This morning, I found an email on my log from a friend back in the old country. My friend sent me a quote from 31 years ago that is at least as relevant now, perhaps more so, than it was on the very day it was written. The quote reads as follows:
Moshe BurtMoshe Burt is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of the Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
"I see with sorrow and great anger how a part of the people still clings to hopes of reaching a peaceful settlement with the Arabs. Common sense tells them, too, that the Arabs haven't abandoned their basic aim of destroying the state; but the self-delusion and self-deception that have always plagued the Jews are at work again. It's our great misfortune. They want to believe, so they believe. They want not to see, so they shut their eyes. They want not to learn from thousands of years of history, so they distort it. They want to bring about a sacrifice, and they do indeed. It would be comic, if it wasn't so tragic. What a saddening and irritating lot this Jewish People is!"
The writer goes on: "The Wars of the Jews are always the ugliest and hardest of all. These are the wars of apologetics and futile bickering, suppression or distortion of facts, and procrastination in making decisions. There is no doubt that what's called for is new leadership, a more correct perception of the realities, a sound recognition of the enemy's aims, and clear, definitive strategic-political planning. There must be no fumbling in the dark and no more tactical expedients, for these will get us nowhere. If we don't have a well-defined, realistic objective, we won't have to fight the Arabs for our survival. The Arabs won't need to fight. The Jews, as usual, will destroy themselves."
He ends by saying, "In the main, the people, as a body, lacks the perseverance while it abounds in political and military blindness. But I repeat, maybe this time we'll sober up."
The writer was Yonatan (Yoni) Netanyahu, of blessed memory, in a letter to his mother and father dated November 17, 1973 (with thanks to Ken Heller of Philadelphia, PA).
Having read this quote from Yoni Netanyahu's writings, it gives me pause and I ponder, had he survived the Entebbe rescue, how would he have gotten on with Rabbi Meir Kahane in the 1980s, or with Baruch Marzel, Moshe Feiglin, David Ha'ivri or other faith-based leaders of the past 25 years. These leaders held and hold with perfect faith that the Land of Israel, Torah and the Jewish people are indivisibly linked. And yet, there is nothing in Yoni's writings that indicates that he views any connection between Hashem, Torah, B'nai Yisrael and the Land of Israel.
How would Yoni have reacted to Oslo? To the dead-of-the-night, tail-between-the-legs abandonment of South Lebanon and our allies there? To the over 20-year imprisonment of a comrade, a true Jewish hero, Jonathan Pollard, and the government of Israel's apparent complicity and hostility toward him? To separation fences, and abandonment and expulsion of fellow Jews from parts of Jewish land?
How would Yoni have acted had he lived to achieve national-level military rank, national visibility, retirement and possibly high political office? Would his strong personal national pride have endured no matter whether he would have later chosen a religious road of teshuva or whether he would have continued along a secular road? Or would he have sold out, gone along with prevailing agendas in order to achieve high rank? In order to achieve a following, political friends in high places and high political office? Would he still see himself as a man, as part of Hashem's chosen nation, or would he perceive himself, as the current politicos do, as mere grasshoppers? Would he perceive the Entebbe rescue as man's achievement or that Hashem was with us in bringing about the rescue achievement?
We'll never know the answers, but when we read these types of quotations every so often, it gives pause. What if?