Nachshon Wachsman 88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
On Tuesday the 7th of Av I took my youngest of seven sons to the army induction center. Because we are a bereaved family I was obligated to sign a waiver so he could serve in a combat unit. My hand shook as I placed my signature on that permission slip.
But my son was adamant: "I must fight for my country, for its very existence."
I was proud - and, yes, anxious.
But I became all the more troubled when, the very next day, on the eve of the most tragic date on the Jewish calendar, the 9th of Av, you, Mr. Prime Minister, gave an interview to the foreign press. And in response to a question, you connected the war in Lebanon to your West Bank convergence plan, suggesting that success in Lebanon would facilitate your plans to uproot settlements in Judea and Samaria, as you did in the Gaza Strip.
BY NOW you should have understood - if you'd only removed your blindfold - what disengagement from Gaza has gotten us. It's beyond me to understand how around the time of Tisha Be'av, and in the midst of yet another war for Jewish existence instigated by a modern-day Persian Haman, you could make so obscene a statement.
You had total consensus for the war in Lebanon, and for wiping out Hizbullah. And you undermined it by telling every soldier/settler, every fighter with a nationalist ideology, that he would be risking his life for an outcome that might also contribute to the destruction of thousands of Jewish homes. You pointlessly diverted the zeal and motivation of these wonderful soldiers, causing them to become conflicted just as they were poised to enter the battlefield.
It is precisely this type of senseless hatred that caused the destruction of our Temples and precipitated the exile. And yet, on the very eve of the anniversary of that destruction, you chose to reopen a rift in our people, to tear open wounds, to distract our committed sons and daughters from their undying loyalty to this great nation.
Why, Mr. Prime Minister, why?
I LOST my third son, Nachshon, may his memory be for a blessing, to Iranian-supported Hamas terrorists while he was wearing the uniform of the IDF.
Hizbullah in Lebanon is, we all understand, the vanguard of Iranian terror in the region, and it collaborates with Hamas here. Hamas kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, and Hizbullah set off the current hostilities by kidnapping Ehud Goldwasser and Udi Regev.
Now, Mr. Prime Minister, I may not be politically, diplomatically or militarily savvy. But as a plain citizen, let me share my questions and doubts and about the direction Israel has lately been taking.
Why were the captors of Gilad Shalit not pursued within minutes of his kidnapping? Similarly, why was Hizbullah given enough time to smuggle Goldwasser and Regev away?
For six years we allowed Hizbullah to prepare for this war. Will someone tell me why?
Why can't the most powerful army in the Middle East destroy the infrastructure that is sending rockets and missiles out of Lebanon to kill Israelis in the north?
It seems wrong to me that called-up reservists, in their thousands, should be wandering around in the north waiting to go into battle with little protection or guidance. How else to explain the deaths of so many soldiers last week from a single rocket?
In my view, journalists should not be allowed a blank check to cover, photograph and film war operations. This gives the enemy tactical information that could help them with their targeting.
Don't air your dirty laundry in public. If there are disagreements between the cabinet and the IDF - quite frankly, I have no desire to know them.
ISRAELI hasbara remains poor. We need to make more use of effective spokespeople such as Binyamin Netanyahu. We are blessed with many intelligent and eloquent speakers - there is no excuse for not getting our message out.
The generals keep talking about the "long arm" of the IDF. Where is it? Why were the border towns and cities in the North left unprotected and unprepared for Hizbullah's onslaught?
Why has there been no systematic relocation of women and children out of the line of fire? It distresses me to see the sight of refugees within the land of Israel, which was created to be a sanctuary for Jewish refugees everywhere.
On the military front it boggles the mind, it demoralizes us and lessens our faith in our leaders and in the armed forces to learn about what seems like a whole series of botched efforts, "mistakes," and unrealized opportunities.
MR. PRIME Minister, I grew up revering and loving the IDF. I have sent all my sons to serve in our army. Yet as I send forth my youngest - may God protect him and all the soldiers of Israel - my feelings and those of countless others are very conflicted.
I have known you for many years, Mr. Prime Minister. We have shared podiums in Israel and many more abroad. Yet to be frank, I could not vote for you.
And yet I once did vote for you, when you were mayor of Jerusalem. Then I found you caring, energetic, intelligent, idealistic and strong-willed - you exhibited true leadership qualities. Where has that Ehud Olmert gone? All you do now is react.
Every Shabbat we pray that God will grant His guidance, strength and good counsel to our leaders.
Ehud Olmert: You are God's messenger. May He grant you wisdom, vision, strength and the leadership necessary to bring Israel salvation.