Chains of Freedom or Chains of Slavery

by David Wilder

The Jewish Community of Hebron


Yesterday witnessed two key happenings, both centered around Gush Katif, but whose significances far supercede one land area in Israel.


The first of these events stretched out over 90 kilometers, that’s some 56 miles, from Gush Katif in Gaza to the old city of Jerusalem, to the Wall, the Kotel. Somewhere between 150 to 200,000 people joined hands at seven o’clock in the evening, singing Israel’s national anthem, Hatikva, ‘The Hope’.


This huge human chain, possibly the longest of its kind in the world, represented a number of things.


First of all, the fact that so many men, women and children  stopped what they were doing, and traveled to different places, (almost 1,000 buses participated in this event), standing on the sides of road for over two hours, from before five in the afternoon until seven at night, is an amazing feat, in and of itself. Anybody ever trying to organize a mass rally, attempting to bring tens of thousands of people together in one place, at one time, knows how difficult it is to achieve such an occurrence. But to manage hundreds of thousands people, stretched out over almost a hundred kilometers, that has never ever before been done in Israel. I’m not sure it was ever done, anywhere in the world.  There has to be tremendous motivation, both on the side of the organizers and on the side of the participants, to succeed in such a huge venture. And yesterday, succeed it did.


Waving Israeli flags, singing songs about Eretz Yisrael, waving at the helicopters filming from overhead, this human chain signified the single greatest protest to Ariel Sharon’s plans to uproot some 7,500 people from their homes in Gush Katif and abandon that land to Israel’s bloodthirsty archenemy, whose stated goal is not to be the recipient of Gush Katif, rather it is to be the beneficiary of the other side of the procession, Temple Mount, the Western Wall, the most sacred site in the world. I have no doubt that these two hundred thousand people represented well over a million, if not more, Israelis, and multitudes around the world who cringe at the thought of acquiescing to terrorist killers, whose plans include declaration of a palestinian state encompassing the entire State of Israel. How can Am Yisrael, the people of Israel, cut itself off from its G-d-given land, expel its own citizens, and relinquish Eretz Israel to terrorist murderers?


These masses, by their very presence on the roads from Gush Katif to Jerusalem, without threats, without violence, without blood-curling chants, voiced their undivided opposition to the Chamberlanization of Israel, trying to appease an enemy whose appetite will never be satisfied until it has consumed everything, lock, stock and barrel.


Yet this colossal human chain was more than a mere demonstration. It represented the unity of Eretz Yisrael, and the importance of all parts of the land, be it small towns in Gush Katif, or the city of Jerusalem itself. It embodied the belief that all of the Land of Israel, from Metulla in the north to Eilat in the south, Hebron, Beit El, Kfar Darom, Netzarim, Morag – it is all one. Just as a human being cannot amputate a foot without affecting his arms, so too, we cannot chop off Gush Katif from our collective body without influencing the rest of the land, the rest of the country.


It was more than symbolic that this gigantic show of unity occurred only two days before the ninth of Av, Tisha b’Av, the day marking the destruction of the first and second Temples, the latter some 1,983 years ago. These days, more than anything else in our history, represent the very opposite of Jewish unity, and also are a remembrance of the first rejection of Eretz Yisrael, so many thousands of years ago, following the redemption from Egypt. At that time, Moses’ spies returned from viewing the land, wailed, claiming that Eretz Yisrael is a land of giants, a land which devours its inhabitants. They convinced almost all the people, who ripped their clothing and too, wept into the night. It was then, the first time Am Yisrael rejected its land, that G-d decreed that that day, later to be known as Tisha b’Av, would be a day of weeping and wailing throughout the generations.


How can it be that today, having returned to our land, to Eretz Yisrael, we too can still weep and wail at our presence in the land, rejecting the heavenly gift, granted us for eternity by the L-rd?


Yesterday’s chain was a repetition of the words of Joshua and Kalev, who repudiated the evil slander of the other ten spies and exalted, ‘it is a wonderful land, a very very good land, which of course we can conquer.’


That was one very significant event which occurred yesterday.


But as I opened, there was something else that happened, late yesterday afternoon. At the peak of the ‘chain celebration’ Arab terrorists shot missiles into Gush Katif. One of them landed and exploded near children playing at the Neve Dekalim community center. Six children were injured, including a ten year old who was seriously wounded.


For reasons beyond my comprehension, Ariel Sharon still does not understand that Israel is at war. The war for independence did not end in 1949. We are still fighting for our existence. Our enemy desires our total destruction, our entire expulsion from our land. So many miracles occur daily in Gush Katif – only days ago an Arab-shot missile burrowed into a bedroom where a mother and her three children were sleeping. Only a Divine miracle prevented a huge tragedy. And so it is, virtually every day. Yesterday, a 10 year old little boy wasn’t so lucky. He will carry the scars of another Arab attempt at murder for the rest of his life.


Israel has to make a fateful choice. We have two alternatives: We can declare our love for our land, for all our land, and united, stand up to all those who want to destroy us and take our land from us. Or, G-d forbid, we can become servants to those very enemies, kowtowing to their every demand, living according to their threats and blackmail, - ‘do this, give us that – OR ELSE!’


We can bond together in a chain of freedom, or we can be bound by a chain of slavery. It is our choice and our choice alone. In my mind, the answer is clear.


With blessings from Hebron.



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