Where Credit Is Due

One of the first pages I always turn to in Hamodia Prime magazine is Yisrael Katzover’s behind-the-scenes report and analysis of what’s really going on in Israel. His access to the real skinny and his insights are invaluable.

Katzover’s keen take on the normalization of relations between Israel and United Arab Emirates, “The New Middle East” (August 19, 2020), was particularly informative and enlightening.

But something kept bothering me about it.

I’m accustomed to Mr. Katzover using such phrases as “b’chasdei Shamayim.” He usually adds a religious depth to his analyses that make them unique in the world of military and political punditry. But this time the spotlight was on President Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, White House advisor Jared Kushner, and the heads of the nations that make up the Emirates — all of whom have had it up to here with Palestinian intransigence and are ready for a reality check.

While all the human players deserve credit, what I missed was pointing out that the “Abraham Accords” were clearly a miracle, engineered through natural means and able players.

I am reminded of an old story about a student at West Point who asked his instructor why he never taught about Israel’s victory in the Six Day War.

The story goes that the instructor said, “I can only teach about strategy and tactics. I can’t teach about miracles.”

In 2017, shortly after the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Yerushalayim, Rabbi Gil Student, publisher and editor-in-chief of TorahMusings, took a closer look at what he referred to as this “urban legend.” He “reached out to the head of the Department of History at West Point Military Academy.

“Col. Ty Seidule kindly confirmed that they do, in fact, teach the Six Day War. He checked and found that it is included in the curriculum as far back as a 1977 textbook and is still taught today. He explained that in the 1967 war, the Israelis did almost everything right while the Arabs, particularly the Egyptians, did almost everything wrong.”

Rather than dismiss the miraculous nature of the victory, though, Rabbi Student then explained that not every miracle is like the Ten Plagues or the splitting of the Yam Suf. Hashem works miracles within nature. We just have to have our eyes open to see the miracles. The very fact that Israel did everything right and the Arabs did everything wrong was in itself miraculous.

Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky told a story about the Gulf War of 1991. Iraq hit Israel with 38 Scud missiles; some 15,000 properties were destroyed or damaged; 13 people died — two directly from missiles, 11 from heart attacks or misusing gas masks.

Then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said on the radio, “We have to recognize” the fact that there were so few casualties “is a miracle.”

The next day, a woman in Tel Aviv was interviewed on the radio. “Would you say this was a miracle?”

“No. It wasn’t a miracle. Things like this happen all the time in Israel.”

Feivel Abrams, Ramat Beit Shemesh