Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Illusions and Reality

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

It’s 1938, Iran is Germany and it is arming itself with atomic weapons. That was the message Binyomin Netanyahu recently tried to drive home. Leaders have a responsibility to rouse their people when they see danger, he said, to tell them the truth and act upon it. But there is a dearth of leadership today.

If the world does not want a nuclear holocaust, Iran’s nuclear ambitions must be stopped. We would hope that the world isn’t facing another war to rid itself of yet another menace, but illusions crash on the face of reality. There doesn’t seem to be an alternative.

One of Israel’s founding principles was its promise to protect the Jewish people. Had there been a state of Israel a decade earlier, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) would have defended the Jews’ right to exist and prevented the holocaust. That myth has been punctured once again.

Last year, Israel’s army hero turned prime minister turned conventional wisdom on its head and pulled the Jews out of Gaza. At the time, Israelis were told that the purpose of this upheaval was to free the IDF from policing Gaza. It was also to rescue the die-hard settlers from the clutches of the Gazan Palestinians bent on their destruction. Deals were made with Egypt to protect its border with Gaza and prevent smuggling of arms into the Jew-free zone.

Gazans were warned that if any trouble emanated from the area, the army would be back; terror would not be tolerated. But what does the record show? Crude Kassam rockets are shot daily into Israeli cities. Miraculously, the number of victims have been small, although each tragedy is unbearable. Residents of the Jewish state live in constant fear, not knowing when and where the next rocket will fall.

A Russian-born Israeli millionaire had the audacious idea to give the beleaguered residents of S’derot a stress free weekend in an Israeli resort. “A chutzpah,” cried the politicians of the land whose duty it is to defend and protect the citizens of the land. “How dare he take them out of S’derot? We don’t cut and run. We stay there and take it.”

Not only can’t these grandiose leaders protect their people, they become belligerent when someone other than the government shows some concern for the people.

The war just fought this summer in Lebanon and Gaza accomplished little. The three kidnapped Israelis, Gilad ben Aviva, Ehud ben Malka, and Eldad ben Tovah, are still in captivity, Hezbollah is still well-stocked with weapons and Hamas remains just as entrenched as before. The UN protects the Gazans and Lebanese from Israel and is quick to condemn anything that smacks of Israel using “disproportionate force” to defend itself.

Helped by US Secretary of State Rice, the UN forced Israel to give up its fight against Hezbollah before the group could be neutralized as a military power in Lebanon. Moreover, Syria, Hezbollah’s ally, was given the job of preventing the continued flow of arms to the terror group. Could there be a more absurd expectation? Hezbollah is fast on the way to rearming itself to its pre-war strengths. Not only that, but they are currently engaged in aiding Iraqi insurgents battle US forces bogged down there.

But no one stands up to declare that the emperor has no clothes, that the prime minister can’t lead and the defense minister can’t fight. People just go about their business as if the situation is perfectly normal. The government expands; internal political negotiations take center stage as if nothing else is going on. Investigating commissions continue their exercises in tedium. Every day, new revelations pointing to the IDF’s impotence reach the public. No one seems to care.

A cease-fire was just announced. The Kassams may stop flying for a while as the Hamas terrorists rearm themselves and Israel’s leaders accept accolades as if the deal is a major accomplishment for Israel.

Americans recently went to the polls and the incumbent Republican Party took a thumping because President Bush insists on beating back terror by fighting the bad guys on the turf of Iraq. Though a few thousand people in Montana could have held the senate for the Republicans, the fact is that Bush and his party lost, and now it seems as if the war in Iraq will soon be drawing to a close.

Everyone is joining the chorus of naysayers. Not only Democrats, but also Republican stalwarts like Henry Kissinger are saying that military victory is no longer possible in Iraq. Allies like Tony Blair declare that Iraq is a disaster. And everyone seems to be looking for a way out. The Iraq debate escalates as politicians from both parties propose sound bite remedies and the Bush administration looks for answers.

Al Qaeda looks on with glee; Ahmadinejad flashes that ugly grin as he taunts the world. And we look on in apprehension, wondering how it will all end.

The situation grows in its seriousness daily. “The future of the Middle East, certainly the future of Lebanon may well be decided in the next several days,” U.S. envoy to the United Nations John Bolton told BBC radio. “A successful re-emergence of democracy there is being directly challenged by the terrorist Hezbollah and those who support them—Syria, Iran and others.”

People long for simple solutions, but now is not the time for wishful thinking. To sit around wondering when Israel will bomb the Iranian nuclear reactors and solve the problem with but a few F-16s is to indulge in fantasy.

Historical forces are at work and it doesn’t seem as if the Iranian appetite for nuclear weapons and worldwide domination is about to disappear from the world stage too easily.

Radical Islam smells imminent victory in Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza. They see the regimes of countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia fighting to survive, unsteady and ripe for further destabilization at the hands of terrorists with a long-range goal—world dominion.

The Islamists regard Jordan and other Arab countries ruled by despots as internally fragile and likely to fall under their power. They view Israel, the US and the West as weak and not prepared to battle them.

The prevailing wisdom seems to be to sit down and negotiate with the two countries fomenting and supporting the Iraqi insurgents, Iran and Syria, as if all they are missing is an eloquent explanation of the American point of view. The absurdity of this approach is lost on those advocating it.

It may very well be that the will to battle the forces of evil has so diminished that those charting the future have succumbed to fantasy and wishful thinking. They’ve convinced themselves that Iran and Syria can be counted on to help spread liberty and peace in the world.

The stakes are very high. At present, our world can not exist without oil. If the 20 million barrels of oil a day which are shipped out of the Persian Gulf would be halted, the world economy would come to a depressing halt. Stock markets would crash. Industries you don’t normally connect to oil would be shut down. That would be bad enough, but even worse, the world’s accusing finger would be pointed at the Jews.

It’s an ancient pattern, blaming the Jews for the world’s ills. This past Sunday, we witnessed the latest variation of this motif from former president Jimmy Carter.

Carter said in a nationally broadcast interview that there was “no doubt now that a minority of Israelis are perpetuating apartheid on the people in Palestine, the Palestinian people.

“And contrary to the United Nations resolutions, contrary to the official policy of the United States government, contrary to the Quartet so-called road map, all of those things – and contrary to the majority of Israeli people’s opinion – this occupation and confiscation and colonization of land in the West Bank is the prime cause of a continuation of violence in the Middle East,” he said.

Carter is asking people to believe that the chief cause of continued violence in the Middle East is not Iran, not Syria, not al Qaeda, not blood-thirsty savages bent on world domination. It is not even the evil United States or its imperialistic president. No, it is the fault of the Jews.

Just imagine what would happen if Israel were to strike Iran and an oil blockade would ensue? What would happen if the Iranian mullahs retaliated by bombing western targets around the world? What would happen if gas shot up to $200 a barrel and people couldn’t travel and therefore lost their jobs?

It’s 1938, Iran is Germany and it is arming itself with atomic weapons. It’s 2006 and Iran is worse than Germany, situated in a much more explosive region. It’s 2006 and Iran may soon have the world in a chokehold. It’s 2006 and people better start realizing that the window of opportunity to defuse this nuclear time-bomb is fast closing. Perhaps it is already too late.

It’s 2006 and the pieces of the cosmic jigsaw puzzle are starting to fit together. We have to daven that Hakadosh Boruch Hu deliver us from the evil designs of those who want to destroy us. It’s 355 B.C.E. and before the nes of Purim. It’s 165 B.C.E. and before the nes of Chanukah.

It’s 2006 and we have to remember shebechol dor vador omdim oleinu lechaloseinu. That means our dor as well. It’s 2006 and we have to remember v’Hakadosh Boruch Hu matzileinu m’yodom, in our day as well.


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