ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Rabbis Seek to Confuse and Are Confused 22.2.04

Rabbis Seek to Confuse and Are Confused

22 February 2004

By Yisrael Ne'eman

Last week the Organization of Rabbis for the Jewish People and the Land of Israel and the Integrity of Torah and the Land held a conference of 200 participants to condemn PM Ariel Sharons plan to disconnect from the Gaza Strip and areas of the West Bank where there is a large Palestinian presence. Led by former chief rabbis Avraham Shapira and Mordechai Eliyahu the gathering is working to garnish support for all Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip while working to remove Sharon from office. The group declares that Din Torah, or Torah judgment is on their side and that anyone compromising on the Land of Israel is committing a crime against the Jewish People for generations, to quote Rabbi David Cohen of Bat Yam. The rabbis have viciously condemned Sharons declared unilateral moves as akin to the Munich Agreement of 1938 where British PM Neville Chamberlain conceded Czechoslovakia to Hitlers Nazis.

Historically, the rabbis have a problem. King Solomon relinquished 20 cities in the Galilee, known as the Land of Kabul to King Hiram of Tyre (todays south Lebanon) in return for his help in men and materials in building the First Temple and his own palace (First Book of Kings, Chapter 9, Verses 10-14). The Tanachic (Hebrew Bible) narrative makes no reference of condemnation for Solomons actions. The king went on to raise taxes, strengthen his other cities, improve his defenses and empower the army.

Some 350 years later, on the eve of the destruction of Solomons Temple, the Prophet Jeremiah attacked those self-declared righteous Jews who saw their loyalty to the physical Temple as their salvation. His adversaries invoked the Temple of the Lord as their justification for all actions, thereby kindling Jeremiahs wrath as he demanded an accounting of their moral and ethical behavior, especially as concerned their oppression of the weak and the downtrodden. Should they mend their ways the prophet declared, then they could dwell in the land of their fathers. And if not, the inference was clear.

Sharon and those who advocate a unilateral withdrawal are not trading land for material structures, but rather trying to save Jewish existence in the Land of Israel. According to Vice Premier Ehud Olmert, in less than five years there will be an Arab majority from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. The rabbis advocate a bi-national state, devoid of individual national rights for the Palestinians. With international pressure there will be such a state, and the Palestinians will have all the rights, including a majority in the Knesset and government.

Secondly, in Jeremiahs time, his adversaries can certainly be accused of worshipping the Temple and not at the Temple, just like these present day rabbis worship the Land of Israel at the expense of the poor and unfortunate in todays Jewish State. With the limited monies available today, they are fully aware of the billions of dollars received for overextended settlement in heavily populated Arab areas as an ideological statement of unilateral purpose. The funds would be better used for education and social rehabilitation of large segments of the populace.

Favoring the Land over the People, the rabbis are involved in the undoing of Israel as a democratic Jewish state. Worse yet, their worship of the Land of Israel at the expense of everything else, borders on idolatry.