Friday, November 27, 2009

Refusing to remain silent in the face of evil

Jonathan and Esther Pollard , THE JERUSALEM POST

Why is the life of one Israeli captive deemed so precious that Israel's leaders are willing to dispense with all logic and morality in order to redeem him? Why is the life of another Israeli captive dismissed as if it were worthless?
Why is the life of one captive such an urgent national priority that the safety and security of every single Israeli citizen must be put at risk? Why is the life of the other captive so inconsequential - after decades of captivity - that negotiations for his release have never been undertaken?
Are we, the People of Israel, so incompetent, so bereft of will, talent, imagination and faith in God that we really believe the only way to secure the release of the former captive is at a price so exorbitant that it beggars the imagination? Do we really believe that the wholesale release of terrorists and murderers is a rational response? Are we, the People of Israel, so bereft of vision that we cannot grasp that burying one captive alive while we pray for the release of the other drives the blessing away and brings shame and dishonor upon us all?
Are we, the People of Israel, so politically brainwashed that we cannot see that, in both cases, mere expediency reigns supreme in a morally-bankrupt government? This is not fulfillment of the mitzva of pidyon shvuyim!
AS LONG as Israeli leaders demonstrate a unanimous will to exploit the value of rescuing one captive because it suits their political ends, while simultaneously ignoring another captive, there can be no national honor, nor national self-respect. There is only political expediency. Self-serving, opportunistic, political expediency.
Those who are willing to close their eyes to the truth and follow lockstep with Israel's "leaders" in support of this unconscionable plan to unleash the forces of evil by allowing the architects of mass murder to pour forth from Israeli jails are placing their own lives at risk as well as the lives of their loved ones.
Those who fail to speak out and protest Israel's lopsided, immoral policy of selective rescue - damning one captive while saving the other and simultaneously putting the lives of all citizens in jeopardy - must know that they are complicit in this criminal deed.
It is painfully clear that Israel's mainstream media has stymied all rational debate on this issue, just as it has, for its own self-serving reasons, lent its support to the government's cowardly abandonment of the latter captive.
Nevertheless, moral conscience does not permit us to remain silent.
If our words are not heard today, so be it. A time will come when they will be heard. We hope that by then, it will not be too late.
Jonathan Pollard is an American-born Israeli citizen currently in the 25th year of his life sentence in an American prison for his activities on behalf of the security of the State of Israel.
Esther Pollard is his wife.

Esther Jungreis and Moshe Feiglin

Editor's Note:
A supporter from Skokie, Illinois sent in the following observation on some common themes in Moshe Feiglin's and Esther Jungreis' articles in the recent edition of "The Jewish Press". Here is the link to the original article by Dr. Jungreis. Moshe Feiglin's piece that is referenced is posted on the blog here (link). Dear readers, if you have any comments that you would like to see posted on the blog, send them in for consideration. We would love to hear from you.

A recent issue (11/11) of "The Jewish Press" featured an article by Rebbetzin Jungreis that was amazing in that its thesis was almost completely aligned with that of Moshe Feiglin. His own article was similar -- on another level. Rebbetzin Jungreis' wrote that no matter what Israel does and how decent and righteous its actions, the world will continue to malign and fault it until our leadership can tell the world that Hashem, the creator of the world has "deed the land to us, the Jewish people for all eternity. Until such time as our Israeli representative makes that proclamation to the world, I am afraid, anti-Semitism camouflaged as anti-Zionism will prevail." She states, "If our leadership has failed to present Israel in its true light, it is because, sadly, they are not familiar with that light... they can no longer recall that light of Torah..." Moshe Feiglin's own article states that unless Israel demands rights to the Temple Mount, it will lose its reason to exist both to the rest of the world and to many of its own Jewish people. It is heartening to see that Rebbetzin Jungreis, a holocaust survivor and renowned author and speaker on Jewish answers to modern personal and social dilemmas, arrives at the same conclusion as Moshe Feiglin for our only way out of the quagmire of irrational, overwhelming, and life-threatening anti-Semitism that threatens our survival as a nation. It is heartening that this message is becoming more widespread so as to be disemminated and recommended by our respected religious leaders in addition to politicians. Hopefully, this strategy of Jewish leadership grounded in Torah as the best means of Israel's survival and growth will become louder and clearer until it becomes the dominant unifying force of the Jewish State of Israel.

Dr. Caren
Skokie, IL

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dear Brothers

By Moshe Feiglin

1 Kislev, 5770
Nov. 18, '09

(Translated from the Makor Rishon newspaper)

A fresh campaign to deligitimize the Hesder yeshivas home to the soldiers who refused to evict Jews from their homes is rapidly gaining momentum. But it is specifically these two yeshivas, (Elon Moreh and Har Bracha) that have educated soldiers and commanders who think for themselves and are loyal to their conscience - that deserve our faith and the faith of potential students who are interested in true spiritual growth.

"Fine," say the well-meaning but confused people. "If a soldier is actually ordered to carry out an eviction, he should refuse. But why wave signs of refusal in the middle of an army ceremony? Nobody had given an order - illegal or otherwise. Why make a scene when nothing has happened yet?

As false and demagogic as this claim is, it is gaining momentum - as if the thought police have planted it in the minds of the naive faith-based public that yearns to feel "accepted." It is the same phenomenon that we saw in the expulsion from Gush Katif; national camp soldiers convinced that they must obey orders to evict their brothers, or national camp protestors duped into pointlessly encircling the fence of Kfar Maimon, or sobbing in the synagogues in Gush Katif. Now, it is the same national camp that is being goaded to loudly condemn the soldiers who shouldered responsibility and announced that they would refuse to evict their fellow Jews.

The Golani brigade did not take part in the expulsion of the Jews from Gush Katif, its soldiers proudly proclaim. They didn't actually refuse orders - they just made it clear that they would not be willing to do the dirty work. I saw the Golani soldiers there. They, and all those who took their example, were very nice. But they were the holes in the net that the army had cast over the Jews of Gush Katif. They were proud of their (in)action, but they forgot that a net is also made up of holes. Who remembers this gray resistance? Very few. Why? Because it didn't tear the net. It was simply part of it.

There was one righteous soldier in the Sodom-like reality in Gush Katif. His name is Avi Biber. He put his gun down in front of the cameras and explained that he did not enlist in the army to evict Jews from their homes. His actions were a real threat to the net and that is why we all remember him.

The Shimshon recruits who held up a sign at their swearing-in ceremony declaring that they do not evict Jews from their home chose their venue with care. At the moment that they pledged their allegiance to the IDF, they delineated the exact parameters of that pledge. It was not a mockery of the ceremony. On the contrary, it shows how seriously they related to it.

But the self-appointed national camp spokesmen, quaking to feel accepted by Israel's mainstream media, are determined to show how loyal they are. They feel like an adopted child, like a guest who must be on his best behavior. And they get very angry with those faith-based people who feel like this country belongs to them just as much as it belongs to the most leftist media personality. They get very angry with the boy who insists on declaring that the emperor has no clothes.

That is how you behave?
And in the middle of the ceremony?
Why couldn't you have waited until after the ceremony and quietly sent a letter expressing your feelings?

The Left has always praised and encouraged leftist conscientious objection - from the State's Attorney who "understands" the conscientious objectors, to authors and billboards calling to refuse orders - with the authorization of Israel's Supreme Court. They all supported the phenomenon and in so doing, demarcated the left border of legitimate public discourse in Israel. Eli Geva, the brigade commander who abandoned his soldiers in the middle of the fighting in the First Lebanon War was not ostracized. On the contrary. Just like the Israeli, Udi Adiv, who spied for Syria, and is now a lecturer in Israel's Open University, the leftist conscientious objectors have been accepted into the heart of Israel's consensus. Because of the conscientious objection of the Left, nobody in Israel dares to talk about expelling the Arabs or collective punishment for the terror-supporting civilian population.

The Right, though, is incapable of activating its own conscientious weapon. As a result, the right border of the political discourse in Israel is wide open. It is fine to talk about sending tanks to crush Ofra (Sternhal), giving up Jerusalem (Barak), civil war (Negbi) and blowing up bridges (Oz).

The faith-based public does not understand how central it is to Israeli society. We are not the "little orange brothers" of the Left. We are the big brothers of all the Israelis who have proven time and again that they cannot be trusted - good intentions notwithstanding - because they do not have the faith-based tools to understand reality and to deal with it. If we do not act responsibly and take the steering wheel away from our little brothers, they will once again sink the entire ship.

Instead, though, we prefer to leave the steering wheel in their hands, to bask in the crumbs of media "understanding" after the last blow that we have suffered, to submissively prepare for the next disaster and to condemn those from our own camp who have taken responsibility for the fate of our state and of the IDF - and dare to define true limits.

Netanyahu Bows to Leftist Oligarchy

By Moshe Feiglin

Just as we had warned, Netanyahu has closed the case on the division of the functions of the attorney-general and the State Attorney's Office. This proposal would have significantly limited the power of the Attorney General.

From the time that Netanyahu declared an all out war against Feiglin while simultaneously increasing Dan Meridor's power, we explained that his plan is to win the elections with the votes of the Right and then to put himself at the disposal of Israel's leftist oligarchy.

When Netanyahu was in the Opposition, he passionately defended Israel's claim to Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. But since he became PM, he has sent Meridor to shoot down Olmert-era legislation to protect the Golan from retreats and has quashed the legislative proposal that would have solidified Jerusalem's political status. It was Netanyahu who personally axed the proposal to split the functions of the attorney-general and the State Attorney's Office. After all, that would have compromised the status of the rule-of-law gang. He has nothing to fear from Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman: despite his threats, he will not quit.

It is entirely clear that Netanyahu is brewing a scheme that will make the Expulsion pale by comparison. Once again, we are facing a government that stole the votes of the Right and joined up with the leftist rule-of-law gang, justice system and media, and is scheming to surrender our Land to our enemies.

This entire upside down pyramid is supported by the obedience of the Jewish majority, which has been deceived. The Shimshon and Nachshon soldiers who refused to evict Jews are a ray of hope that this time, the scheme will not work.

May Your Curse be on Me, My Son

By Moshe Feiglin

"Perhaps my father will feel me, and I will be in his eyes as a mocker and I will bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing. And his mother said to him, 'May your curse be upon me, my son'." (From this week's Torah portion, Toldot, Genesis 27:12-13)

A youth who had "illegally" entered Gush Katif in its last days asked me:

"I don't know what to do. I must leave Gush Katif for a few days and then I will not be able to return."

"Why not?" I asked him.

"Because if I come back I will have to use a false identity at the checkpoint, and that would force me to lie," he answered. "I do not want to sin."

"I have a great solution," I said to him. "I will write you a note in which I accept upon myself the Divine punishment that you will receive for lying to get back into Gush Katif. After you have lived out your 120 years on this earth, request to be buried with the note and I will merit your Divine retribution. Do we have a deal?"

It didn't take the boy long to see the absurdity of his question, and I lost out on the deal of a lifetime.

It is easy to confuse young people. They are inexperienced and naive. Jacob lacks the life experience of his mother, Rivkah. He is not yet worldly, spending all his time learning Torah. He has not yet acquired the perspective needed to place contradicting values in their proper order. Suddenly, his mother makes an outrageous request of him - to lie to his father, Isaac, and to re-arrange events so that he will give him the blessing reserved for his brother, Esau.

Isaac loved his sons. He was blind to the fact that Esau was deceiving him. He was liable to entrust the faith in G-d revolution that his father had pioneered in the hands of his wicked son, Esau.

Rivkah understood that this would be a tragic mistake. Jacob also understood. So now what? It is forbidden to lie!

The answer to this dilemma is not simple. Generally, the preferred course of action is not to break the law - even for a worthy purpose. "Justice, justice must you pursue," says the Torah. Justice must also be pursued with justice.

That is generally the case, but not always. When should one break the rules?

"Who should one listen to? The teacher or the student?" the Rambam rhetorically asks in the Laws of Kings. In other words, if a person is instructed to carry out an action that is against the commandments of the King of the world and His Torah - he is forbidden to do so.

In reality, this simple directive becomes more complex. In any given set of circumstances, there will always be the rabbis who will explain that it is a terrible sin to deceive Isaac, that Jacob is a terrible soldier, the whole country will fall apart because of him and that we will be left with no army.

We have already witnessed the result of this approach; the destruction of Gush Katif, Israel's defeat in the two wars that came on its heels and the world's negation of Israel's right to exist. Those military, political and spiritual leaders who confused the naive Jacob, leading him to believe that it is a terrible sin to oppose the law - have brought the State of Israel to the edge of the precipice. Today, when they once again condemn the conscientious soldiers who refuse to evict Jews from their homes, they prove that they have learned nothing from their mistakes.

"Who is it who hunted food and brought it to me, and I ate from it all before you came, and I blessed him, and he shall surely be blessed," says Isaac to Esau. The famous Biblical commentator Rashi explains that it is not true that if Jacob had not deceived his father, he would not have received his blessings. In this verse, Isaac endorsed the blessing that he gave to Jacob. Ex post facto, he agrees with Rivkah and Jacob.

Rivkah and Jacob identified and prevented the mistake before it happened, warding off catastrophe in the process. Likewise, now is the time to deal with the crimes into which the government is dragging the IDF - not after the next catastrophe, G-d forbid!

The role cast upon the youthful Jacob is not an easy one. His commanders and some of his rabbis are pressuring him, trying to confuse him into gagging his own conscience. They would prefer that he would stop listening to the voice of G-d that clearly instructs him to stop.

May your curse be on me, my son. May your curse be on me.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Voting Rights for Israeli Expatriates and Diaspora Jews

By Moshe Feiglin

The State of Israel is a Jewish State. It is the state of all the Jews. Every Jew in the world should see Israel as his country - even if he does not yet physically live in Israel.

In most democracies, the right to vote is not contingent on actually living in the country in question, but rather on citizenship alone. Many Israelis who are also US citizens - even if they were not born in the US - vote in US elections. Israel's law that makes a citizen's right to vote contingent on his living in Israel deviates from the norm.

On the surface, this would seem like a positive way to strengthen the connection between Israeli citizens and their country. But just the opposite is true. The original Zionist platform called for the establishment of a new nation in Israel - the Israeli nation - to replace the Jewish nation. Azmi Bashara is an Israeli, while a Jew in London who would like to be an Israeli citizen while remaining in the Diaspora in the meantime - is not.

To grant Israeli citizenship to every Jew who requests it turns Judaism into the Israeli nationality. The founding fathers of Zionism wanted to cut the connection between the two. They preferred to leave the Jewish nation to die, either physically or spiritually, in the exile - to relegate Judaism to the status of religion and nothing more - and to establish a new nation here in the Land of Israel.

In the words of pioneer author and Zionist thinker, Chaim Hazaz:

Zionism and Judaism are not one thing, but two things, different from each other, two things that contradict each other. When a person cannot be a Jew, he becomes a Zionist.
Zionism begins at the place where Judaism is destroyed, from the place that the strength of the nation is sapped. Zionism is not a continuation, not a panacea for the blow. That is ridiculous! It is uprooting and destruction, the opposite of what was, the end. I believe that the Land of Israel is no longer Judaism.
(The pioneer in Hazaz's book, "Hadrasha")

The generation of Hazaz attempted to turn the gates of the Land of Israel into the gates of the new Israeli nation. That is why today, a Jew cannot be Israeli unless he lives in Israel.

And what about the Israeli expatriates who have "descended" and live in the Diaspora?
While giving voting rights to Jews in the Diaspora is complex and would require intricate legislation and minimal criteria of connection with the Jewish nation and the State of Israel, there is no excuse for not allowing expatriates to vote. The reason why they are excommunicated from Israel is because Israeli citizens who leave Israel are proof that the New Nation Project of Zionism's "founding fathers" was a dismal failure.

Why should a Jew who doesn't live in Israel have voting rights here?
Because Israel is the Jewish State. As such, it is the state of the Jews outside of Israel just as much as it is the state of the commander of the most elite IDF unit.

True, the Jews in the Diaspora have forgotten that Israel is their real home. But when we established a state for Israelis instead of for Jews, we showed the world that we have also forgotten. It is our duty to change this situation. With G-d's help, we will propose legislation that will allow expatriates - and eventually Diaspora Jews - to vote in Israeli embassies throughout the world.

As a Jewish state that is secure in its eternal existence on the basis of G-d's promise to Abraham, we must give the Diaspora Jews the opportunity to connect to Israel, to care about what is transpiring here, to feel that they belong and to vote. It will be an excellent reminder that their homeland is Israel and encourage aliyah. Not only that, but it will be much more effective than all the excommunication methods that we have used until now to try to stop expatriates from leaving our Land.