Rabin and Sharon: Their Journey’s End
Written by Prof. Paul Eidelberg
What are we to say of a person who did not bewail the demise of Yitzhak Rabin, or who does not bemoan the political demise of Ariel Sharon—let him live to be 120? If such a person is deemed morally insensitive, must we not also deem morally insensitive those who ignore the fact that some 1,700 Jews were murdered by Arab terrorists as a result of the Oslo Agreement for which Yitzhak Rabin was primarily responsible, and that more than 1,000 of these Jews perished under the premiership of Ariel Sharon? And what of the tens of thousands of Jewish men, women, and children whose lives have been shattered as a result of the flawed policies of these two Prime Ministers?Never has Israel’s existence been so precarious, and never has this country been so degraded, as it is today, thanks primarily to the folly of these two men—who, as Prime Ministers, represented the Jewish State. But if they degraded the Jewish State, did they not thereby desecrate the Name of God? If so, must not their demise (whether physical or political) be ultimately understood in metaphysical terms?
As I see Israel, the key to their demise is to be found in their negation of the miracle of the Six-Day War. Alas, Rabin and Sharon represent a flawed generation, one that failed to translate into public policy Israel’s miraculous victory over the Arab-Islamic world.
To begin to appreciate that miracle, consider what historian Michael Oren says in Six Days of War (2002). On Day One, in little more than half an hour, the Israel Air Force destroyed 204 planes—half of Egypt’s air force—all but nine of them on the ground (while destroying six Egyptian air fields, four in Sinai and two in Egypt). “The Israelis were stunned. No one ever imagined that a single squadron could neutralize an entire air base.”
On Day Two, Col. Avraham Adan, watching the rout of the Egyptian army, was “stupefied.” “You ride past burnt-out vehicles and suddenly you see this immense army, too numerous to count, spread out of a vast area as far as your eyes can see … It was not a pleasant feeling, seeing that gigantic enemy and realizing that you’re only a single battalion of tanks.”
Moshe Dayan was no less puzzled: “Though Israel had gained command of the skies, Egypt’s cities were not bombed, and the Egyptian armored units at the front could have fought even without air support.” Gen. Avraham Yoffe said: “There was no planning before the war about what the army would do … not even a discussion. Nobody believed that we could have accomplished more or that the [Egyptian] collapse would be so swift.”
Oren quotes these generals and not once does he allude to how a religious soldier might have viewed the collapse of the Egyptian army. Secularism prevented him from quoting Leviticus 26:8: “Five of you shall chase away a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight …”
That miracle required the government—it was a national unity government—to declare Jewish sovereignty over Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, which the Israel Defense Forces conquered along with the Sinai and the Golan Heights. To better appreciate this miracle, a brief survey of contemporary events will show that Israel’s government could indeed have created a “Greater Israel.”
In June 1967 the United States was bogged down in Vietnam and was worried about Soviet expansion in the Middle East and penetration of the oil-rich Persian Gulf on which the entire economy of the U.S. depends. Egypt, Syria, and Libya were then Soviet clients. Israel’s stunning victory awakened Washington to Israel’s strategic value, for it resulted in the closing of the Suez Canal to the Soviet Black Sea fleet. Israel’s superb air force could also help protect NATO’s southern flank in the eastern Mediterranean.
America needed a strong and stable ally in the volatile region of the Middle East. Israel confined to its precarious 1949 armistice lines could hardly serve this function. In a declassified secret memorandum dated June 27, 1967, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended that Israel retain control of the Judean and Samarian mountain ridges overlooking its vulnerable population centers on the coastal plain, as well as control of Gaza, the Golan Heights, and a portion of the southern Sinai to secure Israel’s access to the Red Sea through the Strait of Tiran.
Viewed in this light, only a feckless and faithless government—it consisted of secular and religious Jews—would trivialize the metaphysical significance of Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War by not declaring Jewish sovereignty over the land conquered by the IDF. Instead, ten days after the war, the Government transmitted a proposal to Cairo and Damascus offering to return to the prewar borders for a peace agreement!
This made nonsense of the Six-Day War and of God’s Providence. But it remained for Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon to actively pursue a policy whose object was to undo that miracle.
Now let us pause and consider what Rabbi Akiva Tatz says about miracles in Worldmask (1995). “The purpose of miracles,” he writes, “is to benefit those who experience them.” Suffice to mention the parting of the sea at the time of the Exodus. Rabbi Tatz asks: “What would be the response of this generation if it were to witness a miraculous phenomenon? Most of us would respond by trying to find a natural explanation for it. And we would be held most culpable for that [attitude].”
This brings me back to Rabin and Sharon. In the 1992 election, Rabin promised the nation there would be no negotiation with the PLO. The following year he betrayed the nation by signing the Oslo Agreement. (See Ps. 101:7; Sanhedrin 103a.) He thus negated the miracle of the Six-Day War.
In the 2003 election, Sharon campaigned against Labor’s proposed withdrawal from Gaza. The following year he betrayed the nation by adopting Labor’s policy, which entails Israel’s withdrawal from most of Judea and Samaria. (See Ps. 101:7; Sanhedrin 103a.) Sharon glaringly negated the miracle of the Six-Day War.
Moreover, whereas Rabin referred to these areas as “tank land, not holy land,” Sharon referred to this land—specifically Gaza, Judea, and Samaria—as “occupied territory.” Rabin and Sharon spoke not as this or that Knesset member or cabinet minister: they spoke as Prime Ministers of the State. Theirs was a brazen and inexcusable denial of the Sinai Covenant.
Rabin, a general, was the reputed hero of the Six-Day War. Sharon, another general, was the reputed hero of the Yom Kippur War. Two generals, as Prime Ministers, denied the God of Israel in word and in deed. But what about the nation’s attitude toward these generals? While Rabin has been sanctified, Sharon has been lionized. What does this signify?
In poll after poll the nation (not without some justice) exalts the Israel Defense Forces above every other Israeli organization. The nation regards the IDF, not God, as the guardian of Israel. Yet the IDF, at the command of Sharon, expelled 10,000 Jews from their homes in Gaza and northern Samaria. 25 flourishing communities were destroyed; synagogues were bulldozed.
It is in this light that we are to understand the demise of Rabin and Sharon. The people of Israel have depended on generals, indeed, on flawed human beings, for their security—and never has Israel been so insecure. The untimely end of these generals should teach us that Israel’s security depends ultimately on God. But that so many Israelis do not see this, that so many have failed to see the hand of God in the Six-Day War, and that so many attribute the fate of Rabin and Sharon to merely physical causes, bodes ill for Israel’s future.
But why this spiritual insensitivity of so many Israelis, especially of their ruling elites? May not the decadence of these elites be a reflection of basic shortcomings in the educators of this country—secular as well as religious?
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