Dr. Yechiel Leiter, father of Major Moshe Leiter, who fell in combat in the Gaza Strip, joined Dedi Simchi, also a bereaved father and a former senior IDF officer, in a special letter calling for unity of the Jewish People, “Unite by coming home.”
Speaking to Israel National News - Arutz Sheva, Yechiel Leiter said, “The past few days have seen a deterioration of the civil spine that has supported this war and we have certain politicians and people working with them. These are people in all strata of society, particularly in the media, again tearing each other apart with the worst kind of language. This is intolerable at a time when our sons and daughters are giving their lives for us, for the State of Israel and for our future.”
“Dedi, who's a Brigadier General in reserve, and myself decided it's time to do something. Eighty percent of our people are basically in agreement on most of the issues and what we're not in agreement on, we can find the modus operandi to argue. It's possible to argue, I'm a person that's lived ideology all my life. I don't suggest giving up on ideology, but there's a way to argue with someone who has a different ideology, and we have to create now during this period of time, what we're going to do after the war ends, how we're going to be able to engage each other in civil discourse and not in the kind of derisive language that we've seen over the past year. We need to stop it now.”
Yechiel believes that, “We had a strong sense of unity for the first month or month and a half of the war and the past couple of days have seen a major deterioration of that. My son Moshe was an example of how to bridge gaps in society. He was really a perfect example of how we can live together and work together, fight together. If our sons can fight together in Gaza now, can't we the parents hold the line. Can't we learn to get along? Why are we starting to tug at each other again and who's interested in political intrigue and personal interests? Nobody's interested anymore and those politicians who put personal interest and party interest in front of a civil discourse in the country need to rethink or perhaps complete their service.”
Regarding left and right wing, Yechiel said, “Everyone has to look at themselves. You know the tendency in an argument is always to say what the other side needs to do. ‘Well, if only the other side would do XYZ.’ It doesn't start that way. That's not how we're going to have civil discourse. Everyone has to ask themselves, 'What can I do?' Perfect example of that this morning was in a radio interview with Elazar Stern, who comes from center-left, who said, ‘I'm not going to attack the government,’ when he was given the opportunity to do so. He was pressed to do so in the media. He chose at that point to be understanding and fully in line with the real answer, that there was no reason to attack the government over that particular issue that he was questioned about. He's an example of how it can be done and I think there are others. They just have to step up to the plate. They have to step up and say ‘I'm going to be the first one not to pour more kerosene on the fire.’ We light candles on Hanukkah, the fire incinerates and the fire illuminates. We incinerate our enemies – Hamas; we illuminate our friends and family.”
The idea of the letter came up “when Dedi and I were talking about our sons. In a way we both felt that they in their death breathed a new sense of life into us. We have a purpose and as they fought in unity to protect and defend the Jewish people in the State of Israel, we have to follow in their footsteps. I'm very, very proud to be the father of Moshe Yedidya Leiter and I know what he would have wanted me to do now. So, I'm going to take my personal grieving, bereavement and pain and channel it in a constructive fashion, to add, to build, to help construct the kind of unity we need, to move forward in this war and after the war.
Yechiel implored Prime Minister Netanyahu to continue the military attacks until Israel destroys Hamas, despite international pressure: “You see that we went back to pursue Hamas after the ceasefire. The Prime Minister said, ‘I promise you that we will eradicate Hamas.’ I really don't think that Israel has an alternative. At the end of World War II there was no doubt that Japan and Germany were defeated. Somebody living at the ends of Indonesia knew that there was no more Nazism; they were defeated. That's the kind of victory we need here over Hamas, for the sake of our future and for the sake of humanity. This kind of organized evil, which spreads suffering among humanity, has to be defeated and it's unfortunate that it has to be defeated through warfare, but there is no choice sometimes with evil. We have to use force to destroy them.”
Regarding international pressure, Yechiel believes that, “There's a lot of confusion in the international community. Progressivism has taken over our universities in the West. Those products of universities are now in positions of power in most Western governments. It's a struggle, but we have to come through with a clear message that there is such a thing as good and there is such a thing as evil, and they cannot be confused. Israel is at the forefront of fighting. Not only the idea of barbarism, but the idea of wokeism and progressivism is that it allows barbarism to flourish.”
The letter calling for unity is aimed at the Israeli society, but also at world Jewry, he added.
“The letter is being translated into English as we sit here, because there were many requests that we do so. It's a call to Diaspora, too, for unity, but as far as the Diaspora is concerned it's a call to more than that. Unity means that we have to really rethink this whole complacency about Jewish communities overseas. Jews have to take aliyah (immigration to Israel -ed.) much more seriously right now. This is a re-founding of the state of Israel. This is an opportunity for Jews all over the world to be part of that re-founding. So, it's a call to what the Jewish people were intended to from day one; to live here as a strong united people in the land of Israel.”