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Monday
Jul142014

ISRAELI ROUTINE:CHILDREN TO SHELTERS, DRIVERS WITH HELMETS

Not a single government minister is prepared to wage all-out war and totally eliminate the terrorists. Someone said last week that the Cabinet was expected to hold an urgent meeting, during which they would decide to hold another Cabinet meeting. This reminds me of what the Rebbe said about the “askanim” who went in for a meeting and made the decision to have another meeting.

Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry

1.

Ariel Sharon was the one who coined the phrase, “Restraint is strength.” This failed policy has been forever associated with him as an eternal disgrace. Last week, the incumbent prime minister coined a new slogan, “Quiet will be answered with quiet,” he said, as if he was trying to come up with a better version of Sharon’s approach. He was referring to quiet from the unceasing rocket fire toward Eretz Yisroel’s southern cities and the rising and falling wail of air-raid sirens over the heads of millions of Jewish residents. From the government’s standpoint, as long as Tel Aviv is not under the threat of terrorist bombardment, this is still considered quiet. As we’ve said in the past, quiet is a very relative term.

The truth of the matter is that it’s good we haven’t accepted this quiet. If Hamas would have agreed to the conditions for halting the current round of missile fire, we would have gone back to the normal reality of Eretz Yisroel’s southern residents enduring rockets, air-raid sirens, and children sleeping in fear. It was revealed just last week that the main activity in summer camps throughout the southern region is conducting drills on running to the bomb shelters within fifteen seconds. Ready, set, run! True, sports and athletics are very appropriate for any summer camp. However, it wasn’t just the counselors who were checking the campers in order to give them some prizes at the end of the competition; there was also the Ministry of Defense. No summer camp program anywhere in the southern region can receive official approval unless its children know how to run quickly enough to reach the air-raid shelters. 

There was a picture in the papers last week of a bus driver from Yerushalayim’s Pisgat Zeev neighborhood wearing a helmet on the job. He was naturally prepared for any eventuality, as for the residents of many neighborhoods throughout Eretz Yisroel’s capital city, the throwing of rocks and Molotov cocktails at municipal buses is a distinct possibility.

Last week, it already seemed that anything was possible. While those responsible for our security gathered together for yet another meeting, sixty thousand Jews in Yerushalayim sat in fear due to rioting instigated by the Arab residents of Shuafat, located in the city’s northeastern sector. At this same time, Jewish children in southern cities were going to sleep with their hands firmly placed on their ears. This wasn’t just because of the incessant sirens; they had simply become accustomed to going to bed that way. Another picture published last week – two children asleep sitting up while instinctively holding their hands over their ears – has preserved today’s painful security situation for posterity. 

2.

Someone said last week that the Cabinet was expected to hold an urgent meeting, during which they would decide to hold another Cabinet meeting. This reminds many people of what the Rebbe said about the “askanim” who went in for a meeting and made the decision to have another meeting… This is exactly what is going on today in the government of Israel. Not a single government minister is prepared to take the responsibility and go to war to eliminate the terrorists. Two parliamentary terms ago, Israel had a prime minister, Ehud Olmert, who went to war in Lebanon over the kidnapping of three IDF soldiers and crushed the terrorist infrastructure, and later initiated another military operation over the abduction of one soldier in Gaza. 

The last serious IDF operation in Gaza was nearly six years ago – “Operation Cast Lead.” Even then, there were those who tried to prevent a more comprehensive military operation. Among them was then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who successfully worked to put the operation to a halt. For the past six years, the Israel Defense Forces has not dared to return to the Gaza Strip and carry out a significant cleansing of the terror infrastructure. As far as the IDF is concerned, there is no point in going into Gaza if there’s no plan on remaining there. There’s no reason to crush the terror infrastructure if the IDF won’t stay in Gaza and make certain that no one sets it up again. If we aren’t in a certain place, the Iranian and Syrian sponsors will send their representatives and their money there to re-establish the terror bases.

Regrettably, the prevailing situation with the Cabinet constantly meeting without making any concrete decisions is the direct result of a reality in which there’s nothing that can be done. Based on current perceptions, when there is no desire to go back and retake Gaza, there is no reason for conducting a wider military operation than those carried out up until now. Any action that does not include re-conquering the Gaza Strip for the purpose of staying there permanently will not bring an end to the terrorist attacks upon the residents of Eretz Yisroel’s southern communities. The problem is that the political leadership in Eretz Yisroel – even the general public – is not ready to re-conquer the Gaza Strip and restore the ruins of Gush Katif. 

3.

The state-run Israeli media has now twice wrongfully and improperly used the term “Gaza Strip.” The first time was prior to the Gush Katif expulsion, when the media told the citizens of Eretz Yisroel that we were evacuating Gaza. While the truth was that we hadn’t been in Gaza since the implementation of the Oslo Accords, this didn’t seem to bother the media. Thus, they called Gush Katif “Gaza,” explaining to the public that we were finally leaving Gaza.

Ironically, this time, the media continues to call the Gush Katif region “Gaza” in exactly the same context as in the warnings of defense and security specialists prior to the disengagement. It’s still quite difficult for the media to admit that these regions from where the terrorists are firing missiles aimed at Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheva, and even as far north as Chadera and Mt. Carmel, are the same areas where the settlements of Gush Katif once flourished. The media is again trying to tell us that these rockets are being fired from Gaza, when in fact their bases are situated in the former Gush Katif region.

We have endured nine years of bloody conflicts since that dreadful summer when Jews drove their brethren out of Gush Katif. Yet, there are still many people who are unwilling to admit their mistake and beg forgiveness from the former residents of Neve Dekalim and Netzarim – or at least from the current residents of Sderot and Kiryat Malachi. At the present time, we have a prime minister who ardently supported the expulsion plan and never took responsibility for his senseless folly. One person who then was a journalist pushing for the withdrawal from Gush Katif in order “to teach the settlers a lesson” is now a leading participant in the defense and security sub-Cabinet. From his journalistic vantage point, he plays a vital role in making important policy decisions affecting the safety of the People of Israel. Journalists who sold the disengagement plan with unrestrained exuberance have moved up in the world, and today, most of them are recognized as esteemed philosophers among the Israeli media. 

4.

The destruction of Gush Katif was the result of baseless hatred among the Jewish People. The public in Eretz Yisroel really didn’t understand why we needed those religious Jews there, and a sizable majority of Israelis supported the expulsion. People felt that Gush Katif was terribly far away. Somewhere past the country’s southern perimeter sat a cluster of settlements in the Gaza Strip. The numerous activities designed to make Gush Katif more accessible to the public at-large proved unsuccessful. The incitement machinery was so powerful that the battle for public awareness was lost before it got started.

There is a Midrash about a voice from Heaven that ridiculed those who destroyed Yerushalayim, explaining that they’re grinding ground flour, burning burnt wood, and hewing cut stones. This was because the Jewish People had already broken the physical stones of the Beis HaMikdash when it destroyed the spiritual sanctuary with its baseless hatred. By the same token, the army blasting away at the former Gush Katif settlements is essentially grinding ground flour, burning burnt wood, and hewing cut stones. It’s not the Israel Defense Forces that destroyed Gush Katif, rather the public opinion polls revealing that a sizable majority supported the expulsion of Jews from their own land.

This demonstrates that not enough has been done to protect the citizens of Eretz Yisroel. Efforts were made to connect the Jewish People with the brave pioneers of Gush Katif. However, the common man on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv states openly what he has been told to believe: This essentially was a process intended to serve the best interests of the Gush Katif residents… The state-run media pounded away over how these settlers and their children were truly suffering, and how much better it would be for them if they left Gush Katif. It reached such a point that the average Israeli citizen believed that these were people who simply didn’t recognize the reality of the situation and didn’t know what was good for them. The hearts of the Jewish People were with the residents of Gush Katif, but their minds followed the newscasters who explained to them what they should think.

5.

A few words in conclusion:

“They will come up to our house / They will confiscate our land / They’ll also want Yerushalayim / Ashkelon will burn with fire / Remember that we cried / Remember that we told you / Remember that we screamed / Remember that it’s happening. This will not be / This will not happen / This will bring a tragedy upon us / Rise up, Jew, and awaken / Do not slumber / Don’t be complacent.” (Song of the Struggle Against The Expulsion, Benny Elbaz, summer 5765).

 

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