Friday, January 22, 2016

The Settlers of Chevron

Police in Chevron buildings (Jewish Press - screenshot)
The Jewish Press has been a home for my blog for some time now. I am grateful to them for publishing so many of my posts on their website. I have more posts published there than any other blogger. I am also grateful to them for having published a few of my articles in their print edition.

I truly appreciate how much they value my words, even when they don’t agree with them.  I am not sure they will feel about me after this, though. I have to express what I believe to be Emes without considering the consequences to myself.

There has always been something about their editorial position with respect to Israel that has troubled me. That policy goes beyond their written editorial. It biases the way they report the news.They have a strong bias in favor of West bank settlements. Not just those in large and long established border cities like Ma’aleh Adumim. I too support those cities. They will no doubt remain in Israel’s hands in any kind of peace agreement with Palestinians. (Not that I think it is possible at this point in time.) But Jewish Press support goes way beyond that. They support settlers in places like Chevron, a city populated by Palestinians.

Those settlers are there for only one reason – to assure that not a single inch of Eretz Yisroel is ever turned over to the Palestinians. Especially not Chevron. So wrapped up are they in this goal that they are not beneath committing criminal acts. And in one of the more extreme cases, mass murder was committed by one of their more esteemed members, Dr. Baurch Goldstein.

The settlers of Chevron are the same people that worship Baruch Goldstein as icon and martyr for the Jewish cause. How different is that from the Palestinians that worship a suicide bomber that successfully blew himself up and took some Jews along with him?!

The latest article in the Jewish Press presents a sympathetic spin about the eviction by police of settlers in Chevron that have occupied 2 buildings there. The settler claim is that Chevron is holy, it is ours, and has been ours since Matan Torah. It was the home of Avrohom, and it contains the holy burial grounds of our patriarchs and matriarchs. They therefore will do whatever it takes to keep Chevron in Jewish hands. The Jewish Press seems to agree with that. So they report the eviction of Jewish settlers there with an immoral and unjust spin.

I don’t know if those settlers did or didn’t have a legal right to occupy those buildings. But in my view they endanger the welfare of their people. Their presence in or near that city is an incitement that is unnecessary and a source of anger to Palestinians. Which increases the chances of more Jews being harmed of killed.

Please do not misunderstand. I fully understand Palestinian terrorists don’t need much to terrorize us. They have been doing that in a piecemeal fashion for months now. Most Palestinians probably feel we deserve it. So that even if there was not a single Jewish soul living in or near Chevron, not much would change. But as I have said many times, pouring gasoline onto a fire does not help. Doing Yishuv Ha’aretz  - settling the land in this way is irresponsible and has consequences. To which they seem oblivious.

This is also not to say that we don’t have a right to Chevron. Of course we do. But rights do not trump safety. When one exercises their rights under conditions that cause harm to others, one has to question the priorities. Jewish life is sacred. Exercising a right that can bring more death and destruction - is wrong.  

That’s why I agree with Rav Shach on this issue. If I recall correctly, he said he would even give up the Kotel if it would bring genuine peace. I agree with him. My motivation is simple. Whatever saves Jewish life is what I favor.  Pikuach Nefesh is not something that should be taken lightly. It should not be ignored by people with agendas – even legitimate ones. Saving Jewish life has the highest of value in Judaism. V’Chai Bahem the Torah tells us about the laws dictated by the Torah. The sages interpret this to mean that one may violate any and all Halachos to save a Jewish life – except for idol worship, murder, and adultery. Certainly settling the land of Israel is not any of those three.

I therefore find an editorial position that sympathizes with the settlers of Chevron repulsive no matter who has it. It is one thing to feel that the settler view is the right one. It is another to write in sympathetic tones about actions that exacerbate the enmity of our enemy.

The Jewish Press is not alone in praising such deeds. I have read more than once about the ‘courage’ of those who risk their lives by settling in and around Chevron. In my view this ‘courage’ is pure foolishness. They risk their lives for an ideal that is over-ridden by the ideal of saving Jewish lives.

If it were up to me, I would evacuate all of Chevron’s Jews. And I would consider doing the same thing to Kiryat Araba, the Israel town right next to it. I see no value to having a town there – even though it has been there since shortly after the 6 day war of 1967.

I realize that a lot of readers that generally support my views here, will be appalled at this post. I’m sure I will be accused of Nazi-like attitudes of making parts of biblical Israel Judenrein (free of any Jews). That’s OK. I will take my lumps. But I feel very strongly about Pikuach Nefesh and I oppose any activities that endanger the lives of fellow Jews. And this doesn’t even take into account the danger Israeli soldiers face that are there to protect them.

I understand the sincerity of these people. They are committed to their ideals and are willing to risk their lives for them. That is admirable under normal circumstances. But when they risk the lives of others along with their own that idealism turns into a callous disregard for the welfare of their fellow Jew. 

They may claim that activities in Chevron does not endanger the Jewish people any more than they already are. But that makes about as much sense as saying that pouring gasoline on a fire will not increase the flame. These people are wrong. And the Jewish Press would do well to recognize that instead of constantly sympathizing with them.