Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Living with a dearth of leadership in times like these, with feckless political leaders who exhibit a catastrophic failure of intelligence and common sense, must be a biblical curse.

How else to explain the outcome of the Israeli-Lebanon month-long war?

I don’t know which posuk is appropriate to describe what it is. Is it the posuk in Devorim which describes the way Hashem will cause our enemies to be confused in a time of war, “Vehumom mehumah gedolah?” Is it the posuk in Yeshaya, “Hashmein leiv ha’am hazeh, v’oznov hachbeid v’einuv hosha pen yireh b’einov u’beoznov yishma ulevavo yovin veshuv verafa lo?? Is it the posuk in Tehillim describing how we became an object of mockery to our neighbors, “Hayinu la’ag vokeles l’sevivoseinu?”

Maybe it is vetam lerik kokachem - your might will avail you nothing - which best addresses the situation in Israel today. A standing army equipped with the most modern weaponry is unable to overcome three thousand guerillas armed with primitive rockets that can’t be directed at specific targets.

Is it all of the above?

Israel went to war against Hezbollah over a month ago telling the world that this war was more important than any other Israel has faced in its war-torn 60-year history. This war was not over territory, but over Israel’s right to exist. Iran, which has evil designs for the western world in general, but right now has Israel in its crosshairs, started this war through its Lebanese proxy.

Israel stated that it had to be permitted to finish off Hezbollah lest the terrorists become emboldened and export terrorism to other parts of the world. They said they would not cease firing until their two kidnapped soldiers were released. They said they would never negotiate with Hezbollah and would not trade prisoners to get their two soldiers back. They said they would do whatever it takes to rid the world of Hezbollah and that no one should even think of stopping them until their mission is completed.

The emptiness and grandiosity of those pronouncements is self-evident today.

The so-called peace force will not be entitled to use military force to keep the peace or to disarm Hezbollah. The cease-fire agreement provides no means of enforcement, just as UN resolution 1559 which calls for the disarming of Hezbollah had no “teeth” - and was therefore blatantly ignored by the Lebanese government. Nothing in the agreement will stop Syria and Iran from rearming Hezbollah. Nothing guarantees the return of the two kidnapped soldiers.

Israel spent a month fighting the enemy of mankind with one hand tied behind its back by the country’s political leaders. They telegraphed their intentions to the enemy and every time they threatened to go in and finish them off, they backed down for a couple days - giving the enemy time to escape, or prepare an ambush.

The terrorists used their time wisely, much as they took advantage of the six-year window they were given since Ehud Barak pulled Israel out of Lebanon. The Hezbollah fighters rearmed to the hilt, they trained, they were prepared and ready for an Israeli invasion and they taught Israel and the world a lesson they will not soon forget.

People who are fascinated by the stories of photo manipulation really don’t get it. It doesn’t make a difference how many photos the propagandists and their enablers manipulate. Nobody in the big world really cares that Hezbollah fakes deaths or uses human shields. Nothing is gained by sending each other emails about it. When you enter a war, the purpose is to win. You fight to kill the enemy and wipe him off the face of the earth so that he can never come back to threaten you again.

You don’t fight to earn goodie points; you don’t fight so that your enemies who are observing the battle will magically begin supporting you because they will be won over by the justice of your cause.

Israel was given the opportunity they may not get again anytime soon, and they blew that chance. We have a president in office in the United States who actually understands Israel’s plight and not only feels for Israel but believes G-d placed him in the White House at this time for the specific purpose of fighting Islamic terror. This president gave Israel the green light to do whatever it needed to do in order to beat back Hezbollah; some reports indicate that he even let them know that he would not be opposed to Israel taking on Syria.

And what happened? To our great mortification, nothing. Israel fought haphazardly for one month. Innocent neshamos were lost and wounded, and Israel incurred billions of dollars of lost income and infrastructure. One million Israelis languished in bomb shelters, with thousands dispersed throughout the country like homeless refugees.

Administration officials repeatedly are telling the New York Times, off the record of course, that the reason Bush and Rice got behind the drive to the cease-fire was the realization that Israel would not be able to achieve a military victory. The prospect of winning was no longer a viable option. The reason the United States was opposed to Israel escalating the war last week was because the administration no longer had confidence in Israel’s ability to beat back Hezbollah. “A stepped-up military campaign with no clear Israeli victory would end up handing Hezbollah a moral victory in the Middle East,” officials said.

Elections were held not that long ago and people voted in Ehud Olmert as prime minister. Israelis and Jews like to think of themselves as being of superior intelligence. How can smart people do something so foolish? How can people elect a man so unqualified for the top job of the country and think they won’t suffer the consequences of such blindness?

At election time, you hear people say that it doesn’t really make a difference who you vote for; the candidates are all the same. What is going on now ought to be a reminder that they are not all the same. The last race in Israel was between Olmert and Netanyahu. People complained that Netanyahu also gave back land to the Arabs, and that they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for him. They ignored that he was under intense pressure from then-President Clinton and that he returned part of Chevron, where no Jews lived anyway. They ignored that during his tenure there were no terror attacks because the terrorists feared Israeli retribution. They ignored that while he was prime minister there was no talk of unilateral gifts to Israel’s sworn enemies.

Israel’s voters fell for the mush the media was feeding them, and fell in lockstep behind an untested candidate whose popularity was so low that he barely made it to the Knesset the last time around, coming in number 33 in the Likud primary.

This time around it was all different. You see, media darling Ariel Sharon left his Likud party because his constituents were not coming on board with his grandiose plans. With great hoopla, he sold the people on his idea that abandoning Gaza would bring peace to Israel, much the same as transpired when Barak pulled out of the Lebanon he had invaded.

Hashem pulled Sharon off the stage of history before his theory could be tested. His stand-in, Olmert, ran in his stead against Netanyahu who warned that Gaza would turn into Hamastan and a base for increased terror operations against Jews. He was mocked and vilified as an out-of-touch ultra right-winger. The man who knows more about how terrorists work than anyone else, the man who turned around Israel’s economy, Israel’s best public relations weapon, was trounced at the polls.

So, I ask you, does it make a difference who was elected?

Can you imagine if John Kerry was elected president instead of George Bush? What would America look like with a pacifist at its helm? What kind of judges would he have installed in the Supreme Court? What moral climate would infuse the government? Would we have a tough commander-in-chief dedicated to fighting off Islamo-fascists who seek to destroy us? Bush is far from perfect, but he is squarely on the right side of history and a proven ally of our people.

Does it make a difference who was elected, or should we just stay home on Election Day and then wring our hands for years after?

Last week, Democrats in Connecticut went to the polls and decided that Joe Lieberman has no place in their party. As soon as the results of the primary race become public, Democrats across the country joined the rising chorus in favor of ousting Lieberman because he supports the war against terror in Iraq. There is no room in that party anymore for a highly intelligent, accomplished, honorable public servant who believes that America should continue prosecuting its war in Iraq.

I had the dubious honor of sharing the podium with Senator Charles Schumer a few weeks ago. I was asked to introduce him. By the time I was done, he wasn’t very happy with me. I reminded him that we live in a democracy and that constituents are permitted to share their opinions with their elected representatives. All too often, people who meet incumbents want something from them and thus are hesitant about telling them what they really think about the issues. “I need nothing from you Mr. Senator, so I can tell you what I really think,” I told him.

“You know the religious right you rail against? That is us. Everything that you are for, we oppose and everything you oppose, we support. Our community is supportive of President Bush’s war on terror and on Saddam Hussein; we support his choice of judges; we are for the right to life; we are for a healthy moral climate,” I told him. I also told him that we were supporting Senator Lieberman in his race against Ted Lamont. I could have gone on and on, but I wanted to be respectful.

He was taken aback; he is not used to hearing that. Why is it that the powerful senator of New York State, who is a proud Jew, never hears from us? Why is it that whenever he goes somewhere in our community, he is treated like a star and no one challenges him over his ultra liberal stance on every issue facing this country? Why is it that he can get away with bashing the decent, honorable religious judges nominated to serve on the Supreme Court and no one back home calls him on it?

They are not all the same, and it is myopic to say they are. Open your eyes and look around you. Witness the silly things our government does and wonder what things would be like if different people were writing the nation’s laws and adjudicating them.

As we go through the fear of another terror attack, federal agents in airports are taking away drinks from little old ladies. The law sees all people as equal, and though airline terror is perpetrated by Muslims, it is improper to say so. Racial profiling is a dirty word and illegal as well. So despite the fact that it’s ridiculous to suspect white people from mid-America heading for a vacation in the Rockies of plotting to blow up airplanes, that doesn’t stop security officials from treating these people as hard-core suspects. And who writes those laws if not the types of people we shouldn’t be electing to office in the first place?

When you receive your property tax bill and cannot imagine where all that money is going and wonder how “they” can get away with this, remember that it is you who are letting “them” get away with it, by repeatedly electing the people who are responsible for it. None of them are held accountable by the voters for the constantly rising taxes. This week marks twenty-five years since Ronald Reagan showed that taxes can really be lowered and more money will flow into the government coffers.

Lev melochim vesorim beyad Hashem, but it is up to us to do our hishtadlus and show that we care enough to break out of our inertia. Not all politicians are the same; it makes a difference who we vote for, and it makes a difference who is elected. The sooner we realize that, the closer we will be to the day the world wakes up and stops the surrender to evil.


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