ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Reflections on Jewish Self-Destruction 16.10.04

Reflections on Jewish Self-Destruction

16 October 2004

By Yisrael Ne'eman

It is so much easier to talk about the Palestinians; their terror attacks, lack of morality in targeting innocent civilians, political and economic collapse, lack of leadership (Arafat & Co.) and the fact that they are ostracized even by the Arab world. After all, how much noise is being made over Israel’s (quite successful) two and a half week Days of Repentance Operation in the northern Gaza Strip?

It is such a diversion, such a distraction, such a pleasure for Israelis not to confront their own destiny and the real possibility of a fateful confrontation with the extreme right. The messianic religious Right will make their move to bring down the State of Israel in the name of the G-d given Land of Israel. This will not be just any clash. It may be the decisive battle of the greater Land of Israel advocates vs. the People of Israel and State of Israel supporters.

Former Chief Rabbi Avraham Shapira, the leading clerical authority of the National Religious Movement has given a Halachic ruling forbidding (G-d fearing) soldiers from removing settlers from their homes, either in settlements or in proto-caravan outposts. For him the Land of Israel is above all, even should it threaten the stability of the Israeli army (Ma’ariv, Oct. 15, 2004). Another 60 National Religious rabbis have joined his call. The question is now one of resistance by the settlers, whether passive or active, and if there will be a call to use weapons against Israeli security forces. Should it be passive and within legal confines (as most leaders in Judea, Samaria and Gaza request) the Jewish People will weather the storm.

If not, then one should consider the catastrophe of the siege and the destruction of Jerusalem (70 CE). Convinced of their G-dly mission, the super nationalist Zealots and Sicarii assassinated opponents they considered to be “moderates” and attempted to force Jerusalem’s population to fight the Roman siege, instead of negotiating its end, as unpleasant as that might have been. To do so the Zealots burned the food stores of the poor, figuring these unfortunates would have no choice but to give battle against Rome. Instead they slipped into a listless fatalism and starved to death. The Zealots continued butchering their opponents, as well as each other. The Romans captured Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, then massacred and enslaved the people (The Jewish War – Josephus Flavius). Talmud condemns these radicals as “thugs”.

Over sixty years later the Bar Kokhva revolt exploded, one more time against Rome. The famed Rabbi Akiva whole-heartedly supported the revolt and identified the Judean general Bar Kokhva as the messiah. For all his greatness, Akiva committed an enormous mistake. He too, was sure G-d was on his side. Each of the two revolts resulted in some 600,000 Jewish deaths.

Rabbi Shapira, are you the new Akiva? With all honor and due respect, do you know G-d’s will? You hold the totality of the Land of Israel as holy and sacred, but what of the Jewish People? Will your Halachic decision crack Israeli society? Is the National Religious Movement the new Zealots of today? Is the messiah on his way?

National Religious Movement followers, where will you stop? While we battle terrorism and look for answers to the upcoming Iranian nuclear capabilities, will you bring us to the verge of civil war?

Should you win, we will have a bi-national state with the Palestinians and a shattered Jewish People. Is that what you want? If you relent we will lose the Land of Israel but retain the Jewish People (and state) intact.

Do you truly prefer the former to the latter or do you expect messianic intervention?