Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What’s Happening?

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

There is nothing that unites Jews everywhere like Yerushalayim. Even those removed from Torah and observance maintain a reverence for the holy city towards which Jews all over the world bow and pray three times a day.

This Heavenly city is the heart of the Jewish nation and has been so since the days of creation. When we think of Yerushalyim, our minds conjure up images of the akeidah, of Yaakov Avinu’s dream, of Shlomo Hamelech completing the Bais Hamikdosh, of masses of Bnei Yisroel converging on the holy city three times a year. We think of the kohanim b’avodosom u’leviim b’shirom u’vizimrom, of the Sanhedrin of 72 sitting in the Lishkas Hagozis.

The images leap at us. The Ramban arriving in the city in his final years. The talmidim of the Vilna Gaon and the Baal Shem Tov who risked their lives to take up residence in the ruins of the holy city to help hasten the arrival of Moshiach.

When we think of Yerushalayim, we think of Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin and Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld and so many tzaddikim of yesteryear. We think of the beautiful Yiddelach of Meah Shearim who help give the city its inimitable charm. We think of the yeshivos of Mir and Brisk and of the seminaries that shaped us, and that are passing on their legacy to our children today.

There is no city in the world with the chein and beauty of Yerushalayim, and there is hardly a Jew anywhere who would want to carve up the city, if given a choice.

Of course, if we believed that dividing the city would lead to increased security for the Jewish people, we would support it, but one has to have his head buried in the sand to still cling to that fantasy. One has to be delusional to think that a Palestinian state with Yerushalayim as its capitol would lead to world peace and to peace in the Mideast.

Given what we know about the reckless and self-promoting political considerations of Ehud Olmert and other members of the Israeli parliament, one has to be hopelessly naive to think that Israel’s security is of paramount concern to any of them.

While everyone’s back is turned, WND reporter Aron Klein reports that Olmert has already conceded the Har Habayis to the Arabs.

Some questioned the picture of Har Hazeisim in last week’s Yated with a caption insinuating that it can be bargained away. Klein has confirmed to us that the Palestinians have told him that Har Hazeisim is on the negotiating table.

A chief Palestinian negotiator told him, “I think [Olmert]’s not yet ready to tell the Israeli public and is waiting for the right time and he fears his coalition with religious extremists will fall apart if he announces it now.”

Klein reports that “the chief Palestinian negotiator said in months leading up to Annapolis, [that] the Palestinian team was ‘surprised’ by Olmert’s willingness to give up the Mount.”

The negotiator told him, “We had intense debates on many topics, which remain open and unsettled, but the Harem Al-Sharif (Har Habayis) is not a sticking point. The Israelis didn’t argue with us. We were pleasantly surprised Olmert didn’t debate about giving the lower section of the (Har Habayis) either, which was a sticking point in the past.”

A leader who lies to his people obviously cannot be trusted to be negotiating honestly on their behalf. It is impossible to have confidence in a corrupt leader whose popularity ratings are at a nadir, and so has nothing to lose.

Leaders who make mistakes ought to be men enough to admit those errors, and rectify them while it is still possible. If they can’t turn the clock back, the least they can do is learn from their past bitter experience. Those who are too impudent and arrogant to deal honestly with the issues have no business being in a leadership position. Their lies and attempts at mass deception will be their ultimate undoing.

One of Israel’s founding principles was its promise to protect the Jewish people. Israel’s leaders and propagandists continuously harp on the argument that had the State of Israel existed in the pre-Holocaust era, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) would have defended the Jews and prevented the Holocaust. That myth has been punctured once again.

Two years ago, Israel’s army hero-turned-prime minister made a brave move for peace and pulled the Jews out of Gaza. Deals were made with Egypt to protect its border with Gaza and prevent the 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. Since then, Kassam rockets have been fired almost daily into Israeli cities. So far this year, 2,000 rockets have been shot at Israel proper from Gaza, and there is no end in sight.

Israel fought a war in Lebanon and accomplished nothing. Hezbollah is now better stocked with weapons than it was before the war. Hamas remains firmly entrenched in Gaza, amassing massive amounts of advanced weaponry.

Instead of admitting that land-for-peace didn’t work in Gaza, that the Lebanon War was a mistake, and that the prime minister can’t lead and the defense minister can’t fight, these disastrously inept leaders are permitted to continue wreaking havoc with the nation’s security. People just go about their business as if the situation were perfectly normal. No one seems to grasp the terrifying implications of allowing these men to continue in office.

Al-Qaeda looks on with glee. Ahmadinejad flashes that ugly grin as he taunts the world. And we look on in deepening apprehension, afraid to think of where all this is leading.

Last year, at this time, Binyomin Netanyahu said, “It’s 1938, Iran is Germany, and it is arming itself with atomic weapons.” This year, it’s Shas minister Yitzchok Cohen who is sounding the alarm. He said that the way the United States is relating to Iran is similar to the passive way it dealt with the Holocaust, refusing to acknowledge the magnitude of Hitler’s Final Solution while it was still possible to halt it.

Though the United States and its allies had their armies fully armed and battling nearby, the government refused to heed calls for bombings which would have knocked the killing machines out of operation.

It is so obvious to anyone who follows the news that if the world does not want a nuclear holocaust, Iran’s nuclear ambitions must be stopped. No one wants another war; everyone dreads the thought of young men dying so that their countrymen can live in peace. But if Iran’s nuclear ambitions are not stopped any other way, what choice is there? They make no secret of their ongoing efforts to produce a nuclear weapon, threatening to use it to wipe out Israel, r”l (while at the same time insisting that the nuclear material will be used only “for peaceful purposes”). To believe otherwise is folly. Illusions of a peaceful resolution to the danger, crash in the face of reality.

People long for simple solutions, but the time for wishful thinking is long past. 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.

It would seem that those charting the future have lost the will to battle the forces of evil. Fantasy and wishful thinking have taken the place of the former tough resolve that once characterized some of these leaders.

The stakes are very high. At present, our world cannot 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 catastrophic halt. Stock markets would crash. Industries you don’t normally connect to oil would be shut down. That would be bad enough. But worse still, the world’s accusing finger would be pointed at the Jews.

It’s an ancient pattern, blaming the Jews for the world’s ills. 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 2007 and Iran is a bigger menace that Germany was, situated in a much more explosive region. It’s 2007 and Iran may soon have the world in a chokehold. It’s 2007 and the window of opportunity to defuse this nuclear time-bomb is fast closing.

It’s 2007 and the pieces of the cosmic jigsaw puzzle are starting to fit together. We have to daven that Hakadosh Boruch Hu delivers us from the evil designs of those who seek to destroy us and are well on their way to acquiring the means to do so. We have to be mispallel for another nes Chanukah of zeidim b’yad oskei sorasecha.

It’s 2007 and we have to remember shebechol dor vador omdim oleinu lechaloseinu. That means our dor as well. It’s 2007 and we have to remember that Hakadosh Boruch Hu is matzileinu m’yodom, in our day as well.


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