Wednesday, August 1, 2007
To "Liberal" Religious Zionists -- Where is the Moral Compass?
One of the most depressing books I have read lately came out this summer in Hebrew. It is entitled In the Tempest of the Uprooting: Ten Conversations in Yeshivat Har Etzion. The book deals with ten sihot/dicussions (strictly speaking: talks by and panels with rabbis) at the Har Etzion Yeshiva during and after the disengagement from Gaza. This yeshiva considers itself the Harvard of the religious zionist yeshiva world -- very intellectual, and pretty apolitical, although that is impossible, especially for a West Bank yeshiva. Why is the book depressing? Is it because it reminds us of a painful episode in Jewish history, where Jews expelled Jews from their land? Or because no matter how we view the disengagement, we must feel sympathy with the pain of those evacuees, who have lost their entire life and livelihood because of the disengagement? Or because after the disengagement, we thought that peace would come, but instead Gaza wasted the opportunity and continued to fight? No, the book is depressing because not one of the rabbis talked about the fundamental immorality of the settlers being in Gush Katif in the first place, nor the suffering that the Palestinians underwent as a result of this toevah. I don't expect people like Rabbi Yitzhak Levy, Ezra Bick, Hanan Porat, etc., to have much of a moral conscience when it comes to Palestinians. These are mafia-moralists who care only about their tribe. I would have hoped for something from Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, although his march to the political right has not been unnoticed. That was my disappointment. Only one person -- Rav Aharon's son Moshe -- suggested, or perhaps, intimated, that the disengagement could not be disconnected from the way the settlers had treated the Palestinians. He did not make the connection between the Gush Katif settlement and the suffering of the Gazans...but he did raise the theological possibility, if I recall correctly, that the mistreatment of the Palestinians could not be ignored. But other than that, nada...and that, my readers, is where Religious Zionism has been for a long time.