Why Don’t You Condemn Settler Violence
Occasionally, I am asked why I don’t condemn Jews who set fire to mosques, damage property of innocent Arabs, shout derogatory cries at soldiers, or the soldiers who unfurled protest signs in the army. In the opinion of those who ask, if we condemn these acts, the public will be more open to hear our point. When we don’t condemn such acts, they lump all of the settlers together with the ‘extreme’ acts, harming our public standing. There are even some leftists who claim that if we were to renounce such actions, our public standing would be greatly improved.
The Real Reason Settlers are Defamed
Answer: True, the good reputation of the settlers has been greatly damaged by the media, which, for nearly thirty years, has worked hard to make them look bad. This, however, is not due to extreme actions, but because those who rule the media believe that the settlements themselves are the obstacle to peace and the impediment to Israel’s being accepted by the enlightened, Western society. This is the reason for their fierce campaign against us, and their use of every opportunity possible to shame us.
Irrelevant of what we do, in their eyes, the major crime is the settlements themselves; therefore, the renouncing of any specific action won’t help at all. On the contrary, condemnations will only cause damage, strengthening the basic claim of the Left that “occupation corrupts,” for, behold, even the heads of the settlement movement admit that the settlements produce “negative elements”.
In general, it’s good to know that when one receives suggestions from political rivals, they should be checked well. When Leftists suggest to the heads of the settlement movement to condemn the “negative elements” and shake themselves free of them, apparently it is much better not to condemn them, for in the end, the gains from such condemnations will be reaped only by our rivals.
This is exactly what happened after the Rabin murder; the various condemnations didn’t help the religious public at all – it just fanned the flames of incitement against us. First, because any response gives the media an additional opportunity to thresh out the topic of the religious community’s guilt. Second, in every condemnation exists a little bit of confession, which strengthens the rival’s claims.
Moreover, the severe actions that the settler’s are being accused of, such as uprooting olive orchards and burning mosques, are still in the realm of unproven charges. Why must people from Judea and Samaria have to jump and confess to being guilty by condemning the actions?
Condemnations: Part of the Culture of Betrayal
In general, even if a certain action is not proper in my opinion, if the person who does it is a good person, I refuse to condemn him. Condemnation is seen as turning one’s back and betraying that person, and we must uproot the culture of betrayal which has become part of the life of our society. It starts with Prime Ministers – who all make right-wing promises, but carryout left-wing policies. One of them promised he would not talk to the P.L.O. – and in the end, signed the Oslo Agreements with the P.L.O. The second one promised that “there is no difference between Netzarim and Tel Aviv” – and destroyed all of Gush Katif. The third one promised he would build in Judea and Samaria – and froze all the building. But when the betrayed public rebels, they blame them for destroying democracy.
They betrayed the Holocaust survivors, exploiting the large sums of money the State received for them, leaving them lonely and poor. They sent new immigrants, who came to Israel full of enthusiasm, to distant and deserted places, without teaching them Hebrew or a trade, and created a generation of discrimination and frustration. Newly married couples sign a pact with one another and after a few years, when the woman isn’t as young as she used to be, the husband betrays her.
Many people realize that their friends aren’t perfect, and that sometimes they stumble in various sins, but this doesn’t bother them from being best of friends. If, however, one of them is caught and a mark of disgrace is plastered on his forehead, though he remains the exact same person, all of the good deeds he performed and all of his good character traits will be forgotten, and he will be totally abandoned. Some people will even stone him in order to clear their conscience.
A person nominated to be a minister is automatically surrounded by flatterers who sing his praises – even though they know he is far from innocent. If, however, he is suspected of a crime, they will rise to condemn him and leave him on his own.
Soldiers in the I.D.F. are sent to face terrorists without being given proper orders, and when they try to fulfill their jobs as they understand it – but, unluckily, are caught on camera doing something improper, too many times their officers betray, renounce, and denunciate them – and the soldiers are put on trial.
Members of “Mo’etzet Yesha” (the “Council of Settlements of Judea and Samaria”) called for the public to demonstrate against the expulsion from Gush Katif with self-sacrifice – the way one would defend his own house. But when the youth went to block the roads, as is customary in such protests, members of the Council condemned them. There were those who even blamed them for causing civil war. They called for people to march towards Gush Katif, alerting them of the ‘day of battle’ in order to physically stop the expulsion. They promised that this time, the battle would be to the end; some even promised victory. But when the youth tried to physically stop the withdrawal with their bodies, receiving hard and constant blows, members of “Mo’etzet Yesha” condemned and renounced them. After being abandoned, the government punished the youth through the judicial system, which changed all the rules to their detriment. Our precious youth have been betrayed too many times, and in no way should we join this ‘culture of betrayal’.
When someone asked me to condemn the waving of protest banners in the army, in my mind’s eye I could see the figure of the young man who took harsh blows to his body at the destruction of an outpost, “Havat Gilad,” did everything possible to serve his nation in the I.D.F., and died a hero’s death in the Lebanon War. The fighters who waved the banners are made of the same material. It is absolutely impossible to condemn such young men. By the way, I also don’t condemn those religious soldiers who believed, according to their rabbi’s opinion, that it was forbidden to refuse orders to expel Jews (as I wrote in my column, “Revivim”, and was printed in “Revivim: Nation, Land, Army” pg.314). All the more so when we are talking about combat soldiers who are willing to put their lives on the line for the security of Israel.
Refuse Expulsion on Principle
There are those who think that my major motivation for expressing my position concerning refusing orders stems from my belief that if more people refuse, the government won’t be able to carryout an additional expulsion. However, the truth is that in my assessment, this doesn’t carry so much weight in relation to the future of the settlements. The most important issue is the principle that the Torah is above any rule or law. Without this, we will remain enslaved to all the various outlooks governing the world – in the field of psychology, we will be enslaved to what is accepted amongst the psychologists; in law – what is accepted by the lawyers, and so forth in all fields. The place of the Torah will remain within its’ own four, private cubits.
For many generations of exile, we were forced to occupy ourselves with survival, within the four cubits of private laws, in order that days would come where we would ascend to the Land of our life, and express ourselves freely and independently, so that the light of the Torah would illuminate and repair the world. Behold, the days are coming quickly. Will we betray our sacred task?