A Voice from Hebron -- July 20, 1998

THE SOURCE OF JEWISH TRAGEDY

By Gary M. Cooperberg

This week our haftorah is taken from the prophet Jeremiah. It is the second haftorah of consolation during the three weeks preceding Tisha b'Av. The words literally scream out to us and need no explanation to have them apply directly to our times.

"My people has exchanged His Glory for futility. . . the Fount of living waters for broken cisterns." Jeremiah II: 11, 12

"Is Israel a slave or born in slavery? Why then has she become a prey?" Jeremiah II: 14

"Is it not that you have forsaken the L-rd your G-d even at the time when He wishes to lead you on the right path, that has brought this upon you? Jeremiah II:17

Had the car bomb that went off prematurely in Jerusalem succeeded in murdering Jews as intended, would Netanyahu still have sent Mordechai to negotiate with Abu Mazen? Was it somehow more acceptable since it miraculously failed to murder Jews? Why, after all that has happened to us, does our government still insist upon "negotiating" our existence with our would-be exterminators? How dare a strong Jewish government behave like "slaves" and offer to give away parts of our inheritance to our enemies? Is there some hope that by acting like slaves we will find comfort and peace as a result?

Our Prime Minister continues to declare that he will find a just and lasting peace by sitting, non-stop, with Yasir Arafat and working out some kind of deal whereby the terrorist will agree not to murder us. If we are already dealing with impossible feats, why not take a course of Jewish Pride? It is no less "realistic" for us to throw out the fiends and declare all of Eretz Yisrael ours, then to try to give parts of it away to murderers for peace. As a matter of fact, it is far more reasonable to do so.

Upon what are we basing our quest for peace and security? American guarantees? The promises of murderers who don't even pretend to keep signed agreements? Back in 1948 we had to be crazy to take on the whole world. Indeed there were many Jewish leaders then who counseled us to be satisfied to be a protectorate of Great Britain and not declare statehood. We had no army. Our soldiers were untrained refugees from Hitler's war against the Jews. We faced seven Arab nations and a world which could not care less if we lost. Yet, in spite of all odds, our leaders had Jewish Pride and were prepared to make whatever sacrifice necessary for the future of the Jewish People. How dare our leaders today, who command the best army in the world, fail to do as much?

The source of Jewish tragedy is always from within. When we succumb to fear and permit it to subjugate our faith in G-d, that is when tragedy strikes us. As we contemplate the tragedies of Tisha b'Av, we find ourselves guilty today of the same sin which brought the concept of Tisha b'Av upon us in the first place. It was the fear expressed by a great majority of Jewish leaders during the incident of the spies just prior to our scheduled entrance into the Land of Israel which brought this pain upon us. Although they were privileged to be princes of the tribes of Israel and heard the Voice of G-d on Mount Sinai, still they viewed themselves as grasshoppers. The Land was inhabited by giants and thus they were convinced that it would be impossible for us to take possession of our Land as commanded by G-d. They poisoned the minds of the Jewish people who openly wept at the thought that we were about to go to our slaughter if we would dare try to conquer our homeland.

G-d, in his anger sent a plague upon us and decreed that since we chose to weep for no reason, he would make this day a day of weeping for good reason. In future generations Tisha b'Av became a time of national tragedy, including the dates upon which both Temples were destroyed.

But this was a needless tragedy. Had we chosen to accept G-d's command with love and proudly enter the Land of Israel, rather than weep and complain, we would have avoided endless tragedy for generations to come. Today we stand upon the threshold of greatness. We have a similar choice as was given the generation of the spies. Leaders of the left tell us, much like the spies of old, that we cannot possibly win another war against overwhelming odds. We have no choice but to surrender to our enemies. They view themselves as grasshoppers. But, just as in the case of the spies, they are dead wrong. Our future does not depend upon Arafat or Clinton. It depends only upon us. We can usher in an immediate redemption, or we can invite horror and tragedy. It is all in our hands.

Yasir Arafat will not bring peace and redemption to the world. He will never be the address for peace and security. To base our hopes upon such a partner is to invite doom. We have the Fount of Living Waters at our disposal and we insist upon searching for refreshment from parched and broken cisterns. Real miracles are performed for us daily as we ignore them and hope for strange miracles from those who would annihilate us.

Throughout our existence the nations of the world always sought our destruction. We were destined to be a nation that stands alone, not to be reckoned among the nations of the world. Why then do our leaders insist upon being accepted by such a world? Why does our own Prime Minister insist that we have "A Place among the Nations"? Our very rebirth was against the will of the nations, as is our present existence. Any negotiations we make with our enemies has as its main goal the destruction of this nation. How then do we stoop to participate in such negotiations?

Now, on the eve of the anniversary of so many national tragedies, we have the opportunity to transform our mourning into simcha. All we need do is act as proud Jews and defy all who would challenge our right to inherit the Land which the Living G-d of Israel Promised to our Father, Abraham, as an everlasting possession. It is time for all of us to express the faith of our Father Abraham, and trust in our G-d to deliver us from our adversaries. In reality there is no other path to take. And all other paths will certainly lead only to tragedy.

Reciprocity and signed agreements with Arafat will bring neither peace nor security. Only by removing our enemies from our homeland will we stop terror. And only when we have the courage to tell the American President that all sovereign nations, first and foremost the Jewish Nation, have the right and obligation to take unilateral action to strengthen their homeland, will we begin to win respect from that nation as well. No nation, least of all the nation of Israel, should entertain dictates by outsiders as to where and when they may or may not build in their own land. The concept of "Land for Peace" is a humiliation which no other nation in the world would accept upon itself. How dare our leaders attempt to come to terms with such a humiliation?

My fellow Jews, if you really want to find a genuine Jewish leader, listen until you find one who openly declares that the Jewish state belongs exclusively to the Jewish people. Find one who will refuse to discuss retreating from one inch of our homeland for any reason. And, yes, find one who still remembers that, as bad as war is, it is better to fight a war to uphold Jewish pride, than to have a peace at the price of Jewish humiliation.



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