In the wake of the ax murders of four holy rabbis as they were involved in morning prayers, and as only the most recent outrage spanning days, weeks, months and years of such tragedies, we struggle to find the appropriate response and the solution to this never-ending conflict.
Many still call for peace talks, ready to trade Jerusalem for a wished-for end to violence. This tired and futile reprise surfaces after every glimmer of achdus that briefly surfaces when tragedy hits! At such times, the color of a kippah, the nusach, the post-exile countries of origin, the minhagim, and the political parties evaporate, only to re-surface once the crisis passes or the tragedy becomes “old news”. The perceived differences become accentuated and sinas chinam (which our rabbis teach brought about the destruction of the Second Temple) rears its ugly head.
While our enemies’ voices have proven over and over again that they are devoid of any credibility, desperately and pathetically we buy into the offer of the olive branch forgetting that this was a tactic and strategy of warfare introduced by Mohammed with the Quraish, furthered by Saladin with Richard-the-Lionhearted and re-tooled by Arafat after Oslo. “Offer a truce or treaty to your enemies who are stronger than you, until you are stronger than your enemies and can destroy them.” But our weariness and tears shed after senseless and horrible murders wear down the wisdom we should have gained after centuries of deception and betrayal.
Other voices call for military reprisal — one such comment suggested that if a single mortar shell or rocket were to now find its way into Israeli airspace, the response should be obliteration! The military solution!
Yet others, especially in religious circles, say that increased Torah study and fervent prayers will result in G-d’s historic intervention reminiscent of the Ten Plagues and the drowning of mighty Egypt at the Sea of Reeds.
But, I would suggest that the real response may be found in facing reality squarely in the face, a reality that is certainly not popular and would be condemned by the nations. It is calling a spade a spade. CNN, BBC and most all of the world’s media would hurl all that they could muster to bury Israel — at least in the press.
It is in the war of words that Israel is losing — not on the battlefield and not in the defense of thousands of missles aimed purposely at civilian homes and population centers. Not in 1948, 1956, 1967 or 1973 could its neighbors inflict a knockout punch upon this tiny country. In fact, the creation of euphemisms such as “settlements”, “occupation” and claims of the “Right of Return” by a people that never dwelled in the Land, came into existence because Israel was miraculously victorious. In the face of all these wars, it is Israel that had reclaimed the Land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Land that encompassed the kingdoms of David and Solomon.
In the paragraph above, I used the term “miraculously” and it was purposeful. What we have failed to acknowledge and celebrate is that our victories are counter-intuitive. Our very survival after thousands of years of oppression, exile, pogroms and the Final Solution is not logical. Napoleon and Mark Twain, two notable non-Jews (and there were many others) marveled at the miraculous survival of the Jewish people. Bismarck scoffed at Herzl’s dream declaring that all of the empires then in existence would have to fall before that could ever happen — and they did!
So how do we win the war of words? When Isaac blessed Jacob, he did so after touching his arms and hearing his words. The arms suggested that Esau was before him, but Jacob’s words couched in praise and acclamations of Hashem confused Isaac. He said: “You have the hands of Esau, but the voice of Jacob!”
This statement was prophetic. The nations would prevail by the might of their arms, through brutality, sheer numbers and concerted plans of annihilation. Israel would prevail by being the People of the Book. If they lived Torah, G-d would be with them and their enemies would be powerless. AND if G-d displayed His Might even when we were unworthy, at a time of tremendous assimilation and non-observance, to prevent our destruction and defeat, it would be up to us to recognize these miracles as Divine Intervention.
How should we behave now? We must remind ourselves that we were bequeathed the Land of Israel, not by a UN vote, but by the Will of G-d. In addition, our claims to Jerusalem, Hebron and Shechem (today Nablus) came about through legal land transactions recorded in the Torah, each at exorbitant price tags. It is unconscionable that we watched on our TV screens Jews evicting Jews from Hebron and its surroundings and forcing us to travel in armed vehicles to worship at the resting places of our Avos and Imahos at Machpelah. To bargain with Jerusalem — never acknowledged by the rest of the world to this day as Israel’s capitol — to suggest that an inch of ground should be surrendered or granted is chutpadich, and frankly a stupid display of naivete that in the end will be futile and self-defeating.
The Land belongs to G-d and it is G-d that gave Jerusalem, Israel to the Jewish people. Only He may take it away and only He may declare its dwellers legitimate or not. There is no East Jerusalem or West Jerusalem, there is only Jerusalem. There is no partition that may be tolerated for Israel is One, inseparable and indivisible.
When we realize and shout out with the Voice of Jacob (renamed by G-d, Israel) that the Land was G-d’s to give and that we hold in trust for His Purpose, then the solutions will reveal themselves. No army and no media war will be able to drown out that reality. That voice must be one of achdus, spoken with Yiras Hashem and Ahavas Hashem.