Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Column: Surprise

I believe that there is a surprise awaiting Ariel Sharon and the world.

It might take some time, but the whole community that he has deceived and betrayed will get through this terrible time (whether the expulsion happens or not) fundamentally changed – and immeasurably stronger.

The changes that will take place will be both political and spiritual. That Sharon’s expulsion is aimed at the destruction of the religious Zionist community, if not ultimately at all of the religious community, is a perception that is natural and growing, and it will be this perception, which has already taken full root, that will drive a sea change.

These changes, both the political and the spiritual, can be seen in the words of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat and son of former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Mordechai Eliyahu, after his visit earlier this week with Ariel Sharon.

Rabbi Eliyahu said; "We told Sharon that we have learned our lesson, and that we will never again vote for people who do not come from a background of faith. We, as a public, will end up stronger, and we will not vote for people like him, people who ruin the country."

"We don't have to get angry; anger doesn't help," Rabbi Eliyahu said. "What we should do instead is to continue the fight, and not give up. Whoever can, should go down towards Gush Katif - and others, such as women with children, should pray. Prayer has great weight. G-d is great - much greater than this puny Sharon."

These words of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu are both political and spiritual. The first paragraph above is political and represents the sense of betrayal that the religious Zionist community feels from Ariel Sharon and all that he represents in the eyes of that community. Sharon was for so long the embodiment of what the religious Zionist community saw as the secular Zionist that was a true brother: a brother on the battlefield; a brother in the settlement of the land; a brother in nationalism and self defense; a brother even in faith – something attributed to him out of admiration and hopefulness.

That is all over. What Rabbi Eliyahu has expressed is not his expression alone. It is why I wrote last week about the end of the Likud. Exactly what will come out politically is not clear. There is a growing sense that the whole system must be changed so that the government will never again be hijacked by one man – a system that creates true representative government. Professor Paul Eidelberg of Bar Ilan University has been working on a blueprint for these changes for decades and the current crises has shown the necessity to bring his ideas to the forefront of political debate. His ideas can be seen on his website “Israel Future Government” (http://futureisrael.org/). Michael Kleiner, former Herut MK, is working on a program that parallels Professor Eidelberg’s ideas. These are ideas whose time has come.

Eidelberg shows how ripe the whole county is for political change. He writes; “A survey commissioned by former Knesset Speaker Abraham Burg indicates that almost 90% of the people in Israel are disgusted with their system of government. An increasing majority feel powerless despite periodic, multi-party elections.”

According to Eidelberg, and correctly so, it is specifically Sharon’s “leadership” that has brought the situation to this point of disgust:

“Although Ariel Sharon was elected in February 2001 by a landslide victory to put an end to Arab terror, more than 1,000 Jews have been murdered under his premiership, some 6,000 have been wounded—many maimed for life—to which add the tens of thousands of children suffering from post-traumatic shock syndrome! … Sharon’s premiership has been an unmitigated disaster. And what is also shocking, critical analysis of Israel’s system of government reveals that it is not representative of the people …”

As to the comment of Rabbi Eliyahu’s (in the second paragraph quoted above) that reflects a spiritual change:

The emphasis that he makes on prayer, and the power of it and the need for it, even in the political realm, is perfectly aligned with the spiritual evolution that the religious Zionist community is going through. This evolvement means that the true power of the Jewish people is about to break through in this community of people who have always excelled in self sacrifice but have focused on action, following the Zionist ideal. When, freed from the fetters that a mimicking of secular Zionist ideology has placed on this holy community, the power of Jewish prayer will break through there in a way that will split heavens. Then the whole world, and especially Ariel Sharon, will be caught flatfooted. Sharon is actually empowering the very people he seeks to destroy. Sooner or later it will happen -- expect miracles – they are indeed coming.


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