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israel DOES shun victory -- absolutely

Reader comment on item: Israel Shuns Victory

Submitted by rabbi richard polirer (United States), Mar 28, 2006 at 09:20

Dear Professor Pipes,

In your article, you say what I have believed for years but have never read before: Israel seeks "to finesse war rather than win it." That is so, so true.

I have spent all my years in the pulpit speaking about this, only to be hooted as a warmonger by my oh-so-comfortable leftist affluent Jewish American congregants. Even the Israeli emigres -- Yordim -- chime in. Shame on them; at least THEY should know better.

I have taught history, and I have learned the lessons of revanchism, isolationism, and totalitarianism. As a very active adjunct instructor of history in a few colleges in new hampshire from the 1970s through the 1990s, I watched the decades unfold and was deeply distressed over the Israeli refusal to "win" their war against the rejectionist Arabs who surround them. They continuously preferred "to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory." I used to refer to this as "yiddische kuntsin und shtick", a smug way of trying to prove that we are better than they simply by finessing them.

you cannot finesse tyranny and totalitarianism; you can only fight it on YOUR terms, before you are forced to fight it on THEIR terms.

America is learning that lesson now, but we, too, are slow on the uptake. Yiddische shtick?

In any event, thank you for the phrase -- "to finesse war rather than win it." It is a classic -- and so are your commentaries. Thank you again.

Rabbi Richard Polirer
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