Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Woe Unto Israel - A Lament for Leadership

It's the evening of Tisha B'Av now in Israel. The day Jews mourn the destruction of the Jewish Temples and other calamities that have befallen the Jewish people.

I already sat on the floor of our shul, and heard "Eicha" -- The Book of Lamentations, and thought long and hard about this posting.

The stated cause of the destruction of the Second Temple 2000 years ago, was that of "sin'at chinam" -- baseless hated among the Jewish people. For the past 3 weeks since the start of the war, I have tried to to put politics aside, and let the Israeli Prime Minister run the war as best as he sees fit.

I have encouraged a united front, and encouraged Jews around the world to unite against our common enemy -- so that we bring our kidnapped IDF soldiers safely home, remove the missile threat of Hizbolla from South Lebanon, and instill the fear of the IDF into the Palestinians in Gaza, so that they realize it's not worthwhile to shoot rockets at Israel.

However, tonight, I can no longer remain silent.

As awful as it is to write this on Tisha B'Av, I have checked and rechecked myself to make sure that the source of this posting is not based on sin'at chinam -- needless hatred.

Today, the Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, has showed the world his true colors -- that the unity of Israel is unimportant to him. Olmert said:

"Israel's victory in Lebanon will give a new momentum to complete the disengagement from the Palestinians by evacuating most settlements in Judea and Samaria." YNETNEWS

At a time when Israel needs its unity the most, when rightwing/leftwing, secular and religious soldiers are fighting shoulder to shoulder in South Lebanon and Gaza, when rockets are falling on civilians of all walks of life and shades of Israel -- more than anything we need unity, NOW.

And yet, Olmert decided that now, the day before Tisha B'Av, on the one year anniversary of the destruction of Gush Katif, is the perfect time for him to announce that his "convergence" plan of the evacuation and destruction of many more settlements in the West Bank, will be served by a victory in Lebanon.

There were many who said that the national-religious youth would shun the IDF as a result of the Disengagement, yet they are still signing up in droves for the most elite of combat units. This war is being fought by the IDF -- the unified army of Israel, for the protection of the State of Israel.

And yet, Olmert has ulterior motives for this war?

There's a story running around in my head since last week, that I can't let go of.

Major Roi Klein...IDF combat officer...who gave his life fighting last week in Bint Jebail, South Lebanon.

Major Roi Klein...just shy of his 31rst birthday from the hilltop settlement of Eli. He was married with 2 young boys...and went off to battle in South Lebanon.

While leading the charge against a Hizbolla terrorist position, a grenade was thrown at his IDF platoon, and Roi made the decision to jump on top of the grenade. Falling flat over it, his body absorbed the explosion -- saving the lives of the soldiers under his command.

What goes through the mind of a soldier, a husband, a father when he sees the grenade being thrown at him, and the split second decision that will end his life, yet save those around him?

This noble Jewish soldier not only sacrificed his life, Al Kiddush Hashem, for the sanctification of G-d by defending the Jewish State, but in the process, saved the individual lives of his fellow soldiers around him. Every soldier's life he saved was a world in and of itself.

And those soldiers whose lives were saved all told the same story...that as he jumped on the grenade, everyone was able to hear him say, "Shma Yisrael, Hashem Elokaynu, Hashem Echad." (Hear O Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One)

Over the past week, Olmert has cynically invoked this story of Roi Klein and now professes that the purpose of the war is to promote his political plan of the "convergence". Olmert knows perfectly well that bombastic statements at this point in time will only serve to rile up the right wing. Roi Klein's widow and children live in Eli -- a settlement slated for destruction by Olmert's convergence plan -- and now he says that the war in Lebanon -- Roi Klein's heroic death, will serve to springboard that PLAN?!

This week, Olmert sent the Israeli Police to "unauthorized" hilltop outposts -- the very same ones that Ariel Sharon encouraged to be built -- and the police served destruction/eviction orders. Unfortunately, many of the husbands of those caravans didn't receive the "orders" and their wives did instead. That's because their husbands are currently fighting in South Lebanon in the IDF.

We can not be silent any more. There is a limit to how much Am Yisrael can stomach for the sake of unity, when the Prime Minister of Israel is purposely acting divisively to achieve his own narrow political goals...during wartime!

And you know what? Olmert is entitled to his political opinion as Prime Minister, and he is even entitled to try and push his plan forward.

However, to do so now, during wartime, intentionally targeting the settlers who are showing incredible loyalty to a State which turned it's back on them last year, who are fighting as one in a war of survival for the Jewish State -- shows incredible cynicism, small mindedness, and I'm sad to say...evil.

And for Olmert to say so on the day before Tisha B'Av...shows that he is not worthy of leading the Jewish State.

I seriously suggest you take a minute to send PM Olmert and his staff a comment on how the Prime Minister of Israel is acting. And if you really are incensed by his words and actions -- then pass this along to others.

A Meaningful Tisha B'Av to the Entire Jewish People,


You can send Olmert and his staff your comments at the following locations:

By Web Form: Here
By Fac: [+972]-2-670-5475
By Phone: [+972] -2-670-5555

Rachael Risby-Raz
Diaspora Affairs Advisor to the Prime Minister
Phone; 02-6706182
Fax: 02-6706179

Erez Halfon
Advisor to the Prime Minister
Phone; 02-670-5235
Fax; 02-651-0630

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


Fern @ Life on the Balcony said...

Jameel--I don't know what to say, I have tears streaming down my face. I told you I'm never short on opinions in the gmail talk thing, but I don't know what to say or do here in the U.S. When the average (non-Jewish) American realizes how short sighted the disengagement was, but the Israeli government doesn't...I just feel impotent. Will an email or a phone call from an American even matter to Olmert when he doesn't even care about his own countrymen?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Fern: I would hope that the more public pressure on him, the more there's a chance he may back down.

An email... a letter, a call to your local Israeli consul...all of them are useful.

(Actually, calling Israeli consuls is probably an excellent idea -- to say you stand strongly with Israel, but cannot fathom why Olmert is acting to cause strife in Israel during wartime!)

And spread the word...

Rafi G. said...

I just linked to it Jameel.

Thank you for your powerful thoughts on Tisha B'Av. Your Eicha reading must have been very meaningful for you to have been aroused to such concern of the unity of Israel.

Tzom Mo'il

Fern @ Life on the Balcony said...

Okay, I'm off to find the phone number for the LA consul, and I will send an email to Olmert.

Olah Chadasha said...

Jameel, I am with you. His comments were disgusting and shameful. What? Did he think that because his comments were in English, we wouldn't find out about them? Does he have that little respect for his own people? Like I said in a comment before, he has signed his political death warrant with those comments. He dishonors the memory and the sacrifice of those soldiers that have fought and died in this struggle. He dishonors the service of every man and woman currently serving up north and in Gaza. They are fighting to protect and save the country, and he's basically telling them that their sacrifice is for the sake of his political gain and future. What a betrayal! The fact that he's trying to sneak in destroying an outpost while there is a war going on speaks for itself. Of course, he refuses to acknoweldge and declare that we're at war, and this is just another example of that.

I am disgusted. Absolutely disgusted. There's nothing more to say.

Fern @ Life on the Balcony said...

In case anyone is living on the West Coast of the U.S. and would like to call the consul in Los Angeles, here is their telephone and fax number:

Tel: (323) 852-5500
Fax: (323) 852-5555

Also, I just sent an email to Olmert, you can read what I wrote here.

stillruleall said...

Olmert didn't quite apologize for his remark but he did take it back. He is now quoted as saying "The fighting in Lebanon has nothing to do with future diplomatic moves in other arenas."

PsychoToddler said...

Jameel--I just sent an email off to the PM. I can't believe he is doing this now. This is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. This is treason. Even the arabs know--you take care of your own first.

Holy Hyrax said...


This really was an excellent post. I am just speechless about the whole thing. This is just a level of chutspah that is unprecedented.

have popcorn will lurk said...

Can you impeach an Israeli PM? He is absolutely horrific. I had no idea he was THAT bad.

Jack Steiner said...

This is just terrible.

yaak said...

Jameel, I totally understand your initial quandry and I agree with your conclusion that this is not "Chinam". This was a terrible thing to say during the war.
Let's hope he gets criticized from all sides of the political spectrum for this. It looks like he is.

Reuven Chaim Klein said...

It is with literal TEARS that I write this comment to your blog. It's a few hours before Tish B'Av when the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed TWICE by non-Jewish enemies of our nation. What can cause such a person like Olmert to do what he is doing? He is destroying the Bais HaMikdash many times over by destroying Jewish families. I wouldn't be surprised if that evil man only agreed to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon just so he can get the husbands away from their wives, so the families left behind can't put up a big fit when they get kicked out of their homes (unlike last summer when there were HUGE fights in Eretz Yisroel during the Disengagement--I was there--with protesters closing off main thoroughfares in the Holy City). According to Olmert's own reasoning, it doesn't make sense why we would attack Lebanon or Gaza, to him we should probably ignore them, but just so he can continue this agends set by Sharon of trying to minimize the size of the Holy Land and make as means Jews lives as possible miserable, he instigated this entire war, to keep husbands away form their wives and vulnerable to attacks from the Israeli policemen dressed in black, riding horses, and kicking Jews out of the Jewish homeland. Every Menachem Av, history repeats itself the tragedy happens for Kllal Yisroel, especially in Eretz Yisroel. Why? Why? Why? It's all HaShem's will. This is all some sort of master plan of the world. Hopefully, it's a sign of the coming of Moshiach, I hope I won't have to be fasting in three hours, but that we will all be celebrating in Yerushalayim, Bezeres HaShem. In the last post on blog (almost a year old already), I quoted from my elementary school Rosh Yeshiva who explain to me last summer how it is that such JEWS like Olmert (then Sharon) can exist in Eretz Yisroel. He explained that the Kedusha of the Holy Land permeates everything and causes a big sense of zealousness to be in the air. Some properly take that zealousness to their Torah, and become big Kanoim for HaShem (in the suit of Pinchas), others like Sharon and Olmert who are devoid of any Torah knowledge or connection to HaShem, use that zealousy for evil and they perpetuate their secular, liberal, almost atheist agendas which is ruining the world. I truly hope that this conflict will herald the coming of the Moshaich, speedily and in the coming days: Amen.

The back of the hill said...

Opening up that can of worms, during war, and at the one year anniversary of the expulsion, does indeed show a severe lack of judgement.

Even if one believes, as I do, that there must be certain retreats for strategic and demographic purposes, now is not the time to even mention that.

While Israel is at war there can be be no retreatist talk. On neither of the fronts was the war something that Israel started or went into willingly. To state that there is an ulterior agenda is to cheapen the lives of soldiers and disregard the sacrifices of civilians.

Yet it may be that he was playing to the peanut-gallery. By which I mean the Europeans. If so, certainly a cheap enough gesture. One I can understand (diplomacy and international politics bla bla bla) but not one I can sympathize with.

Giving up land for peace doesn't seem to have worked. Giving up land for strategic advantages might - but it needs to be thoroughly rethought and re-examined at a more suitable time. As a policy-position during war it is completely inappropriate.

Let me instead offer an alternative line: "Until Hezbollah is destroyed utterly, the Litani river is the northern border. Until Hamas is destroyed utterly, the Jordan river is the eastern border".

Not a line that the Europeans can see themselves in, and probably too controversial for the Americans also. But I can see myself in this line.


Being that I do not understand the internal strife going on within the country I hope that whatever it is that has upset you all so can be smoothed over without much animosity. In war people need to unite.
I live in a beautiful country here but the politics here are disgusting. Everyone hates so much and there is so much name calling. Its not good. Its very sad.
Please unite and love one another and try to "just get along". I surely hate to see the same go on in your country that goes on in my own.
God bless you all. :O)


In my search for the history of Israel I came across these links below that were very useful.

If there is anything that is not correct please post it here. I just want to understand this whoel thing from way back when.

MUST Gum Addict said...

I am on my way to shul now to daven Maariv and hear Eichah. I've read and reread this post several times and yet, even though I wish these words to be untrue, I know that they are.

It is said by many that Tisha B'Av is not a rememberance of a destruction that happened thousands of years ago, rather it is something we live with today.

Jameel, I hope to join you and the rest of our people in Yerushalayim very shortly.

Shanah said...

Baruch haShem for your call to action, Jameel. What we are living is the story of Gideon-- a warrior called out by HaShem, who built up a small but powerful fighting force that claimed victory in the land.

HaShem promised through our prophet Zechariah that Tisha B'Av would become a holiday of joy instead of mourning. We can either resign ourselves to mourning, or we can learn from our history and rise up- as seemingly small and seemingly powerless as we may be-- and stand up for what is right. If HaShem favored a handful of poor, ragtag mercinaries with His victory in battle, surely He, in His mercy, will bless our fight!

Rise up, Israel! Your victory is in the hands of HaShem, ready for the taking!

The back of the hill said...

Just finished reading comments underneath articles on a Dutch newspaper site.

Not pretty.

Beginning to think etzel had the right idea.

As I said, not pretty.

Calm down, calm down, breathe, don't go out and pick on a fellow Dutch-speaker...

FrumGirl said...

I don't even have the words. This is a sorrwful Tisha Bav indeed. May everyone have an easy and meaningful fast.

Lori said...

Olmert's move doesn't even make strategic sense. The United States is supporting Israel in Lebanon like never before and the western world has Iran and Syria in its crosshairs. What in the world is he thinking?

Now it the perfect time to fortify Israel's rightful presence in Judea and Samaria.

Rafael V. Rabinovich said...

It is indeed very interesting, as well as pathetic, that the gerush Gush Katif took place just after Tisha BeAv -- only after they realized that a geirush ON Tisha BeAv would not be a good PR move.
And here we go again, just a year later, in the midst of a war, and a new geirush is on the works.

Olmert would do good to pay attention to the severe warning the Torah gave us in Bamidbar (Numbers) 33:

וְהוֹרַשְׁתֶּם אֶת-כָּל-יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ, מִפְּנֵיכֶם, וְאִבַּדְתֶּם, אֵת כָּל-מַשְׂכִּיֹּתָם; וְאֵת כָּל-צַלְמֵי מַסֵּכֹתָם תְּאַבֵּדוּ, וְאֵת כָּל-בָּמוֹתָם תַּשְׁמִידוּ. וְהוֹרַשְׁתֶּם אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, וִישַׁבְתֶּם-בָּהּ: כִּי לָכֶם נָתַתִּי אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, לָרֶשֶׁת אֹתָהּ. וְהִתְנַחַלְתֶּם אֶת-הָאָרֶץ בְּגוֹרָל לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתֵיכֶם, לָרַב תַּרְבּוּ אֶת-נַחֲלָתוֹ וְלַמְעַט תַּמְעִיט אֶת-נַחֲלָתוֹ--אֶל אֲשֶׁר-יֵצֵא לוֹ שָׁמָּה הַגּוֹרָל, לוֹ יִהְיֶה: לְמַטּוֹת אֲבֹתֵיכֶם, תִּתְנֶחָלוּ. וְאִם-לֹא תוֹרִישׁוּ אֶת-יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ, מִפְּנֵיכֶם--וְהָיָה אֲשֶׁר תּוֹתִירוּ מֵהֶם, לְשִׂכִּים בְּעֵינֵיכֶם וְלִצְנִינִם בְּצִדֵּיכֶם; וְצָרְרוּ אֶתְכֶם--עַל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם יֹשְׁבִים בָּהּ. וְהָיָה, כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּמִּיתִי לַעֲשׂוֹת לָהֶם--אֶעֱשֶׂה לָכֶם

And ye shall take possession of the land, and dwell therein, for to you have I given the land to possess it. And ye shall take for yourselves the land as an inheritance by lot according to your families: to the many ye shall increase their inheritance, and to the few thou shalt diminish their inheritance: where the lot falleth to him, there shall be each man's [inheritance]; according to the tribes of your fathers shall ye take for yourselves the inheritance. But if ye will not dispossess the inhabitants of the land from before you, those that ye let remain of them shall be thorns in your eyes, and pricks in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land wherein ye dwell. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.

tafka PP said...

Back of the Hill- Amen

Jameel- your post is 100% Sinat Chinam free: Olmert has no right to engage in political grandstanding at such a sensitive and difficult time.

I would urge people who are sending him comments to put it in a language he can understand and relate to- not ranting about the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, rather his moral obligations as a PM to his people.

I didn't think there could be a more miserable Eicha reading than the one before the disengagement, when Israel was so divided: I was proved wrong last night.

Sharvul said...

Oh please, spare us the crocodile tears. Nobody needs your fake unity, especially on tisha be'av. And certainly nobody needs your conditional loyalty to the country and to the army. It is sickening to see how quickly right-wingers adopted the vile ways of the sarbanim and elevated their despicable ideology to new heights of hypocrisy and self-pity. Olmert spoke his truth as the elected PM of the country, a truth that doesn't go away because of the fighting in Lebanon. It has nothing to do with sinat chinam. If you don't like it, stop threatening us that you'll walk away and "disengage" from the country. As far as most sane Israelis are concerned, it's not a threat. It's an unfulfilled promise...

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Sharvul; You are not welcome I've told you before.

You are not interested in unity as you have said before yourself.

There - please leave.


Is there any news out today yet about how things are going on the front lines. ? Please post when you get a chance.
I enjoy reading here.

JJ said...

Right, because disengagement has done wonders for us so far....

Thanks for this post, Jameel. I am sending off an email to Olmert today- maybe I should cool down a bit first....

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

The Junior:

I suggest you re-read what I wrote. Yes, there is room for political argument -- as there should be.

I thought I was clear in my posting -- the problem is NOT the debate of Olmert's plan of Convergence/Disengagement.

The problem is Olmert discussing it NOT, and saying the war will further his political platfrom.

Olmert's incredibly poor choice of timing, to discuss it NOW is the crux of my article. To use Roi Klein as his poster boy of a heroic soldier, and then hail his own plan which will throw Roi Klein's widow and kids out of their home is incredibly cynical -- and divisive.

At this time, we need what unity we can find - and for Olmert to decide that NOW is the time to bring up his political plan, and say the reason for the war is to further it -- is a sign of terrible leadership.

YMedad said...

He's already backtracked, see

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

The Junior: Honestly? I'm not sure what's driving him...Its either just a very, very stupid remark on his part (which shows awful character in a leader), or it's intentionally cynical use of the war to promote is political platform during war time, which is awful character in a leader. Evil is a word which would describe the second possibility, or at the very least, not befitting a leader of Israel.

YMedad: Yes, I hear him backtracking -- as was announced on the news. He's not apologizing, just "clarifying".

Wonderful. How thoughtful of him...

YMedad said...

Roni Bar-On was just on Kol Yisrael and "explained" that Olmert was just noting that paradoxically, the war will have an effect on the negotiations with the Pals. but that to say that the "goal" of the war in the realignment/convergence plan is misleading. And this from one of the slickest misleaders in Olmert's backpocket!

Lion of Zion said...

"we didn’t pray for 2,000 years to live in Neve Dekalim"

jews didn't pray for 2,000 years to live in Tel Aviv either. would you like to give it up?

Lion of Zion said...

the junior:

"what i meant - as i am sure you know - is that we didn't pray for 2,000 years to live in gaza."

and what i meant - as i am sure you know - is that we didn't pray for 2,000 years to live in tel aviv.

what we've prayed for over two millenia is to live in the Land of Israel. With the exception of Jerusalem, the prayers do not prefer one city or region over another. so our prayers have been just as much about gaza as they have been about tel aviv.

"gaza has been a dump since time immemorial."

the gaza refugee camps that the arabs live in TODAY are a dump.

what was not a dump is the gaza:

a) that was allotted to the tribe of judah (Josh. 15:47; Judg. 1:18)
b) conquered by king david (II Sam. 5:25)
c) reconquered by Alexander Yannai in 96 B.C.E.
d) that hosted a jewish community during mishnaic and talmudic times
e) whose synagogue was repaved in 508
f) that was home to another ancient synagogue discovered in 1965 and restored two years later
g) that was one of three holy cities that served as pilgramage destinations for karaite jews during the byantine period
h) where jews flourished until gaza city was destroyed by the crusaders
i) where the jewish community was reestablished no later than the 14th c.
j) where in the 16th c. there was a bet din and yeshiva whose rabbis authored scholarly books
k) where jews continued to live throughout the ottoman period
l) which served as a center for the sabbatean movement (hence "nathan of gaza")
m) where jews continued to live until the arab riots of 1929

would you like to give a timeline for the jews of tel aviv now?

historical and literary personalities lived in gaza before the 1970s, for example:

a) r. moses, the masorete
b)r. ephraim, who became the head of the fostat community
c) israel najara, the chief rabbi of gaza and the famous paytan (among his many compositions is the sabbath song "kah ribbon olam"
d) nathan of gaza, who heralded in shabbetai zevi

how many prominent jews lived in tel aviv before 1909?

gaza was a destination on the itinerary of jewish travellers, including:

a) obadaiah of bertinoro
b) samuel ben david the karaite
c) meshullam of volterra

how many jews travellers visited tel aviv before 1909?

"tel aviv is in land that has always been regarded as part of eretz yisrael."

well i've just demonstrated that historically gaza has also been part of the land of israel for millenia and enjoyed centuries-long stretches of continuous Jewish settlement. now this is something you certainly can't do for tel aviv.

i'm not sure what your orientation/interests are, but if you are arguing on halakhic rather than historical grounds that gaza is not part of the land of israel: i looked into this a long time ago (so what follows is to the best of my recollections) when rabin was trying to return the golan, which halakhically is in the same boat as gaza. both had kedushah rishonah, but seem to have been excluded from kedushah sheniyah. but

a) it is not necessarily clear which areas are included in kedushah sheniyah
b) there are views that land can't be returned regardless of the kedushah rishonah/sheniyah issue
c) i also remember there be something about a kedushah shelishit that has nothing to due with rishonah/sheniyah
d) the ritva has something important to say on this. i don't remember what, except that he considered the golan (and gaza?) part of the land of israel

aside from this: even if you are correct (but you are not) that gaza should be returned because it is not part of the land of israel, so then you support retaining the west bank settlements, which clearly are part of the land of israel, both historically and halakhically.

junior, i'm not a settler propagandist (though i might be headed in that direction) and you may have your reasons for opposing the gaza settlements. but one of them should not be that they are not part of eretz yisrael.

to conclude my long-winded "comment": the gaza settlers had just as much a right to be in gaza as the tel aviv settlers have to be in tel aviv.

shabbat shalom ve-shalom al yisra'el!

Lion of Zion said...

source: ej cd-rom

Lion of Zion said...

scratch out "during the byantine period" from "g" above

Beisrunner said...

Agreed, convergence is a bad idea. But don't make the disgusting mistake of hoping for an Israeli defeat so as to prevent convergence. Please.

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Best regards from NY! »

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