Friday, July 14, 2006

As many of you might be aware, Lebanon's Hezballah (meaning Party of G-d) terrorist group kidnapped three Israeli soldiers: Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser, and Eldad Regev two weeks ago. Supposedly they are still alive and being held somewhere by the Palestinians that kidnapped them, which means that they are either dead or suffering unamable torture. Shalit is 19 years old. One more Jew, Eliyahu Asheri, not a soldier but an 18-year old living in the settlment of Itamar was executed by being shot in the head.

Anyway, Hezballah made Israel a "generous" offer; in exchange for 9,000 prisoners in Israel (terrorists), they will give Israel information on where to find Shalit. It's not even 9,000 to 3, it's 9,000 to some information on the three. Unless a miracle occurs, Hezballah has no intent on returning Shalit back to Israel because he is a such a valuable playing card. Their hope is that Israel give in to their demands, either wholly or partially, so that Hezballah can continue to make demands from them. Not once, I believe, have terrorist groups returned a kidnappee to Israel alive and there is not much chance that they will return Shalit alive either. They'll keep demanding from Israel, and in the case that Israel begins to take military action against them, they will most likely just kill Shalit.

Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel, has begun bombing Hezballah and Hamas infrastructures in Lebanon, the country north of Israel and which has not had a technical war with Israel since 1982, which by some definitions might not have been a real war. Lebanon is the country in which Shalit is being held and in act of foolishness, Hezballah is taking Shalit further and further north into Lebanon, which means that Israel is faced with the reality of entering areas further and further north into that country, which no Lebanese or Israeli wants. As a "response," Hezballah has begun firing Iran-provided missiles into northern Israel, which reach as far as the city of Haifa. Haifa, by the way, is a city with a population of both Arabs and Jews, just a sign of the indiscriminate tactics of Hezballah strategies in which Arab casualties are labeled "martyrs."

A personal aside -- I once visited Haifa where I have friends, and I and my friend Gali went bike-riding up farther north, a 20 or so minute drive from the Lebanese border. Some amount of years before that Israel had to shut down the higher portion of the hill (on the Israeli side) because Hezballah operatives would stand on the Lebanese side of the border and fire into Israel and succeeded in killing some Israeli's. Haifa is even farther away from the border than that hill, about a two hour drive.

You can see a map of the Middle East here and a picture of Haifa here

Iran provides Hezballah and Hamas with the finances they need.

Anyway, in addition to that bit of news, here and here are two interesting accounts of things that occurred in the pages of the Torah that fit in quite strangely with the contemporary politics in the Middle East.

Enjoy, have a good weekend and a good Shabbos. Yaniv...
Another Torah Israeli-Arab Conflict Analogy..............

You'll need a little background information on this one, so if you have a Tanakh, it's in II Samuel, 11:6-27. Here's a quick summary though. King David, the second king of Israel, developed an interest in a woman named "Bathsheva," who was married to a man named "Uriah," a Hittite. He sent for Uriah to fight in the front lines of a battle so that he would die and then he could take his wife for himself. I won't go through the details of the account, but the last line 27 reads, "The deed that David had done was deemed evil in the eyes of Hashem."

Now, every king had a prophet and King David's was Nathan. Verse 12:1-14 reads, "Hashem sent Nathan to David. He came to him and told him: 'There were two men in one city; one rich and one poor. The rich man had very many sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one small ewe that he had acquired. He raised it and it grew up together with him and his children. It ate from his bread and drank from his cup and lay in his bosom; it became like a daughter to him. A wayfarer came to the rich man. He was reluctant to take from his own sheep or cattle to prepare for the visitor who had come to him, so he took the poor man's ewe and prepared it for the man who had come to him.

David was very indignant about this man, and he said to Nathan, 'As Hashem lives, any man who does this deserves to die! And he must pay fourfold for the ewe, because he did this deed and because he had no pity!

Nathan then said to David, 'You are that man!' Thus said Hashem, G-d of Israel: 'I anointed you the house of your lord, and the women of your lord into your bosom, and I gave over to you the house of Israel and Judah; and if this were not enough I would have increased for you this much and this much again. Why have you scorned the word of Hashem, doing that which is evil in My eyes? You have struck Uriah the Hittite with the sword; and his wife you have taken to yourself for a wife, while him you have killed by the sword of the Children of Ammon! And now, the sword shall not cease from your house forever, because you have scorned Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be a wife unto you.'

So says Hashem: 'Behold! - I shall raise evil againt you from your own household, I shall take your wives away in front of your eyes and give them to your fellowman, who will lie with them in the sight of this sun. Though you have acted in secrecy, I shall perform this deed in the presence of all Israel and before the sun!'

David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against Hashem!'

Nathan responded to David, 'So, too, Hashem has commuted your sin; you will not die. However, because you have thorougly blasphemed the enemies of Hashem in this matter, the son that has been born to you shall surely die.'"

The very general theme of this story is replicated in today's politics between the Israeli's and the Arabs. The man with the plentitude of sheep are the Arab countries, the Israeli's are the man with the one ewe, and Israel is that ewe. The rich man didn't want to make a feast for his guest from his own ewe, so he stole the ewe of the poor man. The guest in this analogy are the Palestinians, and rather than making a home for them in one of thier multiplitous countries, the Arabs demand making a home for them in Israel, or in other words, by taking Israel from the Israeli's.

The only thing that the Israeli's have, nay, want, is the Land of Israel, while the Arab states have, well, 99.9% of the land in the region and the only thing that they want too is Israel. Now, verse 14 says, "However, because you have blasphemed the enemies of Hashem in this matter, the son that has been born to you shall surely die." The commentary says that this is a euphemism for having blasphemed Hashem himself. Perhaps it is the false wishes of Palestinian nationalism, the rich man's son, that will die in the manner that King David's son dies in the following verses.

Who is the "Nathan" of the Arab world and will the rich man repent for the sin he is attempting to commit?