Settling the Land of Israel (Part 2)

Poor Public Image

Many are concerned about the bad image that resistance is liable to
cause the settlers of Judea, Samaria. True, the issue of public image
must be taken into account; the advice of Rabbis and experts must be
sought so that people known in what manner to speak and how to act. On
the other hand, it must be remembered that it is not always the short-
term effect that needs to be taken into consideration; sometimes the
value of the long-range lesson is of greater importance. Sometimes an
act which results in severe short-term damage, serves the important
role of making a clear statement concerning the importance of settling
the Land, and impresses upon all the preference of Divine law over
transient political rulings. Even if our efforts to settle the Land do
not produce the sort of fruits we would like them to, we, in our
determined stand, have at least established the desired goal – and
eventually we will reach it. Indeed, Judaism and Torah leaders have
followed this path numerous times throughout history.

Fear of a Rift in the Nation

The media’s ranting that resisting settlement evacuation causes a rift
in the nation is simply untrue. How can passive resistance to
participating in civil action possibly have such extreme
repercussions? The religious community is overly sensitive to these
sorts of attacks, and the leaders of the Left along with the media
take advantage of this sensitivity. The more we allow ourselves to be
flustered by such accusations, the more they will be hurled at us. The
more that we argue amongst ourselves and make biting allegations
against one another, the more accusations will be made against us by
the media. We will be labeled inciters, agitators, and criminals.
(This is precisely what the media did to Effie Eitan. He made rational
and pointed remarks concerning the mass desecration of Sabbath, yet
was portrayed as an inciter.)
It is important to note that all of the accusations insinuating that
somebody permits using violence against soldiers, police officers, or
anyone, are complete lies. Only passive resistance was permitted by
Rabbis.

And if the Left should choose to Refuse?

Do we not run the risk that our refusal to follow orders on Halakhic
or patriotic grounds will bring in its wake a refusal on the left to
take part in protecting the settlers or conquering the Land of Israel?
In this matter, one must make a distinction between truth and
falsehood. Our position is genuine, and based upon both Torah and
human rationale. Their position, on the other hand, is based upon
mistaken human leanings – of the sort which at one time lead men to
prostrate before Stalin, the “Sun of the Nations,” or later to kiss
and embrace Arafat and his cohorts. We come in the name of moral
values that build the nation. Yet, values that call for uprooting
settlements and refusing to do battle with the enemy are outright
destructive and undermining.

In the same respect, such people could claim that if it is permissible
for Jews to sacrifice themselves for Torah and faith, it is
permissible for idolaters to sacrifice themselves for the sake of
their beliefs. All of the Prophets of Israel cried out against such
rationale, for they were able to distinguish between the essential
difference. We pray to the living God; they pray to wood and stone.
Countless sources could be cited to this effect.

The Present Dispute

During the reign of the Rabin Government, a practical question arose:
Does Halakha permit taking part in the dismantling of settlements and
army bases? Leading rabbinical authorities, amongst them Rabbi Goren,
Rabbi Yisraeli, Rabbi Yosef Kapach, Rabbi Nerya, and Rabbi Shapira
ruled that a Jew was obligated to refuse participating in such an
action. At present, the question is slightly different: Is the
dismantling of outposts considered a definitive act of Torah
violation?
There are those who hold that where the intention is to uproot a
settlement in order to hand it over to Arabs, then it is clearly a
violation of the Mitzvah to settle the Land, and one is obligated to
refuse participation in such an act; when, however, an outpost whose
site will not be given to Arabs is at issue, and opposition to its
existence stems from formalities alone, the government’s order does
not contradict the Torah, and it is permissible to carry out such an
act. Other Rabbis, among them myself, hold that the intention of the
present dismantling violates the Mitzvah to settle the Land of Israel,
for it uproots vibrant Jewish settlements, and leaves their locations
barren. (The fact that this act is being carried out, as some claim,
for political reasons, certainly does not make it any more
acceptable).
At any rate, in light of the above dispute, the Committee of the
Rabbis of “Yesha” (Judea and Samaria) publicized the following
statement: “We call upon all soldiers to approach their commanding
officers with the request that they be released, on conscientious and
faith-related grounds, from any activity connected to the evacuation
of outposts.” In addition they declared that “every outpost in the
Land of Israel is seen as a fulfillment of the Mitzvah to settle the
Land; accordingly, it is forbidden to evacuate such outposts.”

What, though, does a soldier do if his commanding officer refuses to
respect his request? In this regard there are differing opinions among
Halakhic authorities, and each individual must follow the decision of
his own rabbi. The Committee of the Rabbis of Yesha plan to convene
again in order to reach a clear and unified position on this issue.

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