Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Parshas Eikev: The Right War, The Wrong Strategy


This war that Israel is fighting against Hezbollah (Lebanon), and by extension most of the Arab world, is absolutely essential for Israel's future. This war against Hezbollah is the right war to fight, however it is being fought the wrong way. Though there have been many bombing raid conducted by the I.A.F. (Israel Air Force), the missiles are still falling (about 3,500 as of last count) and Israeli ground-troops are being put into great danger with operations in terrorist havens such as Bint-Jbeil. Furthermore, Israel plans to temporarily relocate 17,000 residents of the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shemonah. So far about half of Israel's northern population has fled. Israel has activated about 100,000 reservists (about 2% of the entire Jewish population in Israel, aside from previously activated troops). So far 105 Israelis have been murdered. Halutz, the chief of the army estimates that, chas v'shalom, we will lose 300 - 500 additional troops in a large scale incursion of likely over 100,000 reservist troops. The way to fight is the way HaShem tells us in His Torah. The Israeli army is of highest value in terms of life. Since when does wearing a military uniform make one's value less than that of the casually dressed, terrorist-supporting, enemy? The way to win a war is not to be "politically correct" but to come out with minimal loss of Jewish life. HaShem tells a judge not to fear man for the justice is HaShem's. (Devarim: 1; 17) The leadership in Israel should not pay attention to the thinly-veiled anti-Semitism displayed at the U.N. We are dealing with saving Jewish lives and the leadership are the judges. Fear HaShem and not the anti-Israel U.N.

While all of this is going on, Israel is phoning residents of buildings in Gaza and Lebanon targeted by Israel. Such a tactic, being kind to the cruel, potentially leads to greater danger to the Jewish population in Israel. Phoning residents of military targets to inform them of an impending attack almost inevitably leads to the terrorists targeted by Israel finding out and escaping the attack. Furthermore, instead of the I.A.F. being sent in to decimate terrorist strongholds such as Bint Jbeil, the ground-forces are sent in to fight Hezbollah terrorists hand-to-hand in areas that are likely heavily booby-trapped. Israel claims that the reason they do not strafe, let alone completely bomb Bint Jbeil to rubble, is because they do not want to harm civilians. Unfortunately, the government in Israel believes that Lebanese "civilians" are so valuable as to base much of their military strategy on this notion, thereby still in the midst of a war that should have been won already, while Hezbollah still fires as many as 200 rockets a day into north Israel.

Israel fights a war while warning civilians of planned bombings in advance, sending in ground-troops to terrorist enclaves instead of decimating the areas with air power first, and holding back on destroying the enemy. In essence, the "decision-makers" in Israel unintentionally act as if the civilians in Lebanon are more important than the civilians in Israel. To make matters worse the leadership in this war (seemingly all over the place) and the fact that Hezbollah has been holding out against Israel for 25 days seems to encourage other Muslims to join Hezbollah in the fight against Israel. This half-hearted wartime leadership may actually be helping strengthen Hezbollah, chas v'shalom. What must be done is fight a war to destroy the enemy.

It has been reported that some religious leaders have said that a soldier is obligated to fight in this war against Hezbollah based on Torah law where one who comes to kill you, arise up to kill him first (Sanhedrin, 72a). The rationale of these leaders would make sense if the war was fought in the correct way - placing the value of Israeli soldiers (and civilians) far ahead of the enemy's civilians. Stop warning about impending military strikes. Stop sending in soldiers onto enemy territory without first decimating the areas they are being sent into (first warning the civilian population to leave the general area unarmed). Once the area is cleared of the enemy threat as much as possible, then the army should be sent in to hold onto enemy territory and gather intelligence.

If, Heaven Forbid, one's neighbor is firing into their house on a regular basis, threatening the lives of his household, a person would be obligated to defend the household by killing the enemy. However, if someone has a grenade-launcher and is able to take out the enemy safely, he would be crazy to endanger his life in order to take out the enemy. He does not have to forgo the use of his grenade-launcher in order to fight the enemy hand-to-hand, risking his own life to minimize the chances of harm coming to the family of his enemy (who almost unanimously support his terrorism) as they are "civilians". If someone were to tell someone that the man of the house still has a Torah obligation to fight the enemy by needlessly putting his life in grave danger, that would be a complete misunderstanding of the Torah obligation to defend one's life. The Torah says that one must defend one's own life, not defend the lives of the enemy!


As always, if we want to find the solution out of our difficulties we must turn to the Torah.

How to fight the enemy:

"And you shall consume all of the nations that HaShem your G-d has given to you, do not show them pity..." (Devarim: 7; 16)

Ohr HaChaim: "Do not have pity: 'This follows that which [King Solomon] said (Mishlei: 12; 10) 'And one who is compassionate to the evildoers is cruel'. [This verse means to teach us that compassion to evildoers] is not a good attribute, rather it is a bad one. Therefore, the verse in Mishlei warns us that such an attribute of compassion to the evildoers is contrary to a positive attribute, it being a negative attribute.'"

What if the enemy far outnumbers Israel?

"Perhaps you will say in your hearts 'these nations are too great for me, how can I drive them out?' Do not fear from them, you shall surely remember that which HaShem your G-d did to Pharoh and to Egypt. The great miracles which your eyes saw, and the signs and the wonders and the mighty Hand and the outstretched arm [with] which HaShem your G-d took you out [of Egypt], so will HaShem your G-d do to all of the nations which you fear from before them... Do not be broken from before them, for HaShem your G-d is in your midst, great and awesome G-d." (Devarim: 7; 17 - 19, 21)

The above is pretty self-explanatory - don't worry, HaShem will fight for you - no one will be able to overcome you.

המסת הגדלת אשר ראו עיניך, והאתת והמפתים והיד החזקה והזרע הנטויה, אשר הוצאך, י-ה-ו-ה א-להיך; כן יעשה י-ה-ו-ה א-להיך לכל העמים, אשר אתה ירא מפניהם

According to the Ba'al HaTurim, the above verse discussing the wonders performed by HaShem for the Jewish People, includes every letter in the alphabet except for the "ב" which has the numerical value of 2. This teaches us that HaShem will perform these wonders a second time, when the Mashiach comes. This follows that which it says in the book of Micha, "Like the days of your exodus from the Land of Egypt, I shall show you wonders." (Micha: 7; 15)

In Parshas Lech-Lecha (Bereishis: 15; 18 - 21) HaShem tells Avraham that his Jewish descendants will inherit the lands of the ten nations in the area, ranging from the Nile to the Euphrates. The Ohr HaChaim says that the Jews will take over all of this land in the time of Mashiach. Perhaps this war will become the war that is led by Mashiach and will be fought in a similar manner to the original conquest of the Land of Israel where the enemies are utterly destroyed (Devarim: 7; 23 - 24). The nation of Israel only seeks to defend itself. However, those nations that threaten to destroy Israel are, in essence, waging war on HaShem, and that is a war that they are guaranteed to lose. (See Balak)

Anyone who dares threaten to destroy Israel should read the following:

HaShem tells the Jewish People: "And HaShem your G-d shall give them before you and they shall be greatly confused until you destroy them. And He shall give their kings in your hand and you shall destroy their name from below the Heaven, a man shall not stand before you until you destroy them." (Devarim: 7; 23 - 24)

The point is, fight the war with air-power. Only then bring in the ground forces.


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