Hamas War

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Brilliantly "Prophetic" Description of Menachem Begin by Doris Katz Lankin

When I began reading  The Lady Was A Terrorist, I had no idea that I'd find such a brilliant observation. I first read the book a half a century or so ago and chose to reread it now, since my book club's genre* for next week's meeting is "freedom/independence," and Katz's book is her memoir about her part in Israel's War for Independence.

The Lady Was A Terrorist by Doris Katz
"Begin's soft sub-stratum is his incurable sentimentality"

I'm one of those who consider Menachem Begin a failed leader because of his Camp David Accords. Many of us had thought of him as a strong nationalist leader, first of the Etzel, then Herut, Gahal and finally the Likud.

The State of Israel was established in 1948, and there was only a ceasefire with the opposing Arabs (backed by the British) the following year. Labor Zionist parties not only ruled the state until 1977, but also dominated during the decades before independence. 

In 1977 Likud's election victory was a total shockeroo, known as the UPHEAVAL. Most Israelis expected an immediately greenlight for increased settlement in Judea, Samaria and more. Some of us looked forward joyfully, while labor/left voters dreaded it. The reality was rather different. Begin's government didn't quickly and easily open the doors to establish new Jewish communities, but that wasn't the worst he did.

That weakness that Katz had noticed in the late 1940s made Begin susceptible the Camp David Accords, which required Israel to cross a long held red line. The Menachem Begin government destroyed all of the Jewish Israeli communities in northern Sinai. If the agreement had really been a peace agreement, then Jews should have been invited to remain, but Begin didn't insist, or even request it. Begin wanted to be liked by others, be considered moderate, not a "terrorist," not an extremist. Within a few years Menachem Begin "faded" as a leader and ended his years in isolation.

*Unlike most book clubs, the local Shiloh English Book Club does not require members to read the same book for each meeting. We found the logistics too difficult and stressful, which took the fun away from the meetings. Now we choose genres or an author, which gives more individual flexibility; plus we start with a potluck dinner. This isn't school; it's fun and social.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Parshat Korach, Why So Many Sins So Soon After Magnificent Mt Sinai Experience?


At my local women's Parshat Shavua, Korach, class among friends and neighbors, the classic question came up:

Why So Many Sins So Soon After Magnificent Mt Sinai Experience?

My mind began turning out ideas...

I found myself back in May-June, 1967 hearing the threats of Egypt's Nasser, unabashedly saying that he'll destroy the State of Israel, shove it into the sea...

Egypt's Nasser demanded that the United Nations remove the Peacekeeping Forces, and for all practical purposes the UN replied:

"Yesterday? At your service."

No country offered any help to Israel. They just waited around, mouthing platitudes at best, not wanting to get in the way of the bullets while Israel was being pushed into the sea. Jews, and possibly a few other good souls, prayed, and then a miracle of Biblical proportions happened. In six days, yes, just six 6 days, Israel managed to defeat three stronger better equipped armies, and in the process found itself holding more land on each of three fronts, the Golan formerly Syrian in the north, the Sinai formerly Egyptian in the south and to the east our Jewish Biblical Homeland traditionally called Judea and Samaria, though the Jordanians had referred to it as the "west bank."

And what did Israel's government do? 

  • Did it declare sovereignty, like any normal self-respecting country would do? 
  • Did the Jewish religious leaders declare a massive national prayer of thanks to Gd on the Temple Mount? No, 

Moshe Dayan gave the Muslims the key to the Temple Mount, reassuring them that Israel wouldn't disturb/trespass on their religious site and the political leaders made it clear to the defeated Arab countries that we'd be happy to give back most of the land in exchange for "peace."

We're still suffering the ramifications of those dangerous and foolish policies. Unfortunately, nothing's new. Human nature isn't perfect. Think of all the Jews who could have left Europe before the Holocaust.. Think of the Jewish leaders who not only opposed Zionism but condemned it.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Parshat Shlach Lecha פרשת שלח לך

A bit of Parshat Shavua, Torah Portion of the Week. 

My interpretation/translation of the word/verb וְיָתֻ֙רוּ֙ "yaturu" isn't "scout," it's "stake out." 

In modern terms, we can say that Gd sent the twelve tribal leaders on "pilot trip" to choose which part of the land of Israel each tribe would settle when arriving in the Holy Land. They were to decide according to the which suited each tribe, and that's the "judgements" they were to make. 

Unfortunately, ten out of twelve thought they had the authority to decided whether or not to bring their tribal members into the land, claiming it too dangerous. 

For that sin, they and their generation had to die and only the next generation entered the Holy Land. The two exceptions were the leader who had followed orders, Caleb and Yehoshua.