Sunday, February 8, 2009

Vote for a Jewish Homeland

Yom rishon, 14 Shevat 5769.


Voting.  Our civil right.  One of the threads that keeps our "democratic" system of government intact.

Here is why I wasn't going to vote this time around.

It is no secret to my friends that I tend to be just to the Right of Attila the Hun politically.  I am a religious Jew, so halacha is important to me.  I am cautious about politically-imposed halacha without the guidance of Moshiach, as there seem to be too many interpretations out there to make me confident that we really know what is best for all the people.  But my Torah outlook tends to keep me on the conservative side of arguments.  I love this Land of Israel; and know that it must remain the home of the Jewish nation.  So I am not for giving it up for illusions of peace, or to try to convince the world to like us.  I am not even sure we are halachically allowed to give away any of it for any reason.

I believed in Binyamin Netanyahu years ago, even though his platform wasn't particularly religious.  He sounded intelligent enough to know that we can't give away the Land.  But after he gave away Hevron, I realized that I had been believing in ghosts.  I thought he would be as heroic as I imagined his brother, Yoni zt"l, to be.  And I fell for the ghost of good public speaking.  At the end of the day, Bibi let us down.  It would have been better had he remained an articulate spokesman for the Jewish people, perhaps with control of the economy.  Control of the country seemed more than he could bear.

I have waited to hear him say that Hevron was a mistake.  But I don't think he thinks it was.  This troubles me.

I believed in Ariel Sharon.  He was clearly a tough guy, who had fought for many of the kilometers of soil we now held, after successful defensive wars.  Surely I could trust him not to give away an inch of our holy Land.  I wonder what he is thinking about these days, in that deep, deep place in which he hovers.  Would he have done anything differently, with the wisdom he must now surely possess?

Moshe Feiglin is interesting.  But he and I handled the painful disaster of Gush Katif differently.  We were both angry and devastated by the theft of it from our people, by our people.  But after it was lost to us, I decided that it was Hashem who said no.  We have an opportunity to treat the dispossessed people of Gush Katif well, or not.  But for reasons of his own, Hashem did not bring the miracle that could have allowed a win for all of the people who marched and prayed and wept and spoke out -- for all of the holy Jews all over the world who cared.

Moshe and I were together in our thinking on many points.  But I have waited in vain to hear him come through for me on one point:  How will he bring the people of this nation together, post-Gush Katif?  He wrote something that made me quite nervous several months ago, about how we would have won at Gush Katif and Amona if we had fought harder.  I wrote to him to ask him what his end-game scenario would look like.  Is it okay with you, Moshe, if Jews begin to kill Jews, in an effort to hold onto the Land?  He was too busy to answer.

Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz is the founder of Arutz Sheva, aka Israel National News.  Also at Gush Katif, there was a major difference of opinion between the staion policy and Rav Shlomo Aviner.  This was illustrated by the sudden absence of any Rav Aviner commentary. Apart from an occasional news reference, this lack has continued until today.  Does Ketzaleh believe that it is appropriate to "tear kriah" over someone with whom we disagree on one major issue?  This, again, gives me concern regarding another potential leader's ability to bring the people together.  If we cannot even make peace on the Right, how can we make peace among the Jewish nation?  It would make me more hopeful if I saw that rift healed, by a return of Rav Aviner's wisdom to the station I hold in high regard.

I realize that I am politically naive.  But if Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas, Ichud Leumi, and United Torah Judaism got together, their combined ranking of 46 would send the other parties packing.

Of course, that would mean that they would have to put the good of the Land and the People ahead of their partisan differences...

There are only a few people I would really want to vote for, and they're not running.  Rabbi Shlomo Aviner.  Rabbi Natan Lopes Cardozo.  Professor Robert Yisrael Aumann.  Tzafrir Ronen, zt"l.

An Ashkenazic Rabbi, originally from France.  A Sephardic Rabbi, originally from Holland.  A Nobel Prize winning games theory scientist, who is also an Orthodox Jew.  And a recently-deceased self-described "irreligious" Jew.

They have at least one thing in common:  they put their love of the Jewish people above all earthly things.

Each of us must make a personal decision about our priorities; and I happen to agree with these men.  The Jewish people and our connection with each other is even more important than the fine points of holy, holy halacha, even more important than the holy, holy Land. The halacha and the land are Hashem's gifts to us, and are very precious.  But they cease to have meaning if we sacrifice each other in their honor.

Finally, Dr. Tziona Fleisher convinced me to vote.  In her commentary, "Get Out the Jewish Vote," this former Zionist refusenik from the USSR reminds me of one of my own "bottom lines."

As much doubt as I may have about Bibi's strength in the clutch, about Moshe's love of all of the Jewish people, about Ketzaleh's desire for unity with his ideological opponents...  these candidates are all Jewish people.  And Tziona points out the important demographic problem:  If fewer and fewer Jews vote for Jews, and more and more Arabs vote for Arabs...  Well, you do the math.

With all of our faults, I want this to remain a Jewish country.

Glossary:
halacha:  Jewish Torah-based law
tear kriah:  to treat as if dead, to disown
refusenik:  a Jew in the USSR who was refused permission to emigrate

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