Sage Advice for Netanyahu As New Round of Peace Talks Begin

Sage Advice for Netanyahu As New Round of Peace Talks Begin

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu receives a dollar from the Rebbe to give to charity, 1 Kislev 5751-1990

Washington, DC

September 5, 2010

( Prime Minister Netanyahu returned to Israel after meeting with President Obama and Mr. Abbas in the White House, in yet another attempt to restart peace talks.

Many of us are worried. We know the drill. Remarkably, it was Israel’s most hawkish prime ministers who made the greatest concessions, and not without later regret.

Several months ago, on that same visit during which Obama gave Israel’s Prime Minister a welcome so chilly it made news for days, Mr. Netanyahu spoke to a group of American Jewish leaders at the 92nd Street Y.

He dedicated a good segment of his talk to the message that the Lubavitcher Rebbe had given him many years earlier. Anticipating Netanyahu’s leading role in Israeli affairs, the Rebbe told him that his will be a "mission to light a candle for truth and for the Jewish people." 

Hopefully, Netanyahu will keep that in mind as the pressure on him begins to build.

But the Rebbe had more to say. The following is an excerpt from The Prime Ministers, a new book by Yehuda Avner. Avner was the Ambassador to England, Ireland and Australia. He served five of Israel’s prime ministers.

In the following excerpt, he recounts a meeting he had with the Rebbe after Menachem Begin’s visit to the White House, where he met with President Carter concerning peace talks.

After the White House talks, I returned to New York to call upon the Rebbe. There, at 770 Eastern Parkway, I found myself settled with the sage in his unadorned wood-paneled chamber, where he greeted me with a beaming smile. Dog-eared Talmudic tomes and other heavy, well thumbed volumes lined his bookshelves, representing centuries of scholarship and disputation.

We spoke in Hebrew; the Rebbe’s classic, mine modern . . . 

My presentation [of Begin’s meeting with Carter], his [the Rebbe’s] interrogation, and his further clarification took close to three hours. By the time we finished it was nearly two in the morning. I was utterly exhausted, but not the Rebbe. He was full of vim and vigor when he said “After listening to what you have told me I wish to communicate the following passage to Mr. Begin” and he began dictating in a voice that was soft but touched with fire: 

“By maintaining your firm stand on Eretz Yisroel [Israel] in the White House you have given strength to the whole of the Jewish people. You have succeeded in safeguarding the integrity of Eretz Yisroel while avoiding a confrontation with the United States. That is true Jewish statesmanship: forthright, bold, without pretense or apology. Continue to be strong and of good courage.”  

Then to me:  

“What do I mean when I say to Mr. Begin, ‘Be strong and of good courage?’  I mean that the Jewish people in Eretz Yisroel cannot live by physical power alone. For what is physical power? It is made up of four major components: One – weaponry: do you have the weaponry to assert your physical power? Two – will: do you have the will to employ your weaponry? Three – competence: do you have the competence to employ your weaponry effectively? And four – perception: does the enemy perceive that you have the weaponry, the will, and the competence to effectively employ your physical power so as to ensure your deterrent strength?” 

And then, gently, “But even if you have all of these . . . but you are bereft of the spirit of ‘Mi hu ze Melech hakovod? Hashem izuz v’gibor, Hashem gibor milchama’ [G-d], then all your physical power is doomed to fail, for it has no Jewish moral compass to sustain it.”

At this his usually benign features became grim, and his eyes dimmed to an ominous gray when he added, “for in every generation an Amalek rises up against us, but the  [Almighty] ensures that every tyrant in every age who seeks our destruction is himself destroyed. Am Yisrael chai [the people of Israel lives on] only by virtue of hashgocho [divine protection].

Time and again, our brethren in Eretz Yisroel have been threatened with destruction. Time and again they have floundered and stumbled and been bled. Yet time and again, b’siyata d’Shamaya [with the Almighty’s help] they have weathered every storm, overcome every hurdle, withstood every test and, at the end of the day, emerged stronger than before. That is hashgocho.” 

From The Prime Ministers, An Intimiate Narrative of Israeli Leadership, by Yehuda Avner.  

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