Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

18 Sivan 5763 - June 18, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Keep Your Eye on the Ball

This is the advice often given in sports games in which flinging or kicking or hitting a ball is a crucial element. It embodies an important lesson that applies in many areas of life: focus on the key issue, the important subject whose progress is the main object of interest and do not get distracted by side issues and sometimes even dramatic developments that can catch the attention of many other players in the game but are not important in the long run.

Everyone recognizes that this is important advice and people try to keep it, wherever they are. However in real life, as distinct from ball games, it is not always so easy to know what the "ball" is, and in fact the key issue may shift from time to time, without warning.

After the Oslo agreements were signed, the US and the Leftist government of Israel and the Europeans seemed fixed on what they thought was the main goal: a final end-of-conflict resolution between Israel and the Palestinians that would create, in the memorable words of Shimon Peres, "a new Middle East." This terribly attractive goal, which seemed to them to be attainable and in a relatively short time, led them to dismiss any other events -- such as terror -- as distractions that should be substantially ignored if they prevented progress towards the real goal.

Yasser Arafat, on the other hand, was (and is) completely focused on short term achievements. He wanted prisoners released, he wanted guns and he wanted political and diplomatic recognition. He got these, since they could be understood as consistent with the final goal, and they allowed the "peace process" to continue.

Now the Quartet -- the US, the European Union, the UN and Russia -- has come up with another big plan for resolving everything. Known as a "road map" -- short for "road map to Middle East peace" -- the document purports to be a plan to bring a permanent, stable settlement of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians with its central feature being an independent Palestinian state.

However this time the Israeli government is focused on a more immediate goal which, in these difficult days, has resonance throughout the world: security. Senior Israeli officials believe that Arafat is constitutionally incapable of delivering this and must be pushed aside.

The Palestinians' immediate goals are release of prisoners and some sort of enforced halt to Israel's anti-terror activities, including targeted killing of terrorists.

According to past patterns, they would expect that the Americans (and the Europeans) would pressure Israel to make "confidence-building gestures" like releasing dangerous prisoners and calling a halt to counter-terror measures. The attempt to kill prominent Hamas leader Abdul Aziz Rantissi -- who was reportedly the one who urged the most violent actions in response to the recent peace moves -- and successfully killing more than five other Hamas terror leaders, showed everyone that Israel will not take its eye off of its goal of immediate security.

One encouraging response to the recent events -- the Aqaba conference followed by Hamas terror and Israel's strong response -- was that US President George Bush, after initially speaking out against Israel, later condemned Hamas unequivocally and assured Israel that he understood its concern with security.

While all this is going on, we must not forget that the main thing that we must not lose sight of is the spiritual state of ourselves and our community. If Hashem is with us, we need not fear. (Bamidbar 14,9)

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.