Friday, August 04, 2006

The Right to an Opinion

During Minha, I commented to a friend that I was sickened by the kind of defeatist rhetoric that the news broadcasters were feeding the Israeli public. One, in particular on Channel 2, kept accosting a government minister that we can't beat guerillas; we can't win; we must accept a ceasefire- even if it means handing Hizbullah a victory. The sick thing is that this guy lives safely in Tel-Aviv, has no combat experience and no significant education allowing him to offer an opinion. At the same time, the Israelis from the North are clamoring for the defeat of our bloodthirsty enemies, and are willing to pay the price.

My friend, who always keeps his cool, averred that that's the problem with this country. Everyone is a general.

That got me thinking as to who has the right to an opinion. I don't mean who offers an opinion. In Israel, everyone does. Those opinions range from the sane to the suicidal. Rather, who has the moral right to an opinion? It's a much debated question, and I won't try to resolve it here (not at this hour, pumped up by my post-fast surge in energy). I'd just like to point out two examples of opinions that just don't sit right.

Aliza Olmert, the PM's wife, forced him to visit the family of the little girl who was killed by a Hizbullah rocket last week and was declared a shahid by Nasrallah. That, of course, was all well and proper. The poor little girl was a terrible victim of Nasrallah's impervious attitude toward human life, Arab or Jewish. What was improper was that Olmert is NOT visiting the shivas of soldiers who have fallen for Israel. The best he could do was invoke the memory of Ro'i Klein הי"ד in his speech this week, while his minions prepare to throw his widow and children into the street. It's either all or nothing in this business. Ms. Olmert (like her darling daughter Dana and her draft dodging sons) has her own agenda that doesn't quite tally with that of the overwhelming majority of Jews in Israel.

At the other end of the spectrum, but extremes do manage to meet, stand Rav Elyashiv שליט"א. He is, by all accounts, a גדול עצום בתורה. He announced that we should accept the terms of the 'Nations of the World' no matter what. We 'mustn't anger the nations of the world.' I don't understand. Doesn't Rav Elyashiv understand that the nations of the world seek our blood, per se? Unless he is hearking back to standard Agudah/Satmar thinking, viz. we should dismantle the state. If so, he should immediately order ALL of his yeshivot to stop taking the tainted money of the Zionists (as the Satmars don't). As for Daas Torah, well that institution still has to explain itself for its misreading of German intentions between 1933 and 1945.
Now, I am not saying that Gedole Torah should not take public positions on matters of public importance. Far from it! I am merely stating that I am very nonplussed that while my son (along with thousands of others) was taken out of Bet Midrash (where he learns without a government stipend and the other perks that Rav Elyashiv's talmidim get- and complain about their being meagre) to defend him and his talmidim, he tries to surrender to the enemy and sends his boys out on vacation, while warning them to 'refrain from taking trips during their vacation.' Too dangerous, you know.
[To their credit, Rav Ovadia Yosef שליט"א and the Bostoner Rebbe שליט"א cancelled the vacation of the boys in their yeshivot. They argued that when Israel is in danger, the students of Torah should learn and pray for the success of our soldiers and the salvation of God. They invoked the words of Moses to the men of Reuven and Gad (Num. 32, 6): 'Shall your brethren go to the war, and shall ye sit here?' Somehow, I can't help by thinking that R. Shlomo Zalman זצ"ל would have agreed.]

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