Wednesday, August 31, 2005
NRK on FPM on the "Majority" That Supported Disengagement
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
FrontPageMagazine.com August 29, 2005
In almost every news story or political commentary show aired of late, the same lie has been consistently repeated: that the majority of the Israeli people were in favor of the Disengagement Plan. In truth, every time the question of ceding to the Arabs those areas of Judea, Samaria and Gaza settled by Israelis was made a central issue in any authoritative vote, the Israeli people, or any part thereof asked their opinion, actually rejected the proposal. .....
Read the rest of this article on FrontPageMag by clicking here.
What they are made of.....
A young soldier comes to throw a family out of its home in Gush Katif.
The soldier, coming in contact with the family, begins to sob.
The lady of the house, soon to be expelled, comforts the soldier: "Don't worry about me. I'll be alright. But what's going to become of our country?"
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Israel and the "War Zone" of Gaza
"...the untenability of maintaining 8,000 settlers in a war zone surrounded by a million Palestinians..."
This is what drives me nuts.
Gush Katif was one territorial unit, further from Gaza City than Sderot (in the Negev) is from Gaza City. The northern Gaza settlements had no Arabs between them and the next most northern Jewish town, inside the Green Line. The "too many Arabs" argument has absolutely no truth in that case. But guess what? Ariel Sharon's friends signed a deal to build a casino on the ruins of one of those northern Gaza Jewish towns.....
And even if the above statement from Halevi's TNR article were true, it just as easily applies to Jewish settlements in the Galilee and to Israel as a whole.
And Gaza is a "war zone" only because the Israeli government applied a policy that effectively turned the Arab areas there into a war zone ever since the first Oslo Accords (Remember? It was called "Gaza & Jericho First"). The Jews in Gaza used to be guarded by a handful of reserve soldiers, and they used to go shopping in Arab Gaza. Only Shimon Peres/Yitzchak Rabin's importing of organized terrorists, Islamists and murderers into Gaza (First) led - surprise - to the subsequent terrorism against civilians and soldiers there. They, our leaders, made it a "war zone" voluntarily.
The Jews of Gaza were the ones who suffered attacks (along with the rest of Israel, of course; eg., today's suicide bombing in Be'er Sheva) by groups armed and empowered by the Israeli and US governments. Why, then, did the victims of such facilitated violence have to now suffer expulsion?
Disengagement rationalization is blame-the-victim writ large. And it stinks.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
How Many Times Can Someone Be Surprised?
And so it went. From the nice, secular people of northern Gaza, whose evacuation was barely reported at all, to the dire warnings of what terrible violence might take place in Shirat Hayam (complete with sightings of a crazed, armed settler in a sniper tower), then on to N'vei Dekalim. And when the reporters and police were, yet again, "surprised" by the lack of violence, the focus turned to the synagogue in N'vei Dekalim. Certainly, there the resisters - all religious youths - would employ violence. No? More passive resistance and then, surprised again, it was on to Netzer Hazani, the "most ideological of the settlements" (how is such a thing measured, I wonder). Um, well. We were surprised, weren't we, that these true ideologues did not shoot at the arriving troops. Or at least throw a firebomb. Nothing? Okay, then on to Kfar Darom, where the infiltrators had barricaded the synagogue.
Then, the media got its wish. Someone spilled half a pail of some itchy, annoying substance on police. Right away, police spokesmen, including the chief of police, called it "acid". The dire warnings were finally vindicated! Well, not quite. A surprise again, one might say. The substance turned out to be a dye diluted in water, according to tests conducted at Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva. Wholly not a danger to anyone.
But wait, the experts and news reporters told us, there is still the fierce, lawless "hilltop youth" of northern Samaria. There are gun caches there, we were told. Wild-eyed settlers were preparing explosives, we were told.
What, no shooting? They acted just like in Gaza? Well, we are surprised. And so were the police. Okay, then definitely in Sa-Nur. Sa-Nur is now where the last, desperate settlers, who feel they are the last defenders of Israel, have barricaded themselves. Police came in with clubs to clear the synagogue. What? The barbed-wire-encircled synagogue emptied also with passive resistance? We are, um, surprised. Again. But surely the old British fortress in Sa-Nur will put up a violent fight to the death.
Let us pray. (Of course, pray that there's no violence! How could you suspect the media of praying to see blood?)
And again, as the last Jewish civilian presence in northern Samaria fell, the media and police were "surprised". All told, the Jews - gun-toting, religious, right-wing fanatics, as TV viewers had been conditioned to believe - mostly used passive resistance and some psychological pressure to convince their brethren to refuse orders to expel them.
Why all the surprise, which they freely admitted? I believe it is because they believed their own propaganda and delegitimization of the settlers, who live beyond the Forbidden Forest of the leftist mind.
However, there was some serious violence in recent protests in Israel. Yes, indeed. But most readers may be unaware of those violent protests. The perpetrators of the violence, you see, were peace-loving leftist Israelis and downtrodden Arabs. And they were secular demonstrators (well, except for the Islamists), not right-wing primitives, like the settlers.
On August 12, merely a few days before the predicted show-down with thousands of Gaza settlers and their supporters, two IDF soldiers sustained injuries during a violent protest against Israel's security fence near Ma'aleh Shomron in Samaria. Some 100 Palestinian Authority residents and left-wing Israelis threw rocks and other objects at soldiers.
The previous month, three people, including a civilian and two members of the security forces, were injured by rocks and other projectiles hurled by anti-fence protesters in various areas along the fence. During one left-wing protest, soldiers were also targeted with firebombs. In June, three soldiers sustained injuries during violent anti-security fence protests. One of the injured soldiers lost vision in one eye.
So now, the paradigm must shift. Those who respect the state, its institutions and its soldiers, even as the state carries out a despicable policy of expulsion, are the most right-wing ideologues among us; whereas, those who can be counted on to disparage the state's laws and attack its soldiers are on the far-left. The former might be called patriots; and the latter... Well, if I wrote it, I might be accused of inciting violence. Just what we'd expect from a fanatical, religious right-winger.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Disobedience? Democratic rule?
The state of Israeli democracy. Remember, no one banned Women in Black from their protests *against* Jewish residency in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. No one stopped them from wearing black articles of clothing......
4 August 2005 Beit El Couple Arrested for Talking Disengagement
29 July 2005 Azriel Shopping Center Bars Orange Clad Group Entry
28 July 2005 Referendum Coordinator Arrested and Released
20 July 2005 Veteran Expulsion Prisoner Released, Another is in for 3 Months
20 July 2005 Civil Administration Offices Forbid Entry to Cars With Orange Strips
20 July 2005 Arad: Police Prevented Distribution of Orange Strips
20 July 2005 IDF Changing Military Police Vests – Because of the Orange
19 July 2005 Orange Bracelet Costs Soldier 21 Days in Lockup
13 July 2005 Temporary Order Allows Orange-Haired Aide to Return to Work
12 July 2005 Army Bars Car Ribbons from Base
8 July 2005 Orange Flag Confiscated; "Orange Sabbath" to Commence
3 July 2005 Students Detained by Police After Imaginative Protest
27 June 2005 Parliamentary Aide Banned From Knesset Due to Orange Hair
26 June 2005 ´Orange Wave´ Upsets Sharon, Bush and Police
23 June 2005 Seniors Take Civics Exam - Then Eulogize Israeli Democracy
19 June 2005 More Orange Ribbon Regulations & Infractions
17 June 2005 Peace Now Orange Phobia
16 June 2005 Soldiers to Face Hearing For Wearing Orange Ribbon
6 June 2005 Prison Commander: "I Want Children Like These ´Law-Breakers´"
3 June 2005 Ariel College Ejects 'Orange Americans'
1 June 2005 Orange Students: Knesset Guards Humiliated Us
1 June 2005 Jerusalem Mall Clarifies Orange Policy
31 May 2005 Jerusalem Mall Bars Orange Ribbon Patrons
26 May 2005 MK Elon: Police Think Orange is Incitement
26 May 2005 Police Prevent Distribution of Orange Gush Katif Solidarity Ribbons
24 May 2005 Knesset Expels MK for Orange Hat
23 May 2005 Government Officials Concerned Over the Breakout of Orange Fever
23 May 2005 Israel Apologizes to India Over Orange Ban
22 May 2005 Knesset Guards Confiscate Orange Scarves
16 May 2005 Supreme Court to Decide Fate of Katif From Afar
15 May 2005 Prayer in Orange Forbidden at Western Wall
23 March 2005 Police Detain Orange Wearer
And all of that is without mentioning the juvenile girls (two of them are 13 & 14 years old) currently held in prison for more than a month on charges related to their protest activities. Read more about that here: On the Legal Front: Chaya Belogorodsky
A Lengthy Redemption
A Lengthy Redemption
Inasmuch as current events in Israel are, indeed, confusing and bewildering, I sympathize with Rabbi Shlomo Crandall's "Confessions of a Confused Religious Zionist". I would like, however, to offer a different point of view on religious Zionism at this time of crisis.
Rabbi Crandall writes that he is "confused and frustrated" by the dissonance he experiences when reading reports of Israeli governmental transgressions and threats against loyal Jews and, perhaps, against the very idea of Zionism. Such tales seemingly contradict the religious idea that the State of Israel - that self-same state that is abusing its most fervent sons - is the first flowering of our redemption.
As Rabbi Crandall puts it: "But when you [referring to certain religious Zionist individuals mentioned in Rabbi Crandall's article - ed.] accuse your government of abuse and refuse to serve in its armed forces, how can you at the same time look at that same government with pride and refer to it as the beginning of the final redemption?"
The Israeli State
The rabbi concludes by saying that his "simple" reason to continue praying for the welfare of the state is that "we need not look that far back in our history to realize that our problems are infinitesimally less than we could have imagined sixty years ago. For that alone, we must thank the Almighty."
Yet, self-declared "non-Zionist" Hareidim also acknowledge the blessings of Hashem that are facilitated by the existence of the State of Israel. That perspective, though, is an after-the-fact, b'di'evad, "Zionism". Religious Zionism, unlike the traditional Hareidi non-Zionist or secular Zionist worldviews, means, by definition, that the establishment of Jewish sovereignty over the land of Israel, now, at the hand of the Jewish collective, is a fulfillment of a Torah precept. The State of Israel, even solely as the temporal expression of that mitzvah of sovereignty, has inherent holiness.
As Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaCohen Kook said, as reported by Rabbi David Samson in Torat Eretz Yisrael (pg. 346, in English):
"One must look at these matters in an encompassing perspective.... We are dealing with a fundamental, all-encompassing matter - statehood. The statehood of Israel is totally kadosh [holy], without any blemish at all. It is the Divine, exalted revelation of 'Who returns His Divine Presence to Zion'. All the other concerns are details. Whether large or small, the difficulties and problems have absolutely no power to blemish the intrinsic kedusha of the State."
This idea, the intrinsic holiness of Jewish sovereignty, was expressed earlier by Maimonides. According to Rambam ("Laws of Hanukah", Ch. 3:1), the reason we say Hallel on Hanukah is to celebrate the return of Jewish rule for over 200 years. Yet, those years included the reign of downright evil kings - who killed religious leaders, corrupted the judicial system, co-opted the state for their own ends, etc. There is, as Rabbi Samson writes, "absolute value [in] establishing Jewish rule in Eretz (the Land of) Yisrael."
From this perspective, I believe, the distinction can be made between the state of Israel as the atchalta d'geula, and the all-too-human failings of the individuals occupying the seats of power of the state.
The Israeli Government
Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook's position, as described by Rabbi Samson (Torat Eretz Yisrael, pg. 354) is as follows: "While it is proper to protest against details of government policy when the situation demands, it is forbidden to be opposed to the government of Israel itself."
When, in the First Book of Kings (18:46), Eliyahu is described as "running before Achav," king of the Jews at the time, Rashi explains that the prophet was "showing honor to royalty." There is a mitzvah to honor the regime of the Jewish state (Kiddushin 32B), even one as evil as that of Achav, who ordered the killing of prophets and the betrayal of Judaism.
King Omri of the kingdom of Israel, who is described in the Bible (I Kings 16:25) as "doing more evil than all those who went before him," was rewarded by HaShem with his descendants inheriting his crown in succession. In the Talmud (Sanhedrin 102B), Rabbi Yochanan explains Omri's multigenerational reward as being "because he added a single city [named Shomron] to the land of Israel." (Elucidated further by Rabbi Yissakhar Shlomo Teichtal, may God avenge his blood, in his introduction to Em HaBanim S'meicha.)
I humbly submit that the government of Israel - even Prime Minister Ariel Sharon himself - is responsible for far more strengthening of the land and people of Israel than merely building a single city. What is more, even if it was only the first generation of Israeli leaders who added cities to the land of Israel, might it not be that all subsequent governments, like Omri's sons, enjoy that primary legitimacy? I further submit that whatever sins the Israeli government has committed, they pale in comparison with the evil regimes of Achav and Izevel and other kings described in the Bible.
Therefore, as a simple Jew, I believe we owe the government of the State of Israel our respect for its positive contributions in the Land. Moreover, it is a mitzvah to respect a Jewish ruler in the Land of Israel irrespective of his personal qualities.
Disobeying a Jewish Sovereign
"At what point should the religious Zionist community refuse to join in the defense of the country?" Rabbi Crandall asks, referring to a reservist who declared his intention to refuse to continue to serve in the IDF.
My answer is: "Never!" The defense of the country - which is the defense of the Jews - is a mitzvah, even one of simple and direct pikuach nefesh, if also an independent Torah mitzvah of yishuv.
The question at hand in Israel today is rather when a religious Jew can refuse to carry out an order of the regime - that same regime that he is obligated to respect.
As for disobeying the government's orders, Rambam writes: "And it goes without saying that if the king ordered the abolition of a mitzvah, he is not to be obeyed." (Maimonides, Hayad HaChazakah, "Hilchot Melachim", Ch. 3, law 9) There is no indication from Rambam's writings that disobeying such an order is a negation of the entire institution of the regime; quite the contrary. As the institution of Jewish sovereignty in Israel is a Torah precept, as is the respect due the ruler, the king's order to violate Torah is itself an undermining of the foundation for his own regime. So, paradoxically, to disobey is to strengthen the regime.
Similarly - and without having to ask any complicated she'elat rav - King Saul's soldiers flatly refused his order to murder the kohanim and their families who were found to have assisted a fugitive of the regime, David the shepherd (I Samuel 22:16-17).
David himself, even as he fled the king - who was disobeying God's own prophet - respected the kingship. David treated King Saul with utmost awe and respect, even mourning him as one of the great men of Israel upon his death.
Much closer to our time, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook encouraged his students to settle every inch of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Yet, he was opposed to resisting Israeli soldiers (Torat Eretz Yisrael, pg. 353) sent to evict them from their outposts.
Obey or disobey, I think it is clear that never do we negate the institution of the government of Israel, much less the holiness of the State of Israel and its role as atchalta d'geula.
A Lengthy Redemption
In a sermon for Israel Independence Day (MiOhalei Torah, pg. 333), Rabbi Yaakov Ariel implicitly called the current state of affairs in Israel a "geula arichta", a lengthy redemption. "It has ups and downs..." Rabbi Ariel wrote, "and despite this, a natural redemption is in contrast to the exile that preceded it." The rabbi went on to say, "Sometimes, the stages [of redemption] fold in on themselves from the difficulty of the ascent, it appears to be a descent. However, in truth, it is nothing but a descent for the purpose of ascending."
And I remember hearing that the description from the Song of Songs (2:8-9) of "my beloved" as "leaping on the mountains, skipping on the hills," as "a stag or a young hart," is a metaphor for our redemption. If we can picture a gazelle making its way towards us, going from hill to hill, there would be times that it would seemingly "disappear" as it went into a valley. Yet, even when not visible, even when in the depths of a valley, the gazelle is still, inevitably, inexorably, headed our way.
So This is How It Begins
So, what is it called when Jews voluntarily relinquish sovereignty over parts of the Land of Israel?
And is that worse or better than being forced out by superior military might?