[Freemanlist2] Paul Eidelberg - Mida K’Negged Mida

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Mon Apr 19 20:29:05 CDT 2010



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Mida K’Negged Mida 
  
Paul Eidelberg 
  
The State Israel is celebrating Independence Day—its sixty-second birthday.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has congratulated the nation for its great accomplishments in science, technology, medicine, and the arts.  Alas, not a word about the unprecedented growth of yeshivas—a veritable renaissance in Jewish learning—the return of hundreds of countless Jews to the Torah. 
  
The great rabbi Sa'adia Gaon has said Israel is a nation only in or by virtue of its Torah.  Mr. Netanyahu’s failure to sanctify God’s Name on Independence Day is unsurprising. There is a price to be paid for this ingratitude.  Notice that Israel, step by step, has been losing its independence, for which loss Israel’s prime minister is partly responsible. 
  
Mida K’negged mida or “measure for measure” is a basic Torah principle.  Unfortunately, hardly anyone has connected Mr. Netanyahu’s June 14 endorsement of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria and his subsequent humiliation by Barack Obama.  At their scheduled meeting in the White House on March 20, the president unceremoniously dumped the prime minister for dinner! 
  
This was not merely a personal insult.  Obama displayed contempt for the State of Israel—America’s most reliable ally. 
  
The present writer had previously referred to Netanyahu’s endorsement of a Palestinian state in Israel’s heartland as a Hillul HaShem—a desecration of God’s Name.  In my book A Jewish Philosophy of History (2004), I maintained that Israel’s current degradation may be traced to its government’s failure to translate the miracle of the Six-Day War of June 1967 into public policy. Before elaborating, ponder a few remarks from Michael B. Oren, Six Days of War. 
  
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” (ibid.). Gen. Avraham Yoffe: “There was no planning before the war about what the army would do beyond the al-’Arish-Jabal Libni axis, not even a discussion. Nobody believed that we could have accomplished more or that the [Egyptian] collapse would be so swift” (ibid.). But as we read in Leviticus 26:8: “Five of you shall chase away a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight …” 
  
Serious recognition of the miracle required the government to declare Jewish sovereignty over Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, which Israel repossession along with the Sinai and the Golan Heights. But to fully appreciate this miracle, a brief survey of contemporary circumstances is in order. 
  
In June 1967 the United States was bogged down in Vietnam and was very much concerned about Soviet expansion in the Middle East in general, and Soviet penetration of the oil-rich Persian Gulf in particular (on which the entire economy of the West, indeed, the world depends). Recall that Egypt and Syria and Libya were then Soviet clients, and that Egypt had sought to gain control of strategically situated Yemen. Recall, too, that Israel employed French planes and weaponry in its stunning victory over Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. That victory awakened Washington to Israel’s strategic value, for it resulted in the closing of the Suez Canal to the Soviet Black Sea fleet. This important arm of the Soviet navy was then compelled to sail through the Straits of Gibraltar and around the Cape of Good Hope in order to project Soviet power along the east African littoral and in the Indian Ocean, the sea-lanes of oil tankers from the Persian Gulf. 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. A minuscule Israel, confined to its precarious 1949 armistice lines, could hardly serve this function. Accordingly, in a now 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 would trivialize the historical significance of Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War by not declaring Jewish sovereignty over Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.  In fact, it was entitled to do so both under Israeli and international law (as Howard Grief has shown in his monumental work The Legal Foundations and Borders of Israel under International Law). 
  
In any event, ever since Yitzhak Rabin signed the Israel-PLO Agreement of September 1993, Israeli prime ministers have been engaged in undoing the miracle of the Six-Day War.  Has it been left for Benjamin Netanyahu to complete this Hillul HaShem?  A terrible thought to contemplate on Israel’s Independence Day. 
 
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