After the poor soldier (Gilad ben Avivah) was captured
by Hamas and Israel responded by launching a major ground
operation in Gaza, the first thing the pundits analyzed was
how the developments affected what was originally known in
English as the "convergence" plan, but then became known as
"consolidation" and finally is currently known as the
"realignment" plan of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. (The Hebrew
name has not changed: Tochnit Hitkansut.)
Olmert's plan is following a new approach pioneered by former
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with his Disengagement Plan from
Gaza. That plan brutalized the 8,000 Jewish former residents
of various Gaza areas in order to break off Israeli
interference in the Gaza areas. The only problem is that even
if Israel has disengaged from Gaza, Gaza has not disengaged
from Israel. Instead of minding its own business and building
a Palestinian state, the Gazans fire Kassam missiles
steadily. According to the polls and according to the
behavior one sees in the Gazan street, the general population
supports this aggressive activity, at least passively.
Sharon managed to get almost everyone outside the Middle East
to back his Disengagement Plan and even, it seems, most of
Israel. Olmert's proposed Plan to apply a similar approach to
Yehuda and Shomron has so far not fared as well. Many oppose
a solution that Israel applies on its own, without an
agreement with the Palestinians.
According to this view, unilateral action taken by Israel
will never bring quiet to the Palestinian side. Until and
unless the Palestinians agree to the actions that Israel
takes, there will certainly be no peace.
We have seen the plans come and go. There was the Mitchell
Plan and the Tenet plan. There was the Road Map, the Geneva
Agreement — not to mention the Oslo Agreements.
Everyone feels that they must come up with a Plan, and it
must be a full and final solution to the political problems
of the Middle East.
There is an old yeshiva witticism to explain why some
maggidei shiur find certain approaches compelling,
even though the talmidim do not. If one of the
talmidim asks another what did the maggid shiur
see in that approach, the friend answers, "He had a big
compulsion (hechreich) — he had to say a
Similarly, it sometimes seems that anyone who wants to be a
player on the Israeli political scene has to have a Plan to
produce an End to the Conflict. It seems to be understood by
all that there must be some way to do this, and it is only a
question of finding that way.
This period of Bein Hametzorim, between Shiva Ossor
BeTammuz and Tisha B'Av, should serve as a reminder that this
is not the Jewish approach. We have suffered a terrible
Churban, and continue to suffer it. Nothing will be solved
until we solve our most fundamental problem: the lack of the
Beis Hamikdosh and the kind of society that its
Now we are preoccupied with this loss. It is the theme of the
period. But the lesson we have to learn from this period for
the rest of the year is that restoring it is the path to true
Insofar as we participate in the political process, whether
as voters or more than that, we must certainly favor those
policy choices that appear practically best.
Nonetheless we must always realize that we do not need a
plan. We do not need a "story" to follow that leads to some
permanent improvement in our political situation alone. For
us, it is enough to react to the situations as they present
themselves, and do the best we can.
We do not need the comfort of a political "solution" that we
are convinced will work. We have no need to argue or decide
which approach is better, the Right or the Left.
Those who are in control have to do one thing or the other.
But we know Who is really in control.
We know that our derech hayoshor is the derech
Hashem. If we follow that way, it will lead us to where
we want to be. It will lead us out of the Golus which we know
that, in the meantime, we are in.