Monday, October 29, 2007

WHY THE STAKES ARE HIGH IN GAZA

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

(Editor's note: this essay was written in July 2004, and published on the http://www.Think-Israel.org website, more than a year before the fateful Gaza withdrawal. Unfortunately, the predictions in this essay have largely come to pass, with thousands of Kassam rockets having terrorized southern Israel since the withdrawal, as well as a war with Hezbollah/Iranian proxies in Lebanon, in which northern Israel was set ablaze from thousands of Katyusha rockets launched from Lebanese soil. Concessions to terror ALWAYS leads to more terror, not less. As Moses said to Joshua regarding his complaint about Eldad and Medad prophecizing in the camp, "Would that ALL Israel were prophets.").


Whether preserving a single life or the life of the country as a whole, the fate of Gaza has weighty consequences. If Israel cedes control of the territory, contracting her safety to others as guarantors, she is courting grave danger.

There are two immediate consequences to a withdrawal, one of morale and one military. In truth, the two are intertwined. However a withdrawal may play out in terms of the particulars, it will be perceived ultimately as a victory for terrorism, thus encouraging more terror. Where the locus of terror has focused at present on Gaza, the center of gravity will soon shift to fresh locales. As long as Israel's argument is based on retrenchment to more defensible lines in the face of numerical disadvantage, she will find her borders ever shrinking. From Judea and Samaria, to East Jerusalem and finally much of the Galilee, an emotionally exhausted Israel will continue to sue for peace on any terms, while pursuing a chimera of false hopes. Each withdrawal pours greater fuel on the problem, leading to ever escalating conflagration.

From the north Israel already faces 10,000 missiles on her Lebanese border, resulting from an earlier withdrawal. The prospects are likely that a withdrawal from Gaza will result in an additional 10,000 missiles to her south. The north encompasses Haifa, her industrial center; to the south lies Tel Aviv, her population center and air corridor to the outside world. If Egypt already allows weapons smuggling now, what would change that would prevent smuggling were Egypt to be granted control? The precedent of UN culpability is legendary, from U Thant in 1967 to the present day.

Thus finding herself wedged in from the north and the south, her options of actions and range of movement are limited by palpable fear of attack. Pre-emption was once a viable strategy. Ceding territory and the range of responses it affords, her deterrent capability erodes in step with the reluctance to use it.

Some say that all the land is sacrosanct, forbidden to be ceded. Whatever the merit of that argument, the frequently repeated and oft-stated intentions of our enemies are clear warnings of the folly of hasty action and the risks it entails. The Torah demands of us that we choose life. Often the choices are not easy, balancing competing demands. But as they say, not to choose is also a choice, often one which is not pleasant. "Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace." If the consequences will lead to more bloodshed and more unpleasantness, it likely is not the path of Torah.

copyright 2004 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

NEVER GIVE UP!

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"If you believe that you can damage, then believe that you can fix..... If you believe that you can harm, then believe that you can heal..........." Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

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When I was young I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.- Abraham Joshua Heschel
The whole world is a very narrow bridge. And the most important thing is to not be afraid.
-Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
"The greatest thing in the world is to do somebody else a favor." - Aish Kodesh
"As you want G*d to give you a chance, give everyone else a chance to also begin again." - Shlomo Carlebach

About Me

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I played violin with Reb Shlomo and studied under him for over nine years at hundreds of concerts and learnings. Shlomo wanted to give me smicha before he passed. Deepest influences: My father,obm, who was a great scientist and human being, and my grandfather, obm, who was a great Torah scholar who was a musmach of the Mir Yeshiva and taught in Slobodka in Russia before WW1, and was also personal friends with the Chafetz Chaim and came to America in 1914. He knew the Talmud by heart! You could stick a pin in a word and he could tell you what word was on the other side! And my mother, Esther bat Baruch, z"l, who was a scholar of classical Hebrew and Tanach and who gave me a love for the language. And her mother, Anna (Sucher) Deutsch, who was born in Horodenka, spoke six languages, and shared her aged wisdom and eternal sweetness with me. I studied at Brandeis, Hebrew College, Pardes as well as seven years at The Metivta/ITJ earning my Advanced Semicha (yoreh yoreh)under Rav Halivni. What's truly amazing is that Shlomo and Rav Halivni each received semicha from Rav Hutner! But my deepest influences of them all are my sweetest sweetest girls who have taught me the most!