“They plot with craft against Your people, and take counsel against Your treasured ones. They have said: ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. ‘For they have consulted together with one consent; against You do they make an alliance; the clans of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria too joins forces with them; they give support to the Children of Lot. Selah.” Psalms 83:4-9.
In his famous address, May 1956, on the 8th anniversary of the Israel’s independence, HaRav Joseph Ber Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik quoted this Psalm. His powerful speech has been preserved for us in his essay, Kol Dodi Dofek (Listen-My Beloved Knocks). At that time the Rav specifically mentioned Communist Russia, the Vatican, Prime Minister Nehru of India, Franco the President of Spain, and the British Foreign Office together with Chiang Kai-shek as among those who joined with Israel’s other enemies in an attempt to isolate Israel. The Rav’s insight was in stark contrast to the opinion of Israel’s leaders at that time who thought “the Jewish problem had been solved and that Jewish isolation had been eradicated and normality had been introduced into our existence.” (Kol Dodi Dofek, p 83)
Today July, 24, 2014, just 58 years later, we have our own list of collaborators against Israel. The usual enemies, the Arab League of Nations, have found political and economic alliance with many other member nations of the world. More shocking is that this military action taken by the country of Israel, through the bravery of its IDF soldiers, is not against another nation of the world. It is, in fact, against just one of the many internationally recognized terrorist organizations, Hamas. This band of thugs, as are the other groups on the State Department’s terrorist list, is an entity that all civilized people should unite to defeat. There can be no treaty or peace agreement with them any more than we would accept a gang, say the Crips or Bloods for example, from taking over a neighborhood in one of our communities. Actually that happened in Philadelphia not too long ago. The mayor, Wilson Goode, fire bombed the gang, Move, out of existence after they failed to peacefully surrender. The countries of Jordan and the Lebanon kicked out the PLO from their lands. Even Fatah, an offshoot of the PLO, had a brutal turf war with Hamas in Gaza. Fatah lost its armed battle with Hamas but remains in control of land on the west bank of the Jordan River. Yet when negotiations with Israel recently hit a snag, Mahmoud Abbas, the P.A.’s leader in that territory, quickly realigned himself in governance with the terrorist entity, Hamas.
As the world equivocates on how to destroy an avowed terror group, it simultaneously condemns Israel for its “disproportional” response. What exactly is a disproportional response to someone or some group coming to kill you? Life and death are inherently disproportional and unequal. In such a situation, where an avowed killer is set on a murderous path, all means necessary must be used to insure your continued existence. In any war, the victor always prevails by disproportional advantages be they, intelligence, military strategy, weaponry or sheer numbers. If disproportionality made conflict so unfair, how could the world have ever allowed the Arab nations to attack the nation of Israel in 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973? Compare the number of Muslim countries in the world, their land size, resources and population to that of the nation of Israel and Jews throughout the world. Is the Nobel Prize now unfair because a disproportional number of Jews and Israelis have been recipients over the years? Compare the number of scientific and technological advancements made by Israel to the world with those of its Arab neighbors since 1948. Disproportional indeed and with great thanks.
The country of Qatar and its city of Doha appear very Westernized judging from the skyline highly visible whenever CNN’s, Wolf Blitzer, interviews Hamas’s spokesperson, Osama Hamdan. But don’t be fooled. Qatar is the chief monetary benefactor of the terror group, Hamas, in Gaza. Anyone or any entity that gives aid and support to a terror group is also a terrorist entity. Hence Qatar and other countries like Iran are also enemies of the civilized world. All pressure should be put on our government of the United States to stop all financial, economic and diplomatic relations with these counties until they desist from abetting terrorist organizations.
It is reprehensible that the news media keeps a running tally of the dead and wounded as if that were the only legitimate measure of warfare. Even more so is this a despicable tactic when the enemy, in premeditative fashion, hides within its civilian population. A look at the laws of any civilized society reveals that when a hostage(s) is killed due to the actions taken by the hostage taker, the hostage taker is held responsible for the death of the hostage(s). This law is part of the legal system endorsed by the World Court recognized by the United Nations.
The world wrings its collective hands over the inhumane treatment by Israel of the Palestinian population in Gaza and Judea and Samaria, aka the West Bank. All the while it turns a blind eye toward the real humanitarian violations going on in many countries of the world. Take a moment to YouTube, Hillel Neuer, from the NGO, UN Watch. Listen to his remarks made this week, July 23, 2014 at the United Nations Human Rights Council, UNHRC. The truth hurts and the only recourse the council members had was to interrupt his presentation and try to shut him up.
Finally, the Rav was right when he said in 1956 that, “The assumption that the State of Israel has weakened anti-Semitism is erroneous. On the contrary, anti-Semitism has grown stronger and employs false charges against the State of Israel in war against all of us.” Look at the recent attacks in the last few days taking place on synagogues and Jewish business establishments throughout Europe. A sign was recently posted in a Belgian establishment calling for Jews to get out of the country. You can disagree with the policies of the government of Israel but does that disagreement permit anti-Semitic vehemence, verbal and physical, hurled by Palestinian sympathizers at a protest rally in San Francisco or on college campuses in the America. Any time Israel stands up in self-defense, an unleashing of anti-Semitic words and actions come to the fore. Let’s be honest. It is the hatred of the Jewish people and what they stand for, God’s chosen light to the world that is really lurking just beneath the surface of all the conflicts between Israel and its enemies.
“Why do the nations gather and regimes talk in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the princes conspire secretly, against Hashem and against His anointed.” (Psalms 2:1-2) This fact was true in the time of King David, it was true in 1956 and it is true today. May Hashem continue to grant His protecting care over the people and nation of Israel and may He continue to grant them the wisdom, strength and courage to prevail over their enemies.
Please continue to have our IDF soldiers in your daily prayers.
Rabbi Robert Kaplan