It's been a very difficult few days. Nine soldiers killed. Over thirty wounded. Over one hundred katyushas fired at the Galilee. I'll leave it to Jameel, Orthomom and Allison o blog the events. I'd like to share an observation.
In a briefing before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, PM Olmert changed his usual tune concerning the duration of the present war. Previously, he had said that the army would carry on as long as it felt it necessary to beat Hizbullah. Today, he said that the war would be carried on as long as the homefront can take it. Most commentators took this to be the PM's way of seeking a way out of the campaign, in anticipation of international pressure to surrender to Hizbullah and admit another ineffectual multi-national force to protect us.
It might well be that our putative leaders are weak-kneed. That's to be expected from the 'Peace Now' graduates who constitute a majority of the cabinet (Peretz, Ramon, Peres, and Pines). This is in addition to the former Betarim who are desperate to be accepted by the Left/Elite (Olmert and Livni).
The 'Home Front,' however, is stronger than ever. The Jewish people has (once again) demonstrated its power to survive and its resilience under fire. The cliche that 'Am Yisrael Hai' is shining through everywhere you look (except in the media. The State of Tel-Aviv is not, you see, at war with Hizbullah.)
1) The list of prominent, former 'Peace at any Price' types, who've finally understood what this war (In Gaza and Lebanon is about) i.e. defending our right to live as a free nation in our own country grows from day to day. Among the most prominent are: Yoram Kaniuk, Orna Shimoni, Sima Kedmon, Sever Plocker and Yehoshua Sobol. In addition, other more centrist writes, like my friend Yossi Klein Halevi, have also offered various forms of mea culpa. [Of course, the Moetzet Gedole Torat HaSmol still hies to its unshakeable belief that every Muslim is a liberal, Francophile in disguise. David Grossman is merely the most recent to offer his Daat Torat haSmol.]
2) This morning, on 'The Last Word,' on Army Radio I heard Avery Gilad (the 'Leftist'/'Secular' side, with Jacky Levi in the role of Right/Religious) inveigh against all of his colleagues in the media who are systematically trying to undermine our morale. Those you who don't live here have to understand that Army Radio is a bastion of the Post-Zionist Left. Years ago, we used to call it 'PLO Radio.' To hear love of country and love of our people on that station was nothing less than inspiring.
3) The outpouring of support by the entire country for the Northerners and Southerners has been, well, wonderfully Jewish. Storeowners are giving large discounts to help them settle in. (Though those of us in Judea, Samaria and Greater Jerusalem are not a bit bemused by our new status as the 'safest place inIsrael.') Yesterday, a restaurant owner spied a family looking for a place to eat, opened a table for them and hosted them on the house.
In Rosh Pinah, the few people who remain there are spending all of their time and money baking burekas and buying things for the soldiers when they return from Lebanon.
The papers reported that the wounded from Bint Jbail were unanimous in their eagerness to get back into the fight and defend their families and country. The percentages of those responding to calls for reserve duty has been unusually high (as they were for 'Operation Defensive Shield). Naomi Ragan has been keeping us abreast of other, heartwarming stories. You can subscribe by sending an empty e-mail here.
4) Here in Gush Etzion a few hundred families are being hosted at the yeshivot and fed by the community. There is extra activity for them. On Shabbat the town hosts a Seudah Shelishit to which much of the local population comes and contributes. In addition to supporting our Pina Chama for soldiers, the locals are baking and cooking overtime to make our guests feel at home (as much as possible).
5) On Shabbat, we we will start reading Sefer Devarim. Toward the end of the book, the Torah says (32, 1-10):
And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt bethink thyself among all the nations, whither HaShem thy G-d hath driven thee, and shalt return unto HaShem thy G-d, and hearken to His voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul; that then HaShem thy G-d will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the peoples, whither HaShem thy G-d hath scattered thee. If any of thine that are dispersed be in the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will HaShem thy G-d gather thee, and from thence will He fetch thee. And HaShem thy G-d will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and He will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And HaShem thy G-d will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love HaShem thy G-d with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. And HaShem thy G-d will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, that persecuted thee. And thou shalt return and hearken to the voice of HaShem, and do all His commandments which I command thee this day. And HaShem thy G-d will make thee over-abundant in all the work of thy hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good; for HaShem will again rejoice over thee for good, as He rejoiced over thy fathers; if thou shalt hearken to the voice of HaShem thy G-d, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law; if thou turn unto HaShem thy G-d with all thy heart, and with all thy soul.
True, there are no atheists in foxholes and I can't be sure what will happen when, with God's help, this war is won. The fact remains, though, that the prayer gatherings throughout the country attract a lot more than th obviously Orthodox. If the rabbis reach out to comfort and support the broader public, as they are in Qiryat Shemonah, a large step toward realizing the Torah's words will be taken. (See the important and oh-so-true remarks of YNet editor, Andrew Friedman.)