Monday, January 21, 2008

Diaspora Jews and the Fate of Jerusalem

Cross-posted on JoeSettler

With Olmert busy planning to cut up the city, there is a big debate going on about the Diaspora and its role in determining the future of Jerusalem. There are a 2 basic opposing positions that have been put forward:

1. Jerusalem belongs to all the Jewish people, so Diaspora Jews should have a voice in all matters of dividing Jerusalem and its fate.

2. Diaspora Jews do not live here, don’t serve here, don’t risk their lives here and therefore don’t have a say on matters involving dividing Jerusalem and its fate.

Position 1, when presented by Jews in Israel or in the Diaspora assumes that those Jews in question in the Diaspora are involved, knowledgeable, and connected to Israel and have the same opinion as the presenter.

Position 2, when presented by Jews in Israel or in the Diaspora doesn’t assume that Jews in the Diaspora are involved, knowledgeable, and connected to Israel, also assumes that not living here removes the right to an opinion, and more than likely assumes they don’t have the same opinion as the presenter.

Of course, both positions are wrong (if they weren’t what else would I have to write about).

The reality is that Jews in the Diaspora play a major role and have a major say in the future of Jerusalem.

It is nearly impossible to go to any park, hospital, playground, theatre and so on and not see plaques on the walls thanking the donors for their significant contributions. I recall Olmert standing next to numerous donors from the Diaspora who helped build Jerusalem - and giving them accolades awards, and thanks (and never once did he say they shouldn't push for that new park or playground).

Diaspora Jews have and will continue to play a significant role in building Jerusalem and the future of Israel.

The mistake here is the question itself.

There is no question that Jews in the Disapora don’t have the right to put forward a position involving dividing Jerusalem.

For one simple reason.

Jews in Israel do not have the right to put forward that question either.

Jerusalem and Eretz Yisrael isn’t something given to this generation (or this generation’s politicians), it belongs to all Jews of all generations (that is part of the concept of Yovel buy the way).

No government has the right to give it away. True we can lose parts of it in war, we can be forced to surrender our sovereignty, as has happened. But to willingly give it away!


No Jew in the Diaspora or Israel has the right to negotiate the division of Jerusalem or Eretz Yisrael.

But we all have a say in building its future.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


PsychoToddler said...

Excellent point! Of course, you are assuming that the reader shares your opinion that Jews have no right to give away all or part of Jerusalem.

Anonymous said...

You write: "For one simple reason.
Jews in Israel do not have the right to put forward that question either.
Jerusalem and Eretz Yisrael isn’t something given to this generation (or this generation’s politicians), it belongs to all Jews of all generations (that is part of the concept of Yovel buy the way)."
Can that be correct?
Let us assume - and when I say assume, I mean assume - that there would be peace for Israel with all Arab nations if Jerusalem were divided. Remember, this is an assumption, so there's no point in attacking this premise. Are you then saying that we would HAVE to say no, and continue fighting terrorists, with the threat of war, etc? All for the sake of having sovreignty over the East Jerusalem bus station?
And if you're not saying that, all you're really saying is that you think that the terms currently on offer aren't good enough.
But that's a very different proposition.

Anonymous said...

While I have no comment on your issue, the issue of diasporia residents having a voice, It appears to me that Olmert does not want us to even have a voice, he wants us to be mute.

As you correctly point out, he accepted our tourism money, our donations, our israel bonds, but now that there is an issue on which we have a concern and want a voice he wnats us to be mute. Shame on him

Jack Steiner said...

Well said Joe.

Anonymous said...

It's precisely because no government has the authority to abandon Eretz Yisrael, that governments are morally REQUIRED to look for a peace agreement, even at the expense of part of the land, to keep from losing the whole thing.

Rabin, Peres, and Sharon - the people who actually built the state of Israel, the people who actually conquered Jerusalem and Yehuda and Shomron in 1967 - knew this.

If a blogger (who thinks himself a pioneer because he moved to a subsidized suburban housing development that happened to be across the green line) can't understand this, that only shows that he needs to grow up.

And yes, this issue is distinct from whether a particular policy is wise or not. Olmert's policies deserve plenty of criticism. But not on the grounds that Muqata is offering.

Anonymous said...

Let us assume - and when I say assume, I mean assume - that man could walk on the moon without an oxygen tank.

Remember, this is an assumption, so there's no point in attacking this premise. Are you then saying that we would HAVE to say eat spaghetti every night?

Anonymous said...

"It's precisely because no government has the authority to abandon Eretz Yisrael, that governments are morally REQUIRED to look for a peace agreement, even at the expense of part of the land, to keep from losing the whole thing."

Alternatively it can consider other options including those I've read put foward on this blog.

But considering alternative options beyond the tired and failed ones that keep getting served to us day after day (along with bs taglines like subsidized settler housing) requires a moral maturity beyond your capability.

SuperRaizy said...

Serandez said that it's your birthday and that you look maaahvelous.
Happy Birthday!

Anonymous said...

Um, orange&black, I DO consider alternative options beyond the "tired and failed" ones. It's you who refuse to consider a whole range of alternative options - some of them admittedly idiotic, some not idiotic at all - based on spurious theological red lines. You'd convince a lot more people if you explained to them why the latest peace process was misguided, not heretical.

As far as "bs" about subsidies: there are many places in Israel that get subsidies, it's nothing to be ashamed of, it just means you shouldn't see yourself as some kind of hero who built a city from scratch with your bare hands. The water tower on your hillside, the electric lines, the sewage system, the roads you drive on - they were built by the Knesset, not by teenagers in orange t-shirts.

Twenty years ago the "powers that be" thought that Tel Aviv would be safer with Jews living where you are, now they think the opposite. They put you there, now they want to take you out. If you have chosen to avoid the debate by speaking only in the mumbo-jumbo of messianic destiny, you have nobody except yourself to blame.

Lion of Zion said...

i actually incline toward the second position (despite this making me a hypocrite). however, i do like to point out that

a) i'm entitled to an opinion about cuba, europe, mars and russia. i'm also entitled to an opinion about jerusalem

b) at the end of the day, israel pretty much follows the diplomatic line set for it by the US. so if it is my president/congress that pressures israel into doing something, by extension i do have a right to speak out against that something.

Anonymous said...

This latest "peace process" is a rehashing and continuation of the same "proven to be a complete failure" old peace process and failed formulas. There is nothing new there. Throw out Jews from their homes for peace. Give away parts of Erets Israel to an enemy who continues to be an enemy in the hope of buying them off. Try to create a pretend separation between them and us. All the while ignoring they don’t want just the small piece of the pie you keep putting on their side of the table.

Maybe its time you considered alternative plans that can work such as Beni Elons plan for one. I have not heard anyone on your side of the political spectrum do anything but ignore it or laugh it off without explaining why. I’ve heard right here on the Muqata the plan to buy them out and move them out. That is a formula that has been tried and known to work. Yet you on the left would never even consider it, other than to call it fascist except against Jews.

I'm sorry you never heard of TAXES. You see we, even settlers in Kiryat Sefer and Beitar Ilit, pay taxes. WE subsidize our water towers, and roads. Our electric bills subsidize our electric lines that the electric company is more than happy to lay down for us for the profit they will make. The government doesn't build us parks and lay down roads unless and until it knows it will be getting all the money back plus profit from land sales and taxes.

Whatever they thought would be 20 years ago, it was certainly proven 2 years ago, that Tel Aviv will be in greater danger by shortening the border. But you’d have to take your head out of the sand to see that.

The only Messianists in the room are leftists like yourself who keep trying to offer your false god of peace the same sacrifices of human lives in your failed attempt to appease his wrath using the same exact methods wrapped up in different wrapping paper.

That your peace process keeps failing has only you to blame, because all you do is rehash the same plans over and over and over again.

Anonymous said...

don't you just hate 'anonymous' posters?

Anonymous said...

Well said.

If giving the Land of Israel to Arabs and deporting Jews brings peace (and it doesn't), then Haifa, Tel Aviv and Beer Sheva should be on the table. Not Jerusalem.

Anonymous said...

I am the above anonymous poster, sorry for annoying people with my anonymity.

I just read Beni Elon's plan and I absolutely agree with it (though practically speaking, I think it can only be implemented gradually, over a few decades, not by grand political steps as Elon says). I guess that doesn't make me a very good leftist, does it?

Funny how Elon never mentions the Jewish people's right to Eretz Yisrael. To quote him, "This plan prioritizes the treatment of human issues over empty symbols."

Also funny how Elon is willing to sign a peace agreement with "Jordan/Palestine" which leaves the entire Gilead (part of Eretz Yisrael) part of a non-Jewish state. I thought no leader had the right to do that.

Basically, Elon comes much closer to agreeing with me than with you.

The problem is not that I worship the god of peace. It's that you worship the god of territory. And the more you worship it, the less likely you are to keep it in the long term.

Anonymous said...

1. Elon is absolutely not talking about surrendering any territory currently under Israeli control. That distinction is very clear.

2. Elon is presenting an alternative political solution.

3. If you read the complete online version under the section titled "Judea and Samaria - the cradle of Jewish civilization" the Jewish people's right to Eretz Yisrael is laid out in black and white.

4. Elon also completes his plan with the sentence, "This plan is founded on the fundamental historic and Biblical truth that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people." I don't think he can be any clearer than that.

5. I do not understand your obsession with presuming that religious Jews worship "land".

It is a very strange assumption on your part, and my left-wing friends who religiously share the same belief and have tried to explain it to me, keep sounding like "post-nationalist" ideologues who don't believe in basic concepts like borders, strategic depth, individual countries, national pride, and historical rights.

6. Nor can they sufficiently explain to me why Israel has a stronger right to retain control over Yafo and the Galilee (both with an Arab majority), or the old Tel Aviv bus station (with its non-Israeli majority) as opposed to the Old City of Jerusalem, Hebron or the Temple Mount with their historical significance, and Gush Etzion, Pisgat Zeev, Gilo, and Har Homa with their nearly 100% Jewish residency.

7. Their minority opinion that the '49 armistice lines (not border) somehow imparts to one occupation more legitimacy than the other certainly doesn't jive with the rather unified and opposing Arab position on this matters.

It certainly goes against other legal and historical precedents on this matter - except, of course, when Israel is under discussion.

Anonymous said...

orange and black:
i thought you wouldn't be able to follow an argument if you disagreed with its premise.
keeping taking the tablets and voting right-wing: but your grand-children won't be munching falafel outside the shechem gate - and you know it.

Anonymous said...

Anyone can create impossible premises and then demand you agree with their impossible conclusions that subsequently result.

You proved the point, just like all supporters of Oslo and its successors have done.

APRPEH said...

This subject came up in November: Olmert the Forsaken.
I can sympathize with the jilted ex forced to pay alimony without asking any questions.

There is a huge danger in the belief that diaspora Jews have no say in Jerusalem and Israel. It isn't for naught that Jews have davened to see His return to Eretz Hakodesh. Jews will always seek to have influence on matters pertaining to Jerusalem. They may, however seek other avenues.

Otoh, there are plenty of Jews that if I had any say in the matter would be asked not to speak. The great divisions within Jewish religious belief spill over into Middle East politics. Israel's best friends and worst enemies are us. And when confusion as to message is present, the door is open for others to make the decisions. Thanks Birmingham Condi.

Anonymous said...

You're right, I did not read carefully at the very end of the document, where he mentions our right to all of Eretz Yisrael - before immediately abandoning that right in practice. What's the difference between compromising east of the Jordan and west of it? Theologically, there is none. Militarily, there's a world of difference. That's all I'm saying. I'm not demanding that you be Olmert. I'm only demanding that you be Benny Elon.

Just to clarify, I do not believe that religious Jews worship land. I believe that someone who appears to worship land, such as yourself, cannot actually be religious. Or at least, cannot be considered to be accurately following the Torah.

Anonymous said...

1. As I quite clearly stated above, there is a clear (halachic) distinction between abandoning land and sovereignty currently under control vs. the “who, what, when” of conquering uncontrolled parts of Eretz Yisrael.

At the most simplest level, the former would appear to come under the heading of a “negative” commandment, while the latter a “positive” commandment. I presume you know the functional and fundamental differences between the two if you are choosing to argue with me on the halachic level.

Furthermore, I would hope you will take the time to actually look up the laws regarding militarily conquest of the land and when it is and when it is not applied, before making blanket statements.

That is the most simplest difference between East and West of the Jordan on the halachic level.

I hope that clears up that distinction for you.

2. Elon’s document is a “regional solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict “, not a pissing contest as to whose Rights to Eretz Yisrael are stronger.

Following that premise of the documents definition, he only need state in his “Underlying Principles” section as to why Israel has the right to all of Eretz Yisrael. If he had put his “Underlying Principles” first, you would probably just ask the question as to why he needed to put it first.

But as you read, he clearly wrote:
This plan is founded on the fundamental historic and Biblical truth that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people.
However, it realizes only part of this principle because it accepts the existence of a Palestinian state east of the Jordan River, part of the Biblical land of Israel.

In short Elon makes the Halachic distinction between territories already under sovereignty and territories not yet there.

He clearly does not abolish our claim to Ever l’Yarden, just defers its political realization, as currently allowed under the halachah .

Following your rather irrational “worshiping the land” belief I can only assume that its application is universal, and not just applicable to a political point you disagree with.

As I and other religious Jews are meticulous about keeping Kosher and specifically eating kosher meat, and we go out of our way to follow the mitzvah of kosher food and shchittah, I must assume that following your logic, that we worship food and cows (perhaps not an illogical argument if you’ve ever gone away to a hotel for Pesach).

Therefore, following your belief, by keeping Kosher, we are not religious.

3. Finally, as an aside, I would argue that there is a distinction between Halacha, which is the decision making process and tool, and Theology which is in a more philosophical realm, and probably less relevant to the decision making process and day to day life.

I believe you are trying to apply your understanding of Jewish philosophy to the Halacha, the Halachic process and decision making.

It reminds me of my Israeli friend who could not understand why carrying heavy furniture up and down stairs is allowed on Shabbat, while flicking his Bic isn’t. The former is clearly “Melachah” (work) while the latter isn’t. All the while refusing to understand that the word “Melachah” is a legal/halachic term with a specific halachic definition and is being used within the framework of halacha, as opposed to the common usage word he is only familiar with.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. JoeSettler has asked me to pont out that your entire position is flawed because you are working on the incorrect assumption that the Arab's conflict and dispute with Israel and the Jews is territorial.

Anonymous said...

1. Negative and positive commandments are both commandments. A situation of bittul mitzvat aseh is forbidden too. If you can compromise on one because of pikuach nefesh, you can compromise on the other.

2. Keeping a mitzvah does not mean you are worshiping the object of the mitzvah. It means you worship the source of the mitzvah, God. But there are too many "dati leumi" people who don't see Eretz Yisrael as simply one mitzvah, but rather as its own independent source of religious authority. What does the slogan "Am yisrael, eretz yisrael, torat yisrael" mean, if not that Eretz Yisrael is a value outside and distinct of the Torah? As a Torah-keeping Jew I cannot accept that, especially when "eretz yisrael" becomes so important that the possible mitzvah of pikuach nefesh is automatically excluded from the discussion.

3. Assuming Mrs. Joesettler's comments are representative of her views, I feel she is more on my side than on yours. She, at least, is criticizing me based on practical considerations - not inventing inconsistent theological systems to show why I'm heretical.

But the more likely possibility is that she's making the same mistake you keep making. I'm trying my hardest to get you to distinguish between halachic analysis and policy analysis, and I'm failing. Whenever I say that a certain policy may be counterproductive, you say the mitzvah of yishuv eretz yisrael means it's not even up for discussion. Whenever I say that you're misrepresenting the theological issues, you accuse me of pushing a specific misguided/irresponsible political policy.

To me, your inability to separate "what does halacha allow us to do" from "what are the consequences of what we do" is a little annoying, that's all. And you're free to annoy me if you so please. But perhaps you might consider how the secular/traditional/Russian majority of Israeli society reacts to you. They don't want Kassams raining down on them and they don't want Jews to be kicked out of their homes if at all possible. But they also don't want to go to prayer rallies where the only reason given against withdrawal is that it's prohibited by a religion which they don't fully believe in or follow. Many of them would have worked to prevent the disengagement - but you gave them no role, as secular people, in the orange camp. The "State of Judea" may have a majority religious population and religious discourse, but the state of Israel has neither. As long as you ignore this fact, you will continue to endanger yourself, and not only yourself, but me and the rest of us as well. That's why I'm spending so much effort harping on this single, complex but very important point.

Anonymous said...

1. Negative and Positive commandments have functionally differences.

I am clearly not talking about Bitul Mitzvah, but the preconditions for the requirement to fulfill the Mitzvah to be established in the first place.

To put it in terms of a different Positive Mitvah that might give you a better understanding, consider “Redeeming the First Born Son”.

If the condition for the obligation to fulfill this Mitzvah, happens to never occur, no sin has happened if you don’t fulfill it. It is not a Bitul Mitzvah, simply as the prerequisite conditions for this Mitzvah to be obligatory doesn’t exist.

The same for the Positive commandment of conquering the remaining territories of Eretz Yisrael - at the moment.

“Pikuach Nefesh” (when it is permissible to temporarily forgo a Positive or Negative Mitzvah in the case of saving Human life), is probably the most abused and misunderstood Mitzvah by those on the Secular, non-Orthodox, and Left, and commonly used to justify or argue the permissibility of any (or many) forbidden activities, such as doing any activity in the army on Shabbat – a very commonly heard argument.

The application of “Pikuach Nefesh” is actually surprisingly complicated. But following a consistent (and not politically selective) application of the Secular and Left’s stated usage and understanding of it, it would for instance forbid any woman from getting pregnant as she might die at birth (especially before modern medicine), just to give and example that isn’t ad absurdum.

„Torat Yisrael, Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael“ is a philosophy and concept espoused by Rav Kook.

There are quite a number of interpretations of what he meant.

But very likely he originated the concept from the “Chut Hameshulash” or the “tripartite thread” (mentioned in Kohelet 4:12).

It is the concept that something (like a string) made up of 3 intertwined parts is very strong and permanent, as opposed to something made of 1 or 2 twisted parts. The concept is also seen in the 3 Patriarchs, and the 3 pillars mentioned in Pikei Avot. It is a concept that was apparently taken and distorted by the Xians for their Holy Trinity.

From references he made and from statements by his students, it seems most likely the reference was made in terms of the secular Jews who were building the land, and the Eastern European Jews who were sitting and learning Torah in Europe.

On one hand, on the individual level, neither group was fulfilling their obligations to stand on all three pillars. On the other hand, as a unified entity, everyone was playing a role a distinct role in helping the entire Am Yisrael fulfill all their obligations. It is was used as both criticism and praise.

Of course Rav Kook was known to make statements that could be understood on many levels.

On a definition level, my understanding is less culturally specific.

In terms of defining the Community or Children of Israel as the Nation of Israel it requires 3 components. (a) a Constitution (the Torah), (b) Land and a State (Eretz Yisrael) and (c) a people (Klal Yisrael).

If we are to achieve our national aspirations, we need all 3.

On a final level, at least 20% of the mitzvoth can only be fulfilled in Eretz Yisrael. As a prerequisite for fulfilling more mitzvot sovereignty, autonomy, and control are required. Therefore Eretz Yisrael does take an important and central role. That is why so much of our prayers concentrate on the return to Israel and sovereignty.

Actually, Rav Ovadiah Yosef places a seemingly inordinate amount of weight on the Pikuach Nefesh issue and the question has hardly been excluded from rabbinical discussions. But Rav Yosef conclusions appears to be a lone voice.

3a. Actually, Mrs. JoeSettler meant that the Arabs don’t want the State of Israel here for one of two reasons: (a) The existence of the State of Israel is an incompatible religious thorn in Islamic theology, and (b) the existence of the State of Israel is an incompatible political thorn in the goal of Pan-Arabic political hegemony.

As I understand my wife, the onus on Peace resides solely on the Arabs. Only if they give up their religious and political ideologies will peace be possible. The existence of even a diminished State of Yisrael simply does not remove the religious and political incompatibilities we cause them by our very presence, and therefore abandoning parts of Eretz Yisrael cannot and will not bring peace.

That is why they attacked us before ‘67 and even before ‘48. And then continued to attack us after ’05.

A peace with the Arabs is possible only if they could accept our political and physical presence.

If they could change their religious and political ideologies to accept us, then they would also have no problem with “Eretz Yisrael HaShleima” and there would be no reason to abandon parts of Eretz Yisrael for peace.

But, the fact that their demands always require the expulsion, removal, and diminishment of the State of Israel and of Jews clearly implies that they have not changed their core beliefs.

In summary, she is saying that shortening Israel won’t bring Peace, but rather Arab core beliefs will need to change – and accepting Eretz Yisrael HaShleima is the indication that it has changed.

Her purely political analysis states that cutting Israel down to the ’49 armistice line will not bring peace - only a concerted attack against a clearly weakened State of Israel.

She has a religious point-of-view too, but that is not what she raised.

3b. As a Torah observant Jew, we filter all our actions and decisions through Halacha. Is an action permissible? Is an action obligatory? Part of that decision process is considering the consequences. The Torah and Halacha are our legal and moral guideposts.

I’m sorry you find that annoying.

In a pure political analysis, quite a large number of leaders, States, and independent Think Tanks believe that the dissolution of the State of Yisrael would make quite a lot nations happy, and bring peace, unity, and lower oil prices. But that is their political filter, not ours.

In case you haven’t noticed, protests are rather ineffectual in this country.

Regardless, as Jews one of our obligations when preparing to fight a battle is Prayer.

The other thing you might have missed is how apathetic this country has gotten – because democratic protest have no effect on the media and leadership or their decisions.

I don’t believe the traditional Israeli majority didn’t see a role during disengagement, it is because they have been driven down so hard by the establishment to believe they can’t effect change.

Protests and civil disobedience are two non-religious techniques they could have participated in.

To prove my point, look at the anti-Olmert protests right now by the milluimnikim. It has gone nowhere all year long, and is likely to continue to go nowhere after Winnograd comes out. The people have been “properly trained” to not react anymore.

You cannot tell me that the majority of citizens see no role in that fight. It even crosses political lines.

The State of Israel has unfortunately reached a State of Apathy. The “dati-leumi” crowd is the only group that haven’t yet been beaten down, and hopefully won’t be.

And I’m sorry that I say this, but I think the fact that the residents of Sderot don’t consider making their own rockets and shooting them back at Gaza is another sign of apathy.

Since Oslo, it has been the philosophies and experiments by the Left that have brought us to this situation. Israel brought back the terrorists from Tunis, gave them land, autonomy, weapons, training, looked the other way at overt violations, destroyed settlements, threw Jews out of their homes, and ignored attacks on our people.

They have been progressively fulfilling everything the Arabs have been demanding for peace.

Yet the situation only got increasingly worse with each capitulation for peace.

It is clear that there is only 1 ideological side that is endangering us all by promoting their policies.

It is only in post-modern Israeli thought that territory has no value. Traditional military and political philosophy would disagree. So would the Arabs.

If you want to consider just the non-religious aspects of this war and decision making process, then you need to accept the premises put forward by my wife, which is a very accurate analysis of the fundamental, underlying problem.

Peace is solely in the hands and minds of the Arabs. Once they can accept us – as is, peace will be possible.

Until they make that fundamental change, no real and lasting peace will ever be possible.

The only sign of a paradigm shift in their thinking will be when they stop demanding that the State of Israel give up land under our control (and certainly don’t add on that we have to absorb unlimited Arab “refugees” into the one-state solution).

Anonymous said...

Shavua Tov,

As the statements of Rav Kook were raised as well as the question of "Pikuach Nefesh", I looked what Rav Kook had to say about the matter. The quotes are from Torat Eretz Yisrael p.182-185 which are quotes from speeches by Rav Kook.

Here are some relevant excerpts. I would write the whole thing, but it is too many pages.

“Pikuach Nefesh exists in all wars. This is also the case in the Milchemet Mitzvah of keeping all of Eretz Yisrael in our hands. We enter into war knowing that lives will be endangered. Rashi states that war is the a situation where people kill and are killed. This is the only precept in the Torah that demands this. With every other precept of the Torah which states: ‘Allow yourself to be killed rather than transgress,’ there is absolutely no justification to stand at the outset in the face of certain danger and be killed. If it is possible to escape, one escapes. But the precept to conquer the Land of Israel and to rule over it, comes even at the risk of one’s life”

“The Torah commands us to conquer Eretz Yisrael and to establish our sovereignty here. There is no option to abandon any territory, for any reason whatsoever. It is well known that the principle understandings of the rulings of the Torah, ‘To be killed and not to transgress,’ only concerns murder, incest and worshipping idols. If someone compels us to commit one of these sins at the threat of our lives, we are to be killed rather than obey. That is true in normal situations, but in times of decrees and acts of compulsions against us, even a small matter assusmes serious proportions, and one is to sacrifice one’s life. It doesn’t matter where the compulsion comes from, even if, G-d forbid, it comes from Jews.”

“Standing against these clear matters is a Halachic question whether the obligation to give up one’s life applies…

…This however is not a valid argument in our case of surrendering our Land to the gentiles. For there gain in taking Israel away from us is precisely the intention to rule over the Land, and to prevent us from doing so, and this is in direct opposition to the command of the Torah that we be the Land’s rulers. The intentions of our enemies is they rule here, and that we don’t, and that is some the Torah forbids us to allow.

Anonymous said...

1. While, as you state, many mitzvot do not apply in certain sets of circumstances, that's not the case here. All the rishonim, achronim, and maamarei chazal who thought there was a mitzvah of yishuv eretz yisrael bazman hazeh were speaking in a reality in which there was no territory to defend, only territory to conquer. Unless R' Kook is inventing a halachic position with no precedent among earlier authorities, and I don't think he had the desire or authority to do that, then he'd require you to conquer Jordan and Lebanon at the soonest possible opportunity.

2a. R' Ovadiah's stance on giving up territory is the rule, not the exception. Virtually all charedi halachic authorities as well as R' Soloveitchik have ruled the same way as him. R' Kook is the odd one out on this issue, even if everyone you know happens to follow him.

2b. "Pikuach nefesh" as used in this context is something of a misnomer. Along with "pure" pikuach nefesh (which follows from the very respectable halachic position that yishuv eretz yisrael is not obligatory these days), there is the position that losing some territory could be a net gain, if it allowed us to strengthen our hold on the remaining territory. There is little practical difference between these positions. It is not always obvious which rabbi holds by which, but together these positions cover the vast majority of the Orthodox spectrum. Again, R' Kook is the daat yachid here.

3. Arabs demand what they think they can get. If the Israeli right wing can't come up with a coherent long-term policy, then the left wing's outlook will continue to dominate Israeli political discourse, the red lines will keep shifting, and the Arabs will keep demanding everything because they keep getting closer to having it. If the Israeli right wing ever comes up with a popularly accepted long-term platform, then the Arabs will be forced to choose between coexistence and perpetual suffering. In the long term, as with all other human beings, their selfish instinct likely will get the best of them and they'll opt for coexistence. But to expect them to give up claims to the land they live on, just because the Torah says it doesn't belong to them, is the height of self-centeredness.

4. The protests have already gotten rid of Peretz and Halutz, and Olmert may soon follow. If your personal protests have little effect, perhaps it is because you live surrounded by people who think exactly like you, and you have no contact with the people who need convincing? If you had ever visited Israel (um, that line is a bit harsh but I will let it stand), then you would know that most people are furious with Olmert et al. but just don't see any way of changing matters before the next election. Is that apathy? Maybe it's just sensible realism. (A quality which seems to be lacking in the settlements.)

5. More Israelis have been killed in the West Bank in recent months than by rockets from Gaza. Does the fact that you haven't yet gone and shot a few randomly chosen Arabs mean that you too are apathetic?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Rav Kook is hardly a da’at yachid. I would mention Rav Nebentzal just to name one contemporary Gadol who holds it is absolutely forbidden to abandon any territory. It goes beyond disingenuous on your part to imply that Rav Kook is a da’at yachid, or is even the minority opinion.

Furthermore, I would posit that the position of Rav Yosef, obviously your selection of Chareidi rabbis and perhaps even Rav Y. Soloveitchik is specifically not that Pikuach Nefesh takes precedence over Yishuv Eretz Yisrael – and it fact they would hold that it doesn’t, but rather they hold there is no obligatory mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael today.

Which would clearly explain why “Virtually all Chareidi halachic authorities” would hold the same opinion.

I take it you are Chareidi.

As an aside, R. Yosef this month has changed his stance on giving up land for peace. My understanding is that he actually thought Oslo and Land for Peace would bring peace, and now no longer believes that.

And statements by Rav Aharon Soloveitchik clearly places him against giving up land for Peace.

The right wing has a coherent long-term policy. We are fighting an uphill battle to get that message out and accepted. But we will.

And our platform provides an honorable, fair, and just solution to the Arab’s problem – and not just because the Torah says so, though that is what you choose to believe.

I think suicide bombers and the conditions in Gaza shows just how far (and farther) they will choose to perpetually suffer in order to beat us. So, perhaps it is time you let that argument go, and give our solution a chance.

4. We’ll see how fast Olmert goes. I wouldn’t bet on it.

From where I stand, Halutz left because of pressure by the media and more importantly by Olmert who needed a fall-guy, Peretz by his own party after losing his party’s chairmanship, rather than by popular external protest.

But I assume you are aware that you just proved my point.

Most people “don't see any way of changing matters before the next election”.

Once the government has you believing (from experience) that your voice is powerless, your numbers, and even your civil disobedience mean nothing, then I agree, the sensible thing to do is to hide under the covers until the storm passes and not fight.

But isn’t that sad, when the “sensible” thing to do, is to do nothing, because the government you live under ignores your voice and even your vote, and when you even try to hand out pamphlets criticizing the government you go to jail or get beat up by the police?

Therefore, you’re right, apathy is sensible realism in a despotic country that doesn’t play by democratic rules, but not in a modern democracy that Israel claims to strive to be.

5. Far more Israelis are living horribly in trauma in Sderot than in the Judea and Samaria. I wasn’t aware we were counting numbers. What’s your point?

A high school in Gush Etzion was attacked last week by Arab terrorists. The settlers there took the initiative and killed the terrorists - saving lives. So yes, we defend ourselves against the kinds of attacks we are facing. And yes, I’d like to see the residents of Sderot do the same.

Anonymous said...

The people that voted Sharon voted for "The future of Gush Katif is Tel Aviv". The majority of Likud members overwhelmingly voted against Sharon's subsequent disengagement plan and were completely ignored.

The (majority of) people do not want Land for Peace. But they are not being allowed any other options, no matter how they vote.

Anonymous said...

1. You are repeating me; I said in my last post that one of the two theoretical positions lumped under "pikuach nefesh" is that there's no obligation of yishuv eretz yisrael today.

2. What are your sources for R' Nebentzal and RAS? I can't find any sources regarding the former's position. I highly doubt RAS is against withdrawal for anything more than practical reasons.

3. I'm charedi? First I've heard of it. But if valuing the position of rabbis other than R' Kook makes me charedi, then I guess I must indeed be charedi, no matter how surprising that would be to everyone who knows me.

4. What coherent right-wing policy? I honestly have no idea which policy you are referring to. Benny Elon's plan? When has anyone except Benny Elon ever set out to promote it? Why do thousands of people get together to hike to Homesh every couple weeks, but never to demonstrate for the Elon plan? When a community excludes itself from the country's political discourse, how can it complain when it doesn't get what it wants?

4. Speak for yourself - YOUR "voice, numbers, and civil disobedience mean[ing] nothing" are leading you to "hide under the covers" and reject participation in the State of Israel. You are projecting that attitude onto the rest of Israel without any justification.

5. Like it or not, the two parties which received the most votes in the last election (Kadima+Avodah) are dedicated to territorial compromise. So what are you smoking which makes you think a policy of territorial compromise is undemocratic? The last couple years, George Bush's approval ratings haven't been much better than Olmert's. Yet nobody says the US is undemocratic because Americans have to wait until 2009 for a new government.

6. Proving your point?? Olmert needed a "fall guy", and the Avodah party decided to change their leadership, precisely *because* they knew the public was dissatisfied. It's funny how much this "apathetic" public manages to accomplish, despite having no direct influence before the next elections.

7. True, daily life is worse in Sderot than where you live. So why don't YOU go to Sderot and shoot rockets into Gaza? Are you too apathetic about Sderot?

Anonymous said...

Good, so you would agree, for those that hold there is an obligation, then Pikuach Nefesh is not applicable – and that is not an opinion of one.

A friend of mine is in the position to ask Rav Nebentzal, and did. As for RAS, I don’t know his considerations, just his actions.

Benny Elon is presenting a detailed, practical implementation of the Right’s “Jordan is Palestine” platform.
I believe the slogan and policy was first coined by the Likud.
Surely, even you have heard it mentioned over the years, even if you pooh-poohed it.

Furthermore, the Right has continuously presented policies of offering the Arabs a better life outside of Eretz Yisrael in exchange for financial incentives (quietly and successfuly being implemented by organizations like El Ad), but no one on the Left is even willing to consider that an option – typically calling it fascist.

When a sector is continuously stomped on by the establishment, when unprovoked police brutality and arbitrary arrests against non-violent demonstrators is a commonly used tactic, when handing out pamphlets detailing the PA’s involvement in terror lands you in jail, when police are caught on video perjuring themselves about the “violence” of Right-wing protesters and are then not punished, when the people voted against Mitznah’s disengagement policy and then got it under Sharon - then one learns that what you call “public discourse” is not the way to fight the inequities and evil in the system as it has no effect on the facts on the ground.

And it is a shame you are purposely ignore that the democratic process gets selectively applied in Israel.

The Likud platform that Sharon was elected on was quite clear – when Mitzna’s disengagement and territorial compromise was roundly rejected. The internal Likud vote deciding Likud policy on the disengagement was quite clear and was then completely ignored. So yes, that is undemocratic.

A fall guy takes the sword, while the real responsible party is now an Etrog, and completely easily avoids the ineffective backlash of public opinion simply by providing a convenient scapegoat.

The residents of Sderot could try to defend themselves if they really wanted to, they don’t need me. And if I go there, no one but women and children will be around to defend my home on the hilltop.

Of course, the police just arrested a number of Sderot residents for finally almost launching a serious protest against the government, after suffering too many rocket attacks. Which resident of Sderot might do that now?

Anonymous said...

1. I wonder what exactly your friend asked R' Nebentzal and what he responsed. Looking online I see that he is controversial for calling anyone who gives up territory a "rodef". That's pikuach nefesh language, not yishuv eretz yisrael language.

And you basically are saying you have no idea what RAS thinks.

So I repeat, name me a halachic authority other than R' Kook who thinks that you cannot give away land no matter what the security considerations.

And as for R' Kook himself, I wonder whether he really thought that, and if so whether he would still think so today. The nature of dialectical systems of thought such as his is that they legitimize evolution, as the absolute needs of one generation are superseded by the differing role of the next. Just as R' Kook's generation had a different role than the generations preceding it, so he would have granted our generation's role differs from that of his own. So it's problematic to superimpose a vision from the 1930s onto the current situation, as if nothing (for example the Holocaust) had happened or changed in the world since then. R' Kook himself likely did not intend for us to do that. Practically speaking, when (as in the current situation, and unlike in the past) one is forced to choose between identification with Eretz Yisrael and with Am Yisrael, I suspect R' Kook would have opted for identification with the latter.

2. I remember reading about "Jordan is Palestine" once. I think it was in a history book. Then, in the 1990s and early 2000s, I saw it mentioned on a few fringe websites. Then, after the disengagement was already agreed upon, Benny Elon came up with his plan as a sort of "if you have to do something, at least do this instead!" which, once the the disengagement was "done", was forgotten. This comment thread is probably the first time I've seen it mentioned since then (and only when I asked for examples of right-wing policy). Seriously, nobody on the right wing is promoting this! None of them cares. And it's not because they're promoting a different policy, it's because they're promoting no policy whatsoever, and they see no problem with that!

3. I have no problem with Elad buying back houses from Arabs or whatever they do, but that it not an example of national policy. Relatively speaking their influence is minimal. If they were large enough to make a significant difference, then we'd have to deal with the side-effect of lots of cash being funneled towards people, many of whom support terrorism. Not a simple problem. National policy is better.

4. Israel has never been consistent about civil rights the way the US has. Funny how the right wing didn't care as long the people being "stomped on" were Arabs and charedim. So now when the guns are turned against them, nobody has sympathy for them. Someday in the future, in our history textbooks we'll read something like:

"First they came for the Arabs, and I did not speak up because they all support terrorists. Then they came for the charedim, and I didn't speak up because they were anti-Zionist and had it coming to them. Then they came for the settlers, and by that time there was nobody left to speak up."

Anyway, this will probably be my last reply; I don't really have time to keep checking this website and writing long responses every day or two indefinitely.

Nice arguing with you. :)

Anonymous said...

It was fun. We'll do it again another time.

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