks as a doctor (based on reasons of medicine and avoiding danger to life). But if he expresses his opinion as a statesman and politician (based on political reasons) that, in his opinion, these [reasons] should outweigh and cancel the medical reasons, that is the opposite of the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch [the authoritative code of Torah law].

If the situation would miraculously change, causing the military experts to say, concerning the present situation [at that time], that it is essential to make concessions in order to avoid the danger of imperiling lives, then it would be up to the Beth Din [Halachic law court] to determine whether [that situation] does not involve the rule about non-Jews threatening Jewish towns (with no difference whether this happens outside the Holy Land [as, for example, at the time of this letter] in Sinai, or in the Holy Land – as stated in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, chapter 329, among other sources), in which case, the [Jewish defenders must] go out [to fight them] even if that involves danger of imperiling their lives (for, in this case, it is [considered] “close to the border”), and even if the [non-Jewish invaders] are [only] preparing to come.

And if [only in such a case, the Beth Din determines that] the [above] rule certainly does not apply, [then], according to the Shulchan Aruch, it would be necessary to make concessions.

This report first appeared on the website.


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