To ensure the security of Israel and its inhabitants, Jews must act firmly and proudly. Currying favor with non-Jews can only endanger Jewish lives — as has been demonstrated in the past.
The world is in a serious state of instability, with “nations quarreling one with another,” and international tension and friction escalating from day to day. Jews too have in some measure been drawn into this situation.
We must utilize all means to reverse the situation. The best way is to strengthen the “voice of Ya’akov,” to increase in prayer to G-d. The appropriate response to tension and war is to increase in Ahavas Yisroel and to pray for peace and calm. We therefore propose that Jews add the following to their prayers:
1) Before praying in the morning to say, “I hereby take upon myself to fulfill the mitzvah, You. shall love your fellow as yourself”
2) After each of the three daily prayers to say, “Indeed, the righteous will extol Your Name; the upright will dwell in Your presence.”
Because a Jew’s prayers have tremendous power, “they rend the heavens” — this increase will help bring stability to the world, and peace and security to Jewry.
Torah, however, demands that we also utilize all natural
means to ensure the well-being of Jews. The security of Israel and its inhabitants in particular necessitates a firm and unshakable stance. We may not surrender anything
that can jeopardize their safety.
The tragic results of bowing to pressure and surrendering our security are evident. Israel signed a “peace accord” in Camp David that surrendered so much — strategic territories, oil fields, valuable air bases. The millions of Jews in Israel are placed in great danger, and for what? For a piece of paper, a signature on a “peace accord.” And we now see how much worth to attach to this peace ...
There was, it is true, intense pressure from non-Jews and Jews — to sign. But is this good enough reason to buckle under? If Israel could not withstand such pressure, it should not have participated in the talks in the first place. How can one jeopardize Jews’ safety simply because one does not possess the necessary firmness?
Had Israel refused to agree to the absurd conditions of the accords and threatened to walk out, Israel would have then been the one to dictate the terms — and come out of it with much greater prestige. The other parties at Camp David would have come fawning after the Israeli representatives, would have “rolled out the red carpet” for them. The President of the U.S.A. applied pressure not because he was interested in the exact terms but the accords. He needed a peace agreement — any peace agreement — to bolster his political standing for the elections that were then forthcoming. A firm stance by Israel would have guaranteed a peace agreement without surrender of Israel’s vital interests.
But the “pride of Ya’akov” was missing. The knee-jerk reflex to curry favor with non-Jews overrode all other considerations, and Jewish security was the loser.
Even worse was the obstinate refusal of Jewish officials to admit their mistake and to change their stance. The peace accords were to be implemented in several stages. Before all the stages had been carried out, it quickly became clear that a grave error had been made. Yet with punctilious adherence to the agreement, the withdrawal continued exactly according to plan: the first third of Sinai was surrendered, the second third, the oil fields, until finally the whole Sinai was in foreign hands. And all accompanied by fervent expressions of joy at the great achievement.
While “mazel-tovs” were being exchanged, Yamit was being demolished. The clear promise given to its settlers that this would never occur gave way to the promise given to non-Jews that it would happen. May an agreement to harm others be allowed — never mind forced — to be implemented? All claims of the necessity to honor the accords are utter nonsense. “Honor” does not take precedence over the lives of three million Jews. Yet because of the sycophantic desire to curry favor with non-Jews, the agreement was carried out to the letter.
Experience has not taught its lesson. The same servile attitude was at the fore in the “Peace for the Galilee” campaign. Its goal was to once and for all get rid of the terrorists. To attain this goal, it was crucial that Israel enter Beirut, the terrorist stronghold.
Political considerations of world opinion once again intruded and the Israeli army was not allowed to enter Beirut and finish its task. The campaign was halted, and Jewish soldiers left vulnerable to terrorist attacks. So many, many casualties resulted, may G-d avenge their blood.
The worse thing is to initiate action and then vacillate. Scripture records that the prophet Eliyahu asked the Jewish people, “How long will you hop between two thresholds? If the L-rd is G-d, follow Him; and if the Ba’al, follow him.” It is better, said Eliyahu, to follow the Ba’al (G-d forbid) than to fluctuate between two opinions. A clear cut decision to follow idolatry leaves no doubt that one is sinning — and that therefore repentance is needed. But when one wavers between G-d and Ba’al, one does not even realize repentance is necessary.
The “Peace for the Galilee” campaign was undertaken to assure the safety of Jews. After already paying a heavy price in Jewish casualties, the campaign was halted in the middle. Israel was left “hopping between two thresholds.” The campaign was not completed, and on the other hand, the soldiers were left vulnerable to terrorist attack.
This abject fear of gentile opinion is not even grounded in fact. The U.S. wanted the campaign to be completed, and gave Israel many opportunities to do so. When the President left Washington at that time, for example, it was a signal that he hoped Israel would utilize the chance to finish off its work — but the instinct to humble oneself before the non-Jew was so strong as to refuse to follow through on even so obvious a signal.
The bitter result? Israel is forced into the situation of freeing thousands of terrorists, allowing them to return to their bases and continue their bloody work, G-d forbid. The issue here is not whether Israel should have exchanged thousands of terrorists for six Jews. The point is what caused such a situation: Jews who feel constrained to immediately collapse before all and any pressure, Jews who do not know the meaning of “the pride of Ya’akov.”
The situation keeps on deteriorating. If in the past Israel was ready to surrender everything for a piece of paper, today it is willing to humble itself for only an oral promise.
Worse still is the commission of inquiry established by Israel to determine the guilt of Jews in the killings in the Lebanese refugee camps. Everyone knows who actually carried out the killings — they themselves boast that they thereby carried out their duty of exacting vengeance for years of atrocities. If the commission of inquiry wished to show how righteous Jews are — that they are ready to investigate the blame Jews bear for merely not preventing the killings — they should have at least opened the inquiry with an investigation of exactly who carried them out. Only after a clear identification of the guilty parties is it appropriate to talk of the responsibility of Jews for not risking their lives to stop a war between Christians and Moslems!
A strange state of affairs. On the one hand it is claimed that it is not the duty of Jews to be the policemen of the Middle East. On the other hand, Jews are punished for not acting as policemen.
Chanukah teaches a valuable lesson for today. At that time the Greeks — together with Jewish Hellenists who aped the Greeks in all ways — persecuted the Jews to force them to abandon their commitment to Torah and mitzvos. The Jews remained staunch to their faith, waging war with the “pride of Ya’akov.”
To our sorrow there are Jews today who follow the Hellenist path, and they are the cause of all the different mistakes and commissions of action of the past: in the Yom Kippur war, in the Camp David accords, in the “Peace for the Galilee” campaign, and in all the other events in-between.
What can be done about this situation? A sure remedy is the aforementioned proposal to increase in our prayers: Before the morning prayer to say, “I hereby take upon myself to fulfill the mitzvah 'Love your fellow as yourself;”’ and after the prayers to say, “Indeed, the righteous will extol Your Name, the upright will dwell in Your presence.” G-d surely will not despise the prayers of a community, and Jews will then “dwell in Your presence,” peacefully and securely.
Shabbos Parshas Mikeitz, 5744