Why did the Jews wander in the desert for 40 years before reaching their homeland? The Talmud teaches, “There is a long way which is short and a short way which is long.” What does that mean? Sometimes one sees what seems to be a better way — “the short way” — but it turns out to that, in reality, the way which seems easier is wrong. The shortcut taken ends up forcing one to go back and do what seemed at the outset to be harder, but was, in truth, the only legitimate way. It was from that seemingly tortuous, lengthy, journey that the Israelites learned to leave behind their slave mentality and do what was right, rather than what was easy or tempting. The Israelites’ journey turned out to be one in which there were important lessons to be learned.
If 40 years in the desert was to teach us a lesson, what are the lessons we’re to learn from 50 years of occupation (10 years longer than the Jews wandered in the desert!)?
The lesson certainly can’t be that occupation brings security for Israel. Israel’s security establishment overwhelmingly believes that without bold political leadership, the occupation will lead to Israel’s destruction. Those tasked with Israel’s security — Mossad, Shin Bet, and officers in the IDF — overwhelmingly believe that occupation does not bring security, but does just the opposite.