Grave Mistakes

It appears that Israel stands poised at the brink. It's both an awesome and frightening position to be in, but for many of us, there is a sense of impending salvation in the air.

Ellen W. Horowitz

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It appears that Israel stands poised at the brink. It's both an awesome and frightening position to be in, but for many of us, there is a sense of impending salvation in the air. Indeed, for the pro-active Jew, a moment of truth presents us with the opportunity to anticipate and participate in an expected miracle. That's hardly an unrealistic approach or deluded messianic outlook. Rather, it's a hopefulness founded on an historic precedent that has proven itself time and time again. And it is this unflappable faith that has carried us during a challenging and difficult journey through time.

Ironically, our greatest mistakes have not occurred during a moment of crisis, but rather after the victory. Because, when drunk with success, we often forget who truly granted us the achievement, strength and skills; and instead, we choose to bestow heroic status on some very human and fallible personalities.

1967 was such a time. G-d handed us a momentous, stunning and miraculous triumph against our enemies. But no sooner had General Motta Gur declared that, "The Temple Mount is in our hands," when General Moshe Dayan lowered the Israeli flag and handed over control of the area to the Moslem Wakf - as a good-will gesture. In retrospect, it was a terrible mistake, spawned by the kind of bravado and headiness that seems to accompany the very best of our sabra generals and politicians. The risk-taking, negligence and godlessness manifests itself not only on the political and military fronts, but on the home front, as well.

At the time, many of Israel's top military men lived in the neighborhood of Zahala and, at the war's end, the celebrated heroes brought souvenirs in the form of rifles, automatic weapons, grenade shells, bullets and gunpowder to their little ones at home. The 9-12 year old boys of Zahala weren't often found on the soccer fields, but you could find them wheeling and dealing in the firearms trade. In the summer of 1967, eleven-year old Gur Sharon trumped all of his buddies by declaring, "My Abba gave me five guns."

A couple of months later, tragedy struck. On Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the year, Arik Sharon's first-born son, from his first wife, was dead from a bullet wound.

Details are sketchy, but it seems that somehow, Gur and a friend managed to get a bullet into the chamber of a shotgun. Arik Sharon was home at the time, and Gur died in his arms.

I don't know what the laws were 38 years ago, but in today's world, a "lesser" man may have been brought up on charges of criminal negligence.

Seems that the following day, the mothers of Zahala went on a weapons-collecting rampage. They dumped the contraband, some of which included their husbands' personal and army-issued firearms, in front of the guardhouse outside of Moshe Dayan's home. Sharon left the neighborhood a short time thereafter.

Some of you may think that, in recounting the circumstances surrounding such a personal tragedy, I've hit below the belt - or even taken aim at Sharon's Achilles heel. But these words are meant to pierce the hearts of those who still feel that Arik Sharon, the former general and war hero, is immune to human failings. He's as vulnerable and as capable of committing grave errors as the rest of us - maybe even more so.

It's a given that the confidence, independence and willingness to take risks that can propel an individual towards greatness are the very same traits that can push him towards destruction.

It could be that the real military heroes of today are those who are man enough to swallow some of that army-issued pride and allegiance and admit that the State of Israel is headed for trouble, that our leadership is being reckless, and that Sharon's Disengagement Plan is a disaster in the making.

The following is a more-than-impressive list of just some of our military heroes who are man enough to take a stand against Disengagement: former Chief of Staff General Moshe Ya'alon; former IDF Deputy Chief of Staff General Uzi Dayan; former Air Force Commander General Eitan Ben Eliyahu; former Mossad heads Ephraim Halevy and Shabtai Shavit; former Intelligence Chief Shlomo Gazit; Brig. General Effie Eitam; and Major General Yaakov Amidror.

Joining them are growing ranks of soldiers of lesser rank, our religious leaders, us common folk with common sense, and the rare politician.

I fall into the sub-category of concerned mothers against Disengagement. My position is complex, but hardly unique. I've got a son serving in an elite unit of the paratroopers. A couple of weeks ago, he assured me that he wouldn't be participating in the uprooting of Jews from their homes on D-Day, as his unit has been assigned to stopping the mortars and rockets emanating from the terrorist's territory in Gaza.

After trying to digest the fact that my son would be assigned to preventing rocket attacks, which, on one hand, would save Jewish lives, but on the other hand, would facilitate a smoother implementation of Sharon's plans, I decided to ask my rabbi's advice.

Now, my rabbi is a hardcore proponent of the "Jews Do Not Expel Jews" position. I was sure that my dilemma was going to cross his eyes. But, without missing a beat, he looked directly at me and said, "In this case, your son will be saving Jewish lives, so he can't refuse."

The decision has been accepted, but still I'm concerned, because my son's life is prone to the whims and orders of a man whose plans and direction appear to be reckless and negligent. It's times like these that faith in G-d is indispensable.

I didn't let my son play with guns when he was a child. My son was raised to be responsible, to love his G-d, Land and Torah; and to guard and respect his life and the lives of his brethren. He knows where and who the enemy is. But do you, Arik?

[The writer is the author of the The Oslo Years: a mother's journal. The book is available through retailers listed at]