For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
The first time Jonathan Spyer went to Lebanon was in the summer of 2006 war when he drove a tank in Israel’s war with Hezbollah. He and I met in Jerusalem in July shortly before he was called up for reserve duty. The riveting and tragic story of his unit’s travails in a war that neither Israel’s military nor civilian leadership had prepared for is the centerpiece of his new book, The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict. Combining reporting with analysis, as well as deeply moving personal accounts, Spyer has written a brilliant book that documents Israel’s last two decades since the beginnings of the Oslo process, a period of self-inflicted Israeli delusion that Spyer wishes he had been wrong about. Instead, he saw it as a disaster from the outset. What looked to some like an Arab world ready for peace was actually a system that was undergoing a profound transformation. Part of that was the ideological shift underway in the Arab world, from Arab nationalist to Islamist, but there was another dynamic as well, driven by a non-Arab actor, the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“You have state power from above,” says Spyer, “that is, the power of the Iranian regime, combined with these popular movements from below. Iran’s is not an impressive regime—it is backward and corrupt, but has found a way to translate its ideological zeal and willingness to use violence into a successful practice in politics in a number of places. Hezbollah is the poster boy, but they’ve done it with the Palestinian movement as well. It’s remarkable what they’ve done by cutting the Palestinian national movement into two and turned the Islamist half into a client of theirs. They’ve done it in Iraq as well, even with U.S. troops on the ground.”
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"