Larry Gordon: Standing With Israel

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5tjt.gif“My conviction is clear: the best guarantee for Israel’s security is the creation of a modern, democratic, and viable Palestinian state before the end of 2008.”

This was the comment on Monday of French President Nicholas Sarkozy, who—along with the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States—condemned Israel’s plans to build new housing in the Givat Ze’ev section of Jerusalem, calling it unhelpful to the ongoing peace process.

The additional part of Mr. Sarkozy’s comment made to Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, on his state visit to France was that France “will always stand at Israel’s side.” What a comforting thought. The way they see it, Israel has to refrain from all building for its growing citizenry, has to withdraw from what France, the U.S., and others believe is occupied territory, and has to dismantle security roadblocks so that Palestinians can travel unhampered and unchecked between Palestinian areas, Arab communities in Israel, and other Arab countries.

So if Israel does these things that are being demanded of her and it doesn’t work out—the way it didn’t work out after the Lebanon withdrawal in 2000 or the Gaza withdrawal in 2005—at least we know that as the rockets wreak havoc on Israel, France and the others will be at Israel’s side. How does this concept of “being at Israel’s side” work, anyway? I can just see it now. Missiles being launched from within and without Israel, G-d forbid, and President Bush or President McCain or President Clinton or President Obama issuing statements that express sympathy to Israeli leaders followed by comments about “standing with Israel” and “feeling the pain” of the Israeli people.

Believe it or not, there is a viable school of thought that exists in Israel which says that this is an important accomplishment for the Jewish state. And Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the people he has surrounded himself with, like Shimon Peres, Chaim Ramon, and Benjamin Ben-Elizar, are the leading proponents of not the security or the strengthening of Israel, but of working to evoke maximum empathy and compassion for what the Jews and a Jewish country have to endure in a hostile world.

How compassion or sympathy will strengthen and protect Israel is a mystery unto itself. Being drawn to this type of desire is an unusual affliction that plagues many Jews, especially in Israel. It’s very sad, but hopefully in the awful aftermath of last week’s killings at the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva, some of this downward spiraling destructive emptiness on the part of Israel’s current leadership may be turning around.

It seems that the current thought process in the Olmert government is, unfortunately, that the more Israel gets hit, the more citizens killed and injured, the greater victory it is for Israel’s standing in the world. No wonder that so many world leaders believe that empty rhetorical expressions such as “feeling Israel’s pain,” “standing with Israel,” and “supporting Israel” are all that’s necessary to induce Israel to shrink in submission.

As a tactic, breaking into a school or a gathering point for children and murdering them is nothing new for Arab terrorists. On May 15, 1974—on the State of Israel’s 26th birthday—Arab terrorists infiltrated the community of Maalot, near the Lebanese border. After a siege that lasted more than a day, the terrorists (members of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an offshoot of the PFLP) killed 21 high-school students and a number of others. The murderous spree was condemned by the world, but also, all these years later, has been mostly forgotten. That doesn’t minimize the tragic devastation that occurred or the impact it still has on those families. In the larger view, the fact is that this was a long time ago, and unfortunately there have been many violent and murderous attacks by Palestinian terrorists since, which leaves us with so much to mourn.

With the plethora of attacks these days, however, things are different than they were in regard to the murderous attacks of just a few years ago. Once upon a time, Israel’s response to this type of brazenness was strong and swift. Though successive Israeli governments over the last 15 years have traded dominance in the Middle East for being dominated, the military response of years ago would often be effective in stopping such attacks for months and sometimes years.

Last week, after the awful massacre at Yeshiva Mercaz HaRav, the Israeli government’s debate was focused, oddly and bizarrely enough, on the right of the murderer’s family to mourn the death of their son openly while hanging Hamas flags outside of their so-called mourning tent. An Israeli official said that there was no Israeli policy to limit how a family mourns a child’s death, no matter in what manner they perish.

A few days prior to the attack, as missiles rained down on S’derot and Ashkelon, Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced that he would have to huddle with Israel’s attorney general to find out whether it was legal to fire at Hamas rocket launchers if so-called “innocent civilians” were in the way and there was a possibility that some not directly involved in the attacks would get hurt. The attacks on S’derot have been going on for seven years. It just dawned on Barak last week to see if it was legal to retaliate.

This type of response takes place because Israel has changed very dramatically. No longer does the survival of the country take precedence over all else. Barak is all of a sudden concerned about the legality of a military response to rocket fire from Gaza because he desperately wants to be prime minister again. He knows that Olmert is weak and unpopular, and he wants to be properly positioned when the time comes to make his move. What he doesn’t want is for someone opposed to his political ambitions to be able to say that Barak ordered indiscriminate firing on civilians.

To this end, on Tuesday in Ashkelon, Prime Minister Olmert told residents that there is no way to stop the firing on that city, S’derot, or other cities in Israel. You don’t have to be a military strategist to know that this is a sad and even more pathetic time in Israel than any other time in recent history. I don’t want to sound like a wild and out-of-control radical at Israel’s expense, which I don’t believe I am. But something has gone terribly wrong in Israel when its leader tells a defenseless population that there’s nothing that can be done by one of the mightiest armies in the world in the face of homemade rocket attacks on civilians.

Here’s the problem: Israel has become a country with seven million people, but whose leaders are willing to concede that its existence can be somewhat tenuous or even reduced to what it was once upon a time—that is, something that exists in theory. If this wasn’t so, then how could a country absorb so many violent blows and have people say things like, “We support Israel” or, “We stand with Israel”? And then those who make those dramatic pronouncements disappear into the past somewhere and are quickly forgotten. How can anyone say they support a strong Jewish state while insisting not only that it mustn’t grow to accommodate its population, but that it shrink? How can anyone say they support a strong Jewish state while insisting that a city like Jerusalem become a Palestinian capital?

A few days ago, Prime Minister Olmert poked his finger in the eyes (metaphorically speaking) of President Bush, Secretary Rice, the European Union, and the United Nations. He did this by announcing that he would allow the building of homes in Givat Ze’ev to go forward. To the world, Givat Ze’ev is a settlement in occupied territory. Up until this week, it seemed that Mr. Olmert was ready to acknowledge that fact and resist the pressure to allow Jews to have a place to live in the Land of Israel. He was forced to change his position under pressure from the Shas party, which said that its members would allow a no-confidence motion to go forward, effectively toppling Olmert’s rule. The prime minister’s life must have flashed before him. At least Olmert still understands when he is in danger.


3 COMMENTS

  1. Lev Malachim B’yad HaShem, true, but HaShem allows people to go in the direction they wish to go. If Israel had political leaders, religious or not, w/ vision, skill, backbone, courage, and a true understanding of what Eretz Yisroel, not Medinat Yisrael, truly is to Am Yisroel, then I think a lot of these problems would not be occuring.

    But, Medinat Yisrael has turned into Jewish-culture first, and Yiddishkeit second. Unfortunately, by regulating Yiddishkeit – and the importance of educating the secular Israeli public in Yiddishkeit – to the trash heap. The public schools do not educate the children, the next generation, on even basic matters such as the importance of Eretz Yisroel. No wonder then that modern-day Israeli leaders place no importance on the safety and security of the land either.

    What needs to be done? Firstly, I would like to see ALL the religious parties come together to attempt to creat one mass party – UTJ/Degal HaTorah, Shas, and Dati Le’Umi under the guise of “Elu V’Elu Divrei Elokim Chaim.” Start with that, show some achdus, and go from there.

  2. (I put the quote an the bottom of this comment)

    Well said, Mr. Gordon. So why are so many Jews so blind to the evils and travesty of Zionism?

    Zionists have, from Herzl and on throughout their bloody and treacherous history, held AND ACTED ON this exact school of thought, certainly since even before they got their State.

    Zionists hold their State was and is more important than the lives of “their” people. Do you know and understand the historical and practical implications of that belief system?

    As the Chafetz Chaim said, the Zionists will cause far more problems than they think they will solve.

    Hashem Yirachem!

    “I can just see it now. Missiles being launched from within and without Israel, G-d forbid, and…[President of the United States]…issuing …comments about “standing with Israel” and “feeling the pain” of the Israeli people.

    Believe it or not, there is a viable school of thought that exists in Israel which says that this is an important accomplishment for the Jewish state. And Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the people he has surrounded himself with, like Shimon Peres, Chaim Ramon, and Benjamin Ben-Elizar, are the leading proponents of not the security or the strengthening of Israel, but of working to evoke maximum empathy and compassion for what the Jews and a Jewish country have to endure in a hostile world.”

  3. It is a sad day for Jewish Journalism when Larry Gordon is regularly quoted on an important website like this even if on a rare occasion he says something intelligent and in English. Stick to Avi Shafran and fid an alternative to Larry Gordon. His father Nissin Gordon was a very worthy Jewish Journalist