Published by The Freeman Center

The Maccabean Online

Political Analysis and Commentary
on Israeli and Jewish Affairs

"For Zion's sake I shall not hold my peace, And for Jerusalem's sake I shall not rest."



Reject Extremism; Embrace Moderation - Part I
by Yehezkel Bin-Nun
IsraelNationalNews.com - July 03, 2005

I was recently thrown in jail by the Israeli "justice" system for two and a half weeks. My "crime"? I am accused of supporting non-violent civil disobedience in opposition to the ethnic cleaning of the Jews of Gaza and to demand that the expulsion plan be decided on democratically by the People of Israel. Never mind that thousands of other Israelis who have actually blocked roads were not punished at all. It is unfortunate that the law is different if you are religious and right-wing.

I received fantastic support from many people while I was in jail, but the amazing success of the road-blockings has also caused some disgruntled people to complain.

"It Won\'t Help"

A favorite claim of the opponents of Gush Katif is to say that it "won\'t help". That all the facts prove the exact opposite doesn\'t faze these know-it-alls. Crime reporter Buki Naeh, of Yediot Acharonot (Israel\'s largest newspaper), wrote the day after the road-blockings, "When the Israeli police force wants to do something, it does it, and when it does not want to, it does not. The events of yesterday raise the suspicion that there is no chance in the world that the police will be able to fulfill the mission of the Disengagement." Israel\'s Chief of Police himself stated months ago that if the people "go into the streets," then there is "no way the expulsion plan can be implemented." Even the Israeli Justice system agrees. The judge who tried Shai Malka and Ariel Vengrover, the head of the movement which called for the road-blockings, stated that the two were dangerous to society because "the road-blockings are capable of stopping implementation of the Disengagement Plan." On 28 June, Ha\'aretz newspaper commentator Amir Oren even wrote that, due to the opposition, the IDF was preparing for the possible cancellation of the expulsion.

Its lucky that no one told Martin Luther King and India\'s Gandhi that road-blockings don\'t help, otherwise India would never have won independence and American blacks would still be living under segregation.

But it is funny, too. How dumb can Israelis be? They have been blocking roads in Israel for decades and they don\'t even know it doesn\'t work! A few years ago, the residents of Mevaseret Tzion blocked the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway to protest the planned annexation of their city to Jerusalem – the plan was subsequently scrapped. Two years ago the government planned to raise fees for university students, which are currently the lowest in the world. The students said they wouldn\'t stand for it. They blocked roads all over the country and (surprise, surprise) the government quickly backed down and trashed the fee hike. New immigrants, cab and truck drivers, farmers, lesbians and homosexuals, leftist/anarchists and Haredim - all have blocked roads across the country; and for a good reason – it gets the job done.

The know-it-alls continue to spout their nonsense even though Ariel Sharon has made it clear that the only people who bother him are the road-blockers. Twice in the past week Sharon has publicly attacked the road-blockers. On June 23, for instance, Sharon, at wits ends from the demonstrations, shrieked that the road-blockings "could not continue" and that they were "halting regular life in Israel." Why does Sharon ignore all the \'nice\' demonstrators? As a career general, he knows to spot a threat when he sees one.

A poll publicized on June 26 by the University of Haifa revealed that 20% of Israel\'s Jewish population - or over one million people (!) - are willing to block the roads. The Prisons Authority recently admitted it will only have 2,500 places for road-blockers by the time of the expulsion.

It "Upsets" People

Another favorite argument is that the road-blockings "upset people" and "make the people hate us." Where did they get this from, I don\'t know?

My friend, a programmer at a hi-tech company in Tel Aviv found just the opposite. The day after the road-blockings, his fellow employees came up to him and told him how impressed they were that the national-religious were willing to sacrifice themselves for their cause.

Of course, it may be just a coincidence that, a few days after the road-blockings, the polls showed, for the first time, that support for the Disengagement had fallen below 50%. Also following the road-blockings, Army Radio\'s left-wing commentator, the famous Razi Barkai, said for the first time that he does not think the expulsion plan could be implemented. Coincidence, of course.

But even if it were true that it angers some people - who cares? What kind of person gets upset when he is delayed for an hour, but doesn\'t bat an eyelash when 10,000 people are expelled from their homes? Does a person with such a warped value system deserve to be taken into account? It was none other than Rabbi Carlebach, the Master of Love, who said, "If you\'re doing something and it\'s not bothering anybody, it\'s probably not worth doing."

"What Will They Think Of Us?"

The national-religious public must stop trying to get everyone to love them. It doesn\'t work and it usually engenders just the opposite reaction. There is no community in Israel attacked as much as the national-religious. One need only open a Haredi or secular newspaper to see how much the national-religious are maligned.

[Part 1 of 2]
 
Reject Extremism; Embrace Moderation - Part II
by Yehezkel Bin-Nun
July 04, 2005

Self-Sacrifice

Those who stand by while 10,000 Jews are expelled from their homes are not being kind; they are being extremely cruel. But, of course, it is easier to camouflage our egotistical self-interests as elevated values in order to mollify our conscience. Nobody wants to sit in jail. But sometimes, in order to do what is right, you need to pay a price. The Torah teaches: "Three things are acquired with suffering: Torah, Olam Habah and Eretz Yisrael." Those who wish to ignore this reality only manage to fool themselves. Thank God, the price we are asked to pay is nothing compared to that of our ancestors. In previous generations, Jews had to give their lives to protect the Land of Israel. All we are required to do is spend a few days or weeks in the slammer. We must learn to put the interests of Am Yisrael before our own.

It\'s inconceivable that gentiles should be willing to go to jail to defend all the questionable values they consider important and that Jews would not willingly to go to jail for the Land of Israel and to protect God\'s honor. We must stop fearing men and start fearing only God.

Many people think that the secular Left is opposed to Jewish values and so, we must compromise them for "peace". But others know how to see deeper. The left does not oppose our values so much as our weakness. The fascination in the secular world with such things as sex and drugs comes from a desire for things that generate powerful feelings. The secular will share our values, but only if they are strong. By capitulating on them, we actually do the most harm to brotherhood, by denying the secular person the opportunity to respect observant Jews and Judaism.

Extremism

Any value taken to an extreme becomes evil – yes, even love. The Torah teaches that those who are merciful to the cruel are eventually cruel to the merciful. A very well known rabbi, famous for preaching "love", wrote an article in the Machon Meir Torah sheet entitled "Not by Force". The rabbi seems to have meant that passive civil disobedience is force. This very same rabbi demands that IDF soldiers forcefully drive Jews from their homes because, according to him, it is "forbidden to refuse orders." And so, we arrive at the absurdity that in the name of "love" and "brotherhood" we are required to expel 10,000 Jews from their homes. For any rabbi to support violence against Jews is terrible, but to support it in the name of "love" is unthinkable. This hypocrisy must stop!

But between the extremes of pacifism and violence lies a third moderate way – passive civil disobedience. On the one hand, you refuse to raise your hand against your neighbor. On the other hand, you block his path to committing evil. The Rambam teaches that the middle path, the path of moderation is the path of the Jew. Extremism, meanwhile, only engenders extremism.

In the last generation, two very charismatic American rabbis dominated the Jewish scene – one taught strict justice and the other extreme kindness. Both were tzaddikim who sacrificed themselves for the Jewish people. I think that by sending us these two rabbis, G-d was sending us a clear message – both kindness and justice are important. Not just one, or the other. As King David says in Psalm 101, "Of kindness and justice do I sing."

Judaism is not Christianity, we do not believe in turning the other cheek. When injustice is being done, we are commanded to stand up to prevent it, even if this means paying a personal price.

The Gemarra relates that when Jesus made a lustful remark about a woman in a pub, his rabbi "pushed him away with both hands." This was credited with causing Jesus to stray and create Christianity, which later caused so much suffering to the Jews. Instead, our sages say, this rabbi should have "pushed Jesus away with his left hand and pulled him in with his right hand." Unfortunately, it seems that our generation is intent on making the opposite mistake – that of pulling people in with both hands. But neither of these extremes is the way of our sages.

Violence

Another favorite slander is to depict the road-blockings as "violence". Of course, the commentators only say it is violence when the Right does it. When the Left does it, none of those same people say anything. It would be interesting for the millions of civil rights activists who admire Ghandi and Martin Luther King to know that the passive civil disobedience practiced by their heroes was really criminal violence. Only in Israel are people rewriting history and defaming the lives of great men to win a political argument.

Prayer is Enough

A final excuse is to say that "prayer is enough". The people preaching that stance like to depict themselves as being very pious, and hence, they can not be bothered to deal with earthly, mundane matters like demonstrating. Unfortunately for them, the Torah rejects this view, as is proven by the famous midrash that states that King David was greater than King Hezekiah because David would not only pray for salvation, as Hezekiah did, but he would also go out and fight.

Many people ask me, "What do you think will be? Will there be an expulsion or not?" My answer is: "Who cares." God didn\'t create us to predict the future. He gave us free will because he wants us to use it and act to change this world for the better. The only question is, "What is the right thing to do?" As Rabbi Kook once wrote, "The majority is up to us." If we prefer to be passive and sit home and cry, then there will be a tragedy; but if we prefer to take our fate into our own hands, with God\'s help, the dictator will fall and the racist expulsion will be annulled. The state of Israel does not belong to the far-left, it belongs to all Israelis. The time has come to return the power to the people.

[Part 2 of 2]