Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Paying a Price

Disgusting Price Tag Graffiti on the Romanian Church in Jeruslaem (TOI)
One of the many things I promote on this blog is Achdus. This is one of the primary things missing in the Jewish world. We have been broken down into so many parts that it seems like a futile task trying to put us back together. We are like a shattered window. There is little I would pray for more than to become one united nation of the Jewish people. This is one reason that I don’t like denominations, necessary tough they are.

Since the 2nd Temple era we were generally speaking always one people. Until the enlightenment.  That changed everything. Instead of being one people, some more religious…  some less, we started seeing  movements. Philosophies developed that spoke to the times. First there was Reform then Conservative… both of which left the boundaries of traditional Judaism leaving the rest of us to be called Orthodox.

Today these divisions have multiplied. In fact many Jews are just plain secular with little interest in their Judaism at all. Even within Orthodoxy the smallest segment in Judaism there has been a plethora of divisions. Just to mention a few there are Charedim -which are divided into the Lithuanian Yeshiva camp and Chasidic camp (itself divided into many different types of Chasidim); Chabad; Modern Orthodox (consisting of right wing Centrists and  Left Wing Modern Orthodox);and Yekkes (observant Jews of German background with their own philosophy and customs). And this does not even take into account Sephardim – a group with their own customs dating back for centuries.

But those were not the only movements.  There is also Zionism. The enlightenment, a history of European Antisemitism; and a continuous 2000 year old yearning to return to our homeland, Israel… all combined to form this movement.

Secular Zionism had many religious sympathizers.  Jews had been praying for a return to Zion (Israel) since the beginning of the Diaspora. Thus was formed religious Zionism which had the support of some great rabbinic figures of the past.  Unfortunately most mainstream Rabbinic figures opposed it.

So… there are lots of movements and divisions out there. I know it’s hard to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. But I yearn for the day, when we can all stand up and be counted as one people.

But in my desire for unity, I do have my limits. I could never accept movements that are involved in constant Chilul HaShem. This is why for instance I totally reject Neturei Karta. They are not part of Klal Yisroel in my view. Anyone who actively seeks the destruction of the State of Israel even to the point of siding with Fundamentalist Muslims groups - like those in Iran  that are out to wipe Israel off the map by any means necessary - cannot in my view be counted as a part of the Klal.

But there is another group I consider to be outside the Klal. A group that is the polar opposite of Neturei Karta. They are known as the Price Taggers. And they are unfortunately an outgrowth of the Religious Zionist settler movement. From Ynet
Since (December 2013) there has been an increase in violent incidents against Arabs on both sides of the Green Line. Since the start of this year, the police unit for nationalist crimes, which investigates price tag attacks, has opened 78 new files, arrested 102 suspects and served 37 indictments.  
The price-taggers are settlers that attack Palestinian towns and property in retaliation for actions against them by the Israeli government. Like the removal of outposts which are either unauthorized or illegal. In recent years dozens of such attacks have targeted not only Muslim residents of the West Bank but Christian sites and the Christian community in Jerusalem. They generally follow actions by Israeli authorities that are perceived as harming the settlement enterprise, or follow Palestinian violence against settlers.

They rationalize that since all of the land of Israel was given to the Jews by God, they are going to whatever it takes to make it happen. No one can get in their way. If the government tries, there is a price to be paid. Not by the government. But by innocent people. To the best of my knowledge they have no rabbinic sanction even among Religious Zionist Rabbis.The Arabs who live in those neighborhoods fear them. And for good reason.

There is only one name for people like this: terrorists. It is they who should be paying a price. Their men may wear Kipot. Their women may cover their hair and dress modestly by Jewish standards. They may keep Shabbos. They may keep Kosher. But they are terrorist outcasts nonetheless and ought to be shunned by all decent citizens. Most of all by the vast majority of decent law abiding Religious Zionists. It is the cause of Religious Zionism that they hurt the most. If I were a Religious Zionist leader, I would put them in Cherem.

I’m glad to see that the government is beginning to crack down on them. l would throw anyone convicted of this in jail for a very long time. If anything can be called a hate crime, this is it.The Chilul HaShem is enormous. The damage they do the Jewish people is incalculable. Not to mention the damage they do to their own cause. Aside from that, they are raising their children to hate no less than Muslim fundamentalists teach their children to hate.

Lest anyone be appalled at my comparing Jews to the Muslim terrorists who blow themselves up for the sole purpose of killing Jews, I would point out that it is only a matter of degree. Terrorism does not always mean murder. It means instilling fear among innocents by way of violence. And for those who might say that there are no innocent Arabs, that is bigotry of the highest order!

There can be no sanction for these people. There can be no sympathy for their cause. Even if one is a settler living in Yehuda or Shomron (the West Bank) and devoted to keeping all of Eretz Yisroel in Jewish hands, you should nonetheless be ashamed of these people. There can be no ‘buts’. You cannot say, ‘I disagree with what they are doing – but - I sympathize with their cause. That too is a Chilul HaShem. 

There is no Achdus with people like this. They have to be completely condemned and rejected - written out of the Klal – unless and until they do Teshuva, realize the error of their ways and make amends. Until then... they may be Jewish by birth, but they should be treated like terrorists. Because that is what they are.