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Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Michael Freund:

A CALL TO PSALMS

Jerusalem Post

Enough is enough. For the past 11 years, we have watched in dismay as Israel hurtled toward disaster. Defying all logic, the Jewish state proceeded to arm its enemies, turn over territory to their control, and undermine the security of its own citizens.

Israelis began to die in unprecedented numbers. Buses were bombed, cafes were attacked, yet our leaders forged ahead, plunging headfirst into the abyss.

It made no sense. Our foes broke every promise, violated every commitment, and continued to kill. But the more they did so, the more Israel continued to withdraw.

Throughout this period, we took to the streets, shouting and pleading for the madness to end. Protests were held, meetings were convened, and petitions were signed. We lobbied our representatives, urging and cajoling them to take action.

Faxes and e-mails and ads in the newspaper; articles and editorials, speeches and parlor meetings – what didn't we try, as we sought to save Israel, the Land and the people, from impending catastrophe?

And now, after so much effort, and sacrifice, and suffering, when at last it seemed clear that Israel might finally prevail, along comes Ariel Sharon and declares defeat. The man who built his reputation by building Jewish settlements now wishes to uproot them.

And so, after 11 years of Oslo, after hundreds of Jews have been killed and thousands of others wounded, we find ourselves once again facing the prospect of further withdrawal and retreat.

The irony of it is too cruel to contemplate. It cannot be that the Jewish people withstood years of Palestinian terror only to be driven from their homes by their very own government.

It cannot be that the self-sacrifice and determination which the Jewish people have displayed in reclaiming their land will all be for naught.

It simply cannot be.

And yet, here we are, all of our options seemingly exhausted. Diplomacy has failed us, politics has disappointed us, and the world still hates us, even more so than before.
In the past two elections, a majority of Israelis voted for parties who pledged to stop the capitulation, who vowed they would fight the terror, not its victims. They promised us firmness, but instead delivered frailty.
We did what the world wanted, withdrawing from parts of our ancestral homeland, turning over places where our forefathers were buried and where the prophets of Israel once walked.

WE PUT our faith in men, and that perhaps was our greatest mistake. Right is Left, Left is wrong, and the Palestinians continue to spill Jewish blood.
It seems as though we have nowhere left to turn, as there is no one in whom we can place our trust.

No one, that is, except for God.

It might sound silly, or even naive. But all of our high-tech know-how and military prowess, our scientific advances and wireless technologies, have not succeeded in extricating Israel from its current mess. Our modern solutions have failed us, so why not turn to the wisdom of yesteryear?

Indeed, throughout history, the Jewish people have always looked to their Father in Heaven as a source of strength and support. During the darkest days of the Exile, the power of prayer was our most potent of weapons. It is time we deploy it once more.

Friends and supporters of Israel should launch an international campaign, a Call to Psalms, which would unite Jews, Christians and others to pray on the country's behalf. Synagogues, churches and other houses of worship should recite selections from King David's Book of Psalms, whose power and beauty remain unequaled despite the passage of thousands of years.

Rabbis and cantors, pastors and priests, should call upon their flock each week to pray for Israel. Collectively we must storm the Heavens, voices raised, in this, the Jewish people's hour of need.

As more congregations join in, the Call to Psalms would culminate with an International Day of Prayer in Jerusalem, one devoted solely to pleading for mercy from Above.

Just imagine the impact it would have if millions of people around the world were to unite simultaneously in prayer. The reverberations could not possibly be ignored. They would be felt from Washington to Tokyo, and beyond.

So many people wonder how they can play a role in changing things. Each of us wants to make a difference, to influence the course of events, yet often we feel powerless to do so.

But that is precisely why prayer is so important, especially in this case, because it empowers every individual, rich or poor, saint or sinner, and enables us to forge a common bond as we transcend our differences on behalf of the Jewish state.

Cynics will no doubt mock the idea, chuckling with derision at such simplistic beliefs. But we should pay them no heed. After all, it is thanks to their progressive agenda that Israel finds itself in its current predicament.

The fact of the matter is that no prayer goes to waste. As King David himself wrote, "God is near to all those who call to Him, to all those who call out to Him in truth." (Psalms 145:18). Now, more than ever, is the time for us to do so.

For, unlike our leaders, He will never disappoint.