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September 28, 2008: Rosh Hashana

September 28, 2008

Tomorrow night begins the Jewish New Year: Rosh Hashana. It is time of serious contemplation, acknowledgement of our failings, and efforts for improvement — coupled with prayers to the Almighty that we may be dealt with in compassion.

First, I want to wish one and all a good new year: A year of health, and joy, of financial security and peace.


Additionally, I have these thoughts:

Please, one and all: Pray for the well-being and the peace of Israel. This is of special significance this year. Pray as if all of our lives truly depended upon this. For they do.

I observe as well that it is incumbent upon all Israel — the nation and the people collectively — to do that serious contemplation. We must understand where we have failed to be what we are meant to be as a people and a nation.

We are called upon to be a light unto the nations: This is not possible without deep inner integrity. We are called upon to treasure our sacred heritage and to stand strong for what this entails. But many of us have lost the way — reciting the narrative of an enemy that seeks to destroy us, and imagining that this brings us closer to the image of G-d.

Please, G-d, let the coming year be one of Tshuva — return to what we are meant to be — for the people and the nation.

May the Almighty keep us safe, and bring the downfall of our enemies.


Here’s a start on where to improve as a nation:

Avi Dichter, Internal Security Minister, who ran in the Kadima primaries, made a statement on that process last night: 

“…how shocking it was to see the beautiful democratic process called primaries turn into a different event than we wanted to see. 

“…political corruption? Under no circumstances [will I accept it]. We will uproot political criminality. We will fight corruption and corrupt individuals with all our might and with the force of the law. 

“The number of polling stations where voting conditions were simply scandalous was too high. In quite a few polling stations, people who hold official positions in Kadima were walking around and crudely getting involved not in how to vote, but rather, whom to vote for.” 

Kadima is the most corrupt party Israel has ever seen. It is to the good that Dichter identified the problem. But the over-riding question is what is to be done about it. Is Livni’s election going to be allowed to stand so that, corruptly selected, she becomes the prime minister if she can put together a coalition?


Here’s another internal matter that is enormously sensitive.

Last week a small pipe bomb was placed outside the home of Professor Ze’ev Sternhell of Hebrew University, who was slightly wounded. It is being said — although I have not yet seen firm evidence on this — that it was done by the extreme right wing here.

I make it clear here that I do not endorse such behavior.

But the fact is that the situation is far more complicated than mainstream media reports would have you believe. For Sternhell has actually endorsed Palestinian violence against Jews, as long as they live beyond the Green Line. (With thanks to David Bedein for calling this to my attention.)

Sternhell wrote in Ha’aretz on May 11, 2001: 

“… Many in Israel, perhaps even the majority of the voters, do not doubt the legitimacy of the armed resistance in the territories themselves. The Palestinians would be wise to concentrate their struggle against the settlements … and strictly refrain from firing on Gilo, Nahal Oz or Sderot; it would also be smart to stop planting bombs to the west of the Green Line.” 

And he has maintained this position since. Yet there was never any action taken against him for incitement of our enemies to kill Jews.

How beleaguered then do those living beyond the Green Line feel. They must stand not only against our external enemies but also against those of our own people who have — as mentioned above — adopted the narrative of our enemy. Even in many quarters where there is no call for violence against those living in Judea and Samaria, there is an inherent and unreasonable bias against them, which makes short shrift of their rights and their dedication to our heritage.


Finally. Have been waiting for this:

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has sent a letter to all government ministers clarifying the fact that the resignation of Olmert forces the resignation of all ministers. From this point until there is a new coalition formed, the ministers are part of a transition government, which is required to exercise restrain “regarding decision-making on non-routine issues requiring immediate attention during this interim period.”

Now let’s see how this is interpreted. Wrote Mazuz: “…when such non-routine issues come up, ministers must conduct preliminary inquiries into the matter with the Attorney General’s office, before reaching a decision.”


Last Friday was the annual “Jerusalem Day” in Iran, held every year since the 1979 revolution on the last Friday of Ramadan. A national day to demonstrate Shiite solidarity with the Palestinians (who are Sunni) and Shiite support of the goal to ’emancipate’ Jerusalem from Israel, it drew thousands to Teheran to hear speakers who voiced the hope of breaking “the spirit of the Zionists.”

A book containing 52 caricatures of the Holocaust was on display.


Good news in closing:

The United States has transferred to Israel — via a convoy of 12 planes — a new,advanced high-powered X-band radar system that will enormously improve Israel’s reaction time to any attempted Iranian missile strike. It is capable of tracking an object the size of a baseball from 4,700 kilometers away (which transcends my comprehension), and will allow us to engage a Shahab-3 ballistic missile six times sooner than is possible with our current radar.

The radar, according to Defense News Magazine, will be linked to the US Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS), which receives and processes data transmitted by US Defense Support System satellites.

So the US, while not supporting enhancement of our ability to take on Iran, is supporting an increased capacity for us to defend ourselves.

The system was accompanied by a US military crew that will be stationed here permanently to lend operational support.




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