SHABBAT ZACHOR 5772
(with appreciation to Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg)
Let me ask you: Do you think Israel should bomb Iran? I have long felt that there is absolutely no doubt that Israel will, in fact, bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. It’s “the Begin doctrine”…the doctrine which led Menachim Begin to go against world opinion and bomb Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981. Begin’s approach was that, given the hostility and the nature of Israel’s enemies, Israel could not allow its enemies to possess weapons of mass destruction. This is why Israel bombed the Syrian nuclear facilities in 2007.
And so it seemed like a pretty straight forward decision to me until I read an article by Amir Mizroch, editor of Israel’s largest newspaper, Israel Hayom, sent to me by my colleague Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg. Mizroch tries to recreate what he thinks might very well be the content of Israel’s radio news program the morning after Israel attacks the Iranian facility. Let me read you some of the excerpts:
Voice of Israel from Jerusalem,
Shalom, the time is now 6am and here is the news in the studio. This is Rivki Dangot. Soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces on land, sea, and air are engaging enemy forces in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, and in Judea and Samaria. Israeli forces have also been met with heavy resistance, from air defenses over Iranian airspace as well as naval units in the Arabian Sea. Ground assault forces, including elements of the 366th Armored Division and the Yahalom Combat Engineering unit have advanced into central Gaza City…Israeli Police Special Forces have surrounded Shlomi in the north and are in a tense standoff with a Hezbollah cell which has infiltrated the border town and is holding several dozen children hostage in the town’s school building. In Jerusalem, special border police undercover units have thwarted an attempted truck bombing of the Malha commercial mall.
A Color Red alert has sounded over Tel-Aviv. Residents are advised to heed the instructions of the Home Front Command and head immediately to secure areas. Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said this morning that 47 IAF aircraft have not returned to their bases from last night’s operation against Iranian nuclear installations. Eshel added that 20 pilots have been confirmed killed in action over Iran, while 12 IAF crew from a helicopter squadron have been confirmed killed in Lebanon…
The IDF Home Front Command announces missiles fall in Tel-Aviv. Command Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman said IDF ground units have been advancing on several fronts and engaging formations of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards at or near nuclear installations across Iran. Turgeman would not confirm reports in the Arab press and social media regarding the presence of Israeli Special Forces units at suspected Syrian chemical and biological weapons silos …
The IDF Home Front Command announces missiles fall in Eilat. We continue with the regular broadcast. Israel Navy vessels, acting on intelligence that pointed to a Russian warning to Iran about Israeli aerial movements last night, have encircled a Russian warship currently moored at the Syrian port of Tartus. The Russian Interfax News Service reports that officials in Moscow have called an emergency meeting of the Russian High Command, with defense ministry sources saying that the Russian Black Sea Fleet will be dispatched to the area …
In New York, we are getting reports of shooting at the 92Y cultural institution. A NYPD spokesman said this event is likely linked to the suicide bombing of 2 synagogues in Manhattan overnight. The bombings killed 30 people and wounded dozens …
Today’s weather will be partly cloudy and mild. This is the end of the news broadcast. Live updates continue…
It seems that bombing Iran’s nuclear facility won’t be a walk in the park. It won’t be an Entebbe like operation which was a total success with only one fatality—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brother Yoni….or an Osirak type of operation where in one strike Israel destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear facility with no losses. While you can question some of Amir Mizroch’s assumptions, the overall possibility that this will have terrible consequences for Israel, America and the free world are very real—so real that Jewish communities across the country are now holding security briefings. A NY Police intelligence report claims that Iran and its proxies have some 15,000 terrorist cells in America, Canada, the Caribbean and South America ready for the word to attack.
Imagine 10 new terrorist attacks by Iranian operatives in malls in 10 different American cities in one week. That would literally cripple the American economy. Multiply that by 100 and that is the kind of threat we face. It’s doesn’t have to be nuclear; it doesn’t have to be high-tech; but it can be devastatingly effective. Israel now stands at the edge of the abyss. What Israel will do will affect all of our lives.
What should Israel do? The Talmud tells the story of Rebbe Meyer who had some ruffians in his neighborhood that caused him much trouble and anguish. The Talmud tells us that Rebbe Meyer prayed for them to die. But while Rebbe Meyer may have been the wisest sage of his generation, it’s possible that he was only the 2nd smartest person in his home. His wife Beruriah was quite a scholar in her own right and she advised her husband: “Rather than praying for these wicked people to die, wouldn’t it be better if you prayed for their wickedness to cease? Pray that they repent and are wicked no more.” Rebbe Meyer took his wife’s advice and they did repent. Smart man, Rebbe Meyer, for listening to his wife. Beruria taught us that it’s wrong to seek the destruction of the wicked. Better to deal with them in the hope that they’ll change.
And that is just what the world is telling Israel! President Barak Obama is pressuring Israel hard not to attack and he’s not alone. There’s not a single country in the entire world that’s telling Israel to attack Iran. There may be a few who are hoping that Israel does, but that’s not what they’re saying!
In the Purim story, however, we don’t see Mordechai or Esther negotiating or praying that Haman changes his ways. No, Esther appeals to the king to do away with Haman. And ultimately the Jews have to take up arms and the Megillah tells us that 75,000 people were killed. So you tell me: why, with Rebbe Meyer and Beruriah it was best to pray for change and with Haman, it was a call for war? Because Rebbe Meyer and Beruriah were dealing with ruffians…when you’re dealing with sinners you can gamble and hope that they’ll change. But when you’re dealing with someone who threatens your very existence, then you can’t take any chances…you must strike 1st!
American’s Joint Chief of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said that Iran is a “rational actor.” Rational? During the Iran-Iraq War Iran sent 500,000 Iranian children—some as young as 12 years old—to the front lines. There, they marched in formation across minefields toward the enemy, clearing a path with their bodies. Does that sound like rational behavior to you?
Former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani explained that, “the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything.” On the other hand, if Israel responded with its own nuclear weapons it, “will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality—only 100,000 or so additional martyrs for Islam!” And Rafsanjani is a member of the moderate, pragmatic wing of the Iranian Revolution. This is rational?
When Queen Esther finally swung into action to save her people, the 1st thing she told Mordechai is, Leych k’nos et kol haY’hudim, “Go and gather together all the Jews.” These are days when we as Jews must stand united as one in support for Israel. Israel, unfortunately, is becoming less and less important to American Jews. We all need to understand that this threat will affect us all and get behind Israel.
The Israeli people really are remarkable. Despite all the threats, they “keep on truckin.” In fact, thousands of them have signed a petition calling on Prime Minister Netanyahu not to bomb Iran before May 29th, and then go ahead! Why? Because they don’t want to have the Madonna concert scheduled for that day cancelled! You’ve got to love them!
These are scary times—times that will have a lasting impact on the future of Israel and America. The Israelis are doing their share. If we do our share and stay united as American Jews and pressure our government to stand behind Israel, I trust that Gd will do His share—and the Iranian threat will be obliterated, just as the threat of Haman was. And it will be said of now what was said of then: LaY’hudim hay’ta orah v’simca v’sason v’yikar, “and the Jews had light and happiness, joy and prosperity.” Amen!
Rabbi Mark Hillel Kunis