We Israelis—right and left—have long known that we cannot depend on our government, but yesterday’s bombshell in the New York Times makes us realize that we cannot depend on our army either. While it was generally felt that the massacre of October 7 was an intelligence failure, the NYT revealed that the army had a 40-page report codenamed “Jericho Wall.” It described Hamas’s plans for “a methodical assault” in which drones would attack Israel’s surveillance system as terrorists entered the country with paragliders and motorcycles and on foot under the cover of a barrage of rockets.
Just three months before those plans became our grim reality, the smart twenty-year-olds of the IDF’s Unit 8200 reported that Hamas was conducting training exercises that mirrored the “Jericho Wall.” Having seen fantastical plans that never came to fruition in past years, the colonel who received the report dismissed it as “totally imaginative.”
This was not a failure of intelligence. It was a failure of intelligent, experienced human beings—our military leaders—to see beyond their own worldviews and predispositions. But that is the human condition! We human beings always see the world through the lens of our worldview, biases, and egos. The lesson for us is not to trade these colonels and generals for others who will not be subject to human failings. Rather, it’s time to admit that no human beings can save us.
The folly of depending on human beings was illustrated in yesterday’s press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, here in Israel for the fourth time since October 7. He told how he met with Palestinian Authority President Abbas and encouraged him to hold free elections. Surely Blinken knows that Abbas has not called elections since 2005 because the majority of Palestinians in the PA jurisdiction would vote for Hamas. How can an intelligent person, a Jew whose stepfather was a Holocaust survivor and who honestly abhors Hamas’s wish to kill all Jews, promulgate such an illusory solution?
The same dead-end of human ideas and plans is being blazoned in front of our eyes by America’s concept of “after the war.” They think that once Israel gets rid of the Hamas leaders and operatives, the “innocent civilians” of Gaza will establish a just society, not founded on the hatred and bloodlust of Hamas. An in-depth investigative video by Keshet (Mako) interviewing educated Gazans who fled Hamas reveals how illusory this idea is. The interviewees, who now live in Brussels, were protected from Hamas retaliation in the Channel 12 broadcast; their faces were blurred and their voices changed. So, they were free to say what they really thought about Hamas.
Asked by the interviewer Ohad Hamo why they had fled Gaza, the various interviewees told how Hamas exploits the Gazans who do not belong to Hamas and how it was impossible for non-Hamas members to earn a living or afford to get married. Ohad then asked why they didn’t simply join Hamas. I expected to hear moral answers about how Hamas is an extremist, hateful, violent movement. Instead, these educated ex-Gazans answered in chillingly pragmatic terms: Hamas doesn’t fulfill its promises to its members; it doesn’t pay what it promises; it betrays its own members. These are the “innocent civilians” that America hopes will build a peaceful society on Israel’s border?
So where can we turn if we can’t depend on the human frailties of our government, our army leaders, or our greatest ally? Judaism has always been based on a belief in a final Redemption, described by our prophets in poetic detail. One of Maimonides’s 13 Principles of the Faith is: “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of Mashiach.”
Mashiach is a human being, born of human parents, but with the Divinely endowed ability to channel a redemptive spiritual force that will create world peace and universal God consciousness. Major rabbis today are saying that the coming of Mashiach is imminent. We only have to yearn for it. And, at this point, do we have any other hope?
Praying for Mashiach is not a replacement for doing our hishtadlut, our efforts in the natural world. Judaism has always considered hishtadlut to be a requirement for us to merit Divine salvation. Yes, our army should fight like hell in Gaza—and in the North and throughout Israel wherever terrorists threaten us. My only son is a soldier stationed in the south, and my daughter is the administrator of Thank Israeli Soldiers (https://thankisraelisoldiers.org/), an NGO that sends truckloads of supplies to our soldiers every day. But have no illusions: Even when our army has eliminated Hamas leader Yayha Sinwar and his cronies, we will never have peace with the Palestinians by natural means. Every child, teenager, and adult in Gaza has been indoctrinated with hatred toward Jews that cannot be deprogrammed.
The Jericho wall was brought down by God, not by any natural means.
Only God can save us. Only God.