Sunday, August 31, 2008
Translated from the NRG website.
About a year ago, I saw a Russian television broadcast in which Vladimir Putin, riding a noble steed, reaches the edge of a lake, deftly removes his shirt and in an impressive display of muscle, leans over and washes his face in the crystal clear water.
That is when I began to worry. The leader determined to restore the great nation's lost honor and days of glory was playing the macho worship card. It reminded me of an old Italian propaganda film in which Il Duce - Musollini - is riding in his official car when he sees a farmer struggling to load bundles of wheat onto his wagon. Il Duce descends from his car and - just like Putin - takes off his shirt and with an impressive display of macho and muscle, quickly loads the wheat onto the wagon of the grateful farmer. Both Hitler and Stalin also played the macho worship card.
Thus, the Russian invasion into Georgia did not surprise me at all. Whoever thinks that the latest Russian offensive is in retaliation against Georgian provocation does not - in my opinion - understand Putin. When Hitler annexed the Sudetenland, some pundits thought that he would be content. And in truth, millions of Germans did live in the "separatist regions" of Czechoslovakia and the Western world was eager to 'understand' the Germans. After all, what did everybody want? A second World War? So the Sudetes were sacrificed to appease Hitler, and in Churchill's words, "You chose disgrace instead of war. You got disgrace and war as well."
It would have been easy then to stop Hitler. The Czech army alone was larger than the German army and its Skoda factories produced top notch weapons. But the post World War I world craved quiet. It chose to give Hitler what he wanted in the hopes that he would just leave well enough alone. Hitler got what he wanted and the world got a brief respite. The rest is history.
Putin will not suffice himself with Georgia. The Georgian test case has provided him with all the incentive that he needs. We do not yet know exactly where or when the next eruption will occur. But if Obama wins the US elections and the process of disintegration there continues, the new Russian bully will feel confident enough to initiate more wars.
Does Russia present a direct threat to Israel?
The Syrians have explicitly invited the Russians to man both their ground and naval bases. It is possible that Russia will begin to expand in our direction. That is a most undesirable eventuality - but if it happens, it will not be the first time. Israeli pilots have already waged air skirmishes against Soviet pilots who defended Egyptian skies during the War of Attrition. The Israeli pilots even downed a number of Russian piloted planes.
Israel is not Georgia and the Russians know that. But Israel today is not the Israel of the War of Attrition. Today, Israel displays weakness, enticing every neighborhood and international bully to come in for a piece of the action.
The restoration of Israel's deterrence factor is not a matter of increasing the security budget, as the security lobbyists would have us believe. Just two years ago, Israel's army collapsed in the face of an enemy the size of a mere division - in a war that Israel itself initiated. The problem was not budget. The problem was a loss of our sense of justice and common goals that create our cohesiveness and national might. Our lack of deterrence is not due to a lack of tanks or fighter jets. Our lack of deterrence is due to the fact that our enemies think that our society is disintegrating and that the State of Israel is "weaker than spider webs," in the descriptive words of Nasrallah.
I would not invest one more shekel in security. The huge sums that the security lobbyists are demanding should be funneled to Israel's social needs. A just society understands what it is doing in its land and can produce the power of deterrence that Israel used to have - when it believed that it was right.
The Hebrew word for 'disfigure' is 'titgodedu.' The Torah warns the Jewish people not to adopt the pagan custom of cutting oneself as a sign of mourning. The Torah reminds us that we are not just an ordinary nation - a nation of Hebrew speaking non-Jews. We are G-d's children and we must act accordingly.
There is another - related - explanation for the word 'tidgodedu.' This word can be translated as the formation of congregations; cutting the whole into splinters.
Here is a partial list of the splinters of the right wing and faith based public:
NRP, Kach, Hatchiyah, Moledet, Shlomtzion, National Union 1, 2 and 3, Morasha, Tzomet, Tekumah, Cherut (Kleiner), Yisrael Beiteinu, Renewed Religious Zionism, Chazit Yehudit Leumit, Achi, Kulanu. We apologize if we have left any splinter out of our list. Soon, when we will be pleading for G-d's forgiveness on Yom Kippur, we can add the long list of splinters to our well-intentioned transgressions.
You are children of G-d. Every Jew who remembers that he is a Jew, every Jew whose Jewish roots are the foundation of his identity and every Jew who is a Jew before any other identity is part of the wonderful family of the children of G-d. He may err, he may sin, he may not integrate the significance of his bond with G-d into his daily life - but he is part of the family. If he splinters off into his own small group, he disengages from the family. And he should not be surprised if the family disengages from him.
There is only one large party of the national camp. It is the party of the Jews who identify themselves as part of the Jewish family. It is the party of all the Jews; religious and secular, rightist and less rightist, righteous and less righteous. The name of the party is Likud. We can break off into hundreds more splinters. The result is the abandonment of our fellow family members to the leftist elites. The result is also the destruction that we have witnessed in Gush Katif and the perpetuation of the Left's control of our country.
Splinters hurt! Now is the time to take responsibility and join the Likud. Call (Israel) 09 792 9046 and our English speaking staff will assist you.
Monday, August 25, 2008
By Shmuel Sackett
This article was published in the Summer 2008 edition of Choices Magazine
I moved to Kew Gardens Hills (Queens, NY) when only two pizza shops were there. Gift World was near Melbourne Ave, Brach's was a small butcher shop, YCQ was under construction and a grand total of five shuls existed in the entire neighborhood! 1874 you guess? Not quite - it was 1974.
Even back then, when Richard Nixon was president of the USA, KGH was "the place to be". We used to hang-out at Shimon's until very late Motzei Shabbat and play basketball in Flushing Meadows Park. I still remember how KGH became the first community to get an Eruv. Rabbi Schonfeld was a little worried about misuse of the Eruv, since people were simply not used to having one. He spoke, at length, about making sure it helped the sanctity of Shabbat and not the reverse. Baruch Hashem things worked out and today, KGH is a gigantic Jewish community that is full of Chessed, Ahavat Hashem and Torah learning.
Shortly after leaving KGH, I made aliyah to Netanya, then Neve Aliza (Ginot Shomron) and finally to Ra'anana, where I live today with my family. And then, after 21 years I made it back to the "old neighborhood" for Shabbat.
While walking on Main St was fun and reminiscing about how things have changed was amusing, that was not why I came. My purpose on this Shabbat was focused on one thing: To explain to the Jewish community of KGH what lies at the root of Israel's problems and how to - once and for all - solve them!
As you know, this wonderful town is full of love for Atrzeinu Ha'Kedosha. Over the years, many good Jews of KGH have given of themselves to help Israel. Many have moved there, more have studied there and even more have donated large sums of money towards various important causes in our one-and-only Promised Land. Many young men from KGH have even served in the IDF! In short, the KGH community is famous for its love and dedication towards Israel.
The problem is that today - that love and dedication - produces pain, frustration and many times even depression, when thinking about our homeland. We read about non-stop rocket attacks on Sderot and Ashkelon. We watch the TV and witness beautiful IDF soldiers - following orders by the Israeli government - ripping fellow Jews out of their homes. A few hours later that same TV station shows Jewish bulldozers destroying Jewish homes, smashing Jewish businesses and digging up Jewish graves - heaven help us! We talk to our friends who live in Israel and hear about stonings and drive-by shootings. We vacation in Israel and experience passing metal detectors as we enter coffee shops and shopping malls. We hear radio reports about kidnapped soldiers and pray that they are still alive.
The biggest problem of all is that nobody ever speaks of solutions. All speakers who come from Israel focus on the problems I just listed, or mention even more! They ask for assistance in helping them cope, getting them through the day or building some kind of hospital for the wounded. Every once in a while a temporary "band-aid" is proposed but never a cure for the sickness. The disease continues and since KGH loves Israel, your pain continues as well.
I came to spend Shabbat in KGH because you needed to finally hear a positive message - one of hope and optimism! You were thirsty for solutions and I tried my best to describe it to you. In a word, that solution is leadership and in the three shuls in which I spoke, I explained how the religious Zionists need to build strong leadership for the State of Israel that is based exclusively on Torah concepts and values, Emunah in the Jewish people and Bitachon in the One above.
I described how my group, Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership), is building that exact leadership and how it plans on succeeding. The religious Zionist camp has done great things in Israel. We have built communities, mikvahs, shuls and Torah centers. We are the champions in Chessed and first in all IDF combat units - but absolutely dead last when it comes to leading the nation. I spent an entire Shabbat explaining how this must change and, thank G-d, my message was received with great excitement and enthusiasm.
Yes, it is a bold goal but one that must succeed. It would be much easier to talk about building a new Yeshiva in Jerusalem, helping victims of terror or caring for the sick. Of course, all of these things are very important, but we cannot afford ourselves the "luxury" of overlooking the #1 most important goal; Taking away the reins of leadership from those who cannot explain the reason to live in Israel to their own children! The days of Shimon Peres and Co. - who focus on "The New Middle East" and dream of Israel as a "Hebrew speaking Singapore" - directing Israel cannot continue. Only those deeply connected to our Father in heaven, who pray daily for His people's return to Zion and yearn for the rebuilding of the Bet Ha'Mikdash are worthy to lead.
This is what I spoke about on my first Shabbat in KGH after 21 years, and if you didn't hear me, please visit my organization's website which explains our program in great detail. It's simply called www.JewishIsrael.org because that is the goal: Leading Israel based on Jewish values and making Israel proud to be Jewish! I urge you to help me turn the state of the Jews into the Jewish State.
Ultimately, every one reading this article will live in our wonderful land and that will be a great day. In the meantime, take your slice from Benjy's, your ice-cream cone from Max and Minna's and your humus from Ha'Pisga and get involved in bringing authentic, strong and Jewish leadership to Eretz Yisrael! Learn more at: www.JewishIsrael.org and help change Israel's leadership forever!