The Shattered Illusions of Ancient and Modern Israel

Dear Friends,
Can modern Israel learn from the experience of ancient Israel? The Prophets of ancient Israel proclaimed over and over again that security and shalom in the Holy Land depend on our fulfillment of the Torah – the Divine Teaching which serves as our Covenant with the Compassionate One. There were periods, however, when most of the nation abandoned the Torah of the Compassionate One. They ignored the warnings of the Prophets that the breaking of the Covenant would endanger the security and prosperity of the nation; instead, they put their faith in political alliances with the major world powers of their day, in the hope that these political alliances would secure peace and prosperity. They also put their faith in Israel's military power - the “horses and chariots” of Israel's army. They forgot that when we are forced to go into battle to defend our people, we also need to remember the true Source of our strength. As King David, who led our people in battle, proclaimed, “Some with chariots, and some with horses, but we, in the Name of the Compassionate One, our God, call out!” (Psalm 20:8).

Ancient Israel developed complete faith in their political strategy and military strength, and this faith became a form of idolatry which prevented them from returning to the Compassionate One Who brought them to the Land. In response to these false beliefs, the Prophet Hosea proclaimed:
“Return, O Israel, unto the Compassionate One, Your God, for you have stumbled in your iniquity...Assyria will not save us; we will not ride upon horses, and we will no longer say, ‘O our gods,’ to the works of our hands” (Hosea 14:2,4)
One does not have to be a prophet to realize that the above words also speak to our situation today. We will begin by discussing the temptation to rely on other nations for our security. Just as the rulers of ancient Israel were forced to learn that they could not rely on the promises of other nations for their security, so too, recent developments are forcing the rulers of modern Israel to learn the same lesson. 
For example, the ceasefire agreement states that the Lebanese army will patrol the south of Lebanon; however, one does not need to be a military expert to realize that this weak army is not going to protect our people from Hizbullah, nor will this weak army risk fighting Hizbullah in order to prevent them from getting new and more dangerous rockets from Iran, via Syria. As the media reported, the government of Lebanon has already agreed to the demands of Hizbullah not to touch their vast arsenal of rockets or to attempt to disarm them; in fact, a good percentage of soldiers in the Lebanese army are supporters of Hizbullah. 
The United Nations is supposed to send troops to help maintain peace, but they too will not be able to protect our people from Hizbullah; moreover, Muslim countries that are openly hostile to Israel are planning to send thousands of soldiers to join this “peace-keeping” force! As the New York Times reported on August 20th:
Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh -- Muslim countries that do not have diplomatic ties with Israel -- are among the only countries to have offered front-line troops for the expanded force. Europe, which had been expected to lead the force, has been slow to make any firm troops commitments.
Yes, the prophets warned us not to put our faith in other nations, but one does not have to be a prophet in order to be skeptical about the ability of the United Nations to protect Israel, especially when this organization has failed to stop the genocide against African tribes in Darfur by the Arab rulers of Sudan. It is therefore not surprising that a panel of peacekeeping experts expressed great skepticism about the ability of these U.N. forces to maintain peace in Lebanon. As the J.T.A. reported on August 17th, 2006:
The U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington assembled a panel Wednesday of four U.S. officials who have led peacekeeping efforts across the globe and two former ambassadors to Middle Eastern nations to assess last week’s U.N. Security Council resolution ending the Israel-Hezbollah war and increasing the number of UNIFIL personnel to 15,000.
The officials, whose experience ranged from the Balkans to Sinai, Afghanistan, Somalia and East Timor, expressed varying degrees of skepticism about the viability of such a force.
They all agreed that the reluctance of Hezbollah, the terrorist group that launched the war July 12 without consulting Lebanon’s government, to disarm could hamper the effectiveness of peacekeepers. Both sides must want the force in place, they said.
“Interpositional forces prevent mishaps, misunderstandings and mistakes,” said James Dobbins, a crisis management expert in the Clinton and Bush administrations who now works with the Rand Corporation. “They don’t prevent intentional conflict.”
Just as we should not idolize the nations, so too, we should not idolize our own military strength, as it is written: “Not through the might of arms and not through physical strength, but through My spirit, said the Compassionate One, God of all the hosts of creation” (Zechariah 4:6). In addition, we must not assume that Israel’s defense forces are invincible, and that they are capable of eliminating all threats to Israel’s survival. It is now recognized that even the best army in the world cannot completely eliminate the modern forms of terror which have already caused the loss of many lives. The God of history is leading Israel and all the nations to recognize that the ultimate solution to the great danger facing us is a spiritual solution.
There are those who feel that the ultimate solution to the terrorism endangering Israel and the world is an economic one; thus, they advocate offering economic incentives to those Islamic leaders and groups who feel that they have a mission to destroy Israel and conquer the west. Those who put their faith in an economic solution are rational and pragmatic people who mistakenly assume that the leaders and groups seeking our destruction also have a rational and pragmatic approach. For example, about seven years ago, the P.L.O. renewed the violence against our people. Right after their attacks, the Jerusalem Report published an editorial which had gone to press before the attack, and this editorial stated that there was no danger that the P.L.O. would renew the violence against us, since the Oslo accords had started to bring economic investment to the areas that were now under the control of the Palestinian Arabs. The editor felt that peace would endure, as it would be irrational for the P.L.O. to endanger the economic well-being of their people by starting a war against Israel. The editor was wrong, for he failed to understand the true nature of our enemies. We should therefore not assume that the leaders of Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, and similar groups will become peaceful if we give them financial assistance, for they are driven by a deep hatred which is based on a certain Islamic ideology which promotes jihad against us and others. This ideology motivates them to sacrifice human life and prosperity on the alter of their hatred; thus, Iran already refused offers of economic assistance in exchange for giving up the ability to produce nuclear weapons. Various forms of this dangerous and destructive ideology have affected much of the Islamic world, and the brutal terrorism that Muslims inflict on each other in Iraq can serve as another example.
Iran, the sponsor of Hizbullah, has publicly stated that it intends to destroy modern Israel, and their hatred is a reminder of the hatred of the nations surrounding ancient Israel, when they proclaimed:
“Come, let us cut them off from nationhood, so Israel’s name will not be remembered any longer!” (Psalm 83:5)
Our historical experience, as well as recent events, have taught us to take such threats seriously. From where, then, will Israel’s help come from? The answer can be found in the following words of King David: “My help is from the Compassionate One, Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2). In this spirit, the Prophets of Israel proclaimed the Divine message that those seeking to destroy us will ultimately fail. The following Divine promise to suffering Israel can serve as an example:
“But you, Israel, My servant…I have chosen you and not rejected you. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I have strengthened you, even helped you, and even sustained you with My righteous right hand. Behold, all who become angry with you will be shamed and humiliated; those who contend with you shall be like nothing and shall perish. The men who struggle with you, you shall seek them but not find them; the men who fight you, they shall be like nothingness and naught. For I am the Compassionate One, your God, Who grasps your right hand, Who says to you: ‘Fear not, for I help you!’ ” (Isaiah 41:8-13)
The Compassionate One also advised us how to hasten the fulfillment of the above promise:
“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)
We are to heed the Compassionate One not just for the sake of our anxious people, but for the sake of all anxious peoples that feel threatened by those who pride themselves on being messengers of death. When we heed the Compassionate One, we become a living example of Torah – the Divine Teaching that gives life to the world. And when we serve as an inspiring example, the light of the Divine Teaching can begin to spread all over the world. As the Compassionate One proclaimed:
“Heed Me, My people; listen to Me, My nation; for Torah will come forth from Me and My judgement will be light for peoples, to whom I will give tranquility.” (Isaiah 51:4)
May we and the entire world soon experience this tranquility.
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen

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