Sunday, September 25, 2011

On the threshold of greatness: G-d, courage and Jewish leadership

On Friday, September 23,   Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the United Nations (UN) about the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) request to be accepted by the international community as a sovereign state. Mr Netanyahu spoke about Israel because it would be from land Israel currently holds that this new Arab state would be formed. He spoke of Israel because, he said, he wanted the world to hear the ‘truth’.  On that, he was right. The truth must be told. There are too many lies surrounding Israel today.  But in that speech, Mr Prime Minister, where was G-d?  You spoke of our Biblical past, but you forgot the center of our Bible—G-d.  Would there be an Israel today without the miracles we all saw during the wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973? How many Jewish soldiers who experienced those wars still talk about those miracles, and how many of your citizens and soldiers, Mr Netanyahu, understand that without G-d’s presence in those wars there would be no Israel today? 
If you refer to history, Mr Prime Minister, you should know the historical truth: without a commitment to G-d, we do not remain Jews. If our forefathers had blotted out G-d from their lives, there would be no Jews today. There would be no Jewish nation. There would be no Jewish state.  Without a commitment to G-d,  we cannot and we will not sustain our struggle against haters, deniers and killers. Virtually every Jewish Israeli who has no connection to his religion and no understanding of his people’s history will vote in an instant to end the delegitimization,  isolation and utter rejection he feels from world opinion. We survive and sustain our struggle—indeed, we thrive-- only because we cleave to our G-d.
It is difficult to talk about G-d in the public arena. It takes courage to do that. It takes courage to be a  leader who recognizes (as David the King recognized) the role of G-d in our struggle against Israel’s enemies.  Mr Netanyahu, your military record suggests that you understand the courage a soldier needs for combat. Bring that courage to the existential war we now face. David the King-to-be faced Goliath with the words, “ You come to me with spear and javelin, and I come to you with the name of the Lord of Hosts, the G-d of the armies of Israel which you have taunted.”   Today, we face our  own Goliath. We face the ‘giants’ of our Region, multitudes who would taunt us before killing us. Are you and your advisors like Saul, who feared the Goliath of that day past, or are you like David the King-to-be, who understood that G-d commands us to have courage and be strong?
It is difficult to talk about G-d. Israel has many today who, like Saul, fear the giants; they wish to unJewish themselves, believing that those who hate them would then relent. But David the king-to-be knew that we are a nation both unique and apart; he saw others hate us, but instead of running away he turned to G-d; and because of that, he stood steadfast and firm before the giant who taunts—and for that, he became king.
Mr Netanyahu, It is difficult to talk about G-d. It takes courage. But we face a hostile world. We stand isolated before those who would taunt us.  What do we do? If the UN is going to entertain, essentially, the fate of the Jewish nation, shouldn’t the Jewish people demand a Jewish leader who speaks with courage?
The formal application for statehood presented last week by Mahmoud Abbas to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon contains a request for sovereign borders along 1947 lines (this is not a misprint). This application eviscerates the center of Israel,  extends Gaza’s border almost to Tel Aviv, includes all of Jerusalem and demands a massive chunk of Israel’s North-central landmass that extends down to a point below the southern end of the Kinneret.  It is a plan based on a hostility and an arrogance that is breathe-taking. The darkest enemies of Israel want everything that is precious to us.  This is not a plan for peace, Mr Prime Minister.  It is a plan to uncreate the Jewish state—with world approval.
 Mr Netanyahu, you are a Jew. You are a leader. Mr. Abbas presents to the world a plan to gut the state of Israel. How can the Jewish leader of our Jewish nation at this dark moment in history be truly Jewish—or a true leader—without G-d in his speech?  We have had G-d-less leadership for decades and as a result,  look at where we now stand—cornered.  Remember David the king-to-be; and remember, too, as the Days of Awe and Judgment approach, the Jewish people will reach success only when we call upon our Guardian to stand beside us. We can triumph over the darkness that surrounds us--but only when our Jewish leadership stands firm and steadfast with the courage of David the king-to-be.


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