As many of us know PM Olmert has publicly stated that he is ready to divide Jerusalem as well as expel up to 70,000 Jews from their homes. To show support for Israel and to protest PM Olmert’s intended actions there will be a rally on Tuesday May 23rd, 12:00 Noon in Washington D.C. Taft Park at The Capitol Building. If you want to go on a bus from the NY, NJ, CT area, please contact Rafael V. Rabinovich, Cell phone (718) 514-4328, e-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. For Information and Coordination Across the United States: Jonathan Silverman, (718) 304- 3193, e-mail: email@example.com.
Somebody sent us an email alerting us to the OU’s take on the rally. You can read the OU statement here.
Please read Rabbi Brody’s recent Open Letter to Hashem about this matter.
We want to thank Max Stessel of Chicago for writing the following piece with the goal of trying to sensitize us to the potential horrific situation facing our brethen in Eretz Yisroel.
The Medrash tells us that when, as a young prince, Moshe Rabeinu went out of Pharaoh’s palace for the first time and saw Jewish slaves toiling for Egyptians, his first act was to join them in their back breaking task, to participate in their pain and partake in the suffering of slavery. This was done despite the fact that being a prince and a Levi, slavery was not a part of Moshe Rabeinu’s experience. He further could have argued that had the other tribes stood their ground when Pharoh invited them to volunteer for the sake of the state, as Levis did, they would not be subjected to cruel slavery. All reasons and differences aside, Moshe Rabeinu saw that it was his brothers who were suffering and he had to join them and participate with them.
Almost a year ago, possibly the greatest humanitarian disaster in recent decades struck world Jewry. More than 10,000 Jews were forcibly removed from Gaza. We might debate the diplomatic, security, ideological and other justifications and condemnations of that event. But one thing is undisputable, this was a humanitarian disaster. Destruction of communities, dreams, removal from spacious homes into crowded hotels and refugee camps, loss of personal property, transition from meaningful jobs to reliance on charity, complete uncertainty about future, strained family relations, depression. Today, most of these Jews still lack permanent housing and adequate employment. We saw it on the internet, read about it in newspapers, heard about it on the radio and what was our reaction? How did we respond to this momentous event?
When Hashem judges a person he begins with smaller punishments. If a person is not stirred to tshuvah, the punishments escalate. The same probably applies to the nations. This spring, the new government of Israel has explicitly committed to reenact the forcible pullout in Gaza, five times fold! This time, fifty to seventy thousand Jews in Judea and Samaria are expected to undergo the last year’s experience of Gaza Jews. Amazingly, Kadima, the party which is leading the new government, received more votes in this spring’s elections than any other party. The runner up was Labor, an even greater supporter of forced removal of the Jews.
We know that all that happens, the good and the seemingly bad, comes from Heaven with a purpose to motivate us to grow and get better. To say that I am unqualified to judge why the Gaza expulsion and the threat of expulsion from Judea and Samaria were decreed from Heaven would be an understatement. I lack background to even ponder that issue. But I want to make a few observations. Israeli politicians leading the push for expulsion from Judea and Samaria have a hard time displaying any tangible benefits of that move. The international community including United States and Europe have expressly communicated that they will not recognize Israel’s new borders. The Israeli army is not planning to withdraw from the areas that the settlers are supposed to vacate, because doing so would place many of Israel’s major cities within easy reach of Kassams or worse. So then why such a drive to force fifty to seventy thousand people from their homes. One of my secular Israeli friends told me: “We tried everything else and it did not work, we may as well try this as well.” That is it?! Removing tens of thousands of Jews from their homes is just another trial balloon, may be it will help?!
At the same time, it is does not appear that mass expulsion of Jews from their homes has touched the nerve among the Torah observant public either. Otherwise how is it possible to explain that the political parties representing various sectors of Torah Jewry, in Israel have joined or contemplate joining a coalition whose main mission is the forced removal of the Jews from parts of Judea and Samaria? Imaginethat a party is trying to form a government with the express platform of improving Israel’s infrastructure, by removing ancient cemeteries located in the path of planned highways, or with the express mission to expand Israel’s economy by opening presently closed services on Shabbos. Would a political party representing any segment of Torah Jewry sit down and negotiate with such government and rationalize that perhaps they don’t really mean what they say, and if we don’t join, they might form a government without us?! Why when it comes to forcing tens of thousands of Jews from their home, leading to loss of property and livelihood the response is different? To me this indicates that the relationship between Jews has reached a particularly low point. And perhaps this is where we need to concentrate our efforts.
Should we not reflect that the Jews facing the perspective of forcible expulsion, and the host of tragedies that come with it, are our brothers and sisters, children of the same forefathers who are dedicated to serve Hashem and their People. Should we not pray to Hashem with passion and beg him: “Please do not let this tragedy befall my brothers”? Should we not discuss in hushed tones amongst ourselves: “How is it that not only do we live in a generation when the Temple is not rebuilt but we live in a generation in which Jews force tens of thousands of Jews from their homes?” Should the threat of the tragedy over the heads of tens of thousands of Jews not be their problem alone, should it not become our problem?
Today, everything may still be changed. Today, our heightened awareness of the terrible threat hanging over our brothers’ heads may sweep over the sectarian barriers of geography and hashkafa that separate us. The heightened awareness of our brothers’ danger may inspire us to unleash torrents of sincere prayer which may achieve desired results in Heaven, and which may wake up the good Jews around the globe, and in Israel in particular, to the question: of how can we let, or worse, be the cause of unimaginable disaster befalling tens of thousands of our brothers? The time to pray, cry, reflect is now for tomorrow it may be too late.