Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer
Rabbi Prof. Dov FischerCourtesy

I wish Israel had great political leaders of historic moment. Few countries do. Actually, despite his catalog of prior failings (amid his many successes) — highlighted by October 7 proving what many of us (but not the IDF or its Intelligence) warned for years about merely “mowing the grass” and letting in concrete, steel, and Qatari millions — Binyamin Netanyahu still stands as the best Israel’s got now. That thought is humbling.

Maybe Menachem Begin would be better, but he is not with us now. Nor is Yitzchak Shamir. Neither Bezalel Smotrich nor Itamar Ben-Gvir has a chance in the world at the top spot, although they are tough, and we cannot waste precious time dreaming — although we certainly can vote for their parties. Thank G-d they are in the cabinet, something inconceivable until the past election left Netanyahu with no other choice but to invite them in.

Who else is there? Ehud Barak elicits images of treason and terrible mistakes (he made the IDF smaller and "smarter" and stopped Israeli arms manufacturing saying it could rely on the US). Ehud Olmert brings shame to his name. Yair Lapid, “head of the Opposition,” is so bad that even the opposition after October 7 has abandoned him for Benny Gantz. Lapid's two claims to history: (i) Israel’s shortest serving prime minister, and (ii) handing Israel natural gas resources to Hezbollah. Honorable Mention to Naftali Bennett for putting him there. At times it seems that, if he were not so darned anti-religious and irrascible, Avigdor Liberman would be better than most runner-ups to Bibi.

So, seriously, who is there? Israel cannot even designate a ceremonial president of consequence. Herzog? The right man for the wrong time. All Israeli political roads lead back to incompetent political hacks like Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan, and Ehud Olmert’s war-time Defense Minister. Remember that guy? Peretz? A labor union organizer at the cockpit during the disastrous Lebanon war.

Frankly, in a sea of mediocrities and less, Benny Gantz is almost not too much worse than the others. That’s the best that can be said for him: as choices go, there are worse. He had no business recently traveling to America, acting as though he is prime minister, but he acquitted himself reasonably while in the States. Maybe he wanted to disabuse Kamala Harris and Jake Sullivan of the idea that, if they drive out Netanyahu, they then will have a pliable sucker whom they can manage right away. They now know Gantz is not a pliable sucker who can be controlled instantly. He is a pliable sucker who would stand firm for a few days, maybe a week or two, before getting intimidated and suckered into pursuing a Biden-Harris-Blinken-Sullivan course of suicide.

Gantz will not declare a “Palestine” alongside Israel tomorrow, but he would in time. He would freeze building new Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and even would return to closing some down. He would fail to stop illegal Arab construction in Area C, the Galilee, and the Negev. He is, in short, one more Israeli general who transitioned from the battlefield to become a blustering politican who thinks he actually is as great as the soldiers in his unit told him he was.

Alas, military conflict and political war are different. You cannot bulldoze the enemy in negotiations; instead, you need a different kind of courage, strength, and internal fortitude to be able to look the enemy — and erstwhile “friends” — in their eyes and repeatedly say “No.” That takes strength, as a Biden threatens to cut weapons while tens of thousands of traitors assemble in Tel Aviv on a Saturday night to give succor to the enemy by demanding that the government of Israel capitulate and resign.

To look at Biden’s peons and Lapid and Barak and their tens of thousands and to say: “I will not budge until I get a list by name of every hostage alive, and we get a phone call or Zoom to satisfy ourselves they are alive. We will not allow any food or water or medicine until our hostages are returned” - that takes strength. Anyone can say it once or twice, but to stick to his guns? The only politician around today capable of doing that is the one who holds office and is so far behind in many polls that he has no choice but to invent the persona of the courageous leader his followers thought he was. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Israelis have a terribly foolish penchant for electing bombastic generals who lack political greatness to head their civilian governments. Name an Israeli general who, after all his hype, brought the political greatness of a Winston Churchill. Almost Begin, but he cracked after Aliza died. Maybe Shamir, but that 1985 hostage deal? Israeli generals who enter politics are not George Washington or Judah Maccabee.

Ehud Barak may be Judas, but that’s it. Saint Isaac (Rabin) almost destoyed the country with his deals with Arafat after bribing Knesset traitors to vote against the platforms on which they ran. Raful Eitan, a great general, was in way over his head when picking his slate that included traitors. And back to Saint Isaac: Imagine: “Let’s give Yassser Arafat a government of his own, with control over his own television stations, radio stations, newspapers, schools, summer camps, police, and security. Hey, an even better idea: Let’s give him guns and rifles! Yeah, that’ll bring peace. Swell idea. And don’t forget to keep passing along taxes we collect for him so he has the money to remit monthly stipends to the families of his Arabs who murder Jews.” Only an Israeli general could mastermind such a clever peace plan.

Indeed, the entire mess along all three of Israel’s land borders came from three recent bombastic generals whom Israelis foolishly selected to lead them in peacetime: Saint Isaac, Ehud Barak, and Ariel Sharon. Look at each border. Whose bright idea was the “Palestine” Authority? Yitschak Rabin. And whose idea to just walk out of Southern Lebanon without even negotiating concessions, leaving a vacuum for Nasrallah and Hezbollah to fill? Ehud Barak. And which genius drove out 8,500 Jews from Gaza to give Arabs their own polity in the land of Israel, north of Egypt? Ariel Sharon. What came of it?

Such smart and clever generals these be. Maybe they should have spent a year or two learning Talmudic logic in a Kollel.

Israel’s security problems stem from having put faith in G-dless bombastic generals, who rose through the military ranks by virtue of politics and not greatness. Dayan and Saint Isaac were no Patton or MacArthur. Thank G-d Motta Gur defied orders from Moshe Dayan in 1967, by feigning never to have received his boss’s command to stop marching to the Temple Mount. Sorry, I forgot to bring the recharger. My bad.

So history records Rabin's despicable role shooting at the members of Irgun on the Altalena who were bringing desperately needed weapons to defend Jerusalem. The ship and its weapons cargo was sunk, along with heroes like Abrasha Stavsky and almost Menachem Begin. And part of Jerusalem was lost.

Gen. Ehud Barak? “Mister Security”? He even offered Arafat the Temple Mount.

And Gen. Sharon? Truly great and heroic on the battlefront, but the single major reason for 1,200 dead on October 7, women raped, people decapitated, babies put in ovens. More than anyone else, it was Sharon. A shame he did not live to see the fruits of his Disengagement. If he had, he would have died of a stroke.

In time, others also will be called upon to answer.

-How did they allow all that concrete and steel, assuring everyone they were watching closely?

-How did all those tunnels get built when we were told the Mossad was watching every centimeter and had new technology that could detect it all?

-Why were Gazans allowed, for years, to float incendiary balloons onto Israeli farms with impunity?

-Why was Qatar allowed to send in those stacks of cash? Why does Israel continue giving Gazans electricity, food, water, meds, and succor?

-Why did they not get cut off when Hamas would not return Avera Mengistu and the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul?

“But Israel needs allies. Needs America. Cannot go it alone.” Really? Then apply to be America’s 51st state. And better hurry before the Democrats annex Puerto Rico first and then D.C. Or maybe Putin will accept Israel as a Republic in a new Soviet Union?

Israel went it alone when she declared independence. The United Nations did not create Israel any more than she created England. Jews drove out the British. When the U.N. sent Count Folke Bernadotte to impose a U.N. plan that would have left Israel without her own airport in Lod and harbor in Haifa, with Jerusalem internationalized, the Lechi assassinated him. The man who gave the order became prime minister of Israel in the 1980s. When the British hanged Jews in Israel, the Jews grabbed and hanged some British sergeants. The man who gave that order also became prime minister. Neither the U.N. nor the British approved. Lord Moyne was assassinated. The British military headquarters in the King David Hotel was blown up. No one gave permission.

Who gave Ben-Gurion permission to declare a country? Not Truman. Truman had no choice but to vote “yes” at the UN — and then embargoed all weapons to Israel as she fought for her life. Therefore, mostly Jewish and some Irish kids and the Italian mafia combined to run guns to Israel illegally out of Jersey City.

Who gave Begin permission to bomb Saddam’s nuclear reactor? Not Reagan; he condemned it the next day.

Who gave permission to fly into Entebbe and rescue Idi Amin’s hostages? No one.

Who gave Israel permission to grab the five gunboats from France, after DeGaulle reneged on the contact? No one.

No other country needs permission to live. They do what they have to do, and they apologize later: “It is more blessed to ask forgiveness than permission.”

George Washington accepted nothing short of complete surrender. General Cornwallis of England was so ashamed that he sent his Number Two to give up. When Washington was told Cornwallis would not appear himself, he sent his own Number Two to accept the capitulation.

Lincoln could have saved thousands of innocent civilian lives — including the innocent hungry children — if he simply had accepted a “Two State Solution” for peace: the Union and the Confederacy. Instead, he approved Gen. U.S. Grant starving out the foe. Grant imposed a brutal siege on Vicksburg, starving and parching them, until they gave up on July 4, 1863. Lincoln was not ashamed or apologetic; rather, he elevated Grant to command all northern armies. It was said that Grant’s initials — “U.S.” — stood for “Unconditional Surrender.” And he got it. How? He starved and sieged Petersburg. Then he starved and sieged Richmond, while his General William T. Sherman burned down Atlanta.

And what about the innocent civilians, the women, the poor hungry children? Well, what about them? It was war time, existential war to save the country. Apologies later.

Israel should not be sending food and water and meds.

Gazans want food? Release the hostages.

They want water? Release the hostages.

They want meds? Release the hostages.

The United Nations does not matter. Their UNRWA is rife with Hamas terrorists. Obama masterminded and pushed through U.N. Security Council resolution 2334 that declared it illegal for Israel to be at the Western Wall, not to mention the Temple Mount, Rachel’s Tomb, and the Cave of Machpelah. So what? Really: so what? Jack Lew will tell on Israel?

Soon enough, Obama was out, and Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem, recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, and declared the Jewish communities of Judea and Samria legal.

And now Biden, Blinken, and their Court Jew, Jack Lew, say it is illegal again? So what? They will pass through the pages of history, as have Obama and Carter. Lew will be back in Manhattan getting a Yeshiva University plaque as Hofjude of the Year. Let him enjoy it while Israel outlives them all and continues populating Judea, Samaria — and Gaza.

Israel has no truly great leader on the horizon right now. But there is a remarkable tradition in Jewish lore that, before any great leader passes, G-d already has set in place just the right person to succeed him and continue the mission. Our Patriarch Yitzchak was ready to succeed Avraham. Yaakov was in place to succeed Yitzchak. Joshua was positioned to succeed Moshe. Elisha to succeed Eliyahu. And so on.

New great leaders are ready to lead when they are called. The nation’s challenge: to know where to look and whom to select.

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