Personal thoughts on current events, cultural events, Israel, Judaism, Jewish/Israel innovations and life from a Jewish perspective - read into that what you may.

Friday, July 29, 2005

A Response to Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein's Call to Obey Orders and Carry Out the Eviction Plan

by: Moshe Feiglin
Tamuz 5765 (July 05)

Rabbi Lichtenstein, one of the heads of the Har Etzion Yeshiva in Alon Shevut, recently published an article entitled Reflections regarding D-Day, in which he explains his opposition to refusal to obey orders by soldiers in the planned eviction of Jewish settlers from Gush Katif and Northern Shomron.

It is somewhat problematic for an unlearned person such as myself to challenge the views of a prominent rabbi such as Rabbi Lichtenstein. It is therefore necessary for me to first say that I don't believe that the rabbi himself maintains that his article is really Halachic, and not merely publicistic.

Perhaps this is the place to emphasize that in general those rabbis who write articles against the disengagement plan and in support of refusal to obey orders, base their arguments on scores of clear unambiguous sources and Halachic rulings. In contrast, those holding diametrically opposed views do not base these arguments on Halachic sources or express them in the customary Halachic matter.

I shall therefore permit myself to argue that Rabbi Lichtenstein's article falls into the second category, and I don't think that he would dispute this.

The key issue in the article is the use of the expressions "considered judgment" and "the saving of life". I shall therefore address this issue, even though I don't believe that there is any connection between the subject of the disengagement plan and the saving of life. This was not the real reason behind this vile plan, nor does the faithful public oppose it for security considerations.

This important rabbi wishes to give the impression that the issue of saving life dominates his thinking. However, we have to recall that Rabbi Lichtenstein and many others of his ilk placed all their weight behind what was known as the Oslo process.

Ten years ago the process began of handing over parts of Eretz Israel to the terrorist gangs. Most of the believing public understood then that this process was not only contrary to the Creator's wishes but would also lead to great bloodshed.

Rabbi Lichtenstein and a small group of rabbis gave their support to that process that has caused the deaths of about three thousand Jews, up to now. In the decade that has passed since that terrible bloody process (that was supported by Rabbi Lichtenstein and other rabbis holding similar opinions), more Jewish civilians have been murdered in Israel in terrorist attacks than in the entire period from the establishment of the State until the Oslo process.

I shall now address Rabbi Lichtenstein's arguments, that may be divided into two: the need for pragmatic judgment (in order to avoid danger to life) and the need for Halachic judgment.

Regarding the issue of pragmatic judgment, the rabbi presents three problems:
1) The fear that refusal to obey orders may also spread to the other side (the Left), weaken the army, and consequently lead to a risk to life.
2) The harm that will be caused to mutual relations normally achieved by jointly bearing the burden of military service.
3) Distancing the national religious public from State values in which they believed in the past.

It can clearly be seen that issues 2 and 3 have nothing to do with danger to life. Obviously they are of importance, but the role of the IDF is to protect the lives of Jews. It was not established as a society for improving mutual relations nor as a means of strengthening the inner beliefs of the religious Zionist public.

For many years the Left has adopted the technique of refusal to obey orders and it is widespread amongst them. Movements of this kind have sprung up amongst the Left and have been awarded legitimacy by the Israeli establishment, the judicial system, and the media. This has frequently involved refusal to obey orders in the face of the enemy.

A clear red line has been established regarding the IDF's activities. In today's Israel it is illegal to talk about the transfer of Arabs, because Amos Oz declared that in such circumstances he would blow up bridges, and Moshe Negbi said that he would break up the army and the State.

In other words, there's no need to fear that refusal to obey orders would spread to Leftist circles, because it's already there.

A totally different issue is involved: Will the Left's capability of setting up ideological lines which, if crossed, would lead to absolute refusal, be balanced by the capability of the belief-based public to establish its own red lines? If not, then it would seem advisable for us to give up in advance all the achievements of Zionism and settlement, and in fact to abandon the existence of Israel as a Jewish State.

The rabbi's logic does not necessarily lead only to the destruction of Gush Etzion where his yeshiva is located, but to the destruction of Israel as a Jewish State, because this is what the struggle is actually about.

We're not talking about Gush Katif, but about the Jewish identity of the State of Israel.

When the side that desires a state of all its citizens uses the weapon of refusal to achieve this aim, by destroying the settlements and evicting their residents, by sending female soldiers to combat units, and by acts of mass desecration of Shabbat, while the other, belief-based side, always accepts the situation, because Rabbi Lichtenstein's arguments will always be valid -- then in such circumstances it is a foregone conclusion that the extreme Left will achieve all its aspirations and the Jewish State of Israel will cease to exist.

Since Israel will be incapable of surviving as a state of all its citizens for any significant period of time (opinion polls have indicated that most people don't give it more than thirty years), and since our Arab neighbors don't seem to want us as citizens with equal rights, obviously the rabbi's logic will inevitably lead to the Final Solution for the Jews of Eretz Israel.

Those who think this is far-fetched should recall the cooperation during the Second World War between Hitler and the founding father of the "Palestinian" movement, the Jerusalem Mufti. Husseini planned to construct gas chambers in the Dotan Valley in Samaria for Rabbi Lichtenstein and his family. Because of the Oslo process and the humanist Palestinian education following it, Husseini's Final Solution is taught to first grade children in Kalkilya.

Consequently, soldiers who don't refuse to obey the eviction order will be responsible for a terrible blood bath, and endanger the very existence of the State of Israel, and the lives of millions of Jews.

The second argument presented by Rabbi Lichtenstein is the need for Halachic judgment.

In this argument, that is apparently a Halachic one, the rabbi explains that since the government claims that the disengagement plan will save the lives of many people, and since it is impossible to know whether or not the government is right, then we must accept the plan motivated by feelings of responsibility and love for the nation and the country.

Since the Halachic considerations of the rabbi are based on the purity of the intentions of Sharon and his son, and since everyone on both the Left and the Right is now aware that this purity does not exist, then the Halachic consideration based on the judgment of the decision makers is invalid. Rabbi Lichtenstein may not wish to hear this, but the disengagement plan was adopted for personal, cynical motives. Consequently the issue of considered judgment is irrelevant. Not only is there no logical explanation for the disengagement plan, but there is also no direct and real starting point for it.

The rabbi's declaration about "our responsibility and aspirations to support with all our strength the Jewish nation" obligates every officer and soldier to proudly refuse to take part in, or aid, the perpetrators of this crime.

No comments: