Rabbi Eliezer MelamedThe writer is Head of Yeshivat Har Bracha and a prolific author on Jewish Law, whose works include the series on Jewish law "Pininei Halacha" and a popular weekly column "Revivim" in the Besheva newspaper. His books "The Laws of Prayer" "The Laws of Passover" and "Nation, Land, Army" are presently being translated into English. Other articles by Rabbi Melamed can be viewed at: www.yhb.org.il/1
Victory will be achieved only when we conquer the Gaza Strip as part of Eretz Yisrael, crush the terrorist organizations, rebuild all the Jewish communities in Gush Katif that were destroyed, encourage mass emigration of Arabs who do not wish to live with us, and enable a better life for those who support us. From the perspective of the Arab enemy, only such a situation would be considered a loss.
But for that to happen, the leadership and the Israeli public must return to the basic values and part from the delusional notion of “peace” and “two states for two peoples”. As long as this does not happen, Israeli leaders will not be able to achieve more than a temporary and shaky cease fire.
Therefore, in the current situation, the decision of the Prime Minister and the Security Cabinet on the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip is understandable. There was nothing more to do there.
We are left to hope for one of two things: both the Prime Minister and those close to him repent and return to their roots, or another and better leadership be elected.
Unfortunately, even within the current limited framework we were unable to strike the Hamas leaders. Apparently, we lacked military intelligence, or they were hiding among numbers of civilians and we could not find the moral courage to bomb them in any case, despite that in principle, such action is permitted under international law. Now, they will surface from their holes and reap huge sums of money to line their pockets and to finance terrorism – all under the auspices of “peace” and “compassion”.
Another failure of senior army officers who still have not learned their lesson: to distance non-combatant troops from the line of fire. As a result, our soldiers were killed in two needless events.
On the other hand, it is impossible not to have great esteem for the IDF soldiers, who are willing to sacrifice their lives in defense of their people and homeland. Thanks to them, the Jewish nation continues to exist in the State of Israel.
It is incredible how the reserve forces mobilized so willingly and how wounded soldiers asked to leave the hospital to return to battle. Even parents who lost their holy sons found within themselves the spiritual strength to encourage the soldiers to carry on. Such people deserve a leadership of vision and courage.
We hoped that everyone would open their eyes; that the supporters of Oslo and the leaders of the expulsion from Gush Katif would apologize for all the harm they caused Israel. But no; this is their religion. Everyone has to believe in something, and they believe that everything will work out when we withdraw from Judea and Samaria and another Arab state is established.
One can still hope that as a result of the military operation, people who were not devout followers of the hallucinatory peace religion, will sober up and realize that a further withdrawal would be disastrous.
Still, it is important to know: If the right-wing leaders fail to take advantage of the reality which has exploded in our faces for the purpose of awakening and weaning ourselves from the hallucinatory peace, and return to the values of Judaism and Eretz Yisrael, there is concern that believers in the delusional peace will be able to take advantage of the situation for their own purposes. Once again, they will instill false hopes about regional cooperation that can allegedly guarantee stability if we continue to withdraw, or at the very least, demand a freeze on settlements in Judea and Samaria.
In order to deepen this awakening, the supporters of Oslo and the expulsion from Gush Katif must be confronted with the question: How did they lead us to such a complicated and difficult situation?! How did we get from a situation where Jewish women together with their babies could shop in the marketplace of Gaza, to the point where missiles are being fired at all of Israel from the very same place, and when we try to resist, the entire world sharply condemns us?
Protest vigils should be organized outside the homes of the supporters of Oslo and the expulsion from Gush Katif, in order to remind the public who plunged us into this current situation.
It is also necessary to point out the media as a major partner in the fiasco. Therefore, the decision to close down ‘Kol Yisrael’ was good. We should continue to work for the closure of ‘Galei Tzahal’ as well. Hopefully, the more privatized public broadcasting becomes, the more the broadcasters will have to serve the people. As long as the I.B.A. (Israel Broadcasting Authority) belittles Jewish and Zionist values, the private stations permit themselves to do so as well and thereby abuse the Israeli public.
The Attitude towards Arab Citizens of Israel
In wake of the abduction of the three Jewish youths and the war, the true faces of many Israeli Arabs were revealed. Instead of thanking the Jews for all the good that has befallen them in comparison to their brethren in the Middle East, they do not stop complaining against the Jews and the State of Israel, and wishing for the victory of the enemy. If our leadership shows responsibility, it will change its policy towards Israel’s Arab citizens, and require them to shoulder the national burden. If they don’t want to serve in the army, then let them serve by paving roads.
Instead of speaking so much, one might ask the ‘Yisrael Beyteinu’ party, for once, to fulfill their promises to the voters. Let the Minister of Public Security whom they appointed, Mr. Aharonovitz, work to impose the rule of law in Arab society, see that all rioters are prosecuted, and assist the authorities to enforce building and tax laws and court decisions in the Arab sector. Is this too much to ask for from a party who promised countless times, to fulfill its promise? The public also has a responsibility to demand this of its leaders.
Hopefully, as a result of the vast destruction in the Gaza Strip, many Arabs there will decide to emigrate to other countries. They can already understand by now that with the leadership they chose for themselves, they will not have a decent life. It is estimated that one third of the Arabs in Gaza do not agree with their leadership. Perhaps they will find a way out and leave for other countries. Israeli officials would be wise to request the Egyptians to open their gates to Gazans, or at least grant the Gazan’s transit visas via Egypt to other countries.
It’s Up To Us
Sometimes it is disheartening to see how after all the “peace agreements” that have blown up in our faces there are still people who do not understand that withdrawals and concessions on our right to settle our land result in war and terrorism.
But the truth is to a large extent it is up to us. After all, there is a very large population who understand the importance of the Land of Israel, and the existential danger of an Arab terrorist state in the heart of our country. Surely, not everyone can go settle in Judea and Samaria. Some are engaged in educational callings in their communities, others must take care of their parents; some people’s jobs do not permit them to move, while others live in the north or south, and thus already fill a settlement function.
Still, there many people who can settle in Judea and Samaria – to fulfill the mitzvah ofyishuv ha’aretz which is equivalent to all the mitzvoth – and thereby save the nation and the Land. Despite the partial freeze in construction, in many communities there are still plots of land which long ago were rezoned for construction, upon which tens of thousands of apartments can immediately be built that can absorb between 100,000 to 200,000 Jews. If construction is begun on all the plots, presumably additional plots will open up.
If as a result of the war and the self-sacrifice of our holy soldiers, many families begin moving towards the settlements in Judea and Samaria – we will win the main battle, and save our people and land from the existential threat of a terrorist state.
Sometimes people question me: Why write about this in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper? Preaching to the choir? Indeed, this is the reason; the most important thing is to preach to those who are already convinced. If convinced people do everything they understand – most of the problems will be solved. It is up to us.
The Housing Problem
The housing problem which Israeli society suffers from can also be solved by expanding settlements in Judea and Samaria. After all, the problem is that the State of Israel is small and crowed, especially in the central region. Naturally, prices will only continue to rise. By building thousands of apartments in Judea and Samaria, in places relatively close to employment centers, it will be possible to release the pressure from the center of Israel, and thereby lower housing prices without the government having to spend huge sums of money subsidizing apartments whose prices continue to rise. However, such a broad settlement drive is dependent on government decisions.
Another thing is up to us: strengthening ourselves in the mitzvah of pru u’rvu (procreation), which is also dependent on the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz (settling the land). In light of the devotion of our holy soldiers, the importance of the mitzvah should be enhanced. I was contacted by an individual who was very moved by the personality of one of the officers who died al kidushat Hashem (in sanctification of God) in Gaza. His heart was filled with sorrow over the wonderful fallen officer, and his sympathy went out to the noble family. He really wanted to do something in his memory, to continue his legacy, and to console his dear family. He asked me what he could do.
Reverently, I replied: If you and your wife are unsure about having another child, my advice is that you decide to have another child in his memory, and after the baby is born, go to the parents of the soldier and tell them that in his merit, you decided to have another child. To a certain extent, this child is like their own grandchild. Keep in touch with them, go visit them on birthdays, and let them be part of your family.
If a child already born is named after a fallen soldier, it is a beautiful gesture. But if by virtue of the soldier’s self-devotion a family was given the strength to have another child – this is something remarkable and awe-inspiring. There is no greater and genuine consolation than this.
Some will argue: The only reason for giving birth to a child should be the child himself (inspired by the philosophy of Kant). But this is a mistake. Every action we take is done for numerous and different reasons that are incorporated into a main goal; this is a reflection of unity. It is obvious that a child is not a means to serve other goals, but national ideals and the desire to console can merge with and enhance the value of life and the desire to have more children. True, it is forbidden to impose on a child filling the place of someone else, but you can give his life additional moral meaning, significance he will be proud of, and not be a burden on him.
This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew.