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The Fern Sidman Commentaries:

Now that the recent decision has been made to lift the Israeli naval blockade of Lebanon, we can only interpret this move as the final nail in the coffin in the already moribund Israeli strategy concerning the release of the three Israeli kidnapped soldiers. As of now, Hamas and Hezbollah have not released any signs of life from Gilad Shalit, Edud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. If these men are alive, the Israeli government has virtually abandoned them.

It is yet the latest phase in the otherwise abysmally impotent and incompetent policy of the Olmert administration. As we know, the Olmert government failed to formulate a successful military strategy in Lebanon, thereby achieving none of its stated objectives, leaving Israel in the wake of its worst military defeat since the creation of the state. Throughout the war, the Olmert government was riddled with hesitation, confusion and internal strife. More to the point, this military defeat places Israel in even greater danger in the future. Hezbollah and Hamas now can carry on further kidnappings of Israeli soldiers with impunity, while developing the military strength to do even greater damage to Israel. If this time around, the city of Tel Aviv was not the recipient of Katyusha rocket attacks, there is a greater possibility that down the road, more deadly and lethal military hardware will be developed that will indeed wreak great havoc, destruction and devastation. It is only a matter of time.

It is no wonder that there are calls for the immediate resignation of the entire Olmert government. If there has been any unifying factor in Israel as of late, it has been calls from both the far left and right for the Olmert government to resign. Seems like the only one satisfied with Olmertís performance during the war is none other than Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, who stated, "If we have to choose between a foolish prime minister and another who is strong and capable, we prefer that the fool remain," he told Lebanese Al-Safir newspaper Tuesday. Nasrallah made the comments when asked about the prime ministerís recent claims - themselves based on Nasrallahís statements - that Israel had won the war. (Arutz Sheva - 9/7/06)

Last night in Tel Aviv over 40,000 Israelis protested against the Olmert government, demanding the formation of a state commission of inquiry of improprieties during the war. This protest was organized by Israeli army reservists who have been continually keeping a political fire under the Olmert government since the cease fire had been announced. They were joined in the outcry against the government by retired Meretz Party chairman Yossi Sarid, senior reserve officers and relatives of soldiers who fell during the war.

Under the banner Movement for Quality Government (MQG), the group is calling for a state commission to examine the governmentís actions, while the reservists have been calling for the resignation of the top government officials for their management of the recent war in Lebanon.

According to an Arutz Sheva report of the protest, Eliad Shraga, chairman of the MQG stated, "The Prime Minister must open his eyes and realize that a state commission of inquiry is needed."

Also speaking at the protest were former Defense Minister Moshe Arens of the Likud, retired Meretz Party chairman Yossi Sarid, senior reserves officers and relatives of soldiers who fell during the war.

"It is unacceptable that those under investigation appoint the investigators," Arens told the crowd. "Only a state commission of inquiry will examine in a thorough manner the decision of the government in the last war in Lebanon. Never have there been such confusing and contradictory orders issued in the handling of a war."

"If we continue to remain silent, we will be hit with another bomb," Movement For Quality Government spokesman Shuki Levanon said. He added that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had been invited to the protest, "to declare from this podium that he has heard the will of the people and will establish a state commission - but the chicken didnít even answer."

Just last week, in the same location in Tel Aviv, hundreds of thousands of Israelis demanded that the Olmert government secure the release of the three kidnapped soldiers, yet this cry of anguish has fallen on deaf ears. Within days of the protest, the government of Israel issued the order the lift the naval blockade of Lebanon. The government has thus far made no viable attempts to ensure the safe release of the kidnapped soldiers.

It is a government that has abandoned its people and its brothers. It is a government that is immersed in internal corruption, conflict and scandal. It is a government that suffers from a terminal case of inexhaustable loquaciousness, yet takes no actions in protecting its citizens or soldiers.

The demand for the resignation of the Olmert government has also been spotlighted in the Israeli media and the pressure is mounting at a rapid pace. It is time for the world Jewish community to weigh in on this most critical issue. We are a nation without real leadership, during a time when real and authentic leaders are so desperately needed. Leaders who will display the strength and fortitude it takes to devise a concrete plan to bring our kidnapped soldiers home and to deal with terrorism on both fronts with swift and decisive measures. We need leaders who can and will elevate a nation from its collective despair and loss of morale.

Silence on the part of world Jewry at this moment of paramount importance in the history of the Jewish nation is totally unacceptable and is equivalent to blatant apathy and indifference.
While anti-Semitism has reached epidemic proportions throughout the world, since the beginning of the war, particularly in England and Australia, it does not behoove the international Jewish community to remain silent. We are living in precarious times, times that do not bode well for the State of Israel and the Jews worldwide.

The time has come to realize that world Jewry must summon up the strength and courage to seize this moment while it still can. It is time to demand that the leadership of Israel be placed in the hands of those whose platform is the belief in the Almighty G-d of Israel and scrupulous adherence to Torah principles. Without Torah leadership, we are left with a leadership vacuum that can only lead to more destruction and deadly consequences for the future of Israel and the Jewish people.

As we approach the 16th yahrzeit of Rabbi Meir Kahane, ZTK'L let us take this time to remember his words of wisdom, vision and foresight. It was Rabbi Kahane who said, "The obligation to listen to, obey and respect the authority of government rests upon whether that government, in a particular case, is itself obeying the Torah, the need of the people". (Israel: Revolution or Referendum?, 1990, p.95)

It was Rabbi Kahane who also said, "No government, including the Israeli one, has any right to protest when - because of its failure to carry out its elementary duty to protect its citizens - individual Jews, who fear for their lives and future, rise up and act in self defense". (Israel: Revolution or Referendum?, 1990, p.118)

It is time to heed these words. In this month of Elul, we must seek to become closer to our Creator, to beseech Him to allow us to return to His holy Torah. It is a time to immerse ourselves in fervent prayer, to examine our deeds and misdeeds and to rectify them.It is time to reach out to our brothers in kindness and compassion. It is time to speak out against those in leadership who cannot and will not lead. It is time to demand a return to G-d. This is our only path to salvation as a people and as a nation. Our date of redemption is coming closer as we are in the midst of "Chevlei Moshiach", the birth pangs of our holy Redeemer. Our future is inextricably tied to our efforts to infuse ourselves and our leadership with true Torah values.

May we always remember the words of the sweet singer of Israel, King David who said, "Teach me the way, Oh G-d, that I may walk in Your Truth". (Psalms)

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