The Responsibility of an Israeli Government and its Army


  By Rabbi Eliezer Waldman

  Rosh Yeshiva  Yeshivat Nir Kiryat Arba

  21 Tammuz 5766   July 17, 2006



            I must begin by expressing my feelings that our hearts are with our

soldiers on both the northern and southern fronts, and our prayers beseech the

Almighty to protect them so that they all return home safely. Also, we implore

the G-d of Israel to grant wisdom to our leaders so they have the courage to

make correct decisions that will achieve the goal of destroying our enemies, so they don’t dare attack the Jewish people again. In times of war, the Jewish

people’s secret weapon is the power of unity. Thank G-d that this power is the

active driving force in Israel today.

            Upon realizing what has happened to us these past few weeks, we must

not stop ourselves from recognizing and analyzing the weaknesses and mistakes

that have brought us to such alarming circumstances. Since the Yom Kippur War, I

cannot remember a situation where our enemies succeeded in humiliating us by

invading our sovereign territory, killing soldiers and kidnapping others, all

this despite the fact that intelligence sources specifically warned of such


            The best way to express my feelings as an introduction to the harsh

words and thoughts which are burning within me is by quoting Rav Kook who wrote:

I am lifting my voice loudly not because I have the strength to speak, but

because I don’t have the strength to keep silent.

            I have the feeling that for years the leadership has been weakening

the army. The IDF is highly technological and ultra modern in its weaponry but

it depresses the morale of its troops and suppresses their motivation. It began

with Oslo - creating the illusion of peace and turning our worst enemy whose

goal is to destroy us, into a so called partner for peace. All this being done

while blinding our people and especially our soldiers to the reality of the evil

intentions of these “peace partners”. When an army created to protect the land

and people of Israel is instilled with distorted codes of morality which

suddenly dictate that foes are friends, the result is confusion creating the

illusion of peaceful borders and literally not being able to recognize the

enemy. The tragic events on the Gaza border and the endless barrage of deadly

rockets on the north are direct results of that confusion and illusions of


            There can no greater distortion of Jewish values and confusion

planted into the hearts of our brothers and sisters in the Israeli army, than

when disengagement, meaning the uprooting of Jewish communities and synagogues, becomes major Zionist policy. This situation has created a mentality which weakens  motivation and alertness, so essential in preventing disastrous

mistakes like those which preceded the Hamas and Hizbollah infiltration,

kidnapping and murder of soldiers.

            All the recent humiliating failures in the functioning of the army

stem from uncertainty in policy making by Israeli leaders in recent years. There

are three concepts which have expressed a basic misunderstanding of the

responsibility of a government surrounded by enemies bent on its destruction.

            First illusion: by disengaging from our enemy and from our land

which our enemy claims, we will lessen the friction and achieve peace. No one

heeded our warnings that by fleeing from our enemies and yielding parts of our

homeland and uprooting Jewish life, our enemies would be stimulated to attack us

even more. Whereas Zionism always believed that the best way to strengthen our

position is by strengthening our settlements and communities in Eretz Yisrael.

            Second illusion: by building a fence we will insure security and the

enemy will be unable to attack us. Rockets can be fired over the fence and

tunnels can be dug under the fence as the intention of the enemy is to destroy


            Third illusion: they will remain there and we will remain here and

never the twain shall meet. We have heard our leaders expressing this “logical”

philosophy to justify disengagement and building fences. How silly not to

understand that the enemy on the other side will continue to seek the

annihilation of the State of Israel by sending rockets from there to here as we

are experiencing right now.

            I do hope that any Israeli leader who has the courage to face

reality will be able to recognize the tragic blunder of disengagement which has

brought the enemy’s rockets to Sderot and Ashkelon. Can our leaders still dream

and plan another irresponsible crime called “convergence” which will G-d forbid

bring the Arab rockets from disengaged areas of Judea and Samaria to our coastal

plain, Tel Aviv, Petach Tikva, Netanya and Ben Gurion Airport? All this in

addition to the planned uprooting of 80,000 Jewish men, women and children,

synagogues, schools and yeshivot. The very thought of another disengagement is

beyond any human logic and Jewish morals.

            I pray and hope that our leaders have learned their lesson, a very

painful lesson, suffered by families bereaved by the loss of their loved ones

along this irrational path. How tragic that it took the blind hatred of the

Iranian President implemented by his prodigy Nasrallah in Lebanon, rockets

exploding in the Galilee and Haifa, to awaken the national instinct and pride of

the Jewish leadership in Israel.

            I hope that I am not overly optimistic by expecting our government

and armed forces to have the determination and resolve to achieve our goal of

subduing the enemy and obliterating their stockpile of weapons of

destruction, bring us to a position optimistic by expecting our government and

armed forces to have the determination and pride of the Jew! We cannot allow

ourselves to be enticed and disillusioned to curtail this mission by yielding to

a ceasefire and negotiations, which will eventually allow our enemies to re-arm

and rebuild their forces of destruction, as we have naively done in the past. We

certainly will not want another round of rockets to attack us in the near


            We are now in the period called the Three Weeks of mourning for the

destroyed Temples which in Hebrew is called “bain hamayzarim” meaning “between

the straits”. I have a feeling that we are on the verge of getting out of the

narrow straits we have created by deluding ourselves with distorted concepts

like disengagement and convergence. If my feelings are indeed correct, we must

open our eyes to the divine guidance arousing the Jewish People and its

leadership to a revival of Zionist faith, which will bring security and renewed

pioneering activity in the Land of Israel. In place of disengagement, an intense

movement of re-engagement, re-engagement with the Land of Israel, re-engagement with the Jewish People, re-engagement with the G-d of Israel, re-engagement with the destiny of Zionism. Instead of uprooting thousands of Jews from their land, we must deepen the roots of Jewish faith and Zionist fervor in the soil of our holy land of Israel.

            Hopefully this will bring us to the ultimate ideal of “Lamentations”

which we read on Tisha B’Av:


  Bring us back to you, O Lord, and we shall return.

   Renew our days as of old.


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