Baruch Bebchick

Move Gaza Postscript

Further to my recent post advocating a systematic transfer of Gaza’s residents to a new enclave in Sinai (which I referred to as “Move Gaza”), a friend sent this to me: The Times of Israel: Blinken says efforts to relocate Palestinians from Gaza to Sinai a non-starter;

In response, I will say that this report (addressing a brief opening of the Egyptian border in Sinai to enable Gaza residents to temporarily flee the Israeli military campaign) is far different from my long-term proposal of Move Gaza. Approach makes all the difference. Just asking Egypt to open its Gaza border and absorb the residents of Gaza – without offering a full framework for how the population should be absorbed, and without an offer of rich compensation – clearly isn’t going to work. Egypt would need to be incentivized to become an active partner in such a project. If there was proper preparation and coordination of approach with the Americans, then the Egyptians would be much more willing to entertain such a role.

I realize that the Move Gaza proposal may seem rather fanciful. But we have hit rock bottom vis a vis Israel’s relationship with Gaza, and I think some out-of-the-box thinking is desperately needed. Clearly, conventional solutions have not worked. And I believe that Move Gaza would result in far fewer lives lost, and would yield a much greater long-term benefit for both sides, than the current alternatives (including maintaining some form of the status quo).

In the wake of the most recent Hamas atrocities, there has been a lot of talk about Israel’s options for a response, including how to deal Hamas a fatal blow. Many of these discussions have focused on what must be done militarily, taking into account world opinion (for now ok, but sure to turn on a dime against us) and which responses would be too weak or too severe. There have also been many questions raised about who needs to be held accountable for the glaring intelligence failures and for the delays in mounting a military response. The political pundits and novice commentators (myself included) have had their say about military plans, diplomatic efforts and various suggested solutions.

But many of these proposed solutions are missing the big picture. And I must admit that my last post also fell into this same trap, because it failed to clearly enunciate a crucial point that is obvious to religious Jews but nonetheless should have been stated explicitly. And that is that the most critical component to any solution is a spiritual one: turning to our Father in heaven.

I realize that to non-observant Jews this will seem like a religious copout, but I assure you it is the real bottom line. The only actual solution to the mess of Gaza, and to every mess, is to increase our reliance on Hashem. He is our true source of protection and of keeping us alive and well. G-d is in complete control of the world. He chooses when to reveal more of Himself to us and when to hide more of Himself from us, based in large part on our behavior, but He is always calling the shots. Each of us is responsible for where we are right now as a nation, and each of us can do our part to improve the overall situation by strengthening our relationship with Hashem. This is the most authentically Jewish response we can have, and is the best thing we can do. Even though He may seem distant to us in the wake of this tragedy, He is right here waiting for us to call out to Him, to improve ourselves personally, and put our faith in Him to protect us.

Ultimately, it will not be the IDF’s might that will defeat Hamas. The IDF is of course a very important vehicle in maintaining Israel’s security, but the IDF cannot achieve success without Hashem’s blessings. What will lead us to victory is not an air campaign, a ground operation, Iron Dome or Iron Beam (if it is deployed). It won’t be the two US aircraft carriers off the coast of Israel, or other efforts (publicized or clandestine) taken against Iran or other sponsors of Hamas. And it won’t be Biden or Bibi.

The real solution is for all of us Jews to come to the realization that there is nothing to rely on but Hashem. Genuine Jewish unity means joining together for the purpose of acknowledging that Hashem is the address for all our needs, including our protection. And then to reflect on what Hashem wants from each of us in the wake of the most recent Hamas atrocities. We cannot remain the same people, without improving as individuals, as we were before these horrid attacks occurred.

While we are not all able to be frontline soldiers, each of us most certainly can contribute to the war effort. There already has been such an amazing outpouring of kindness, and so many financial and other material contributions made towards all of the needs around us. But we also can and should contribute spiritually through prayer and Torah learning, and by taking steps to improve ourselves personally. These actions will have profound effects on us as a nation collectively and on the outcome of the war, and will provide protection for our soldiers who are putting themselves in harm’s way. Taking these steps will demonstrate to Hashem that we are looking, together as a nation, ultimately to Him.

For those who already pray to Hashem, let’s continue to intensify our efforts. And for those of our brethren who have not yet developed such a relationship with G-d, now is the time to get on the prayer bandwagon. We as a nation need your prayers. And if you have never tried learning Torah, now is the time to discover this precious treasure. Hashem is waiting for you to call out to Him and to learn about the relationship He wants with you. While there is no shortage of political and military strategies to discuss and consider, the bottom line is that relying on Hashem is the real solution to defeating Hamas and to the continued survival and success of the Jewish people.

About the Author
Baruch Bebchick lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh with his wife and children. He learns in Kollel each morning and in the afternoons/evenings works as a US lawyer.
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