GATE OF FAITH & OPPORTUNITY
Eugene Narrett, PhD
January 27, 2000; 20 Shevat 5760
The government of Israel seems to be keeping a gentile calendar. In its own odd manner it is celebrating the "new millennium" by withdrawing its armed forces from the Jewish heartland of Judah and Samaria. Troops already had been cut by 40% when on January 20, Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff, Shaul Mofaz told Home Front Command Officers that all IDF personnel would be withdrawn by the end of 2000. In grotesque and chilling symmetry, Magen David Adom announced it would begin cutting back its emergency services in Yesha. The government also says it is canceling eleven bypass roads in Judah and Samaria, some planned since the years of Yitzchak Shamir. The Administration explains that withdrawals since the Wye Accords make the roads pass through some Palestinian controlled areas. Thus, they are not really bypass roads anymore1. By this logic, Barak need only withdraw to Long Island to render the IDF and settlement enterprise entirely obsolete. Judged by its deeds and bizarre casuistry, the government is inviting the Arabs to attack Jews and assuring all involved that Jews will be left to bleed where they fall. Truly, this is a government "impervious to shame" and stupefied by its obsession of giving Israel to terrorists who want to kill and exile the Jews.2
The Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria (acronym "Yesha," the lands belonging to Judah, Ephraim, Benjamin and half Manesseh) should seize this chance to renew the nation, rebuilding it from its roots of faith and geography. The policy to date, as articulated by Mayor Benjamin Kashriel is that the communities will not man guard posts abandoned by the army and will cease funding their own security once the IDF withdraws3. The idea seems to be to shame the government and Army into remaining where they belong. Beyond the absurdity of trying to shame the shameless or awaken those who are dead drunk, this kind of political maneuvering itself is shameful, reactive and incapacitating. It only makes it easier for a corrupt government to sub-contract to the Arabs the "peace process" of uprooting Jews. Worst of all, this policy misplaces a perfect opportunity to distinguish sharply between those who insist on Jewish sovereignty in the Land and those who betray the very purpose and authority of the re-born nation. Authority is being relinquished; someone must pick it up. It should not be the Arabs.
The Barak government is handing Jews living in the heartland the rationale as well as some of the equipment needed for them to do what they have the heart to do, renew the struggle for the promised Land as David did, from its core of hills. Just as with the early struggles of David (1 Samuel 18:7 - 2 Samuel 4), the government, far more corrupt than Saul at his most insane is providing the faithful with repeated justification another for setting up a new center of legitimate authority for redemption of the Land. The Knesset has failed its primary responsibility, to extend Jewish rule over Judea and Samaria and to reclaim the Land intended for "the Jewish National Home" by the League of Nations Mandate to Great Britain 80 years ago. The fact is that the settlements must be fortified to the maximum to protect Jewish lives and to serve as bases from which Jewish force can be projected throughout the heartland. The withdrawal of the IDF, shameful as it is provides a gate for the righteous to pass through toward recreating a sovereign Judah and Ephraim. The conjoining of these branches, so long awaited can serve through the coming storms as the rock on which an enduring Israel will be built. It is close enough to see as an event already present. The despised "settlers" can become the new and true Israel. "The stone the builders despised has become the cornerstone." This opportunity has "emanated from Hashem... Let us rejoice, and be glad on it" (Psalm 118:20-4).
The situation of the Jews of Hebron and Admot Yishai differs only in detail from that of communities along the Lebanese border and in Yesha. It is outrageous that they have been kept so few in number and confined in so small an area. It is depressing that the government should confirm its failure to protect them by proposing to build a fifteen-foot high concrete wall around their homes. They are right to protest being ghettoized by a state that claims to be Jewish but that does not even afford them the protection of its laws or legal rights. And yet, this failure gives the Jews up on the hill and those on King David Street occasion to assume their own defense and destiny. David himself lived behind stout walls on Hebron Hill when it was his home base and capital. It was there that "the house of David grew continually stronger" and that "sons were born to David" (2 Samuel 3:1-2). Indeed it was from his stronghold at Hebron Hill near Machpelah Cave that "David ruled over Judah for seven years and six months." Then "all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron saying, Hashem had said you shall shepherd My people Israel, and you shall be ruler of all Israel.' All the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David sealed a covenant with them in Hebron before Hashem. And they anointed David as king over Israel" (2 Samuel 5:1-4). The end is rooted in the beginning. Once again the LORD God has arranged for Hebron and Judah to be the wellspring of continually increasing vigor from which Israel is regenerated.
It was from his secure base in Hebron that David marched to Jerusalem and founded the City that awaits its full re-establishment. It is in this formative context that one must view the abandonment of Judah and Jerusalem by a corrupt and dog-faced government. The Muslims have compounded their crime of excavating the Temple Mount by ruining the ecology of the Kidron Valley where they dumped hundreds of tons of earth and broken artifacts from the first and second Temple periods. Archaeologist Gabriel Barkay stated, "nobody knows how much was destroyed. I found pottery in the dumped material going back to the 8th century BCE. The exact position of the pottery fragments vis-à-vis each other and the earthen layers is what tells us the history. If this is eliminated, we don't have the history"4. The crime of the Arabs is the iniquity of the Jerusalem police and Barak government that winked at this assault on Israeli history and sovereignty. "The Antiquities Department isn't doing its job. They have somebody above them telling them what to do and when to be quiet"5.
On January 25, Zo Artzeinu, Women in Green and all those declaring allegiance to the Holy City of God and the Jewish people rallied at the Temple Mount to protest the failure and bad faith of the government. An even larger demonstration is being discussed in the orthodox community prompted by Barak's plan to give sections of Jerusalem to the Arabs. But Rabbi Menachem Porush of Agudat Yisrael may fumble the responsibility of bringing new and true leadership to the Land. "I asked Mr. Barak to assure us that the plans to hand over Abu Dis and other suburbs to the Palestinians would not be carried out," he said. "But he has not yet responded to my letter6". This gives Barak enough wiggle room to proceed with any scheme. Would Rabbi Porush and his followers content themselves with a smooth response from a liar who is selling out his people and mocking God's covenant with Israel? This is vanity and wind. Here again are "legions of religious Jews relying more on politicians and political rhetoric than on the Torah and on the G-d of Israel"7.
"'The day is short, the work is great, the laborers are sluggish,' said Rabbi Tarphon"8. The lateness of the day and greatness of the work should animate faithful tillers of the vineyard to turn away from worthless shepherds who are abandoning their flock to death. As the government abdicates Jewish sovereignty in the Land it is practically being forced into the hands of the faithful who must realize that they have to work and fight to exercise and sustain it. For just as the work is great and the time short, "the reward is much and the Master of the house is urgent." And if "it is not their duty to complete the work, neither are they free to desist from it"9. To everything there is a season and a time, a time for studying and a time for planting, crying out and fighting to save the land and the crop. In perilous times like these when the reins have been dropped, it is especially true that "he whose wisdom exceeds his works is like a tree whose branches are many but whose roots are few. The wind comes and plucks it away." And those who tread this path shall dwell in a salt land. "But he whose works exceed his wisdom... has so many roots that even if all the winds in the world assail it, it shall stand in its place like a tree deeply planted by streams of water"10.
It is 1947-8 again and the shofar is sounding in the city. Israelis of faith must realize that only their own hands and deeds with God's help can redeem the Land. Sovereignty and dominion are theirs to take. It is they or Edom and the nations. If they act to "raise the cup of salvations and invoke the Name of Hashem" (Psalm 116:13) their leaf will never wither, Israel will "yield its fruit in due season, and everything they do will succeed. Not so the wicked; rather, they are like the chaff that the wind drives away... For Hashem attends the way of the righteous, while the way of the wicked will perish" (Psalm 1:3-6).
Professor Narrett teaches literature at Boston University and writes often about Israel.
1. Arutz 7, January 25, 2000
2. Anyone for God? Prof. Paul Eidelberg, 01/23/00. Eidelberg quotes Talmudic sources on the dishonor of the government that will reign in Israel during the birth pangs of Messiah.
3. Arutz-7, Jan. 25, 2000
4. Interview by Dr. Aaron Lerner, IMRA of Dr. Gabriel Barkay, 01/24/00.
6. Arutz-7, 01/25/00.
7. Eidelberg, op cit.
8. Pirkei Avot, 2:20.
9. Ibid. 2:20-1.
10. Ibid. 3:22. Rabbi Eleazar, "the fountain forever overflowing more vigorously" cites Jeremiah 17:6-8 in reference to these remarks, and paraphrases Psalm 1