by Rabbi Eliezer Waldman
July 12, 2004
Not long ago, there were two major terror attacks that forced us to wake up to the reality of our lives in Eretz Yisrael. One was the horrific explosion of the fortified ‘Orchan’ military base, located at the entrance to Gush Katif, in which one Israeli soldier was killed. The terrorists dug a tunnel from Khan Yunis, a hotbed of terror, all the way to ‘Orchan’, planted a huge amount of explosives directly under the base and set it off by remote control. The second attack occurred in the development town of Sderot in the western Negev, one and a half kilometers from the Prime Minister’s ranch, Hashikmim Farm, when a rocket was launched from the northern Gaza region. Two people were killed, a little boy at the entrance to his nursery school and an older man sitting on a bench.
That same week, the Jewish people suffered yet another blow, this time launched by our own Supreme Court. It was a blow to our basic rights to self-defense. The Israeli government has done its utmost in the past two years to build a fence through Judea and Samaria that supposedly serves as a shield against murderous terrorists and tries to convince the public that it will provide security for Jewish lives. The Supreme Court passed a ruling that caused much controversy among the public and in the Knesset: they proclaimed that the location of the fence must give more consideration to the financial and social difficulties of the Arab population, even at the cost of less security for Jewish life.
We think it is absurd that a court ruling could give sympathy or thought to living conditions of those very same villages that breed hate and wickedness against our people, and launch the suicide bombers who explode on our buses and main streets. All the words of protest heard in the Knesset by ministers (Uzi Landau and Zevulun Orlev) against the ruling are, of course, justified. Unfortunately, this is just another expression of the deterioration of our national self-confidence and lack of faith in the just cause of protecting Jewish lives in Eretz Yisrael.
Beyond the problem of where to build the fence, there is the more important question as to whether any fence can serve as the solution for our problems with Palestinian terror. The two terror attacks mentioned have proven again that a fence will not prevent terror. Rockets that are fired above the fence against civilian targets, and tunnels built under the fence reaching army bases or Jewish towns with explosives planted underground, can overcome the supposed security of a fence. An independent, responsible government that has the power and determination to destroy terror cannot hide behind fences. Certainly a government of the Jewish people, who had to flee enemy attacks while in exile, and were eventually imprisoned and confined in ghettos surrounded by fences, should understand that this is no solution.
A courageous leadership deals directly with the enemy that wants to attack its citizens and drive them from their homeland. The only way to stand up to this terror is by a continuous offensive against the terrorists until complete victory is achieved. How would a nation like the US, France or England respond to rockets being fired from a neighboring country against its towns or cities? I can only guess that a responsible government would send its forces immediately to destroy the area from which the attacks originated and ensure that no further attacks endanger its civilian population.
We’ve come back home to create a safe haven for our people; this is the first and foremost responsibility of leadership. A normal, self-respecting government that puts all its hope and reliance on fences will certainly fail its test of commitment to defend Jewish life, and lose its dignity and respect in the eyes of its friends and, all the more so, its enemies. It pains me to say that this will stimulate even more attacks against our people.
This irresponsible approach to defending our nation stems from a basic flaw in perceiving the historical roots of our rights to Eretz Yisrael. What is a Jew doing living in the “Arab” city of Hebron? How dare the Jews “occupy” the “Palestinian” hills of Judea and Samaria? “Peace” will only be achieved after the end of the occupation of “Arab lands”. These absurd declarations, which are being broadcast day and night in the international media, have been brainwashing world opinion and have been adopted by the Israeli Left, as well.
Let’s get things straight. We have not occupied any foreign land; we’ve come back home to the land of our ancestors, which has been promised to their children by the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We have returned to Hebron, the city of Abraham, the first capital of Israel established by King David. We have renewed Jewish life in the hills of Judea and Samaria, where the visions of our Prophets enlightened our lives, even in the darkness of exile and suppression, with the divine promise of the redemption of Israel by its return to its Biblical inheritance. How blessed is our generation to take an active part in the realization of this divine plan of renewal of Jewish life, which is to bring a blessing to all the nations of the world.
Mr. Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, with all due respect, there are no Jewish “occupied territories” in Eretz Yisrael. We have renewed Jewish life by settling in the heart of our homeland, as we are instructed by divine Biblical command and by the driving spirit of the Zionist dream. The continuous flow of eternal Jewish life from the depths of destruction in the bloodbaths of Europe, burst forth into a renewed stream of life in Eretz Yisrael, turning into a gushing river of faith and hope. This divine Zionist faith created the pioneering zeal and devotion that inspired the builders of towns, villages and cities from Metulla, Rosh Pina, Elon Moreh, Shilo, Eli, Beit El, Yerushalayim, Gush Etzion and Hebron, to Sderot and Gush Katif. Generations of dreamers, fighters and builders have been privileged to achieve the realization of the Zionist dream. “When G-d returns us to Zion, we will be like dreamers.” (Psalms 126:1)
It is strange that the very government that should be using force against our enemies to ensure the existence of the Jewish people, is advocating violent force against its own citizens. Our leadership hasn’t found the courage and determination to destroy our enemies, yet is determined to use aggressive force against its citizens. This inconceivable thought of forcibly uprooting Jews from their homes in Gush Katif is a moral infringement against the basic civil rights of a citizen in a democratic society. All the more so, it is a national crime against the Zionist process and denies the Jewish right of return to its homeland. If this “disengagement” plan would be devised and implemented by a foreign power, the entire Jewish nation and its leaders would be up in arms against this expression of anti-Semitism.
Our leaders have already made it clear that any thought of forcibly relocating any Arab population would be a crime of transfer and racism. How can the planned forced transfer of Jews from their homes and towns be justified? Is violent force and racism justified only when applied to Jews? Is this the realization of the Zionist dream? Have we now reached the peak of achievement of Jewish independence in our homeland? Are we not showing our enemies the way to humble Jewish spirit and bring about the capitulation of the People of Israel? Is this the way to ensure Jewish security in Israel, or will this serve as a catalyst for continued Palestinian terror until we are thrown into the sea, G-d forbid?
These painful questions are meant to pierce the heart of every responsible Jew.
I want all of my friends, including our Israeli government, to know that the Zionist dream is continuing in the classical divine path of settling, building and defending Jewish life in all of Eretz Yisrael, b’ezrat Hashem. This divine phenomenon is driven by the eternal strength of faith and the natural instinct of Jewish survival and existence. This process will not be deterred by the evil of our enemies, nor by the weakness and irresponsible folly of our brothers at the head of the Israeli government today.
To our devoted friends outside of Israel who ask how they can participate with us in preventing the uprooting of Jews from their homes, I suggest the following:
Recruit many thousands of signatures on a petition against the uprooting of Jews from their homes. In addition, we are organizing a mass demonstration by forming a human chain stretching from Gush Katif to the Kotel in Yerushalayim on Sunday the 7th of Av (July 25), and I welcome all of our friends to come and join this chain of Jewish faith.
Always remember, we are all guided and reassured by the holy words of the Prophet Amos: “‘And I will plant them upon their land and they shall no more be uprooted from their land that I have given them,’ says the Lord, thy G-d.” (Amos 9:15)
[Rabbi Waldman will be in the United States from July 15 July 22, 2004. Please contact Jeff Reznik for details at 917-776-6828 or email YeshivatKiryat4@aol.com.]