In the spirit of the Prophets of Israel, the main focus of our series is on the spiritual solutions to the serious dangers facing our people. We should not ignore these dangers, for an awareness of these threats can strengthen our desire to seek the spiritual solutions which are described by our prophets. In addition, the awareness of these dangers can lead to a stronger sense of solidarity and unity with our beleaguered people. This identification with the suffering of our people is a spiritual asset; thus, the Talmud teaches: “Whoever participates in the suffering of the community will gain merit and see the comfort of the community.” (Taanis 11a)
Today, we are besieged by current enemies who echo the following call of our ancient enemies:
“They say, ‘Come, let us cut them off from nationhood, so Israel’s name will not be remembered any longer!’ ” (Psalm 83:5)
In a previous letter of this series, we mentioned the threat to Israel's survival from Iran and from the terrorist organizations supported by Iran: Hizbullah, a powerful and influential force within Lebanon, and Hamas, which governs Gaza. And we cited the following comment of Benny Morris, a noted leftist thinker in Israel, regarding this threat:
“Many Israelis feel that the walls — and history — are closing in on their 60-year-old state.” (Why Israel Feels Threatened, December 30, 2008, New York Times)
Among the very dire threats to Israel that Benny Morris mentions is the fact that Iran will probably soon have nuclear weapons. This, coupled with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s public threats to destroy Israel, is a major cause of concern. Regarding the dire threat from Hizbullah, Morris writes:
“To the north, the Lebanese fundamentalist organization Hezbollah, which also vows to destroy Israel and functions as an Iranian proxy, has thoroughly rearmed since its war with Israel in 2006. According to Israeli intelligence estimates, Hezbollah now has an arsenal of 30,000 to 40,000 Russian-made rockets, supplied by Syria and Iran — twice the number it possessed in 2006.”
In this letter, I have attached excerpts from a more recent article which highlights the dangerous threat from Iran and its allies. Some brief Torah-based personal comments will follow these excerpts:
Badly in Need of His Protection
by Jonathan Rosenblum
The Jerusalem Post
October 2, 2009
Sleeping outside in fragile, temporary dwellings during Sukkot, we feel the need for Divine protection, and are reminded of the Clouds of Glory that surrounded and protected the Jewish People in a howling wilderness.
…Awareness of Divine protection is something that we will all need to cultivate during the Hebrew year 5770, which promises to be the most fateful year for the Jews of Israel since 1967, and perhaps since 1948. Sometime this year, probably before Pesach, Israel will have to decide whether to attack Iranian nuclear facilities or learn to live with a nuclear Iran.
Israel continues to pay diplomatic lip service to the possibility that vigorous Western sanctions might convince Iran to shut down its development of nuclear weapons, and the discovery last week that Iran has once again completely hoodwinked international nuclear inspection agencies makes the imposition of some American and European sanctions more plausible.
But, as former U.S.
ambassador to the United Nations
John Bolton pointed out in the
August 31 Wall Street Journal,
there is no longer any chance
that even the toughest sanctions
– which, in any event, have no
chance of being implemented –
could still stop Iran.
Meanwhile, Iran, with China's
help, is working assiduously to
remove its greatest
vulnerability to sanctions – its
lack of petroleum refining
America has its own vital interests in preventing Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons. Senators Daniel Coats (R.- Ind.) and Charles Robb (D.- Vir.), co-chairmen of the Bipartisan Policy Center's national security task force, write that "an Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear weapons capability would be strategically untenable. It would threaten U.S. national security, regional peace and stability, energy security, and the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime."
American planes could fly far more sorties against Iran from aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf and bases in Iraq that Israel can, and American ships could blockade Iran's petroleum imports through the Straits of Hormuz. But Secretary of Defense William Gates, speaking for the Obama administration, has made clear that the administration views the consequences of attacking Iran as even worse than a nuclear Iran.
America will not only refrain from military action against Iran; it is unlikely to provide Israel with any technical help in jamming Iranian air defenses and providing satellite images and targeting information. Most ominously, I was told by the head of a major conservative think tank in Washington D.C. in May that American fighters would confront the Israeli planes if they attempted to overfly Iraq, long before Obama campaign advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski went public with that suggestion.
Ironically, Saudi Arabia, which is deathly afraid of having world oil prices dictated by a nuclear Iran, is more likely to permit Israeli overflights than the United States. But the Saudis must also fear Iran stirring up trouble in its oil rich provinces, where most of its Shiite population is located.
AGAINST THESE FORMIDABLE OBSTACLES and the uncertain success of an Israeli attack, must be weighed what a nuclear Iran would mean for Israel. There is no assurance that mutual assured destruction would deter Iran's theocrats from employing nuclear weapons. The world's greatest authority on Islam, Professor Bernard Lewis, argues that prospects of a nuclear conflagration might prove an incentive to the Iranian theocrats. Just such an apocalypse precedes the coming of the so-called Hidden Imam in Shiite tradition.
Long before Ahmadinejad, Iranian leaders openly discussed the logic of a nuclear war with Israel. The country's most powerful "moderate," former president Akbar Rafsanjani, is on record as saying that it is "not irrational" to contemplate a nuclear exchange with Israel.
Bringing about the deaths of millions of Iranians, Lewis points out, might be viewed as an act of beneficence by the Iranian theocrats – the provision of an E-Z pass to a glorious reward in the next world. On that premise, Iran's leaders sent hundreds of thousands of boy soldiers to certain death against Iraqi tanks, armed only with a martyr's "key to heaven" around their necks.
…At the very least, a nuclear Iran would provide a protective umbrella for its Hizbullah and Hamas proxies and renewed Syrian aggression.
Yet even a successful Israeli attack would come at a high cost. Iran has powerful mid-range missiles capable of reaching Israel, and Hizbullah and Hamas have between them tens of thousands of smaller rockets capable of blanketing the North and South with rocket fire. These would likely be deployed in response to an attack on Iran. And Syria, an Iranian ally, might bring its biological and chemical weapons into play.
Facing aggression on multiple fronts, the IDF and IAF would be stretched extremely thin. Nor could Israel count on being resupplied by the United States. Israel would have no choice but to act more forcefully than ever to bring Hizbullah and Hamas attacks to a quick halt, at the risk of further international isolation.
Though Western nations would breathe a sigh of relief at any setback to Iran's nuclear ambitions, which threaten them as well, and would have only themselves to blame for seven years of inaction that forced Israel to act alone, condemnations of Israel would rain down. When world oil prices surge, threatening the tentative economic recovery, and Iran unleashes sleeper terror cells against Jewish and Western targets, those condemnations would mount and even sanctions are not inconceivable.
We are always in need of G-d's protection for our survival. But this year that dependence should be crystal-clear to anyone who gives the matter a moment's thought. May we be found worthy.
The above article appears on the website of Jewish Media Resources: http://www.jewishmediaresources.com/
I find it sad that there are some Jews who are ignoring the serious danger described in the above excerpts. I am not just speaking about those assimilated Jews who do not even care about the survival of their people. I am also speaking about a number of Jews with some sense of Jewish identity, but who naively believe that Israel is not facing any serious danger from Iran; in fact, they even oppose efforts to enact sanctions against Iran! They feel that if we “talk nice” and “act nice” towards the Iranian leader who has publicly declared his intentions to annihilate Israel, he will give up his genocidal goals which are inspired by his firm religious beliefs and ideology. They view this leader as a “reasonable” person; however, their naive view ignores the brutality that this “reasonable” leader recently exhibited to the members of his own people who opposed his regime.
They forget that their type of appeasement failed to persuade the evil leader of Nazi Germany during the 1930’s to give up his genocidal goals and his plans for world conquest. They ignore this reality, for they tend to project their own good intentions on such evil leaders, and they assume that these leaders are basically rational and well-meaning like themselves.
In a future letter, I hope to discuss Torah teachings which reveal that when we are faced with serious danger, we are not to make things worse by acting in a naive or foolish manner. Until the coming of the Messiah, the world will often be a dangerous neighborhood, and Hashem therefore wants us to be “streetwise” and preserve life!
I also find it sad that there are some Jews who focus entirely on trying to find military and/or political solutions to the serious dangers facing our people. They fail to realize that the “ultimate” success of these endeavors depends on our ability to fulfill the spiritual raison d’etre of our people. Unfortunately, they do not know that Hashem wants us to be “soul-wise”; thus, they fail to heed the following message of the Prophets of Israel: True and lasting shalom in the Land of Zion will come when we fulfill the precepts of the Torah – the Divine Teaching. As Hashem proclaimed to our people before we entered the Land:
“If you will follow My statutes and guard My mitzvos…I will provide shalom in the Land, and you will lie down with none to frighten you” (Leviticus: 26:3, 6).
Hashem also proclaimed: “If only My people would heed Me, if Israel would walk in My ways. I would immediately subdue their enemies, and turn My hand against their tormentors” (Psalm 81:14, 15).
May we therefore strengthen our process of spiritual renewal – as individuals, and as a community. This process includes Torah study, prayer, and good deeds, as well as avoiding unethical speech and behavior. Through this process, we can merit the fulfillment of the following messianic prophecy regarding the spreading of the knowledge of Hashem, the Compassionate and Life-Giving One:
“They will neither injure nor destroy in all of My sacred mountain; for the earth will be filled with knowledge of Hashem as water covering the sea bed.” (Isaiah 11:9)
With blessings for True Shalom,
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen