Question & Answer With Jameel: Religious Zionism After The Disengagement
A Simple Jew asks:
Following the Israeli government's expulsion of Jews from Gaza, one person concluded, "The idea that a secular government could possess sanctity and be embraced by the religious as the "a tchalta de-ge'ulah" [beginning of the redemption] went down like the Titanic." As a Jewish settler who lives in the "West Bank", how have you seen Religious Zionism evolve since the Disengagement?
Since the Disengagement, much of the Religious Zionist community has realigned its positions and understanding of "atchalta de-ge'ulah" with respect to the State of Israel and it's institutions, though each sphere has it's own unique ramifications.
To preface, there are still those who have not changed their thinking in the slightest; those include R' Shlomo Aviner and his followers, who make no differentiation between before and after the Disengagement and adhere to the position that there is inherent holiness to the State and it's institutions, regardless of the decisions of this or that secular government. Their worldview ascribes inherent holiness to the IDF, regardless of the directives given to it by the government -- and refusing orders is considered taboo at (almost) all costs. I know people who would call the police if they heard anyone even discussing the idea of refusing orders to evict Jews from their homes.
That said, there are many "Religious Zionists" (myself included) who feel much more jaded when it comes to respect for the government. Some people no longer stand up for the "prayer for the welfare of the State of Israel", or stand up only after the part that "blesses" the political leadership of the State (they stand for the part where the armed forces are given a bracha). Ad-hoc changes are sometimes inserted; i.e., "bless the IDF WHEN they are protecting the land" -- the word "when" is added to differentiate between protecting the land and fulfilling the political edicts of the government which could include evicting Jews from their homes, destroying Jewish communities, releasing terrorists, and using administrative detention (withholding due legal process) against right-wing activists as a means of stifling political criticism. Instead of "protect the State with Your kindness", a cynical replacement is sometimes stated "protect the State from it's leaders, ministers and advisers."
Regarding the IDF, over 40% of graduating combat officers are currently from the "religious" camp and the number of religious soldiers in elite units continues to rise. However, this trend may be peaking as some religious teenagers have begun to have second thoughts about military service. Why strive for military advancement and excellence when a government may use the IDF to further political policy that runs contrary to the values of Religious Zionism (Jewish education, Social Jewish policy and Settling the land)? When Roi Klein, HY'D, a Religious Zionist IDF officer from the West Bank settlement of Eli, made the ultimate sacrifice in the past Lebanon war, and died by Kiddush Hashem -- jumping on a grenade to save the lives of his soldiers, Prime Minister Olmert invoked Roi Klein's name, his actions, and the "success" of the Second Lebanon war -- to directly further Olmert's stated plan of removing Jews from the "West Bank", a plan which would include Roi Klein's young widow and orphaned children. This is a prime example of the disgust people feel for Olmert today, and the wary distrust that has grown between settlers and the army. Will a selfless sacrifice today on behalf of security for the State be used tomorrow to evict one's own family from their home?
While I still recited Hallel this past Yom Haatzmaut my level of joy has diminished. The concept of "atchalta de-ge'ulah" has not gone down like the Titanic but the redemption process feels like it's velocity has slowed, the energy has gotten bogged down...and worst of all, it may have entered a phase of "hester panim". The right wing political leadership is currently stagnant, both in and out of the Knesset. Grass root organizations like Moetztet Yesha should have organized a huge rally while President Bush is in Israel now; hundreds of thousands could have attended sending a clear message of the country's loyalty to the land and Jerusalem. Instead, the lack a vocal opposition is viewed as a tried, resigned concession to the acceptance of territorial compromise.
That said, the potential for redemption through the State still clearly exists. "If you believe something can be broken, believe it can be fixed."
The birth rate of the religious and chareidi community far outpaces that of the secular one; Ariel Sharon, who led the Disengagement has 2 grandchildren, while Rav Druckman, one of the leaders of the Religious Zionist movement has over 70 grandchildren. While it may take time, the religious community will eventually be the majority in Israel.
And yet, there is a new generation of religious/"settler" youth, who have grown up in the furnace of confrontation with the authorities over the expulsions -- both physically and ideologically. Unlike many of their "tiring" parents, these youth are inspired, committed, and determined -- they will be ready to take the reigns of power as soon as the demographics enable them to. It is not unlikely that a 14-year-old girl who sat for months in the Masiyahu prison for protesting the expulsion, will be eventually be our Prime Minister; teenagers who had their arms and legs broken by police brutality in Amona will be the government ministers of the Police, and the IDF soldiers who refused orders to evict Jews from Hevron will be chiefs of staff.
התנערי מעפר קומי לבשי תפרארתך עמי - Shake off the dust and arise, don your clothes of nobility my nation!
We need to accept with patience that it may take time to return to the direction we firmly believe is the correct one. "Now" organizations are the current fad, such as "Peace Now" -- we have been pummeled with the message of instant gratification requiring everything "now." Patience!
We will continue settling Eretz Yisrael despite the hardships, and while the setbacks may be depressing -- my children are well aware that if I personally don't merit seeing Gush Katif rebuilt and thriving with Jewish communities, then they are responsible to return and rebuild. If not them, then their children.
If I forget thee Yerushalayim, may my right hand lose it's skill.
We waited close to 2000 years for Yerushalayim's rebuilding to begin.
We waited for 19 years to rebuild the destroyed communities of Gush Etzion after 1948, and we rebuilt them.
In time, Gush Katif and the Northern Shomron communities will also be rebuilt.
(עוד תטעי כרמים בהרי שומרון (ירמיהו לא, ד - Again will you plant vineyards in the Shomron Mountains
(ולא ינטשו עוד מעל אדמתם אשר נתתי להם, אמר ד' א-להיך (עמוס ט', ט - And never again will you be uprooted from your land than I have given you, said Hashem, your G-d.