Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

26 Av 5765 - August 31, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Being Realistic in the Middle East

The murder last Thursday of Mir Yeshiva student Shmuel Mett Hy"d, and the suicide bombing in Be'er Sheva on Sunday, are horrible reminders that the antisemitism that animates Palestinian terrorists was not abated by the painful sacrifice made by Israel as a whole and by those who were evacuated from Gaza and the northern Shomron in particular.

The ideologues of the Right and the Left trot out their usual solutions to the problem of antisemitism: militant Jewish defiance of the world in the case of the Right, and Jewish assimilation in the case of the Left, in the sense of trying to do what the world says it wants the Jews to do. The Right thinks that if the Jews are strong, hatred of the Jews will be overwhelmed by respect and awe. The Left argues that if only the Jews do what everyone says they should, withdraw our personal demands and become less and less Jewish, then the hatred will become affection.

We argue that both these approaches are unrealistic, that hatred of Jews is a permanent fact of human nature and that all attempts to "cure" humanity of that ill are misguided and ultimately pathetic. That is what the Torah teaches, but that does not mean that we cannot do anything about it. We should exert ourselves to the utmost to try to avoid provoking antisemitism in advance, and to minimize it if it has been inflamed, using the tried-and-true techniques outlined in the Torah for our relationship with our enemies: gifts, prayer and defense.

Though there is much to be said in criticism, to its credit it can be said of Sharon's Disengagement Plan that it does not rest on a hope of solving the problem of Palestinian hatred but on recognizing it as a fact and searching for a way to live with it.

According to what Sharon has explained so far, the forces of terror are to be contained by a combination of the security fences and army invasions from time to time, and backed by world opinion which will demand that they control terror. In fact, US President Bush's first remarks after the completion of the disengagement were that he now expects the Palestinians to reign in the terror.

There has been no high-sounding talk about rosy possibilities in the distant future, but rather down-to-earth demands for the present. Sharon demanded that the Palestinians control the terror, offering to make peace after showing that he is capable of uprooting settlements if he is so inclined. On the other hand, he threatened harsh military methods if the terror continues, and even after the withdrawal, Sharon is not suspected of making empty threats.

The demand that Sharon is making, and that he intends to make in an address to the UN within the next few weeks, is really the most basic requirement that any party must meet in order to enter into any agreement. As long as the Palestinians threaten us with arms, they are simply not capable of making any stable agreement. To be a credible government the Palestinians must control their terrorists. What is there to talk about with someone who declares that he has the right and the desire to kill you and that he intends to do so? It is not a basis upon which talks may proceed.

Sharon is not relying on anyone's good will, but just on this basic truth, and hoping that the world will recognize that Israel cannot be expected to do anything as long as the Palestinians do not renounce terror in practice. Israel has shown that it can deliver. The onus is now on the Palestinians to show themselves a capable recipient.

It is an approach that is sober, based on realistic assumptions and with limited objectives.

Will it work? Hashem knows — and no one else at this time.

Our immediate goal is to prepare for Elul and for the Yomim Noraim. If we do a good job at that, then we are assured of a good future. That is very realistic, as far as we are concerned.

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