Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer
Rabbi Prof. Dov FischerCourtesy

Decades ago, I was national executive vice president of a somewhat major American Zionist group. I came with a dynamic agenda. The president of the organization hired me because he liked me, and almost everyone on the executive board felt the same way. I had one problem: there was one guy who hated me and was determined not to let me get anything accomplished. It was a jealousy thing, and I soon learned that I was just the latest in a long line of his targets. One day, he got so disgusted with me that, in a fit of rage, he quit the board.

He had been on the board for decades and, even though everyone found him intolerable, they all begged him to remain, but he would not relent. He hated me that much. (I bring that out in people.) He quit.

From that day on, I was able to move my agenda forward.

I went through similar experiences at other times and places in my life. It was straight out of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. As my readers know, I am not a marshmallow. Every so often, I have been in situations where some jealous mediocrity lived primarily to sabotage my agenda. I learned the following: You can make peace and live as a marshmallow, but if you really want to impact people’s lives and the world around you for good and wholesome purposes, sometimes you either need to get rid of the monkey wrench or you yourself need to quit and to form your own alternative vehicle to get the job done. There are so many self-help books and articles on how to deal with impossible people. (My favorite: Clergy Killers.)

And the extra beauty of it all: even as you move on and become productive with a more uniformly supportive group with a shared agenda and fewer social pathologies, all the revolutionary agenda items you pushed in the prior place also get achieved by the next guy who comes in because the troublemakers decide, in some passive-aggressive way, to get “revenge” by advancing your entire agenda — only under someone else’s leadership.

If you are an egotist, that can really hurt. But if your sole motive is to do the right thing, see the right thing done, and serve G-d faithfully, then you smile and quietly rejoice that your revolutionary vision now has been accepted and implemented. So, as an example, if you want to build a mikveh and an Orthodox Day School in a community that has neither and does not want either, and you run into a board that opposes it, then you leave and live a happy life, teaching Torah and writing to influence an even larger public, all while that congregation proceeds to build a mikveh and start an Orthodox Day School six months after you leave. For them, it is passive-aggressive. For you, it is a delight: your mikveh gets built for the community, and you don’t even have to do the towels.

That is what Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has right now, with Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot gone. A chance to take off the gloves. Thus, Bibi now is on trial. They no longer are in his way, and he cannot blame them for obstructing him. We now find out whether they interfered with him, or whether he procrastinated and held them up.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has an opening now to have a real War Cabinet. Avigdor Liberman hates him, but he seems to have the right idea about the Arabs in Gaza. Same with Gideon Sa’ar. And, really, if they want to be admitted into a new inside circle, they have to accept that Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir have earned the right, too. Either everyone calls everyone else unacceptable, and they paralyze the process, or they work together as a team of rivals.

Both Smotrich and Ben-Gvir have proven over a year’s time that each can be a responsible cabinet member. Neither throws bombs. Neither breaks the law and defies the detestable attorney-general or the biased supreme court. Smotrich has a past? Ben-Gvir has a past? So does everyone else, even the best of people. What was Liberman doing as a youngster in the Soviet Union? At this moment in time, does it matter?

With a War Cabinet of Bibi, Liberman, Sa’ar, Smotrich, and Ben-Gvir — and I would include Bennett, too — that allows for 5-6 people to exchange ideas and push forward.

They can’t sit with Bibi? They detest Ben-Gvir and Smotrich? Liberman and Sa’ar already have made clear that they will swallow hard and put up with it meantime until the war is done. And then they can go back to destroying them. Same with Bennett. I don’t know what goes through each of their heads — and I am not sure that they always do either — but they sat with Meretz. They sat with Ra’am, that is the Muslim Brotherhood. Quietly, in their innermost thoughts, they fully grasp by now that the prior Bennett-Lapid-Gantz government would have collapsed into chaos in the midst of war after Shabbat Shmini Atzeret October 7 if they needed Mansour Abbas and Meretz to maintain their majority coalition. They would not have been able to fight back, to tear down Shifa Hospital, to plow through Jabaliya, Gaza City, and Khan Yunis. Only to “mow the lawn” yet again.

Benny Gantz is not an evil person. As “Bad Guys” go in the Israeli political pantheon, he is kind of a decent guy. He really did get cheated out of his two years as prime minister, when Bibi pulled that budget trick. So his feelings are hurt. But Israel is a country, not a therapist’s couch. And the record shows that Gantz acquiesced to Lapid handing over to Hezbollah Israeli natural gas reserves in the Mediterranean. How did that work out? Peace in our time? That’s not only on Lapid — and obviously the corrupt Supreme Court — but also on Bennett, and even more so on Gantz.

As Ben-Gvir so often points out, Gantz and Eisenkot were paramount philosophers of “The Conception” that endless concessions to Hamas could stabilize the south and bring peace. Gantz had Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) visit in his home. He went to Washington, D.C., and his visit unintentionally generated a public attack on Israel by Kamala Harris, while signaling to Blinken that he is bluff and bluster, easily manipulated. He went to England and got rebuked by David Cameron. He does not have a distinguished political record.

He certainly manifested bravery in Tzahal (IDF) and rose in the ranks but is not remembered as a distinguished military leader. He was not the Menachem Begin or Yitzchak Shamir who led armies to drive out the British or Arik Sharon who established a beachhead across the Suez during the Yom Kippur War. He was not the Motta Gur who led the taking of Jerusalem. He was personally brave, but he has not proven any particular political greatness.

Now, Gantz is out of the way. A strong War Cabinet also will embolden each other to have the strength to ignore the treasonous Tel Aviv Saturday Night circuses. In Abraham Lincoln’s day, such types were mass arrested, and habeas corpus was suspended. Lincoln was at least as liberal as the Tel Aviv circus acts. And Woodrow Wilson did the same during World War I. He literally had people locked up in large numbers for failing to show fidelity. He pushed the Espionage Act of 1917, the Sedition Act of 1918 (criminalizing any “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the U.S. government or military, or any speech intended to “incite insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty.”), and the Palmer Raids.

Prisoner: “But, Mr. President, what about free speech?”

Mr. President: “OK, I give up. What about it?”

Those Tel Aviv demonstrations are a uniquely Israeli leftist sickness. Try that in any non-democratic country? Everyone gets arrested, with a good chunk being executed. Try that in any Western democracy? It simply does not happen. They don’t demonstrate outside politicians’ homes because they can’t get a permit, or the permit limits them to 25 people and no signs or bullhorns. A strong War Cabinet is needed where everyone strengthens everyone else to blow them off, ignoring them and all the leftist media that amplify them.

And the same for the families of the kidnapped. We all feel the same way, although no one else possibly can feel totally what those families feel. Frankly, those families should shake heaven and earth to prod the government to prioritize freeing the hostages “at any cost.” No one can blame them for that. And then it is the Government’s job to say “no.” “No, we cannot keep releasing every Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Yahyah Sinwar we get our hands on. If Hamas won’t be reasonable, we cannot deal. We need to get all the hostages at once, not in a drip-drip trickle. We need unconditional surrender. It is time to make clear that they are not dictating terms to us. Those days are over. We dictate to them — the Entebbe Conception.”

And what will happen? A General Assembly resolution? An ICC indictment? An ICJ order? Been there, done that. They are out of tricks. Moreover, November is coming up on Biden. Five months away. With historically Democrat Jewish billionaires suddenly inching toward to Trump, Schumer read the tea leaves and co-invited Bibi to speak to Congress. This is the time to finish the job.

For that, Israel needs a strong War Cabinet with a strong collective stomach. And here is a lesson for those politicians who weigh every decision based on how it will affect the polls and elections:

Ben-Gurion, Rabin, and Co. won the War of Independence, and they emerged as long-time political winners. Levi Eshkol and Company won the Six Day War, and Labor ruled for another decade. Golda and Dayan messed up the Yom Kippur War, and Labor lost its hegemony of 30 years (plus decades before the country gained independence). The 1982 Lebanon War went both ways, and the public see-sawed between Shamir and Peres.s Peres could not control Intifada bus bombings, and the public went Likud. Bibi showed weakness at Wye, and they went for Barak. Barak gave Hezbollah South Lebanon and could not contain the Intifada, so the voters went for Sharon. He gave up Gaza, and a force even greater than the voters stopped him before he could give up Judea and Samaria. Olmert lost in Lebanon, and the voters threw him out.

See a pattern? For all the circus acts in Tel Aviv, the voters of Israel elect winners, not people who hand over natural gas fields to Arab terrorists or who abandon Jewish sovereignty in the Negev to the Muslim Brotherhood. Bibi lost ground as a loser on October 7. The voters reward winners. They don’t care about making Saudi Arabia happy or Two State Delusions. They want Hamas wiped out.

Adapted by the writer for Arutz Sheva from a version of this article that first appeared here in The American Spectator. To receive Rav Fischer’s Weekly Extensive Torah Commentaries or to attend any or all of Rav Fischer’s weekly 60-minute live Zoom classes on the Weekly Torah Portion, the Biblical Prophets, the Mishnah, Rambam Mishneh Torah, or Advanced Judaic Texts, send an email to: [email protected]

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