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As we know, a couple of weeks ago, an observant soldier from the territories refused to shake the hand of the IDF Chief of Staff because of the disengagement from Gaza. This was not incidental and was not an unusual event in these troubling days. On the contrary, it has become the norm. Today the Jerusalem Post reports that:

Rabbi Avraham Shapira decided it would be inappropriate to invite IDF officers to Jerusalem Day celebrations at Yeshivat Mercaz Harav.

In the past the yeshiva has made it a point of inviting high-ranking IDF officers to address students as part of the festivities of Jerusalem Day.

“Jerusalem Day commemorates our miraculous victory in the Six-Day War and the joy of liberating the Land of Israel”, said Rabbi Yehoshua Magnus, Shapira’s close aide.

“It’s not fitting to celebrate this day with IDF officers who are planning to give back this redeemed land.”

Magnus added that there were many students in the yeshiva who had family and friends who were expelled from the homes in Gaza and North Samaria.

“How can you expect us to invite people who are responsible for the expulsion,” said Magnus.

In other words, “You folks, defenders of our country, many of whom spent countless years protecting our settlements and lives, are no longer welcome among us because you have served as you were supposed to – objectively, neutrally – in maintaining a democratic order from the government of Israel.”

Sadly, this is the norm now.

Israeli soldiers were accused of being Nazis before the disengagement. The Israeli government was accused of being Nazi-like before the disengagement. Those of us who expressed outrage at the use of these horrid symbols were told that it’s a normal turn of events and that Zionism itself was being undermined.

Who made this decision? A group of people who believe that somehow their Zionism is greater than that of those of us who don’t subscribe to a Greater Israel vision. As part of their campaign, they let us all know that they are the true torch-bearers of Zionism, that those to their left are absent true love for Israel, true Zionist beliefs, strength of faith, virtuous and moral lives. They claim and claimed that the Israeli government was undemocratic, acting undemocratically and unjustly.

In short, they were saying they were not only right, but that the essence of God’s will and justice in our world were being undermined by the actions supported by the majority of Israelis and their government.

Some of wrote and said back then, including some of us here on Jewlicious, that this will end horribly. That these words were undermining the unity required to sustain the state of Israel and its society. That these words were undermining the IDF and its role as a defender of the state of Israel.

It has now come to pass that those EXTREMISTS have indeed caused phenomenal damage to the perception, among large portions of the Israeli population, of the legitimacy of the IDF and the Israeli government. In their hubris, these folks and their leaders, many of whom are rabbis, have used and continue to use the language of faith to push this new agenda. The result, of course, being that many among their community, especially many of the young, have taken to accepting these ideas as correct, just, moral and representative of how things should be. After all, this must be what God wants. We are no longer talking about a small group, or an Yigal Amir who has lost his moral compass. We are now talking about a large segment of Israeli population that is turning away from the state, becoming insular and even hostile to the state.

There is nothing sadder than seeing this happen. I recall thinking over the years, whenever I saw a sandal wearing settler, long beard in tow, kipa on the head, long unruly hair, the inevitable plaid shirt and the wrinkled skin around the eyes burned from working in the sun, that these folks were pioneers. They were a new generation of those LEFTISTS who had built the state. Israel tried to accommodate the needs of this group in many ways. The settlements were subsidized, built up and defended. Along with money and support, Israel was willing to take the inevitable international heat around this issue. Hesder yeshivas were created with the intent of respecting the interests of the observant members of this group and in return, this group provided some superb and highly motivated soldiers to the IDF.

The rift, however, is becoming too great to bridge easily. The hostile language, the symbols used to accuse the IDF and Israel’s government, the angry leadership of some religious leaders in a community with many devout and observant Jews, are combining to distance this group from the mainstream.

What a shame. What a sad state of affairs.

I say to those who belong to this community: nobody is doing this with acrimony or hatred towards you. The disengagement, and now the discussion over “convergence” are representative of an evolution of circumstances that have led many people who love Israel no less than you, and who believe it is their place no less than you, to conclude that the only way to protect and preserve the state is by moving into lines that establish a clear demographic majority and have far greater likelihood of international acceptance. Perhaps you are right and these plans are wrong. However, you must also have some humility and accept that you may also be wrong. None of us are God and not a one of us – even the greatest rabbi – can claim to know what is the desire of God. We can only guess.

We have been able to re-create Israel after millenia of pining to return. Isn’t it incumbent upon all members of this society to work towards hegemony; toward brotherhood? Why did all those soldiers, most of whom, historically, were secular Jews probably belonging to a Left wing party, sacrifice their lives and limbs? They did so whether the assignment was in Syria or outside a settlement in Samaria. They did so because of their sense that they were protecting a greater ideal, which included you and your beliefs as well as their families and their beliefs. Politics was the battleground where diverging interests could be expressed, but what was off the table was the IDF and the symbols of the first Jewish state in millenia.

Take some steps back. Gather your leadership and let the moderates prevail. Distance the extremists who view things from a selfish and hubristic point of view. It would be a shame to watch you separate from the rest of Israel. Where can you go? What will you do? Is the Galilee not worth renewing? Is the Negev unimportant? Is Jerusalem not worth your efforts?

(***Dear prospective commenter: save the personal attacks, I’m not interested and won’t respond; address the topic if you have something to say)

About the author

themiddle

35 Comments

  • interesting that you note humility and acceptance of the fact that one may be wrong. the decisions the government has made and is making have none of the above. there was no vote taken, no referendum, no ability for anyone to disagree. it was one man against a country. that one man won. i don’t see any humuility there. but maybe if one is in power then this mean he knows what id right. screw the laymen.

  • Maintaining a demographic majority is also known as ‘gerrymandering’. This principle was also employed in Northern Ireland, Britain, to prevent the Marxist Sinn Fein from gaining political power.

    However, something tells me that Israel needs to expand her borders, and quickly. The situation is becoming increasingly volatile. Those pioneers are heroes, they created something from nothing and I hope that they keep fighting against the sick collectivism which is holding Israel back. I cannot understand the mentality which legitimises withdrawal. How is Israel going to develop a self-sufficient sustainable and/or land-based economy without land?

    Direct action and/or democratic action yields results and those who are willing to fight can hold the ‘moderates’ to ransom over their traitorous policies. This is how the ‘far-right’ is operating in France and it is working…

  • Berk, how many non-confidence votes were taken to bring down Sharon’s government? He won every single one. Kadima is representative of a centrist move that clearly agrees the disengagement was the right thing to do and they – if you remove the votes garnered by Meretz and Labor – were able to gain 25% of the Israeli voting population to back them in these past elections. If you include Labor and Meretz, you are at almost 50% of the Israeli population. If you include the Arab parties, some of which have Jewish voters, you are well above 50%. This is the nature of democracy and of Israel’s democracy. Just as this democracy funded and supported the settlement movement, and used the IDF to protect its interests, it has no less legitimacy when it tries to back out of those areas.

  • The mere fact the a majority of people agree with disengement does not make it right. It makes it legal. It makes it possible. But it sure as hell doesnt make it right. And the point of not having these soldiers visit this school, is not directed at them for their just the ones who carry out the orders, but none the less, the hand that hits, is a hand that hits, regardless of whether or not it is the brain that told it to do so. And as a soldier in the idf, i can tell you, that is every soldiers duty and responsibility to disobey orders that are immoral. Precisely so we dont end up like the nazis, where a bunch of soldiers are saying they were just following their orders. Soldiers are not robots, they are concious individuals. So, of course they should carry out their orders, but they bare responsibility just as much as the one who gave those orders.

  • Brad, how do you know it’s immoral? How do you judge that? Who are you to be the judge of that? Why do you believe that you are more moral or right about this issue than those who voted for it and implemented it?

    Even if you are right and they are wrong, however, it was done within the very same legal and democratic framework that helped the settlements get established, settled and protected. Why disrespect that framework now? Where will this division lead and why?

    One of the more important and sinister issues here is the ongoing and shameful comparison of both soldiers and the government to Nazis. Must I really give you and others who make this claim – no matter how indirectly – the same kind of response I give to White Supremacists and pro-Palestinians? You? Do you really want to sound like the speakers over at UC Irvine that Rabbi Yonah has to live with?

  • What about local democracy? Does that not count?

    Yes, Israel has a democracy, but however, connect that to Israel’s bizarre state-dominated left-wing economy and endless social programs and you have a high degree of state control, the perfect condition for tyranny :

    Vote for me or I will let the muslims bomb you, vote for me or I will take away your education, your housing, your subsidies…

    The enemies of Israel are the corporate globalists who see national identities and borders as a mere inconvienience which stands in their way, and the Islamofascists who think that Jews control the whole world and want to kill all Jews.

    Also, Israel has the one thing that dictators thrive on : a permanent threat. The corrupt elite who run the show know that the Jewish people are their prisoners in Israel, and their agenda is to maintain that threat for the benefit of their degenerate bureaucracy.

    I have heard the latest politicos who will soon emerge from Cambridge University gloating at the disengagements, full of glee that Israel is dying.

    Their politics? Global capitalism. Money.

  • I say to those who belong to this community: nobody is doing this with acrimony or hatred towards you.

    I guess that is the focal point. If you are blind enough to continue to believe that the government’s initiatives are motivated by the thought of what is best for the “State of Israel” – the collective of the Jewish People living in the Land of Israel, then you can write what you’ve written.

    Living here, on-the-ground, for the past thirty-five years, it has become painfully clear to me, that as long as the “State of Israel” is whatever the elite secular who have a stranglehold over the media and justice system (and possibly the economy) believe it to be … you can understand their motives and initiatives.

    But if you truly aspire to a democratic state which strives to realize the aspirations of the Jews who came here to live Jewish lives (note I did not say religious), then you’ll begin to understand the “rift”. The rift is between those who care about Israel as a Jewish state, and those who care about Israel as their private little fiefdom of secular westernism – at the cost of true democracy, true justice and rapidly eroding civil liberties.

  • Eloquent post, Middle, and what a revealing set of comments. What seems at stake are the very “secular”, post-Enlightenment, democratic political values that the founders of the State imported, in essence, from western Europe and the US. (TB-A’s comment reflects this.) I admire your devotion to those values.

    It’s one thing for a soldier to refuse to follow morally-repugnant orders (cf. the tired Nazi analogy). It’s another to expect and permit a soldier to freely substitute his viewpoint in the name of a “morality” blithely viewed to trump what the public has debated and decided. This is truly a grave threat to democracy.

    Doesn’t some of the above rhetoric uncomfortably recall the recent missive from the president of Iran?

  • I’msure Middle doesn’t want to overlook how most Israelis, and the State generally, have dealt with this painful process of unilateral withdrawal. It’s been exemplary– well, from a morally-infirm, democratic point of view.

  • You know, Yoel, I agree with you that this is the rift-line. I guess that you are okay with the secular Western folks who don’t care about Judaism when they protect you or subsidize your presence where you live or take flak internationally for it. I guess you also believe that agreeing to let the Rabbinate control civic life is insufficient good will. I mean, I am guessing here but am I wrong to understand that what you mean by living “Jewish lives” that we should live in historically Jewish areas like Judea and Samaria? Or are you referring to people who shop on the Sabbath?

    One of my points is that you cannot be the “decider” (there, I have finally found a way to insert that “word” into a sentence) of what is right or wrong or Jewish or not. When those same secular Westerners who violate the Sabbath and disagree with a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria served in the IDF faithfully, risked and sometimes gave up their lives to protect the settlement movement, all was well. Now that a majority backed by government action wants differently, it has become acceptable to many in the pro-settler camp to point out that these differences are such that many settlers and their supporters cannot abide them any longer. Think about the implication of refusing to shake the hand of the Chief of Staff or not inviting IDF officers to a celebration!

    It’s not that I disagree about eroding civil liberties, however, I think that is happening. On the other hand, we actually have some terrorists in the settler camp (I’m talking about those idiots who tried to blow up those girls’ schools), and we had many threats expressed during the disengagement about how things would “get out of hand” by some settler leaders (I recall one particular visit from Yesha leaders to Sharon where they were explicit about saying this). What should Israel’s security forces do? Not increase surveillance? How are they to know when threats are real and how to stop them? And just to point out that the settlers, even when they throw rocks at soldiers, continue to receive fair treatment – or are any of the Hebron settlers who did so sitting in jail right now?

    The point of my post is that it is important to back away from deepening the rift. It is important to see that both sides are right and both sides make mistakes. However, both sides are ultimately ONE SIDE and it is an incredible shame that we have gone so far along this divide.

  • I supported the disengagement from Gaza and I suppport territorial compromise in the hopes that it will bring peace. Although Judaism clearly favors peace over warfare and violence, I nonetheless support these compromises. Judaism also teaches me that despite everything else, I have to protect myself and even use lethal force against one who seeks to do me harm. Disengagement is a neccessary step. OK?

    That having been said, we ought to try to be a little sympathetic and understanding to those who put their lives on the line, with the support of the government, in order to settle lands that the government now wants to expell them from.

    And I don’t like needless demonization. Rabbi Shapira did not call IDF soldiers Nazis. I think you overstate the effect that some extremists have had – there is no “large segment of Israeli population that is turning away from the state, becoming insular and even hostile to the state” – I live in friggin Jerusalem and I have no idea what you’re talking about. Settlers may be more critical than most, but even in that camp, the vast majority remain loyal citizens, continuing to serve in the IDF and do there reserve duty just like everyone else. Sure you see orange ribbons here and there worn mostly by adolescents trying to strike an anti-authoritarian pose, aand the kids in Hebron are SUCH brats, but these kids and like-minded adults represent a small, albeit vocal minority.

    Israel is and remains a democracy with great respect for the excercise of free speech. the Rabbi doesn’t want to invite an IDF rep to his yeshivah? That’s his right and I support it fully. People oppose disengagement? They are free to express that opposition. Israel is strong enough to withstand this relatively minor dissent. I’m certainly not going to lose any sleep over it.

    These notions are all part of the same democracy we must respect when it demands painful concessions from it’s citizenry and in that respect I agree with you. the Army’s role is to carry out the will of the people and the people have voted for disengagement. interestingly enough, the Orthodox “strangelhold” in Israeli politics has also come about in a totally legal and democratic manner. I think TM, that if you want to be consistent, you need to acknowledge that and respect the will of the people as it is manifested in Israeli Parliamentary politics.

    Just sayin’ is all …

  • I have no idea what you’re trying to say, ck. Are you saying that what Yoel writes above doesn’t indicate to you how far some have gone from the mainstream? Are you unaware of how people use language and continue to attack the government and the army? Have we not seen it on our site? Have you visited some of the comments sections of the Israeli papers recently?

    As for demonization. Did I not speak of the settlers as pioneers above? You live in Jerusalem and that is the point, it’s not Shilo or another settlement. Did you miss the part in the article where the IDF mentioned failing motivation on the part of some religious Zionist soldiers? Did you miss the part where this rabbi refuses to invite IDF officers to their celebration, as was their custom in the past, because “It’s not fitting to celebrate this day with IDF officers who are planning to give back this redeemed land…How can you expect us to invite people who are responsible for the expulsion?”

    As for consistency, I mention above that the appropriate playing field is the political one. It is legitimate and it is where you try to win supporters and influence laws. I don’t recall ever saying anything to the contrary regarding the Orthodox stranglehold on civic issues in Israeli politics. It is a democratic system and they use their parliamentary leverage effectively. What the hell does that have to do with accusing the military of responsibility for ruining the holiness of the “redeemed land” and calling the Israeli government anti-Zionist or other, far worse, names?

    Come on, speak to the point here. This isn’t about me.

  • You know, this is just a personal anecdote and may or may not be emblematic of a wider movement, but I have several hardcore religious Zionist friends from back when I was more susceptible to certain aspects of that ideology, and when I told them that I was joining the army, they said things like, “I don’t know how you can wear that green uniform after seeing the IDF expelling Jews from their home.” Which made me kind of think, “Well, if nobody can stand to wear this green uniform anymore, then we’re all in an awful lot of trouble.”

  • Yoel, I think that you are correct. I am the British ‘extreme’ Right-Winger to whom Middle refers.

    Some people will just accept anything, thinking that it comes for free, even though this goes against natural law. There are also some people who also do not believe in democracy. They say that it is a false freedom. I disagree, I do believe in democracy, but one must take the democratic principle and continually expand upon it.

    One of the most powerful, peaceful, non-violent ways to fight against a corrupt elite is with co-operative economics, by setting up credit unions, co-operativised businesses, and co-housing schemes. This is a tried and tested anti-communist anti-capitalist technique which encourages people to take responsibility for themselves and their community. Are such methods encouraged or discouraged in Israel? I just wonder…

    You must also fight against collectivist thinking. Very often, the people who sit back, criticise and point to a lack of consensus or unity amongst others are simply trying to avoid taking personal responsibility for their own actions or are trying to gain control over others by setting them off against each other and providing a collectivist (typically, a ‘left-wing’) solution. In Israel’s case, the solution is nearly always ‘security’, based upon fear, eroding the rights of the individual for the benefit of the state.

    It looks to me as though the Israeli state is fostering this diseased attitude, creating fear and false movements of ideological and political dissent to control the frightened masses and divert attention away from issues which, if addressed, would threaten their power.

  • interesting. might you be confusing zionism with judaism?

    why do you believe moderates have what it takes to fight Israel’s extremist enemies?

    The disengagement is the most insane things the Jewish people have ever done.

    To reverse the miracle G-d gave us from the 6 Day War—for what? To appease some terrorist grievances?

    This rift is greater than you indicate. This rift will split the world. You should get on the side of Judaism and get off of the side of Zionism and you’ll be alright.

  • Oh joy, yet another Diaspora Jew who thinks by virtue of being Jewish he gets to tell Israelis what to do and how to deal with their own security issues. Please, tell us some more of your opinions! We’re all very interested to hear the beliefs of hardliners who will never have to risk their own safety or those of their friends and families for their beliefs!

    If you’re so gung-ho about the miracle of the Six Day War, I’m sure we can find you some nice real estate in the Hevron shuk.

  • More Muddled pseudo umbrage:

    1) In all your posts in this line, you repeat the canard that the expulsion was conducted democratically, and that the fact that Sharon weathered no-confidence votes means that it was all above-board, and represented the will of the majority.

    This requires serial acts of willful distortion and ignorance. Sharon rolled over what little democratic restrictions there are here, exposing the frailty and problematic nature of Israel’s democratic structure. The votes were passed because Sharon twisted arms and acted like a thug, not because democracy worked.

    Any involved Western observer – such as yourself – knows this. Repeating this falsehood as you do is unsupportable.

    2. The people making these (largely symbolic) moves are people who have endangered themselves in Israel’s defense as much as the left-wing elite – and given the changing of the guard that has taken place in the army, and the widespread draft-dodging by the secular elite, they have defended Israel more than those who pushed through the expulsion.

    They have every right to express their disagreement – a right that was largely denied them by a state-controlled media monopoly. When you shut up the avenues of reasoned debate and dissent, expect to swallow stronger stuff.


    Middle – you are invited to get off your fat butt and do ONE-TENTH of what these “extremists” have done for Israel’s defense. Then you can open your mouth and bray all you want.

  • The national religious Religious serve in the IDF more then dbl that of secular in the combat units they also have have died in combat more then dbl the secular.They do not need lessons in in being patriotic to Israel from you.

  • Ho-hum.

    What is there to add about this wonderful democracy? My Russian friends accept it because they’ve lived through ‘no-democracy’, and we westerners are somehow supposed to see the parallels between US, Can, UK, or French democracy and Israel’s version and to stop crying wolf.

    This week, the Israeli supreme court, and the mafia don that leads it, made a farce out of Israeli democracy. Although it passed the ‘citzenship act’ with one measly vote, Barak wrote a letter saying that next time it comes to court, he won’t let it pass (basically warning the knesset not to bother trying to retable it). He ruled that the law was not constitutional (Israel does not have a constitution). Judge Levi voted in favour by saying the the law/act is expiring shortly anyway. Another issue is that Barak overturned a Rabbinical Court ruling since he deemed it based on illegal testimony. A man had brought the Rabbinical court undercover film of his wife sleeping with some other guy in their home. Mr Barak overturned this video evidence based on the wife’s right to privacy and the husband’s violation of that right(!).

    Where did you get the ridiculous stats that 25% of the voting population voted for Kadima, and another 25% voted for meretz/labour? If anything, the last elections showed that pro-expulsion didn’t get a majority (if you use continue to claim the ridiculous idea that the elections were a referendum). How come if I vote for the Parti Quebecois, it still does not mean I support separation from Canada? How come when Americans go to the polls to vote for their leader, they also get a few dozen other things to vote on? But in Israel, you proudly declare that voting in an election for Sharon or Olmert automatically means you support every thing that comes out of his mouth, and even if he changes his mind 180 mid-session?

    The clincher was ‘michael’ accusing ‘diaspora jew’ for meddling with Israeli issues? What a joke michael, did you read middle’s post telling us what and how to think and respect mindless robots who carry out moral orders?

    Has anyone gone to ex-cheif of staff Moshe Yahalom’s speeches during his tour of North American the past couple of weeks? Did anyone listen to the criticism he voiced for the decisions leading up to the disengagement/expulsion as well as the continued charging in the direction of the abyss?

    Shabbat shalom.

  • Thank you all for continuing to prove my point.

    Now take a deep breath. And THINK.

    What the hell are you people doing? “Mafia don?” “Elite.” “Problematic nature of Israel’s frail democracy?” “Religious [soldiers] die more than double the rate of secular.”

    Think hard about the things you are saying – this harshness; this angry and uncalled for vitriol and vilification of others with differing opinions and politics. Where is your respect for others? Where do you come up with this cockiness that you know what is right and what is wrong?

    Think long and hard about what you’re doing because if you seek the destruction of everything that has been built and if you teach your children to disrespect others, not to mention some of the fundamental pillars of society (because that’s what your comments clearly suggest), you will end up with all these things destroyed.

    Don’t you live in Ariel, Josh? How did you get there? How is there a city of that size there? Was it market forces that established it or something else? Was a Supreme Court in place at the time? Were IDF combat units dominated by observant soldiers?

    To be perfectly honest, I am disgusted with what you wrote and the actions of some people in today’s religious Zionist movement. I cannot believe that a senior IDF officer and his family were prevented from praying at the Kotel or that you walk around attacking any institution of the state, as well as most citizens of the state, who don’t subscribe to your views and beliefs.

    My point, however, is to tell you that despite the feeling that you folks have gone past some red lines, it is time to start working our way back to consensus and understanding. It is time to realize that there may be differences, but they come about because of people’s positive intentions not negative intentions. What has been built has the potential to be very special. In fact, despite your harsh criticisms, it already has much about it that is special. It’s time to step back, appreciate the good and find a way to make the rest of it work.

  • Some of themiddle says makes sense… some. But I really take issue with this line: In other words, “You folks, defenders of our country, many of whom spent countless years protecting our settlements and lives, are no longer welcome among us because you have served as you were supposed to – objectively, neutrally – in maintaining a democratic order from the government of Israel.”

    If themiddle wants to talk about defending the country, let’s look at the facts: Acording to a recent Jpost article The National Religios camp make up aroung 15% of the Israel population. However they make up 30% of combat soldiers, a plurality of cadets in combat officer training school, the majority in most combat units (not to metion 80% of company commanders in Golani), 60% of non-commisioned officers in combat unitls come from Dati-Leumi high schools, and acording to which studies you look at over-represent by 2:1 to 4:1 in all combat units up to the level of Battalion. Also since the stat of renewed conflict in 2000, National Religious soldiers have made up 30% of soldiers killed-in-action.

    Remind me again, which combat unit the themiddle was in?

    Shavua Tov

  • middle,
    I love Israel and I love the people of Israel. I have never had any regret about moving to Israel, I mainly renew my Canadian passport because my company pays for the CAN$100 fee, and I have not applied for my kids Can citzenship since I don’t really see the point.

    I am not angry, can’t remember the last time I was angry at anything. But I can criticize all I want; I live here, I pay taxes, and I have never come close to calling Olmert and Barak the names you Americans call Bush everyday under the right to free speech.

    Where do you come up with this cockiness that you know what is right and what is wrong?

    Well, it’s your blog, so you can be a hypocrite here if you want. You can talk, not me? Something is wrong in Israel right now. I don’t think we have the luxury of waiting ten years to prove that the expulsion from Gush Katif was a right decision. While we see that beyond turning 9000 people into refugees, the violence has not decreased substantially, Jews are still getting killed, and there is even talk to make another larger expulsion (code named ‘convergence’) of about 70 000 Jews in the next year when the previous 9000 are still vilified. If only the Israeli people were told the truth. Instead their main sources of news are tabloids and reputable websites like ynet.

    Think long and hard about what you’re doing because if you seek the destruction of everything that has been built

    If a certain central judicial institution has been hijacked by corrupt individuals who also nominate their like-minded associates to that institution, then it is the prerogative to every democracy loving citzen to speak up and say that something is wrong. Middle, tell me why this supreme court continues to talk about unconstitutional laws when Israel doesn’t have a constitution?

    and if you teach your children to disrespect others, not to mention some of the fundamental pillars of society (because that’s what your comments clearly suggest), you will end up with all these things destroyed.

    Sometimes you have to break something in order to make room to build something better.

    Don’t you live in Ariel, Josh? How did you get there? How is there a city of that size there? Was it market forces that established it or something else? Was a Supreme Court in place at the time? Were IDF combat units dominated by observant soldiers?

    Ariel exists because of labour governments, market forces, secular zionists, and secular vigilantes who insured the security of Ariel when some people tried top mess with it and the army/government wouldn’t provide that security. At one point, critical mass was achieved and stats show that more people come than leave.

    I have absolutely no issues with your call for unity and ‘hakarat hatov’ (appreciate the good). My problem is that the ruling junta (government, supreme court, and media) is poised to make more radical decisions and carry them out without at least due process. I’m not yet proprsing to disengage from the State of Israel and I think that there is a lot of distance until we get there.

    If I were you I would also invest a lot of time in outreach to secular youth because the facts show that the numbers of non-religious youth dodging the draft has long since passed the amount of religious avoiding the army. Israel is changing and some people would like to prevent that evolution. It’ll only cause the change to happen faster.

    Shavuah tov.

  • Rami, if it makes you feel better, pretend I was in a combat unit and then read what I wrote above. I don’t think it makes any difference, does it? These personal comments are really quite irrelevant. Either you folks have a case or you don’t – regardless of who is writing.

    Those stats you quote worry me a great deal, Rami, because as motivation declines and as the consensus around the IDF and state breaks down, the prospect of significant harm to the IDF, to the state and to Israeli society is substantial.

    Josh,
    Leaving Gaza has resulted in far less violence. However, that was not the reason for departing from Gaza and you know it. We debated at length about this and you know well that there are many other reasons. Yes, 8000 people were affected, some of them negatively, but that is not a good enough reason to have stayed there.

    One thing is certain, however, in that this step had nothing to do with Nazis, Nazism, or even the state and the IDF doing something that morally wrong or unjust. It was well within the rights of Israel to decide to disengage from Gaza. To remind you, this was not even Sharon’s idea. Barak proposed this in 2000. Israel had no interest in Gaza, and neither did most Israelis, which is why only 8000 people lived there after 38 years since Israel had taken it over while over 200,000 came to populate Judea and Samaria.

    Your comments about the Israeli justice system are unacceptable. Go to law school and become a prominent judge if you have such a problem with the Court. I have personally met some superb lawyers who live in Judea and Samaria. It’s not as if you folks haven’t had significant leverage over elements of Israeli society for a a couple of decades. You have. It is only now that you are weakening and your interests are not catered to in a way you perceive as satisfactory when all of a sudden we have to hear about how it’s all corrupt. It wasn’t corrupt to have a government hide the unknown number of billions of dollars that were spent on the settlement enterprise? You should feel profound shame at the accusations you level at Israel’s justices, especially in light of the staunch independence they show, not to mention general fairness. Whether you are a settler, a Palestinian from the territories, an Israeli Arab or an Israeli Jew from withing the Green Line, Israel’s judiciary will treat you fairly. It may not abide by biblical or rabbinic law, but that is the way it should be.

    As for constitutional laws, Israel has its Basic Laws and they are treated as a foundation for other laws. I know you know that.

    “Sometimes you have to break something in order…to build something better.”

    I see. Except you have no idea where this will lead and you have a minority of voices on your side. What will you do after you “break” it? Try to impose your will with force?

    You should consider this analogy instead: once you break a mirror, there is no way of repairing it.

    Your Ariel story sounds good but it feels as if you didn’t give full credit where credit is due. As for “market forces,” we both know that had there not been a very substantial investment by Israel in everything from infrastructure to defense, there would be no Ariel. Be thankful and consider the moral aspect of turning against those who built your home.

    Your last paragraph about outreach to secular youth is where we agree. It is shameful that Israel does not stress a Jewish background and education within its public schools. Even if one chooses not to be observant, it should be a basic thrust of education in Israel. Yet, it is not. Perhaps instead of vilifying the government, judiciary and secular Israelis, you might want to use the same energy to corral your friends and like-minded compatriots to change that aspect of what goes on in Israeli education. I’m willing to bet that if most secular Israelis realized there is a middle path between Orthodox and secular – that of being observant or at least knowledgeable and aware of Jewish traditions, customs, and history – I feel you would have a much healthier interaction among all groups. I don’t know that you’ll get to stay in Judea and Samaria, but at least the state in which you live will have a more understanding attitude towards those who believe as you do.

    I guess that’s one way of building something new withtout breaking the mirror. Right?

  • Reading what themiddle has written makes me laugh.

    Indeed the withdrawal from Gaza had nothing at all to do with Nazis, since Nazism ended decades ago, and Nazis would be treating their own people with more respect, would be demonstrably firm with traitors and communists, and might even have more respect for democracy and themselves. In fact, Jewish people in Israel could use Nazi economics to fight back against the state. It might be very effective.

    The rich and those with power need to be reminded that they are not immortal and invincible and unfortunately the ordinary folk who they depend upon must bear the responsibilty for reminding them.

    I think that Jewish people in Israel are being oppressed by the corrupt traitors who run the puppet show and you have a frightened population being fed wall-to-wall trash media and liberalism. Freaky…

  • Lot’s of screed there, themiddle, the middle of what? Of the Left? Guess what? A few days ago a leftist from Machsom Witch called a soldier a “nazi” . She wasn’t the first and she won’t be the last of the Left to do what you accuse the Right of doing. To me it seems as if using the word “nazi” has become the norm, if only now because the Right and the Left both use it when they shouldn’t.

    You can argue that the expulsion from Gaza was done “democratically” and win on technicalities. You can also distort the facts about Ariel or about “turning on the people who built your home”. In the end you are inconsistent and sactimonious. Ariel is little different in decision and design from Carmiel. In the case of Carmiel more Arab land was expropriated. More effort throughout the years has been spent protecting Maalot and Kiryat Shemona than has ever been spent protecting Ariel (say misguided or not). As for expense, do you have any concept how many billions of shekels are being spent in the Negev, in the Upper Galilee or anywhere else. Judea and Samaria isn’t any different unless you factor in your politics, than, of course it is wasted effort, wasted money and wasted time. The same arguments could be used to debunk the whole State of Israel (and believe me, they have been used liberally).

    A sugesstion: If you want “convergence” or “confluence” or whatever and you think 61% is enough to make it legit and you don’t want to be bothered by the 30% or 25% or even 10% that it tramples, then just do it. You can beat our heads in, wag your toungue at us, sic the High Court or even shoot us (I’m sure that would take Barak about a day to rule on). Just don’t preach to us about unity, or why we should be inviting the heads of the army to this or that yeshiva. After all, we had a chance to post in your blog so how much more freedom of speech can we ask for. And if you have the last word, how much more dialouge is neccesary.

  • Really Shlomo, must you with the personal attacks? Couldn’t you have made the same points without calling me names? Did that help your cause?

    You want to blame some on the Left for attacking the army? They get it from me too, or did you miss my old and beloved post, “In every Amira Hass article, there’s a little bit of Hamas.”

    On the other hand, I don’t recall the Left doing the “Orange” revolution replete with Jude stars on the shirts and the ongoing clamor about how the government resembles the Nazis. Actually, I’m not sure I can blame the Right either because it was and is predominantly one segment of the Right. After all, Kadima is right of Center. Blame the Left all you want, is the point, but accept that members of the settlers and their supporters have gone too far.

    One could argue that Kiriat Shemona has received more protection over the years than Ariel, but then again, it is within the Green Line. It falls under both Israeli and international consensus. Heck, you could argue even the Palestinians accept that it’s within their consensus of what constitutes Israel.

    I know you don’t want to hear this distinction and would like to tell me that Ariel is the same as Tel Aviv or Carmiel or other towns within the Green Line, but the fact is that Ariel is different. If you want to make an argument that delegitimizes all of Israel so you can make the claim that staying in Judea and Samaria is no less incumbent upon Israel than preserving its Green Line borders, I’m not surprised because that falls in line with deligitimizing the IDF, the Israeli government and the Courts.

    And this is my point, Shlomo.

    Stop delegitimizing everything because the democratic system has “technically” turned against your beliefs and objectives. Stop undermining sacred values and institutions because you feel wounded and have trouble accepting that Judea and Samaria might be lost. Of course this is painful. Of course it’s going to hurt, not just you but all the people who have invested what they have to make the settlements work. Ultimately, however, you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater and that is unacceptable.

    As for “preaching about unity,” if it’s okay, I’ll stick to that formula. I happen to be right about it, so why shouldn’t I? You can argue that I’m wrong about disengagement or convergence or Ariel or whether it’s right that Israel should create a de facto border at the fence. However, your case holds little merit when what you espouse is the deligitimization of Israel and its institutions. On the issue of unity, I am right…and you know it.

  • You are voicing the line of those who have delegitimized the State for all these years. I don’t know how long you have been here, but I have been here over 25 years and I so remember all the choice bits from Shulamit Aloni, Yossi Sarid, Zimmerman and Leibovitz. Granted the orange stars seem extreme, but from the veiwpoint of freedom of speech they are legitimate, and so far legally protected “technically”. Besides that, the strident voices of the Right are a minority of a minority and even they are within their legal rights (with of course exceptions that should be prosecuted).
    As for the system… well it may not stink, but it is very, very far from being healthy. When the head of the Supreme Court pulls his weight to make his wife a judge and when no one can be found who will put the husband of another Supreme Court judge in order (for tax fraud), it is the system and not me that causes the deligitmaztion of Israel and its institutes. Other stories involving the Land Administration or our city governments just embellish that point.

    But lets get to the point. Consensus is a two way street. There was and is nothing illegal about the majority (I can’t say all can I?) of settlements in Judea and Samaria. All were funded by government after government and till the mid 80’s there were not a heavy burden and on the army (and I was in the army in the 80’s). Then we were protecting Kiryat Shemona which is as much in Palestinian concensus as Yaffo and Lod (and I assume you get the point there). As for international consensus, that is an oxymoran. If we, or when, we pullout of Shilo, then be sure that something else will pop up (the Golan Heights, Jerusalem and in the end perhaps Haifa, Yaffo and Lod). In the eyes of the Nations, nothing is sacred and everything is open.

    And now lets attack your reasoning about “sacred institutions”. If it is okay to use the process to throw me out of my home, then can I also claim my right not to willing go along with it? Do our youth have to volunteer to elite units (no law says so)? Do I have to wave the flag and praise the country (not in any books). Can I show what I feel by not inviting Eliezar Stern to my Bar Mitzvah or to Yom Yerushalayim ?(although I agree that accosting him in any way in a publc place is illegal). I can do the minimum or the maximum within the boundaries of law by right. I can also try to obstruct all and any efforts to harm myself or my community within the limits of the law. Brinkmanship is an accepted part of the system here and we would be foolish not to use it like other interest groups here (like the Histadrut). The system allows it, we should use it too. Not Consensus? Too bad for us all. Once the Torah was consensus for Jews too and look how far we have come since then. Now nothing is sacred.

    Unity. Unity is good if it is for the right purpose in order to go the right direction. Since there is no single agreed source to act a an arbitrator in this case, unity becomes an empty slogan which used, as in your case, becomes a tool of subjugation or moral suasion of the rights of the minority for the interests of the majority. (or perceived interests because most people don’t know where Olmert is taking us). In this democracy called Israel I can have my house taken from me by the device of specially drafted laws (why existing laws did not suffice is another story). My right to recourse is limited. Unity, at the moment, can’t be legislated, and you would be better off not to deal with it. Better yet, you should have thought of it beforehand.

  • Shlomo, I had written a long response because we don’t agree on a number of points. But I do think your post makes a strong case for what many among the settlers and their supporters believe and it’s important to read it as it stands. Thanks.

  • I believe the Palestinian Civil war will in time require that the Palis be driven from Gaza and the territories. And that Israel, when the time comes, will get grudging acceptance for such a move.

    Sharon was a military genius. I do not believe he gave up on greater Israel. I believe he used a retreat to set up conditions for a counter stroke. One of the most difficult military manuvers.

    All you folks see is lost territory. I see opportunity developing for a more permanent solution.

  • Jews have been gaining and losing bits of Israel (sometimes the whole lot) for thousands of years.

    Take the long view – no matter how difficult the current situation seems.

  • Jews have been gaining and losing bits of Israel (sometimes the whole lot) for thousands of years.

    people have been dying for thousands of years. shall we kill off a bunch to speed up the process?

  • Just trying to understand…it’s OK for X (gov’t) to smash up about 20 different communities, and it’s not OK for Y (yeshiva school) to decide not to invite somebody? If decision x is ok — what’s so terrible about decision y?

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