The Aftermath of the Attack on Avivim – Now What?

Is everybody happy? Well, at least on the surface of things, it would appear to be so. The Prime Minister of Lebanon, Hariri, is happy that he was able to successfully get other countries to intervene in the cross-border incident yesterday that was started from his country. He continues to try to portray himself as a moderate and a voice of reason in Lebanon. Hezbollah chief mucky-muck, Nasrallah, on the other hand, who is the furthest thing from a moderate voice in Lebanon, was able to make good on his promise to take revenge for the killing of two Hezbollah fighters in the region south of Damascus, Syria, and Israel Prime Minister, Netanyahu, was happy that the incident ended with no injuries and that Israel’s military response was both immediate and sufficient. He handled the incident yesterday in a cool and calm manner, which also helped further his image as the only player in Israeli politics who can guarantee the security of the country. So, the three of them all had reasons for being happy. Everything returned to normal last night and continues today, including the unceasing tension on the northern front.

Now what? Where do we go from here? Let’s keep in mind the real players in the incidents of the past week: Behind the plans and activities of Shiite Hezbollah terrorists are the Mullahs of Iran, who are financing their Lebanese proxy and supplying them with weaponry. They won’t give up on their program to increase in stature in the region, in power and in influence. And, more significantly, Iran will not give up on its goal to generate a multitude of precision missiles, primarily for use against Israel and particularly through its Hezbollah proxy.  On the other side of the literal border is Israel, who will not yield to Iran’s efforts at self-aggrandisement, nor to Hezbollah aggression towards Israel.

Again, where do we go from here? Nasrallah-la-la will undoubtedly thrust himself back into the limelight (when he comes out from hiding in his bunker to speak) and take credit for standing good on his promise. He’ll boast of the heroism of the Hezbollah and invent a few “facts” along the way, that may include injury to IDF personnel, in addition to causing serious damage to property of the IDF. Indeed, only an hour or so before preparing this post, a reporter for the Hezbollah said that the celebrations that were taking place in Beirut were because of the “victory over the Israeli enemy”, adding that  the “Hezbollah has changed the equation [and] now Israel is the one who is deterred.” Nu, this spin on reality is what can be expected by an enemy who starts a fight and then asks other to intervene to stop it, when the one it attacked fights back!

On the Israeli end, by God’s grace, there were no injuries, civilian or military. In this regard, we received a report from a member of our congregation, who was serving with the IDF in the area of Avivim yesterday, when the Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles to the abandoned military outpost in that area. She reported that three missiles were fired at a military ambulance in which she and others were present, adding: “My team and I were in this ambulance. By God’s grace we were able to get out healthy and whole. This was truly simply a miracle that happened there! God is great!”

Israel accomplished what it wanted to do, both earlier in the week as well as in yesterday’s incident, revealing once again its ability to pinpoint the targets and eliminate them.  A senior military source said that the IDF “carried out simultaneous attacks in Syria and other areas”, as it was necessary to take such action within a limited time frame. That source added that the IDF acted “as precisely in as many arenas as we planned, including in that possible enemy reactions. We are prepared for war but do not need it, as the event we carried out in Lebanon proved.” Thus, although prepared for continued and wider and widening military action, Israel was also satisfied that yesterday’s events ended quickly and that things were able to return to “normal”. 

So, Iran is determined and will not walk away from a seeming setback in its ability to manufacture precision weapons. Nasrallah-la-la and his sizeable band of terrorists will continue to threaten Israel until push comes to shove and they will need to put their people to the test. Israel will not stand by, as it did not stand by, and allow either of them to manufacture precision weapons for use against Israel and to do so within a short striking distance in Syria or Lebanon. Israel may have to go beyond surgical strikes to demonstrate that such aggressive action planned against Israel comes with a price to pay. We should be careful not to think that “returning to normal” is the end of the story of yesterday’s incident. Realistically, it could be the beginning of a new one.

The efforts to manufacture of precision weaponry for use by Iran or the Hezbollah necessitated a re-directed planning by Israel how to deal with the threat of such missiles. Next to the problem of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, the manufacture and potential use of them now appears to rank second in the list of concerns of the Israel military establishment, particularly in “the northern front”. Additional concerns remain preventing Iran from gaining a solid foothold in enemy countries in the region, both to our immediate north and northeast, as well as to the southeast. Accordingly, Israel’s plans need to encompass all of those areas for multi-front engagement, if and when the time comes. As one senior security source stated: “In light of developments and situation assessments, it was decided three months ago that the precision missile project would be given high priority, because of the immediate danger it poses. The military echelons were informed of this decision…We cannot afford to be surrounded by thousands of precision missiles that could land and harm the State of Israel.”

Yes, we’re happy. Because this is a day that the LORD has made. We WILL rejoice and be glad in it.

“To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.” (Job 12:13)

“Give [our leadership] wisdom and knowledge, that [it] may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:10)

Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.

Marvin

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Cross-Border Live Fire

In his speech yesterday, Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the terrorist organization, Hezbollah, said that his organization would respond to Israel’s destruction of precision missiles supplied to the Hezbollah by Iran through Syria. Of course, it was not described that way by Nasrallah.

Irrespective of the wording that he used, the Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles into the north of Israel in the region of Kibbutz Avivim, located slightly to the N.W. of Safed, which is slightly to the N.W. of Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee (see photo).Israel_outline_northeast Bomb shelters in certain northern areas were ordered to be opened, roads to the north were closed and the IDF returned artillery fire to the points in Lebanon where the the missiles launchers were located. The Hermon Regional Council instructed residents to pay attention to the news media.

Cabinet Minister Yoav Galant said in an interview over Army Radio: “If we get to the point where they fire on Israeli cities and try to harm civilians and children, we will return Lebanon to the Stone Age, and everything resulting from it.” As of this writing, the Israeli Airforce responded against two areas in southern Lebanon, which were also areas of heavy fighting during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. An Israeli commando unit is now operating on the northern border with Lebanon.

As of a few minutes ago, the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Saad El-Hariri requested the United States and France to intervene to stop the escalation.

The action is still ongoing. When you receive this, please take some time to pray regarding the situation, for wisdom for the leaders of Israel and strength and protection for those who are on the front lines at the moment, protecting the civilian population of Israel.

Bless, be blessed and be a blessing,

Marvin

Multi-Front Rumblings

Multi-Front Mumblings

It’s been a while since I’ve written. The intention does not always line up with the time availability. As the Scottish poet Robert Burns once wrote in 1786: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.” No, things don’t always work out the way we plan. Well, the summer is fading and challenges both old and new face our country.

The up-coming election

Much of the last few months have focused on politics: Israelis will be going to the  polls on 17 September, for an unprecedented national election for the second time in one year. For many reasons, this could be one of the most significant elections for this young country since the early 1980s, when Menachem Begin was elected. We are reminded daily by the media of how many days remain until the election and what the pollsters are saying. The country appears to be as divided as it was before the earlier election, but is leaning towards another victory for the Likud party (headed up by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu). However, even if we work on the presumption that Netanyahu’s party will succeed to get the most votes, they will be far short from what is necessary to form a new government. For this, he will need the assistance of other parties, all from the political right, to form a right-wing coalition government. This will be a replay of what occurred following the last elections, only with the players slight re-aligned. Still, if all of the political parties (and their leaders) that were potential coalition partners in the last election remain in the picture after the next election, the problems that prevented the formation of the government earlier in the year will still exist. The big question is how many seats the “right” will get, again presuming a Netanyahu victory. It needs to be at least 61 to be given the nod to form a new government and probably closer to 70 in order to overcome the issues that prevented the formation of a coalition government the first time around and delay potential prosecution on various criminal charges that loom large in the question. It’s been said that politics makes for strange bedfellows. We’re beginning to see some of that take place. More on these issues to follow.

To Allow Entry or Not to Allow Entry – that “was” the Question

As has been widely reported in world-wide media, about two weeks ago, Israel refused to allow entry to the country of two US Congresswomen – Rashida Tlaib from Michigan, and Ilhan Omar from Minnesota. They were not an official, government-sponsored delegation, but were on a personal mission to condemn Israel and further BDS efforts to promote Israel’s destruction. Ironically, Israel’s democracy allows its elected members to the Knesset to speak against it and even call for its termination. Would the U.S. allow members of its Congress to call for the destruction of America? Such efforts would be immediately condemned on both sides of the Congressional isle, accompanied by calls for removal of those “representatives”. 

In this particular situation, “the Squad”, as these two women, along with two others, have come to be known, have made it their mission and goal to challenge Israel’s right to exist, something they would not even try to do regarding the United States. They seek to be playing both sides against the middle – advocating the demise of an American ally, while giving the appearance of doing so as a patriotic endeavor.

Israel was in a no-win situation regarding the Tlaib and Omar fiasco. Are we as a country strong enough to absorb their baseless, un-factual diatribes? Of course, we are. Should we have allowed them to come in after all? The jury is still out on that one and opinions here and in the U.S. are divided. Still, it is the right of every sovereign nation to determine who will be allowed to enter its borders and it is within the proper exercise of

The Dry Bones Blog-19 August, 2018
The Dry Bones Blog-19 August, 2018

that country’s discretion to determine whether that person is friend or foe. In this case, the determination is clear. The purpose of their trip was to meet with Israel’s enemies and not with any officials of the Israeli government. Tlaib’s protestations that Israel prevented her from seeing her grandmother was nothing but another fiction, whose bubble was popped when she was offered that opportunity by the Israeli government, but decided not to accept it. 

Israel took a firm stand to refuse to allow supporters of the BDS movement to spew their antisemitism and hostile, false accusations against Israel and to do so on Israeli soil. Some viewed our decision as being undemocratic and a slap in the face to the U.S. government. Fear should not be the basis of our national policies. We did what was right, even if it ruffled the feathers of politicos on both sides of the Big Muddy. The split that was created in US-Israel relations as a result of refusing entry to Tlaib and Omar is not as critical as some would try to argue. Our relationship is based on years of cooperation and understanding. We’ve weathered other storms, particularly during the Obama years, and this one will pass as well. As we say here: “We got over Pharaoh, we’ll get over this!”

On the northern front

Tensions continue to build along our norther border with Lebanon. following Israel’s attack on the outskirts of Damascus at the beginning of this week, preventing an armed drone attack from there to points in Israel. Between Saturday and Sunday of last weekend, there were two military actions: one against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards cell on the outskirts of Damascus and the other, inside Lebanon. Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the terrorist organization, Hezbollah, tried to downplay the events, particularly the successful attack on Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon and focused more on the events in Syria, while threatening retaliation. As a result of last weekend’s activities, the IDF revealed considerable details about the Hezbollah’s project to produce precision missiles, with the assistance of Iran.

The Dry Bones Blog-26 August, 2019

In a speech by Nasrallah today, he indicated that a response from the Hezbollah can come from anywhere in Lebanon. He asserted that even though the Hezbollah does not have a factory for the production of precision weapons, the organization has enough of them for any confrontation. 

As mentioned in prior posts, the next war will be a mess, with a potential for a multi-front war that includes Lebanon and Syria in the north, now possibly joined by Iraq, and Hamas from the Gaza Strip. The IDF has responded to the threats from Nasrallah, saying that it is prepared for any scenario. In the meantime, the IDF closed off the air space over the Golan Heights, which, apparently, will remain closed at least for the next week. It has also moved tanks and artillery to points north. This is a time for cool heads to make decisions here. A small spark can create a major conflagration.

“I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant!” (Isaiah 38:5)

“Yet their Redeemer is strong; the LORD Almighty is his name. He will vigorously defend their cause so that he may bring rest to their land, but unrest to those who live in Babylon.” (Jeremiah 50:34)

Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.

Have a good week.

Marvin

When I thought there were no more tears … I was wrong!

A siren sounded last night, signalling the beginning of Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism. This morning, another siren sounded for two minutes, as Israel came to a standstill in honor of honor of 23,646 soldiers who had fallen and 3,134 victims of terror. People stood in silent remembrance in the streets, in office buildings, in homes and in public transportation. Even on the highways, when the sirens sounded, cars pulled over to the side, people exited their vehicles and stood until the sirens faded. This is always a tough time for most Israelis, but extremely so for those who lost loved ones through military conflict or terrorist activities. And every year, the number increases. 

I left work early today, so that I could watch and listen to some of the stories that would still be broadcast over Israeli TV. All “entertainment” programming was cancelled until sundown tonight. By this time of the day, after watching documentaries and news clips and after listening to the songs and music, some old and some newly written in commemoration of some of the fallen, I thought that my tears had dried up. I was wrong. There was one segment that was put together towards the end of Memorial Day that dealt with the stories of three “lone soldiers” , who were killed in the 2014 Gaza War (Tzuk Eytan). One of stories caused tears to well up, as if they were stored away and kept for this moment. They flowed as my mind and thoughts were brought back to remembrances of the funeral that I attended in Haifa for one of the soldiers.

The following is a portion of the blog that I wrote almost five years ago, related to that event:

Israel mourns for her sons.
This past Saturday night, after the Shabbat was over and we began a new week (“there was evening and there was morning, one day), Israeli troops were battling in Shejaiya, one of the major Hamas, terrorist strongholds in Gaza. An armored personnel carrier (“APC”) was struck by an anti-tank missile, killing First Sergeant Nissim Sean Carmeli and others. They were among the 13 of the soldiers, all members of the elite Golani unit, who were killed that night.

Four Israeli soldiers had already been killed. But, the news that an additional 13 were killed throughout the night of fighting was a jolt to the nation. It was a major loss for a small country like Israel. Everyone felt the pain of loss. Slowly, the identities of the slain soldiers were released and they included two who also held American citizenship, Max Steinberg, 24, originally from Woodland Hills, California, and Nissim Sean Carmeli, 21, who had lived in South Padres Island, Texas, where his parents still reside (note: they have since returned to live in Israel). Both Steinberg and Carmeli were considered as “lone soldiers”, meaning, generally speaking, that they do not have parents to go home to when they are on a break from the army.

Efforts were made by some to portray Shejaiya as a peaceful “neighborhood” community until the present fighting erupted. In reality, however, Shejaiya is one of Hamas’ active locations, from which over 140 rockets were fired into Israel in 13 days. The openings to at least 10 terror tunnels are located there, tunnels that Hamas used for the purpose of smuggling weapons, for launching missiles at Israel civilians and for infiltrating into Israel to attempt to slaughter civilians communities and to kidnap Israelis. Rocket launchings against Israel took place from a mosque, a hospital and a children’s playground, while a rocket facility was also located in a cemetery – all within the confines of Shejaiya. Notwithstanding Israel’s attempts to reduce the number of civilian casualties, the residents of Shejaiya were ordered by Hamas not to leave and were used by Hamas as human shields.

The above is mentioned as background information. The fighting in Shejaiya continues, along with the missiles fired from Gaza.

The funeral of Max Steinberg is set for tomorrow, Wednesday, on Mt. Herzl, in Jerusalem. The funeral of Nissim Sean Carmeli took place Monday night, in Haifa.

“Lord, please stir the hearts of people to attend the funeral.”

When I heard that Carmeli’s funeral was going to take place in the Military Cemetery in Haifa, I knew I needed to go. I was not related to him and never heard of him until Monday. But, it was important for me to be there. This was reinforced when the evening news said that a message was sent out over the social media, saying that Sean (as he was referred to by his friends) was a fan of a certain Haifa soccer team. Inasmuch as he was a “long soldier”, those who published the notice said that there was a concern that there would be a light turnout for his funeral and urged fans of the same soccer team to attend. The funeral was originally scheduled for 9:00 p.m., but for various reasons was changed to 11:00 p.m. The evening news showed a photo and shared a little background information. My heart was broken and I didn’t even try to hold back the tears. He was just 21, older than my youngest son and younger than my oldest son. His parents were arriving from the U.S.

I left for the funeral at 10:00 p.m., a 10-12 minute drive. I prayed as I got into the car, “Lord, please stir the hearts of people to attend the funeral. Let them come and honor this son of Israel as he is laid into the ground. Let his family know that although he was considered a ‘lone soldier’, he was not alone.”  When I arrived in the area, the police had already set up barricades and cars seemed to come from every direction. It took me half an hour to find a space at a distance of a 20-minute walk from the cemetery. A few people here and some there, we were all headed in the same direction. As we got closer to the cemetery, the crowds grew larger.

It was already packed when I arrived. I ended up close to the place where the service was being held, but I couldn’t see anything. I really didn’t need to see the event. I’ve seen too many of them. I’ve listened to too many eulogies, with the broken hearts of family and friends and the messages interrupted by crying. I’ve listened to too many fathers reciting “Kadish” (Aramaic for “holy”, a hymn of praises of God that is part of the Jewish prayer service, as well as at funerals). I’ve heard too many local officials and politicians praising a deceased person, whom they never met. I didn’t need to see the ceremony. There were loudspeakers that would broadcast the event. I looked around and saw that people were still coming, a seemingly never ending stream of people. Some tried to get closer to the platform and managed to slightly push (but, not offensively) others to get to a better vantage point. There were no arguments, no shoving and no yelling. Just a multitude of people, coming to pay their respects to Sean. There were men and women, soldiers from every type of military unit, those with rank and those without, police, teenagers and septuagenarians, religious and secular, Jew and non-Jew, all who came “from Dan to Beer Sheva” to respect and honor and pay their last respects to a “lone soldier”, who united a nation. He was everyone’s son, everyone’s brother. He gave his life so that we, as a nation, would live. A national hero, who was not known, except by a handful of those who came. When it seemed that there was no more room to move forward, people somehow still managed to work their way towards the front.

As the vehicle bringing the coffin arrived at the entrance to the cemetery around 11:30 p.m., the person in charge of the funeral service requested that the crowd “make a path” for the coffin and family. Within seconds, people moved to the sides, clearing a path for the pallbearers and honor guard. It was like watching the Red Sea being divided, only with walls of people, instead of water. We were about 8-10 rows deep and although I couldn’t get close to the platform where the service was to be held, I was in the front row of the wall of people. I saw the dignitaries pass by, followed by the pallbearers with the coffin, draped with the Israeli flag, followed by members of Sean’s family. The crowd, which had kept their conversations on a low volume, was visibly moved. Crying could be heard from many. The heat and the long wait began to take its toll on some and the paramedics were kept busy, taking care of some who became dehydrated or who passed out.

The ceremony continued. The coffin was lowered into the ground and covered over. Wreaths were placed on the fresh grave by representatives of two municipalities. Eulogies were given. The command “fire” was sounded three times, as the flash from the rifles punctuated the night. The ceremony was over and people began to make their way to the exit, slowly, with a sense of walking together as family. In the midst of the multitude, I met a brother-in-the-Lord, an Arab-Israeli, native of Haifa, who pastors a Messianic Jewish congregation here. We’ve known each other about 30 years and joked as we walked, saying that we tend to meet each other most of the time while attending a funeral. His children all served or serve in the IDF.

It was reported that over 30,000 people had attended the funeral of someone they didn’t know, someone that they wanted to honor, someone who enabled Israel to demonstrate how much it is a community that values life and mourns with those who mourn. We wept yesterday many times during the funerals held for our sons who were no more. We wept for a “lone son”, whose death while defending this country drew us together as his family. We will weep again tomorrow for our other sons. 

As of this writing, 28 of our sons have given their lives during the 15 days of this latest war. All who serve give something, while some who serve give everything. May their memories be blessed.

As the TV segment dealing with the deaths of the three lone soldiers concluded,  the mother of one of the other lone soldiers said that while she was attending the funeral of her son, she asked herself how it was that so many people were in attendance, people whom she didn’t know and who did not know her son personally. The response was, “He was everyone’s son.” That’s the spirit of the nation, the spirit that unites, that encourages, that says we can, despite all the odds.

Hollywood can’t compare to real life. Every year, we see, hear or read stories about those who were killed by war or terrorism. In Israel, every such loss is like losing a member of the family and every effort is made to go behind the numbers and show the victims as individuals. The tears that flow from these stories can fill the Sea of Galilee! They touch the lives of families in every strata of society. These are the true reality shows that make an impact on our hearts, our minds and our memories. We don’t need a history class to remind us of national tragedies, or of attempts to destroy us as a people throughout our Biblical, and more modern, history. We need a release from the tears of the past, as well as from the present. So it is no major surprise that Memorial Day is followed immediately by Independence Day, a time to celebrate new life, a new beginning – as a people, as a nation, as families and as individuals. 

At sundown today, we switched gears. Our national day of mourning turned to joy, as we began to celebrate our 71st year of national independence. Celebrating life is part of our national DNA. It is part and parcel of our national resiliency. It causes us to try to turn sorrow into joy and crying into laughter. It enables us to look with anticipation to the future and not to dwell on the difficulties of the past. It is engrained in the attitude that allows us to keep going forward and to see the good even in a bad situation. It appropriates the understanding that a cheerful heart is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22). So, when we have an opportunity to celebrate, we take it seriously.

Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30.5).

Rejoice with us! Celebrate with us!

Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.

Marvin

Am Yisrael Chai!

“In every generation our enemies rise against us to destroy us.”The Dry Bones Blog-30:04:2019 (from the Passover Haggadah, the booklet that is used to guide participants in celebrating the Passover Seder) And so, in every generation, each of us needs to consider himself as though he had survived the Holocaust.

 

There always will be those who do not want to remember that the Holocaust is a fact of history. For some, like Iran and other anti-semites around the world, it is a matter of willful denial. For others, remembering that the Holocaust really happened is too painful for them, either because it brings back memories of what they, themselves, went through, or because it generates anguish and thoughts of what others went through, during a time when the morality and conscience of the world sunk to an all-time low.

But, the long and the short of it is that the Holocaust stands as a scar on the heart and a wart on the hide of humanity that cannot be removed. The best way to cope with it, and to learn from it, is to never forget it. That’s why Israel has a day a year specifically set aside for the remembrance of the Holocaust. That day began last night (1st May, 2019) and continued until sundown tonight. The media was filled with stories that would cause tears to flow out of a stone. The radio played songs that wrench the heart.

Holocaust Remembrance Day here is marked by a ceremony at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem. Memorial flames are lit by Holocaust survivors, who share incredible stories of suffering and pain, heroism and escape, survival and victory over overwhelming odds, in brief before he or she takes the torch and lights the memorial flame. Unlike the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is set worldwide on January 27th, the date of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, Israel’s Day of Remembrance coincides with the date of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (according to the Hebrew calendar), an event that symbolizes the heroism and the indefatigable spirit of the Jewish people. Although tremendously outnumbered, the uprising was able to last for 27 days. When it was over, 13,000 Jews were killed and the approximately 50,000 ghetto survivors were sent to nearby death camps.

The hatred of Jews, coupled with the weakness that accompanied our exile and the seeming indifference of the world community, all united in Nazi Germany and became fertile ground for what was labeled “The Final Solution of the Jewish Question”. The danger was not realized by the Jewish people, until it ws too late. The British would not allow us to enter our ancient homeland, the countries of the so-called, enlightened western world, closed their doors to us. We were trapped and when the smoke and dust cleared from the ovens of the death camps, six million Jews had been killed. European Jewry had been decimated.

History not only repeats itself, sometimes it grows progressively worse, particularly when it comes to the history of the Jewish people. The Emperor Constantine legitimized Roman Christianity, but it was about 50 years later, in 380 C.E. when the Emperor Theodosius made it the official religion of the empire. The Jews had to convert or leave. In short, they were told: “You can’t live here as a Jew.” Following the Crusades and in the same year that “Columbus sailed the ocean blue”, Spain expelled the Jews. In short, they were told: “You can’t live here.” And, during the 20th century, Nazi Germany undertook to complete the process with the Holocaust. In short, the Jews were told: “You can’t live.” Throughout our history, there have been overlapping aspects of “Jews are Not Allowed” (Juden Verboten)

But, neither Constantine, nor Theodosius, neither King Ferdinand, nor Queen Isabella, neither Haman, nor Adolf Hitler and his henchmen, had the final word. We live, we live here and we can live here as Jews. That is God’s call, not man’s.

Out of the ashes and thorns of the Holocaust, the land of our forefathers was reclaimed. The early settlers and those who survived the death camps and the forced marches, the beatings and the humiliations, worked and planted and built. Families grew. Agriculture grew. Industry grew. Technology grew. The barren desert was turned green. And the world has been blessed because of God’s plan for the Jew. He will bless those who bless His people. Not because we are bigger or better, because that is certainly not the case (Deut. 7:7-8). It is because God is sovereign in all his ways and is faithful, even when we are not. will not allow those who touch the “apple of his eye” (Zech. 2:8) to get away without punishment (Deut. 32:7-10).

I grew up with stories of relatives who perished in the Holocaust, aunts and uncles, cousins and more distant relatives. I heard the expression “Never again!” time and time again. But, that brief statement needs to go beyond the rhetoric of politicians. It cannot be reduced to amere slogan, however convenient it may be. It much become a part of our mentality and a way of life. When enough people say it and mean it, they will do something about it. Anti-semitism cannot exist in a vacuum, but only when there is fertile ground for its seeds.

It is true that Israel has a strong military. But, what do we have that we have not been given by the Holy One of Israel. We should recognize His hand in our establishment, in our development and in our successes. It is His blessing that enables us to survive and to prosper and to be a blessing to others. I cringe when people talk with misplaced pride and make vows that they, themselves, are not able to fulfill, particularly when those doing so are politicians and leaders of Israel, who speak on behalf of the nation and as their representatives. With two of my children having completed their service in the IDF and the third presently serving, I, too, am confident that those who wear the uniform will continue to perform their assigned tasks honorably, to serve and to defend this nation and its inhabitants. And, to the extent that it depends upon them, they will act to insure that “NeverAgain!” is a meaningful statement.

But, if our trust is in the strength of our flesh only, then our trust is misplaced. We did not succeed against the Arab countries because of our courage or strength. Indeed, we were tremendously outnumbered and under considerable military disadvantage. We succeeded because God pulled us out of the ashes of the Holocaust and fought for us, just as He did when He brought us out of Egypt. Woe to us if we rely on man and make flesh our strength and turn our hearts from the LORD. (Jeremiah 17:5)

We have not yet reached the point when nations “will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.” (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3) We live in a world that has failed to learn from its past failures and that is, once again, increasing in anti-semitism and in acts of hatred, vandalism and violence against Jewish people. The prophets speak of a time when Israel will once again suffer and when two thirds of the nation will perish, while one third will remain, to be refined and tested by God, so that they will call upon His Name. (Zechariah 13:9) God is consistent in His ways. He tests us to humble us, to know what is in our hearts and whether we would be obedient to His commands (Deut. 8:2).

Despite the many denials by so-called leaders and populace, the Holocaust is, and will remain, not only part of history and part of the present. Its shadows reveal the dried tears of those who never had a chance to say “goodbye” to their loved ones. Israel has 190,000 survivors of the Holocaust, whose average age is 82. The numbers are dwindling and before many more years, there will be no one who will be alive, who will be able to personally attest to the fact of the Holocaust and its atrocities.

Millions of names are still missing, of parents and children, of entire Jewish communities that were destroyed (by the way – one of those communities is Ostrolenka, Poland, where my parents were from, who were able to leave in 1939, just before Germany’s invasion of Poland; many of my relatives never made it out and are listed among the 6 million who perished). There is no substitute for the culture, for the values, and for the talents that are gone. They remain as an open wound. We will not stop searching for every scrap of information, for a name yet to be identified, for a photograph that has been blurred. A third of our people, six million, were murdered just because they were Jews.

We cannot turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the lessons of the Holocaust, nor can we compromise on our moral responsibility to warn of the dangers that are becoming increasingly evident in our own day. Anti-semitism has reared its ugly head and some individuals, cultures and nation states think that it is beautiful. Attacks upon synagogues and other religious establishments are on the rise. Attacks upon individuals are reported, but not prosecuted. Entire communities are afraid to say something that may not be “politically correct”. Anti-Semitic cartoons that are both repulsive and sickening adorn the pages of internationally-syndicated newspapers, allegedly permissible as part of the freedom of the press. The rise of the internet has given impetus to this sickening disease, with which many want to voluntarily become afflicted. 

Whatever happened to our sense of morality, our sense of outrage, our sense that something is seriously and dangerously wrong? How long do we need to wait before we wake up to the realization that we are asleep in a cesspool of our own making, due to a reluctance to call the child by its name and to say “no more, no, never again”?

Martin Niemöller, a German Lutheran Pastor, wrote a poem about the cowardice of the German intellectuals, following the Nazis’ rise to power and its incremental purging of people groups. The most famous portion of it is:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Again and again, our “world leaders” think that reliance upon ourselves both defines us and will protect us. We, too, have not learned from our past, which cries out to us to “trust in the LORD; He is [our] help and [our] shield.” (Psalm 115:9)

 The nation came to a standstill for two minutes, as sirens wailed from “Dan to Beersheva”. Cars stopped on the highway and people got out to devote moments of silence in memory of those who perished in the Holocaust. Ours is a constant blending of past and present, which helps us look to the future. If only our eyes were lifted heavenward, the future would look all the more bright.

Lessons to be learned from The Holocaust

There are many lessons to be learned from the Holocaust. But, it is impossible to do a proper treatise in this post. Nevertheless, what must be clearly understood is that defending our nation and our citizens is an essential priority. However, before the defense is factored in, we must have a greater understanding that there is a nation that hascome home after two thousand years. Just as the children of Israel eventually learned that Egypt was not their home, so we must ask the question whether we can truly be “at home” living outside of Israel. A few years ago, there was a popular song here that included the refrain, “Ayn li eretz aheret” – “I don’t have another country”. I realize that the return to Zion is a touchy issue for many Jewish people around the world. The early Zionists called for all Jews to return to their ancient homeland. But, only a few responded and came, while most remained in the Diaspora. I often wonder how things would have turned out if the Jews of Europe had responded more positively to the Zionist call. Now, with anti-Semitic incidents increasing to daily events all over Europe, as well as in North America and in other places around the world, I again wonder how many continue to think that what happened then cannot happen again now. I also wonder whether the time has come for “the wandering Jew” to stop wandering.

Another lesson to be learned from the Holocaust is that we cannot rely on the other governments of this world to step in and defend Israel when it is at risk. While this has a ring of truth to it militarily, it would appear obvious that it can also be applied to the diplomatic sphere. The world stood by as Hitler’s efforts to bring about the “final solution” of the Jews became more effective. Even now, the world looks on, while Iran laughs as it continues to progress towards the circle of nuclear countries. Where is the outcry when Hassan Nasrallah says that he has over 100,000 missiles pointed at Israel? We have no indebtedness to the world and, therefore, the world cannot tell us how we should act or what we should do to protect ourselves and our families from those who seek to do us harm. Nor should we allow the nations of the world to dictate policy for us regarding our national homeland.

We have a God Who rules the nations and He alone should place a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths.

Before closing this post, I want to explain the title of it, “Am Yisrael Chai!” – the Nation of Israel is Alive! In 1983, during the Eurovision song contest, the song entry by Israel was “Chai”, meaning:  “Alive”. The contest that year took place in Germany. The song and the presentation, including the color of the clothing were filled with symbolism. The greatest achievement and message was that we sang that we are alive on the soil of the country that sought to finalize the efforts to eliminate our existence. You can watch the song presentation here. The word “am”, means not only “nation”, but also “people”. So, our song had a double meaning, that the nation and the people both live.

We ARE “Alive!” Yes, we are alive, but our existence, successes and blessings must be rooted in God, the Keeper of Israel, the One Who will neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:4).

“Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar ; The LORD of hosts is His name: ‘If this fixed order departs From before Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever.’ Thus says the LORD, ‘If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,’ declares the LORD.” (Jer. 31:35-37)

Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.

Marvin

The Cost of Freedom

Last night was Erev Pesach (the evening before the day of Passover, which is actually the beginning of Passover – “there was evening and there was morning, one day [Gen. 1:5]). Yet, most of the world focuses on yesterday as being “Good Friday”, the day that Messiah Yeshua was crucified. The importance of the day is related to what occurred in it. Yet, so much of the modern celebration misses the Biblical essence of the “why” that particular day in history became and remains so significant.

The Tenach, the Older Testament, consisting of Torah (Law), Neviim (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings) are intertwined like an intricate tapestry, whose beauty consists in the individual strands, each unique in itself, all of which are woven together to reveal, among other things, an unbroken theme: God’s love for His creation and His redemptive work through His chosen people, Israel. At the outset, it should be clarified that “chosen” is for a purpose, not because of anything special emanating from themselves (Deut. 7:7-8).

A few words of background are important. After the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, God punished the participants (Adam, Eve and the serpent), but indicated that there would be a way to overcome the punishment of banishment from fellowship with God, which resulted from their disobedience – the Seed of the woman, who would be wounded, yet would conquer the one who wounded him (Gen. 3:12-15). After being expelled from the Garden of Eden, Eve gave birth to her first two sons, Cain and Abel. When they grew up, each of the sons brought an offering to God, Cain from the fruit of the ground, Abel from the “firstlings of his flock and their fat portions”. Abel’s offering was accepted, Cain’s was rejected and he ended up killing his brother (Gen. 4:3-8). From peace in Paradise to murder regarding one family, as related in two chapters of the Bible.

Time passed and God called Abram (later to be called Abraham) and promised to give him a land, to bless him and make his name great, to be a blessing make him a great nation and to make him a blessing, to bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him, and in him all the families of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:1-3). God covenanted with Abram regarding Abram’s offspring through a ceremony that required the death and separation of certain animals (Gen. 15:2-11). God later revealed to Abram that his descendants would be strangers in a land not theirs, where they would be oppressed for four generations over a period of four hundred years. But, God covenanted with Abram that He would judge that nation and Abram’s descendants would return to the land with many possessions (Gen. 15:12-16). The promise made earlier (Gen. 12) was repeated to him (Gen. 17:1-8), but at the same time, God instructed Abraham to keep the covenant of circumcision, for himself and for every male descendant of his, as well as his servants (vv. 9-13), adding that an uncircumcised male would be treated as having breached God’s covenant and would have no part in the inheritance promised to Abraham (v. 14). Abram’s name was changed to Abraham. His son, Isaac, inherited the blessings (Gen. 26:1-5), which were also passed on to Isaac’s son, Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel (Gen. 28:3-4, 13-15; 32:28).

In due course, Jacob’s descendants went down to Egypt – first Joseph, who, after being sold into slavery by his siblings, achieved status as second only to Pharaoh, and then, the rest of his family followed. There, they prospered, grew in numbers to become a nation, and were eventually enslaved by Pharaoh, who did not know Joseph. They were afflicted and suffered becaused of their taskmasters. The time came for God to fulfil His promise to Abraham.

He raised up Moses, who at the age of 80, was directed by God to deliver His people who were in Egypt and “to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land … flowing with milk and honey” (Exo. 3:7-9).

Moses tried to resist God’s call to be His instrument to deliver His people, Israel. He felt he was not the appropriate person to do this, undoubtedly remembering that he failed to do so forty years earlier and had to flee Egypt. God gave him two demonstrations that were to be repeated before Pharaoh: (1) his staff, which later became “the staff of God”, was turned into a snake and then turned back into a staff and (2) Moses’ hand became leprous and was then healed (Exo. 4:1-8). Moses was being instructed that serving God requires dependence upon His presence and ability, not on his own abilities. God was showing Moses that He is able to create a danger to life and remove the danger as well. Still, Moses persisted that he was not the right person for the job, as he was “heavy of speech and heavy of tongue” (v. 10). God rebuked Moses for his lack of faith. It is recorded: “Then the anger of the LORD burned against Moses, and He said, ‘Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you….” (v. 14 – emphasis mine) We need to remember that there was no telephone, fax, email or internet in those days. A period of 40 years had passed since Moses left Egypt, in haste. Now, Moses is told to return and is also told that his brother, Aaron, is on his was to meet him. Both were being divinely directed and only God could accomplish this task.

Was Moses right? Was he the wrong man for the job? After all, he was 80 years old when God called him to deliver the children of Israel from Egypt. He spent the first 40 years of his life in Egypt, learning to become “something”. Then, the next 40 years of his life, he spent on the backside of the desert, being humbled and learning to become “nothing”. Finally, he spent the last 40 years of his life, leading and shepherding the children of Israel and learning the God can make “something out of nothing.”

The Biblical narrative continues: “The LORD said to Moses, ‘When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I said to you, “Let My son go that he may serve Me”; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn‘.” ‘ ” (vv. 21-23; emphasis mine) This was not what we, in our twenty-first century lexicon, would refer to as the most politically correct statement that could be made in the circumstances to someone who was considered to manifest in his being the Egyptian god of the sun, Ra, and the god of death, Horace, who were sovereign over all other gods.

God lets Moses in on His plans and adds that Pharaoh is not going to be impressed with what he has to say, that he won’t listen to him and that he won’t let the people go. What an incredible announcement! It is not surprising that the messenger, Moses, would not want to undertake a mission which, in his mind, is doomed to failure.

Up to this point, we see that Moses is the reluctant deliverer. He doesn’t quickly say “Yes, Lord!” Quite the opposite. “Here I am Lord, please send someone else!” But, God wasn’t going to let him off the hook. And so Moses finally consents, fearful of what lies ahead, but with the assurance that God will be with him. God is the Redeemer. Moses is merely His spokesman. But, in order to lead God’s people, there was one seriously problematic sin and disobedience that needed to be removed from Moses, as we will see.

As the story continues, while Moses was on the way back to Egypt with his wife, Zipporah, and two sons, Gershom and Eliezer. It was then that “the LORD met him and sought to put him to death” (4:24). Moses’ wife, Zipporah “took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and made it touch his [Moses’] feet” (v. 25), saying “You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me…regarding the circumcision” (v. 26). As a consequence, God left him [Moses] alone.

Moshe’s mission and the redemption of Israel were in jeopardy. Why would the LORD want to put him to death? Sometimes, we look for answers and try to blame someone else, when we should first take a good look at ourselves, before pointing a finger at someone, or something, else. Immediately preceding these verses are God’s statements to Moses about what is to be said to Pharaoh, namely, His relationship to Israel as a father to a son. Pharaoh needed to be told, “You are killing My firstborn and if you don’t let him go, I will kill your firstborn.” An “eye for an eye”.

The translation of the Hebrew “Çhatan Dameem” as “bridegroom of blood” in many English translations miss the point of the story, which is succinctly pointed out in the last words of verse 26: “regarding (or because of) the circumcision”. The fact that Tzipporah had to circumcise her son meant that Moses failed to do so in accordance with the covenant that God made with Abraham, as indicated in Genesis 17. The words “Çhatan Dameem” are of Akkadian origin, a dialect of Arabic, which was known to Zipporah, a Midianite, and, obviously, also to Moses after living with her and her family for 40 years. Between the different dialects, the term “Çhatan” means both circumcised and defended. In other words, the shed blood of the circumcision, in obedience to God’s covenant with Abraham, will protect Moses, at whose feet the blood was applied, from the dangers that lie ahead and threaten his life.

Moses was on his way to deliver the children of Israel. In the process, he was told in advance what the end of the day would bring forth, namely, the death of the first born of Pharaoh and all in Egypt whose homes were not protected by the Passover lamb that was to be sacrificed and whose blood was to be smattered (not spread out) on the doorposts and lintel of their homes. The expression, “Çhatan Dameem”, therefore, is directly related to the story of the Passover, which was about to unfold in the following chapters of Exodus.

Why would this be important for us? Sometimes, familiarity with a story causes us to miss the forest through the trees. At the beginning of Chapter 4 of Exodus, Moses is given two illustrations of God’s ability to deliver from impending danger and death – the rod-to-snake-to-rod and the leprous hand-to-healthy hand. In other words, God revealed to Moses that he could protect and heal. These signs were to be displayed before Pharaoh. Moses needed to experience them and follow God’s instruction to free him from those dangers. The same is true of the last plague – the death of the firstborn. The life-threatening situation that will come upon all who are in Egypt can be averted by following God’s instruction – protection from death by the shedding of blood.

Zipporah, the wife of Moses, was able to make the connection between the failure of obedience that would result in death and immediately undertook to repent and to prevent the consequences of the sin of disobedience. Why was repentance necessary? Moses was a Levi, a descendant of Abraham through Jacob (Exo. 2:1). Zipporah was a Midianite, the daughter of a priest of Midian (Exo. 2:16, 21). Midian was also a son of Abraham, but through his second wife, Keturah (Gen. 25:2). Both were under the command of the covenant made with Abraham regarding circumcision. Obedience to the covenant meant life and God’s blessings. Disobedience meant death and being disinherited.

In Chapter 4, verses 25 and 26, God revealed His sovereignty by bringing deliverance of His servant, Moses, through a woman. He displayed His sovereignty by using women at the outset of the story (Exo. 1:17 – the midwives; 2:1-4 – Moses’ mother and sister; 2:6, 10 – Pharaoh’s daughter). In Chapter 4, it is Moses’ wife, Zipporah, whom God used to deliver Moses – not from Pharaoh, but from God Himself. Zipporah intercedes for the one whom God chose to intercede for Israel. 

Time after time, Moses urges Pharaoh to comply with God’s demands and to let the people go. The original request was not to free the people, but to let them go “that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness … a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God…” (Exo. 5:4). When Pharaoh’s obstinance and disobedience to God’s commands reached its peak, God instructed Moses to choose a lamb, which became the, which became your lamb (Exo. 12:4-5). It was to be killed and the Israelites were to “take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it” (v. 7). The Word does not say to spread it, but to put it. The LORD would “pass through to smite the Egyptians and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite [you]…And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smother the Egyptians, but spared our homes’.” (Exo. 12:23, 26-27) And so it was. The children of Israel did what God had instructed and they lived. But, “the LORD struck all the firtborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon and all the firstborn of cattle. Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no hone where there was not somneone dead” (Exo. 12: 29-30). The power of Egypt was crushed and the children of Israel were no longer subject to it.

Fast forward 1,500 years. Another deliverer is sent. This time, the message was: “… [The] Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) He is the One, Who said: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have [it] abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd; the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10:10-11). More than being the Good Shepherd, He, Himself, is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). His message was first and foremost for the lost sheep of the House of Israel, but God’s greater plan was to save all Who believe in Him. The promised child Who was born to us, the son Who was given to us, the One Who would be called “Mighty God” (Isa. 9:6), our Messiah, “our Passover, has been sacrificed for us (1 Cor. 5:7). He was betrayed by those whom He came to save, placed on a piece of wood that was from a tree that He brought forth, pierced by nails made of material that He created. He was crowned with thorns and his blood stained the top of the altar upon which He was sacrificed. His blood from His hands stained the crossbeam. From the torture rack of the cross, He called out: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). When His shed blood made atonement for us, the Lamb of God gave up His spirit. It was the event that made the day, not the day itself. What we refer to as “Good Friday” was the saddest Friday in all of creation.

God’s Lamb died for our sins according to the Scriptures and He was buried, and He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3-4). His message that remains is simple and straightforward: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but inherit eternal life” (John 3:16). God loves us with an everlasting love and with His lovingkindness continues to call us. This is our reason to celebrate. 

Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path (Psalm 119:105).

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding (Prov. 3:5).

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).

Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.

Have a great week.

Marvin

“It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Yogi Berra, the American baseball legend, would come out with classic statements, some of which would cause people to double over with laughter. For example: “Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.” Or, “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours.” We chuckle at how ridiculous some of his “Yogi-isms” are. But, one of his statements embodied the attitude of “don’t give up, no matter how difficult things might appear to be”. In 1973, he came out with: “It ain’t over till it’s over.” That could well have been the catch phrase the night of the elections for Israel’s Prime Minister that took place on April 9th.

The pollsters tripped all over themselves. At first, they were leaning towards the success of Benny Gantz, the former General-turned-politician, who is the leader of the Blue and White party. He was favored to be the main opponent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud party. In fact, he and the three other major figures in his party, two retired Generals and Yair Lapid, a former journalist, who also is the head of the Yesh Atid Party, declared an early, upset victory on the basis of the “polls”. Some believed it to be over even before the majority of the votes were in. It was a long night and despite the neck-and-neck race between Netanyahu and Gantz, it became obvious that it was premature to declare victory – and that, in front of the cameras – because things could change. And, in fact, things did change. By 01:30, the two leading candidates were tied, with 35 “mandates” (seats) each.

The Dry Bones Blog - 10 April, 2019
The Dry Bones Blog-10 April 2019

The closest to them were two religious parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, with 8 seats each. It began to look like the handwriting was on the wall: the two front-runners going neck-and-neck, while the two major camps were being split unevenly: 65 for the right and 55 for the left/center-left. Under Israel’s political system, the President of the country, Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin, would request the leader of the party that would most likely be able to form a new government to do so. In this case, it would be Netanyahu, who was on his way to an unprecedented fifth term in office.

Then, as the night grew on with little change in the two major camps, the dawn appeared and with it, surprise time! The pollsters were wrong! Gantz did not defeat the seasoned politician who constantly seems able to pull rabbits out of non-existing hats. The Zehut party, originally expected to win half a dozen seats or more, didn’t make the cut and is out. Yisrael Beytenu, the party of Avigdor Lieberman, was considered a political has-been by many after severing ties with Netanyahu, but proved everyone wrong and is still in the game with 5 seats, one less than what his party was able to garner in the last election. The New Right party, headed up by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, both of whom broke ranks with the Jewish Home party, did not garner enough votes to make the cut for a continued presence in the Knesset. When it seemed that “it was over”, some still said that we all needed to wait because “it’s not over until all votes are counted”. In other words, things could still change. And, they were right.

Still an open question is which way will Avigdor Lieberman go? Despite being groomed in the shadow of Netanyahu and the Likud, he has proven over the years to be an adept politician and a skilfull negotiator, able to work with Netanyahu, as well as to work against him. He could hold out until the last minute, as he did following the last election, when he finally decided to join the coalition government and became Minister of Defense (until last year).

In similar fashion, Moshe Kahlon, leader of the Kulanu (All of Us) party, barely made the cut and it is still not clear whether Kulanu will end up with 4 or 5 seats. Despite his relatively successful service as Minister of Finance, he fell victim in the shadow of the political battle between Gantz and Netanyahu and his party ended up losing ground. It is doubtful that he will have much influence in the setting up of the new government, unless he agrees to be wooed back to the Likud by some of the party faithful, a possibility hinted at by Likud’s Gideon Saar on election night. This could well occur. Kahlon has demonstrated that he can get the job done, is well-respected by many in politics and he would be warmly embraced by the leadership of the Likud if he did so, as his return to the fold would serve to strengthen Netanyahu’s leadership. But, he would need to backtrack on his statement during the campaign that the Prime Minister cannot continue to lead the nation after the filing of a criminal indictment against him. There is no doubt that if Kahlon gets a ministerial post in the new government, he will be a stabilizing influence between the Likud and some of the extreme-right parties, particularly the ultra-religious. And, Bibi could trust him. So, we’ll see what happens. 

And what about the Labor and Meretz parties? Back in the early ’90s, they constituted a formidable leftist alliance, with all that resulted from their joint perspective on being willing to compromise the safety and security of the people of Israel. They managed to scrape together 10 between them. It’s time to say good-bye to them both.

Today, after tallying votes of those serving in the military, the New Right was revived and was looking forward to being part of the new government. But then, it turned out that they fell short by 1,000 votes, which meant that they again did not make the cut. Bennett is, of course, asking for a recount. And, it turns out the 35-35 tie was broken, with Bibi getting a 36th mandate and United Torah Judaism losing ground to 7 seats. The United Right party (headed up by a former military officer who also served as the Chief Military Rabbi of the IDF) also dropped from 5 to 4 seats. If Bennett and company end up making the cut, it could give Bibi a “right camp” of 67 seats against 53 to the left/center-left. If they don’t get it, the “right camp” could end up with a 64 to 56 majority. The final tally, including some 200,000 votes that still needed to be counted as of this afternoon, is expected to be in by the end of the day.

There is no doubt that the big winner in the election is the Prime Minister, Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu. Notwithstanding on-going criminal investigations and the major opposition of three former IDF Generals, his party received, as of this writing, 36 seats. A dream fulfilled, enabling Bibi to gather under the wing of the Likud, the various right-wing parties and to have a clear majority in the Knesset. He has demonstrated his ability to provide stability to his party, something which the other parties hoped for, but were unable to attain. 

Much more can be said regarding the results of the election, including speculation, some of which is reasonable, on who will get what ministerial post in the next government. But, why get into that now. After all, “it ain’t over until it’s over.”

With that said, where do we go from here? Yair Lapid, the fourth major player in the Blue and White party, and who was slated to switch with Gantz as Prime Minister, one year on and one year off, has promised that the Blue and White party, which will now lead the Opposition, will make life miserable for the government. What does it take for Lapid and company to get it into their heads that the people have democratically made their decision for the government to be headed up by the Likud, with Bibi as the Prime Minister, not as a king?

One TV personality blamed the media for Netanyahu’s victory, stating in part (in Hebrew): “My friends in the media, don’t be confused. The victory of Bibi and the ultra right-Haredi coalition that was here is registered on your name…You thought that if you would give the chosen leader of Israel no rest even for a minute, that you would leak the conversations in the investigation files, ignore and disdain his accomplishments, bark at him in interviews, in the end he would fall. And what came out of that? He didn’t fall, he is stronger than at any time, and the new government doesn’t even have a representation of center. Nothing.” Then, he referred to a conversation that he had with someone on the street, who told him – “I don’t care if Bibi stole, he can even take a thousand shekels a day, the main thing is that he will be the head of the country. You thought that in the name of legal correctness the nation of Israel would give up on someone it perceives as the leader of a generation. Not only did you err, but now you pushed him to be more right-wing than he is…You wanted to bring the left back to rule, but in fact, you smashed it to pieces.” He concluded his article with: “And now what?…Keep going your way, because that is what you know to do, or will you draw conclusions? To the sounds of your scornful snores I say to you – take a break. Bibi won’t stand trial during his tenure. Let the guy work, let the public rest from you…at least change the frequency, accept the decision of the majority…. (emphasis mine)

After the final results are in, will it be over? Or will we just be beginning the next round of political confrontations and battles? We’ll soon see.

Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. (1 Chronicles 29:12)

Behold, the man of whom I spoke to you! This one shall rule over My people. (1 Samuel 9:17)

May the prayer of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be: Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of Yours? (2 Chronicles 1:10)

Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.

Marvin