I was asked a simple question the other morning, just before davening: “Why doesn’t Israel just finish the job?” The question came from a dear friend who made aliyah from the United Kingdom close to eight years ago. He and his wife love their life in Israel and regret only one thing: not coming earlier. He admits that politics never interested him, and only recently has started following the tennis match of Israeli political viewpoints. Everybody he talks to tries pulling him in his ideological direction, and while he appreciates the education, he has become quite confused. So, what does one do when he is confused about Israeli politics? He speaks to me, and I confuse them even more!
Actually, my friend’s question has gotten even stronger in the last few days with the talk of a ceasefire. Think about this. The terrorists send rockets – close to 1,000 deadly rockets – forcing Israel to defend itself and respond with force. As soon as that happens, the murderers run to Egypt and to their UN buddies and start begging for help in arranging a ceasefire – for violence they started! What is Israel supposed to say? “No problem, let’s put our weapons down and play nice”? Absolutely not!!
Israel needs to wipe these animals off the face of the earth – once and for all – by finishing the job; and then we can have a ceasefire! After all, what country in the history of the world puts up with such nonsense and insanity, year after year? Consider the facts: Rocket attacks from Gaza began in 2001 with the advent of Qassam rockets. In 2007, those rockets were upgraded to the far superior and longer-range rocket known as the Katyusha. From 2001 until today, an estimated 40,000 rockets (Qassam + Katyusha) have been fired into Israeli cities and towns. You read that correctly: 40,000 and possibly even more, depending on where you gather your data. Israel’s response over these years has ranged from full-scale wars to limited military retaliations. In the last 15 years, the IDF has launched Operations Cast Lead, Warm Winter, Returning Echo, Cloud Pillar, Protective Edge, Breaking Dawn, and now… drumroll please… Shield and Arrow!
I bless every holy soldier who has been involved in these campaigns, and I pray that Hashem protects them. They are not to blame. These soldiers are well trained, highly motivated, and ready to fight. The problem is not with them! Responsibility for what is happening – or not happening – rests exclusively on the shoulders of those who give the orders. On one hand, I salute the recent killing of top Islamic Jihad military leaders – that’s exactly what needs to be done – but why stop there? Don’t you know they are going to regroup and find some other murderer to take the dead guy’s place? Take them all out! One by one. Thanks to the incredible brave work of the Mossad, Israel has lists of the members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – so please finish the job!
The problem, however, is in the name. I have always said that you can predict the outcome by the name that was chosen. First of all, these are all referred to as either an “Operation” or a “Campaign.” That is mistake #1. An “operation” is something you do to have your gallbladder removed, and a “campaign” is what you do in order to raise money for new bathtubs and towels in the mikvah. All of these should have been called wars! This way, the soldiers who are involved would know exactly what to do. The Talmud (Sotah 42a – the exact daf of the day when this started) quotes the words of encouragement and motivation given by the special Kohen Anointed for War:
“And he shall say to them: Hear, O Israel! You draw near this day to battle against your enemies, and not against your brothers. This is not Judah against Shimon – nor is it Shimon against Benjamin – where if you fall into their hands, they will show you mercy. You are going to war against your mortal enemies, where if you fall into their hands, they will show you no mercy. Let not your heart become faint, do not be afraid, do not panic, do not be broken. They come with the strength of flesh and blood, but you come with the strength of Hashem. With Hashem as your champion, you will prevail!” (Translation by ArtScroll/Schottenstein)
By the way, did you notice how many times the Kohen said the word “operation” or “campaign”? I’ll help you out: none! And why? Because you don’t launch a campaign against a vile, terror-based enemy who has fired 40,000 rockets into your cities.
But there’s one more thing. What’s with these names? Cast Lead, Warm Winter, Returning Echo, Cloud Pillar, Protective Edge, and Breaking Dawn? These sound like names Chief Running Bull and Pocahontas would give their kids. “Hey, Warm Winter, get back into the tepee and stop bothering your sister, Breaking Dawn!” Who thinks of these names? What message do you send the world – and your very own heroic soldiers – when you send them into a battle called “Returning Echo”? And now, for the new name: “Shield and Arrow.” It sounds like a new baking soda that wants to compete with Arm and Hammer.
Unfortunately, nobody listened to my suggestion for the name: “The War to Annihilate the Enemy.” Now that would have been a perfect name! Think of all the questions that could have been avoided using that name. Nobody would question our motives. Nobody would think we are targeting civilians, and nobody would ask me in shul, “Why doesn’t Israel finish the job,” because when your goal is to annihilate, wipe out, and utterly destroy the enemy combatant, the job is not over until the last terrorist has been permanently removed from the face of the planet.
In summary, I agree that we should have a ceasefire – but only after the enemy has been totally destroyed, and not one minute before.
May Hashem bless our leadership with the courage and strength to do what must be done, and may He protect the Jewish Nation from the enemy who seeks to do us harm.
Am Yisrael Chai!