Israel has an admirable and enviable record of defending its borders against all threats and potential threats, of helping its citizens across the world who are missing or endangered, and of contributing mightily to global welfare through its development of technology and pharmaceuticals that have transformed the lives of individuals. The State especially fills Jews with pride over its material accomplishments in less than seven decades of existence, and the Torah revolution that it has overseen during that same time span. The incorporation of the ideas, values and precepts of the Torah in the governance and management of a modern state is something for which religious Jews yearned for centuries.
How can one not feel pride?
And then there are weeks like this.
The second stage of the release from prison of Arab murderers of Jews occurred earlier this week. It remains as strategically inexplicable and as morally repugnant as it was when the first release took place several months ago (https://rabbipruzansky.com/2013/08/01/battered-country-syndrome). The idea is bizarre that a nation has to bribe its feeble and anemic enemy to come to negotiate the surrender of its own territory. That there are people who would actually celebrate freedom for savages who shot, stabbed, hacked and exploded Jews to death puts paid to the notion that peace is ever possible with that particular enemy. Peace is feasible with the civilized and the sane, not those who exult in their friends and neighbors who have chopped off the heads of Jews.
The anguish that is caused to the families of the victims of Arab terror having to watch their loved ones’ killers feted, lionized, lifted on shoulders and proudly hailed as “heroes” (indeed, in that pathologically ill society that has never produced a single benefit to mankind, they are what passes for “heroes”) is unspeakable. Certainly, it was judicious for Israel to execute the Nazi fiend Adolph Eichmann in 1962; had he been sentenced to life imprisonment, he too would have freed at some point as a result of some combination of Jewish guilt and world pressure. And, clearly, the only way to prevent future outrages is for Israel to enact the death penalty for any terrorist who causes the death of another person. The same death penalty he applied to his victims should be applied to him as well – and that pertains also to those who dispatch suicide bombers. They aspire to be martyrs? Oblige them.
In a normal – not a battered – nation, politicians could not survive such scandalous behavior. The tripe that American pressure – mean old John Kerry – coerced Israel to succumb to terror once again is unbecoming serious people. Israel’s continued self-humiliation – freeing murderers, apologizing to Turkey after it dispatched its own group of thugs to harm Israel, negotiating its own demise – all in order to induce some meaningful American action against Iran reeks of weakness, not strength, not to mention the worst of wishful thinking.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the political mice began scurrying this week, trying to circle their wagons and protect their political futures. How? By making the story not the release of the brutes but the alleged prevarication of Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, who allegedly supported the release before he publicly opposed it. Bennett denies this account vehemently, and I believe him. There is a political interest in having the weak look strong, and if everyone in the Cabinet supported it, there is safety in numbers. Israelis would assume that unanimity means there is some unknown but obviously shrewd reason why Israel is doing what no other nation would do. (The US doesn’t even release Jonathan Pollard after 30 years – and not even in the wake of the exposure of its own spying on its allies – including Israel – for decades.)
Bennett blew that cover, and the main accusation against him – one that he should wear with pride – is that he is not a team player. What is wrong is wrong, period. Everyone knows that the forces of terror won this week, and that such pusillanimity only encourages more terror. The price one pays for killing Jews just went down, again. Even Pollard, from the depths of his prison cell, has long opposed his own freedom if it is earned at the expense of freedom for terrorists. Talk about self-sacrifice on the one hand – and the mendacity emanating from the government. Certainly, PM Netanyahu knows this. He knows this so well that he even devoted a substantial part of his book on terror to the futility and foolishness of terrorist-prisoner releases. But to argue that he is not a person of his convictions is not exactly breaking new ground. The attempt to sugarcoat this atrocity by linking it to the building of new housing in Israeli settlements (especially in Yerushalayim, that most illustrious “settlement”) is itself shameful. Why does a proud nation, bequeathed the land of Israel by the Creator, have to tap-dance around its historic rights?
Israel should build throughout the land of Israel without deference to Arabs or Americans, and it should begin executing terrorists. Period, as President Obama likes to say for emphasis.
Where do such weak-willed, mendacious leaders come from?
Look no further than the second outrage of the week – the ongoing investigation into the election fraud that saw the incumbent Haredi Mayor of Bet Shemesh re-elected. What fraud? Traditional Chicago-style fraud: people came to the polls and were told they already voted. Others voted several times. ID cards were forged. The dead seem to have been resurrected – and only for the purpose of voting. Slips of paper with the challenger’s name on it disappeared from some polling places, allowing “voters” to vote only one way. Arrests have already been made and the election itself should be voided.
Worse, the religious corruption that justified and underwrote the election process is itself reprehensible. Religious Jews were told that there is only one way to vote – for the incumbent. Venerable Torah scholars were lied to – or perhaps they willfully allowed themselves to be misled. Jews from the Edot Hamizrach were warned that Rav Ovadia zt”l would be watching them from the Great Beyond, and woe to them and their families if they voted incorrectly. Cards were handed out that explicitly stated that it fulfilled a Torah commandment to vote as told, and blessings would accrue to those who voted accordingly.
The Holy Grail at stake is, of course, money. With Haredim out of the national loop, and still disinclined to be as self-supportive as the rest of the population, the local coffers are an attractive way to fund their needs. To be sure, the package was wrapped and sold under the guise of holiness, modesty, Torah, mitzvot, etc. – but the key is money. It stands to reason that, like in America where the party that gives out the free stuff (like food stamps to 47 million people, almost doubled in five years) has a distinct advantage, the incumbent in Bet Shemesh also had an advantage and the election itself would have been close even if honestly conducted.
But – need I write this? Sadly, yes – the Torah does not permit cheating, lying, stealing, threatening, coercing, over-promising or selling blessings. Period. Shame on those who perpetrated these schemes, and the so-called rabbis who assisted them and gave them spiritual cover. They are not fooling the One who really matters.
There is a small comfort in the fact that the incumbent mayor, re-elected in such a duplicitous way, is not in the Knesset or the Cabinet. Yet.
May the Israel of the first paragraph survive, thrive and prosper.