Chapter 4: The National Religious Party and the Religious Settlers by Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky

Chapter Four

The National Religious Party and the Religious Settlers




written by

Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky



from Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, 1999.



The ideology of the NRP and Gush Emunim, the group of religious settlers in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, is more innovative than the ideology of Haredi Jews. Rabbi Abraham Yitzhak Kook, who was the chief rabbi of Palestine and a most prominent rabbinical supporter of Zionism, devised this ideology in the early 1920s and developed it thereafter. Rabbi Kook the elder, as he was called, was a prolific author. His followers considered him to be divinely inspired. After his death in 1935 he achieved the status of a saint in NRP circles. His son and successor as NRP leader, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook the younger, who died in 1981 at the age of 91, also achieved saintly status. Rabbi Kook the younger wrote no books and did not achieve the talmudic competency of his father, but he possessed a strongly charismatic personality and exerted great influence upon his students. He elaborated orally the political and social consequences of his father's teachings. The rabbis who graduated from his yeshiva in Jerusalem, Merkaz Harav, or Center of the Rabbi, and remained devoted followers of his teaching established a Jewish sect with a well-defined political plan. In early 1974, almost immediately after the shock of the October 1973 war and a short time before the cease-fire agreement with Syria was signed, Rabbi Kook's followers with their leader's blessing and spiritual guidance founded Gush Emunim (Block of the Faithful). The Gush Emunim aims were to initiate new and to expand already existent Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories. With the help of Shimon Peres, who in the summer of 1974 became the Israeli defense minister and thus the person in charge of the Occupied Territories, Gush Emunim in the remarkably short time of a few years succeeded in changing Israeli settlement policy. The Jewish settlements, which continue to spread throughout the West Bank and to occupy a large chunk of the Gaza Strip, provide testimony of and documentation for Gush Emunim 's influence within Israeli society and upon Israeli governmental policies.

Gush Emunim 's success in changing Israeli settlement policy in the 1970s is politically explicable. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan determined Israeli settlement policy from the end of the 1967 war unti11974. He did not allow the establishment of Jewish settlements in the bulk of the territories. The only exception he made was to allow a tiny group of Jewish settlers to live near Hebron. Dayan wanted to envelop the densely inhabited parts of these areas by creating a settlement zone in the almost uninhabited Jordan Valley and northern Sinai (the Yamit area). In order to preserve the Israeli alliance with the feudal notables who were in firm control of the villages (although not of the larger towns), Dayan promised not to confiscate village lands; he mostly kept his promise. Gush Emunim demonstrated its strength by organizing enormous demonstrations in 1974 and 1975 opposing the Dayan promise. These demonstrations were also directed against United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for backing the Dayan policy. Peres, who became defense minister after Dayan in 1974 in the first Rabin government (1974-77), initiated a new policy which he called "functional compromise" and for which he acquired Gush Emunim support. According to this policy all the land inside the West Bank and the Gaza Strip that was not being used by the inhabitants could be confiscated for the exclusive use of the Jews. Palestinian political leaders who accepted this new policy arrangement would be offered absolute rule over Palestinians. The government of the State of Israel would control only certain essential functions in Palestinian areas.

Prime Minister Rabin at first opposed this policy. In 1975, Peres conspired with Gush Emunim and planned strategy to combat Rabin's opposition. Gush Emunim organized a mass rally in Sebastia, a disused railway station near Nablus. Rabin forbade the demonstration, but Gush Emunim demonstrators succeeded in circumventing the army roadblocks and assembled in Sebastia. During the period of the ensuing lengthy negotiations Peres lent some support to Gush Emunim. More demonstrators arrived on the scene. Finally, a compromise settlement that favored Gush Emunim was reached. Gush Emunim members were allowed to settle in what is now the flourishing settlement of Kedumim. Operating in much the same manner, Gush Emunim in 1976 with the help of Peres founded the settlement Ofra as a temporary work camp and the settlement Shilo as a temporary archaeological camp. Gush Emunim also pursued similar policies and initiated settlement beginnings in the Gaza Strip. The Gush Emunim settlements, agreed to by Peres in 1975 and 1976, still exist and are flourishing. Following the 1977 election of Menachem Begin as prime minister, a "holy alliance" of the religious Gush Emunim and successive secular Ismeli governments occurred and has remained in place to date.

Having achieved settlement policy successes, Gush Emunim rabbis cleverly conducted a number of political intrigues and were able to achieve domination of the NRP. From the mid-1980s the NRP has followed the ideological lead of Gush Emunim. After the death of Rabbi Kook the younger, the spiritual leadership of Gush Emunim became centered in a semi-secret rabbinical council, selected by mysterious criteria from among the most outstanding disciples of Rabbi Kook. These rabbis have continued to make policy decisions based upon their belief in certain innovative elements of ideology not openly advocated or detailed but derived from their distinct interpretation of Jewish mysticism, popularly known as Cabbala. The writings of Rabbi Kook the elder serve as the sacred texts and are perhaps intentionally even more obscure than other cabbalistic writings. In-depth knowledge of talmudic and cabbalistic literature, including modern interpretations of both, and special training are prerequisites for understanding Kook's writings. The implications of Kook's writings are theologically too innovative to allow for a popularized presentation to an otherwise educated Jewish public. This is probably the reason why so few analyses of the Gush Emunim ideology have appeared. The one significant and learned analysis is an essay by Professor Uriel Tal, published originally in Hebrew in Haaretz on September 26, 1984, and published in English in The Jerusalem Quarterly (No.35, Spring 1985) under the title: "Foundations of a Political Messianic Trend in Israel." The Tal essay, although marred to some extent by sociological jargon and by some analogies not well adapted to its theme, is the most valuable analysis to date. Several relatively good studies in Hebrew of the more mundane aspects of Gush Emunim have appeared as books. The one study in English is Ian Lustick's book, For the Land and the Lord: Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (1988). The initiative for the Lustick book was apparently connected to Lustick's personal reaction to the Jonathan Pollard espionage affair1 and began as a paper written for the United States Department of Defense. This may explain the book's excessive concentration on the changing political stances of Gush Emunim and its relative neglect of important parts of ideology. Contrary to what the title suggests, the book contains little description or explanation of Jewish fundamentalism. To some extent, moreover, this book is apologetic; the more extreme aspects of Gush Emunim dogmas and beliefs are not accurately revealed. Some of what is missing in the Lustick book can fortunately be found in the chapter titled "Nationalistic Judaism," in Yehoshafat Harkabi's book, Israel's Fateful Hour (1988). The ensuing discussion of Gush Emunim ideas and politics will take cognizance of the Lustick and Harkabi analyses but will rely more upon Tal's study and other Hebrew writings.

The status of non-Jews in the Cabbala as compared to that in talmudic literature is a good beginning point for discussion. Most of the many Jewish authors that have written about the Cabbala in English, German and French have either avoided this subject or have hidden its essence under clouds of misleading generalizations. These authors, Gershon Scholem being one of the most significant, have employed the trick of using words such as "men," "human beings" and "cosmic" in order to imply incorrectly that the Cabbala presents a path leading towards salvation for all human beings. The actual fact is that cabbalistic texts, as opposed to talmudic literature, emphasize salvation for only Jews. Many books dealing with the Cabbala that are written in Hebrew, other than those written by Scholem, present an honest description of salvation and other sensitive Jewish issues. This point is well illustrated in studies of the latest and most influential school of Cabbala, the Lurianic School, founded in the late sixteenth century and named after its founding rabbi, Yitzhak Luria. The ideas of Rabbi Luria greatly influenced the theology of Rabbi Kook the elder and still underlie the ideologies of Gush Emunim and Hassidism. Yesaiah Tishbi, an authority on the Cabbala who wrote in Hebrew, explained in his scholarly work, The Theory of Evil and the (Satanic) Sphere in Lurianic Cabbala (1942, reprinted in 1982): "It is plain that those prospects and the scheme [of salvation] are intended only for Jews." Tishbi cited Rabbi Hayim Vital, the chief interpreter of Rabbi Luria, who wrote in his book, Gates of Holiness: "The Emanating Power, blessed be his name, wanted there to be some people on this low earth that would embody the four divine emanations. These people are the Jews, chosen to join together the four divine worlds here below." Tishbi further cited Vital's writings in emphasizing the Lurianic doctrine that non-Jews have satanic souls: "Souls of non-Jews come entirely from the female part of the satanic sphere. For this reason souls of non-Jews are called evil, not good, and are created without [divine] knowledge." In his illuminating Hebrew-language book, Rabbinate, Hassidism, Enlightenment: The History of Jewish Culture Between the End of the Sixteenth and the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century (1956), Ben-Zion Katz explained convincingly that the above doctrines became part of Hassidism. Accurate descriptions of Lurianic doctrines and their wide influence upon religious Jews can be found in numerous other studies, written in Hebrew. In books and articles written in other languages, and thus read by most interested non-Israeli Jews and non-Jews, such descriptions and analyses are most often absent. The role of Satan, whose earthly embodiment according to the Cabbala is every non-Jew, has been minimized or not mentioned by authors who have not written about the Cabbala in Hebrew. Such authors, therefore, have not conveyed to readers accurate accounts of general NRP or its hard-core, Gush Emunim politics.

A modern and influential expression of the attitudes derived above is evident in the teachings and writings of the late "Lubovitcher Rebbe," Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who headed the Chabad movement and wielded great influence among many religious Jews in Israel as well as in the United States. Schneerson and his Lubovitch followers are Haredim; nevertheless, they involved themselves in Israel's political life and shared many concepts with Gush Emunim and the NRP. The ideas of Rabbi Schneerson that appear below are taken from a book of his recorded messages to followers in Israel, titled Gatherings of Conversations and published in the Holy Land in 1965. During the subsequent three decades of his life until his death, Rabbi Schneerson remained consistent; he did not change any of the opinions. What Rabbi Scheerson taught either was or immediately became official, Lubovitch, Hassidic belief.

Regarding the non-Jew the Lubovitcher Rebbe's views were clear even if a bit disorderly: "In such a manner the Halacha, stipulated by the Talmud, showed that a non-Jew should be punished by death if he kills an embryo, even if the embryo is non-Jewish, while the Jew should not be, even if the embryo is Jewish. As we [the talmudic sages] learn from Exodus 22:21, beginning with the words 'and if any mischief will follow."' This quoted verse is a part of a passage beginning in verse 21, describing what should be done "if men strive and hurt a woman with child," thus damaging the embryo. Verse 22, whose beginning is quoted by the Lubovitcher Rebbe, says in full: "And if any mischief will follow, then you shall give soul for soul." (Some English translations use the wording "life for life" instead of "soul for soul.") The above stated difference in the punishment of a Jew and a non-Jew for the same crime is common in the Talmud and Halacha.

The Lubovitcher Rebbe continued:

The difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish person sterns from the common expression: "Let us differentiate." Thus, we do not have a case of profound change in which a person is merely on a superior level. Rather, we have a case of "let us differentiate" between totally different species. This is what needs to be said about the body: the body of a Jewish person is of a totally different quality from the body of [members] of all nations of the world ... The Old Rabbi [a pseudonym for one of the holy Lubovitch rabbis] explained that the passage in Chapter 49 of Hatanya [the basic book of Chabad]: "And you have chosen us" [the Jews] means specifically that the Jewish body was chosen [by God], because a choice is thus made between outwardly similar things. The Jewish body "looks as if it were in substance similar to bodies of non-Jews," but the meaning ... is that the bodies only seem to be similar in material substance, outward look and superficial quality. The difference of the inner quality, however, is so great that the bodies should be considered as completely different species. This is the reason why the Talmud states that there is an halachic difference in attitude about the bodies of non-Jews [as opposed to the bodies of Jews]" "their bodies are in vain." ... An even greater difference exists in regard to the soul. Two contrary types of soul exist, a non-Jewish soul comes from three satanic spheres, while the Jewish soul stems from holiness. As has been explained, an embryo is called a human being, because it has both body and soul. Thus, the difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish embryo can be understood. There is also a difference in bodies. The body of a Jewish embryo is on a higher level than is the body of a non-Jew. This is expressed in the phrase "let us differentiate" about the body of a non-Jew, which is a totally different kind. The same difference exists in regard to the soul: the soul of a Jewish embryo is different than the soul of a non-Jewish embryo. We therefore ask: Why should a non-Jew be punished if he kills even a non-Jewish embryo while a Jew should not be punished even if he kills a Jewish embryo? The answer can be understood by [considering] the general difference between Jews and non-Jews: A Jew was not created as a means for some [other] purpose; he himself is the purpose, since the substance of all [divine] emanations was created only to serve the Jews."In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" [Genesis 1:1] means that [the heavens and the earth] were created for the sake of the Jews, who are called the "beginning." This means everything, all developments, all discoveries, the creation, including the "heavens and the earth—are vanity compared to the Jews. The important things are the Jews, because they do not exist for any [other] aim; they themselves are [the divine] aim."

After some additional cabbalistic explanation the Lubovitcher Rebbe concluded:

Following from what has already been said, it can be understood why a non-Jew should be punished by death if he kills an embryo and why a Jew should not be punished by death. The difference between the embryo and a [baby that was] born is that the embryo is not a self-contained reality but rather is subsidiary; either it is subsidiary to its mother or to the reality created after birth when the [divine] purpose of its creation is then fulfilled. In its present state the purpose is still absent. A non-Jew's entire reality is only vanity. It is written,"And the strangers shall stand and feed your flocks" [Isaiah 61:5]. The entire creation [of a non-Jew] exists only for the sake of the Jews. Because of this a non-Jew should be punished with death if he kills an embryo, while a Jew, whose existence is most important, should not be punished with death because of something subsidiary. We should not destroy an important thing for the sake of something subsidiary. It is true that there is a prohibition against [hurting] an embryo, because it is something that will be born in the future and in a hidden form already exists. The death penalty should be implicated only when visible matters are affected; as previously noted, the embryo is merely of subsidiary importance.

Comments concerning and partial summaries of the above opinions have appeared, but with insufficient emphasis in the Israeli Hebrew press. In 1965, when the above was published, the Lubovitcher Rebbe was allied in Israel to the Labor Party; his movement had already acquired many important benefits from the government then in power as well as previous Israeli governments. The Lubovitchers, for example, had obtained autonomy for their own education system within the context of religious state education. In the mid-1970s the Lubovitcher Rebbe decided that the Labor Party was too moderate and thereafter shifted his movement's political support sometimes to Likud and sometimes to a religious party. Ariel Sharon was the Rebbe's favorite Israeli senior politician. Sharon in turn praised the Rebbe publicly and delivered a moving speech about him in the Knesset after the Rebbe's death. From the June 1967 war until his death the Lubovitcher Rebbe always supported Israeli wars and opposed any retreat. In 1974 he strongly opposed the Israeli withdrawal from the Suez area, conquered in the October 1973 war; he promised Israel divine favors if it persisted in occupying that land. After his death thousands of his Israeli followers, who continued to hold the views expressed in the above quoted passage, played an important role in Netanyahu's election victory by demonstrating at many cross-road junctions before election day; they chanted the slogan: "Netanyahu is good for the Jews." Although subsequently strongly criticizing Netanyahu for meeting with Arafat, signing the Hebron agreement and agreeing to a second withdrawal, the Rebbe's followers continued their overall preference for the Netanyahu government.

Among the religious settlers in the Occupied Territories the Chabad Hassids constitute one of the most extreme groups. Baruch Goldstein, the mass murderer of Palestinians, was one of them (Goldstein will be discussed in Chapter 6.) Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh, who wrote a chapter of a book in praise of Goldstein and what he did, is another member of their group. Ginsburgh is the former head of the Yoseph Tomb Yeshiva, located on the outskirts of Nablus. Rabbi Ginsburgh, who originally came to Israel from the United States and has good connection to the Lubovitcher community in the United States, has often expressed his views in English in American Jewish publications. The following appeared in an April 26, 1996 Jewish Week (New York) article that contained an interview with Rabbi Ginsburgh:

Regarded as one of the Lubovitcher sect's leading authorities on Jewish mysticism, the St. Louis born rabbi, who also has a graduate degree in mathematics, speaks freely of Jews' genetic-based, spiritual superiority over non-Jews. It is a superiority that he asserts invests Jewish life with greater value in the eyes of the Torah."If you saw two people drowning, a Jew and a non-Jew, the Torah says you save the Jewish life first," Rabbi Ginsburgh told the Jewish Week. "If every simple cell in a Jewish body entails divinity, is a part of God, then every strand of DNA is part of God. Therefore, something is special about Jewish DNA." Later, Rabbi Ginsburgh asked rhetorically: "If a Jew needs a liver, can you take the liver of an innocent non-Jew passing by to save him? The Torah would probably permit that. Jewish life has an infinite value," he explained."There is something infinitely more holy and unique about Jewish life than non-Jewish life."

Changing the words "Jewish" to "German" or "Aryan" and "non-Jewish" to "Jewish" turns the Ginsburgh position into the doctrine that made Auschwitz possible in the past. To a considerable extent the German Nazi success depended upon that ideology and upon its implications not being widely known early. Disregarding even on a limited scale the potential effects of messianic, Lubovitch and other ideologies could prove to be calamitous.

The difference in the attitudes about non-Jews in the Halacha and the Cabbala is well illustrated by the difference expressed specifically in regard to non-Jews who have converted to Judaism. The Halacha, although discriminating against them in some ways, treats converts as new Jews. The Cabbala is unable to adopt this approach because of its emphasis upon the cosmic difference between Jews and non-Jews. The Cabbala explains that converts are really Jewish souls consigned firstly to non-Jewish bodies as punishments and later redeemed by conversion to Judaism either because the punishment ended or because a holy man interceded. This explanation is part of cabbalistic belief in metempsychosis, which is absent in the Halacha. According to the Cabbala, a satanic soul cannot be transformed into a divine soul by mere persuasion.

The ensuing discussion of Gush Emunim ideas and politics takes cognizance of the Lustick and Harkabi studies but relies primarily upon primary source material and upon analyses by Tal and other Hebrew-language writers. Tal described and analyzed Gush Emunim principles by quoting extensively from writings of Rabbi Yehuda Amital, an outstanding Gush leader who was appointed minister without portfolio in the Israeli government in November 1995, by then Prime Minister Peres and who served in that capacity until June 1996. Peres described Amital as a moderate. In explaining Amital's views, Tal relied heavily upon Amital's published article,"On the significance of the Yom Kippur War [1973]. " To illustrate Amital's emphasis upon spiritual yearning and the political-messianic stream of thought, Tal quoted the following:

The war broke out against the background of the revival of the kingdom of Israel, which in its metaphysical (not only symbolic) status is evidence of the decline of the spirit of defilement in the Western world ... The Gentiles are fighting for their mere survival as Gentiles, as the ritually unclean. Iniquity is fighting its battle for survival. It knows that in the wars of God there will not be a place for Satan, for the spirit of defilement, or for the remains of Western culture, the proponents of which are, as it were, secular Jews.

Tal further interpreted Amital's and thus Gush Emunim's basic views:

The modern secular world, according to this approach,"is struggling for survival, and thus our war is directed against the impurity of Western culture and against rationality as such." It follows that the alien culture has to be eradicated because "all foreignness draws us closer to the alien, and the alien causes alienation, as is the position of those who still adhere to Western culture and who attempt to fuse Judaism with rationalist empiricist and democratic culture." According to Amital's approach, the Yom Kippur War has to be comprehended in its messianic dimension: a struggle against civilization in its entirety.

Tal proceeded in his discussion to ask Arnital, a multi-faceted, serious question: "What is the point of all the affliction? Why do wars continue, if the Messiah has already come and if the Kingdom of Israel has already been established?" Arnital replied: "The war initiates the process of purification, of refinement, the purifying and cleaning of the congregation of Israel." Tal continued to discuss: "We thus learn that there is only one explanation of the wars: they refine and purify the soul. As impurity is removed, the soul of Israel—by virtue of the war—will be refined. We have already conquered the lands; all that now remains is to conquer impurity."

The followers of the two Rabbi Kooks have applied the above concepts to all other Israeli wars. Rabbi Shmaryahu Arieli, for example, explained, according to Tal, that the 1967 war was a "metaphysical transformation" and that the Israeli conquests transferred land from the power of Satan to the divine sphere. This supposedly proved that the "messianic era" had arrived. Tal also quoted the teachings of Rabbi E. Hadaya: "[The conquests of 1967] liberated the land from the other side [a polite name for Satan], from a mystical force that embodies evil, defilement and moral corruption. We [the Jews] are thus entering an era in which absolute sovereignty rules over corporeality." Tal emphasized that these statements constituted a warning that any Israeli withdrawal from conquered areas would have metaphysical consequences that could result in restoring to Satan sovereignty over that land. Other Gush Emunim leaders directly and indirectly expressed the same ideas in their public statements and writings.

There can be little doubt that Gush Emunim has seriously affected Israeli Jewish religious leaders and lay people. During the time of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, for example, the military rabbinate in Israel, clearly influenced by the ideas of the two Rabbi Kooks, exhorted all Israeli soldiers to follow in the footsteps of Joshua and to re-establish his divinely ordained conquest of the land of Israel. This exhortation of conquest included extermination of non-Jewish inhabitants. The military rabbinate published a map of Lebanon in which the names of Lebanese towns had been changed to the names of cities found in the Book of Joshua. Beirut, for example, was changed to Be'erot. The map designated Lebanon as land belonging to the ancient northern tribes of Israel, Asher and Naphtali. As Tal wrote: "Israel's military presence in Lebanon confirmed the validity of the Biblical promise in Deuteronomy 11:24: 'Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours; our border shall be from the wilderness, from the river Euphrates, to the western sea."' The followers of the two Rabbis Kook viewed Lebanon as being delivered from the power of Satan with its inhabitants being killed in the process. Such a view is not exceptional; it has numerous ancient and modern parallels, both religious and secular. The idea of a murderous purification of land from the evil and defilement that provoke God is common. In her chapter,"The Rites of Violence," in the book, Society and Culture in Early Modern France, Natalie Z. Davis, for example, presented the same idea as being the rationalization for the massacres perpetrated by France in the second half of the sixteenth century. In his excellent book, The Pursuit of the Millennium, to cite another example, Norman Cohn discussed Christian religious movements that sought to bring about the millennium by the use of force resulting in the deaths of many people.

Three interpretative and interrelated comments about Tal's analysis of Gush Emunim should be made. First, the rabbis, cited as authorities by both Tal and the authors of this book, are not obscure or fringe rabbis but are important Israeli figures. As previously noted, Shimon Peres, when prime minister, regarded one of them, Rabbi Amital, as a moderate and appointed him minister without portfolio. Second, Tal was able to comprehend the real essence of what he termed the "political messianic trend." His expertise in German Nazism, particularly in Nazi ideology and its sources, almost certainly helped him in his study of Gush Emunim. (See Tal's book in Hebrew, Political Theology and the Third Reich, Tel-Aviv University Press, 1989.) The similarities between the Jewish political messianic trend and German Nazism are glaring. The Gentiles are for the messianists what the Jews were for the Nazis. The hatred for Western culture with its rational and democratic elements is common to both movements. Finally, the extreme chauvinism of the messianists is directed towards all non-Jews. The 1973 Yom Kippur War, for instance, was in Amital's view not directed against Egyptians, Syrians and/or all Arabs but against all non-Jews. The war was thus directed against the great majority of citizens of the United States, even though the United States aided Israel in that war. This hatred of non-Jews is not new but, as already discussed, is derived from a continuous Jewish cabbalistic tradition. Those Jewish scholars who have attempted to hide this fact from non-Jews and even from many Jews have not only done a disservice to scholarship; they have aided the growth of this Jewish analogue to German Nazism.

The ideology of the Rabbis Kook is both eschatological and messianic. It resembles in this respect prior Jewish religious doctrines as well as similar trends in Christianity and Islam. This ideology assumes the imminent coming of the Messiah and asserts that the Jews, aided by God, will thereafter triumph over the non-Jews and rule over them forever. (This, it is alleged, will be good for the non-Jews.) All current political developments will either help bring this about sooner or will postpone it. Jewish sins, most particularly lack of faith, can postpone the coming of the Messiah. The delay, however, will not be of long duration, because even the worst sins of the Jews cannot alter the course of redemption. Sins can nevertheless increase the sufferings of Jews prior to the redemption. The two world wars, the Holocaust and other calamitous events of modem history are examples of punishment. The elder Rabbi Kook did not disguise his joy over the loss of lives in World War I; he explained that loss of lives was necessary "in order to begin to break Satan's Power." The followers of the elder Rabbi Kook's pronouncements often have detailed in depth such explanations. Rabbi Dov Lior, one of the best-known rabbis of the aforementioned Gush Emunim rabbinical council and the rabbi of Kiryat Arba, for instance, argued that Israel's failure in its 1982 invasion of Lebanon was due to the lack of faith manifested in the signing of the peace treaty with Egypt and the returning of "the inheritance of our ancestors [Sinai] to strangers." Lior also explained in an article about him, published in the Hadashot Supplement of December 20, 1991, that the capture by the Syrians of two Israeli diplomats stationed in Junieh, Lebanon, in May 1984, was "a just punishment for the maltreatment in detention of our boys from the Jewish underground." In the Hadashot article Lior added "I do not know what sufferings can yet befall all the Jews" for this crime.

Explanations that may appear to the uninitiated to be outlandish and bizarre are sometimes the most readily acceptable to Gush Emunim followers. This is especially the case when these followers believe redemption is near at hand. They believe that Satan, as described in the Cabbala, is rational and well-versed in logic; they believe further that the power of Satan and of his earthly manifestation, the non-Jews, can at times only be broken by irrational action. Gush Emunim thus founded settlements on the exact days of United States Secretary of States James Baker's recurrent arrivals in Israel not merely to demonstrate Gush Emunim power but also as part of a mystical design to break the power of Satan and its American incarnation. In the past, different Jewish religious movements, for example, the movement of the false Messiah Shabtai Zvi in 1665 and 1666 and early Hassidism, had employed similar logic. Certain Christian and Islamic movements also employed analogous logic at certain times.

Gush Emunim ideologues, especially Rabbi Kook the elder, not only derived their ideas largely from Jewish tradition but were also innovative. How they developed the Messiah concept is illustrative. The Bible anticipated only a single Messiah. Jewish mysticism anticipated two Messiahs. According to the Cabbala the two Messiahs will differ in character. The first Messiah, a militant figure called "son of Joseph," will prepare the material preconditions for redemption. The second Messiah will be a spiritual "son of David" who will redeem the world by spectacular miracle-making. (Gush Emunim followers believe that miracles occur at various times.) The cabbalistic conception is that the two Messiahs will be individuals. Rabbi Kook the elder altered this idea by anticipating and advocating that the first Messiah will be a collective being. Kook identified his group of followers as the collective "son of Joseph." Gush Emunim leaders, following the teaching of Rabbi Kook the elder, continue to perceive their rabbis, and perhaps all followers as well, as the collective incarnation of at least one and perhaps two divinely ordained Messiahs. Gush Emunim members believe that this idea should not be revealed to the uninitiated until the right time. They believe further that their sect cannot err because of its infallible divine guidance.

Rabbi Kook's second innovation concerned the relationship of the first Messiah to ignorant non-believing Jews, both secular and religious. Rabbi Kook derived this concept from the biblical prophecy that the Messiah "bringing salvation" will be "riding upon an ass and upon a colt, the foal of an ass" [Zechariah 9:9]. The Cabbala regarded this verse as evidence for two Messiahs: one riding upon an ass and the other upon a colt. The question here was: How could a collective Messiah ride upon a single ass? Kook answered the question by identifying the ass with Jews who lacked wisdom and correct faith. Kook postulated that the collective Messiah would ride upon these Jews. This meant that the Messiah would exploit them for material gains and would redeem them to the extent that they could be redeemed. The idea of redemption through contact with a spiritually potent personality has been a major theme common to all strands of Jewish mysticism. It has been applied not only to humans and their sins but also to animals and inanimate objects. In Israel this idea is still a part of religious education. Popular books for religious children contain many stories that allegedly illustrate this point. One of the most repeated stories is about a virtuous wild duck that is caught, killed and made into a succulent dish for a holy rabbi. This duck is considered to be redeemed by its being eaten by the holy man. The Gush Emunim innovation here has been to apply this not only to non-believing Jews who are redeemed by following the collective Messiah but also to all conceivable material objects, ranging from tanks to money. Everything can be redeemed if touched or possessed by Jews, especially messianic Jews. Gush Emunim members apply this doctrine to the conflict in the Holy Land. They argue that what appears to be confiscation of Arab-owned land for subsequent settlement by Jews is in reality not an act of stealing but one of sanctification. From their perspective the land is redeemed by being transferred from the satanic to the divine sphere. Gush Emunim, so its followers believe, is by virtue of exclusive access to the total and only truth more important than the remainder of the Jewish people. Gush Emunim rabbis utilize the following analogy of the messianic ass: given its lowly status in the hierarchy of beings, the ass must remain ignorant of the noble purpose of its divinely inspired rider. This is the case in spite of the fact that the ass surpasses the rider in size and sheer power. The divine rider in this analogy leads the ass toward its own salvation. Because of his noble purpose the rider may have to kick the ass during the course of the journey in order to make sure that the ass does not stray from the ordained path. In the same way, the Gush Emunim rabbis assert, this one messianic sect has to handle and lead the ass-like Jews, who have been corrupted by satanic Western culture with its rationality and democracy and who refuse to renounce their beastly habits and embrace the true faith. To further the process, the use of force is permitted whenever necessary.

The final innovation of Rabbi Kook the elder contributed most decisively to the popularity and political influence of his early followers and subsequently of Gush Emunim. During the period of redemption this innovation affected the conduct of the elect in relation to worldly concerns and contacts with other Jews and non-Jews. Rabbi Kook taught that the elect should not stand aloof from the rest of the world, as Jews had often done in the past. Realizing that other people were sinful and even satanic in nature, the elect had to attempt to bridge the gap between themselves and the others by actively involving themselves in society. Only by so doing would the elect have any chance to sanctify others. The elect should provide an example, exert influence politically and increasingly make contact with other people. Since the 1920s this doctrine has greatly influenced the behavior of those affiliated with the NRP. After being established in 1974, Gush Emunim vigorously reasserted this doctrine in spite of great resentment of the public. Unlike Orthodox Jews previously, Rabbi Kook's followers began to dress like secular Jews and only distinguished themselves outwardly by wearing skullcaps. To date they have followed the Israeli secular clothing fashions of the 1950s. In their schools they introduced portions of secular teaching into their curricula. They permitted their people to enroll in Israeli secular universities. They additionally established the religiously oriented Bar-Ilan University. Although restricting the Bar-Ilan teaching staff to religious Jews, Gush Emunim sought to expand the university's scope of instruction to include all the usual academic disciplines. The Haredim have consistently resented and viewed with abhorrence these pursuits of what they regard as secularization. Rabbi Kook insisted that each Jew had a religious duty to fight and to train to fight. NRP members have faithfully followed this teaching. Many Gush Emunim members have been and still are officers of the Israeli army's select units; their proportion in such units has continually increased. Gush Emunim religious school students have gained renown for their excellent combat qualities, their high motivation to fight, their relatively high casualty rate during the Lebanon war and their willingness to beat up Palestinians during the Intifada.

Gush Emunim has won broad public sympathy in Israeli Jewish society because of its attitude towards army service. This contrasts sharply with the societal antagonism directed against the Haredim for their dodging of military service. The doctrine of sanctity, attributed by the two Rabbi Kooks to almost every Zionist enterprise, contributed even more to the widespread public sympathy for and support of Gush Emunim. Tal contrasted the religious Zionist outlook of Rabbi Kook the younger and Gush Emunim with that of the secular left. Tal defined the secular left's Zionist outlook as a "poetic, lyrical notion, according to which the return to the soil, life within nature, the agricultural achievements, the secular creativity [are essential parts]." The two Rabbi Kooks, while acknowledging that the secular left's notion unwillingly served the coming of messianic redemption, emphasized "the military victories upon holy soil and the Jewish blood spilled on this soil." Rabbi Kook the younger, together with other Gush Emunim leaders, went further, according to Tal, by defining "the State of Israel as the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Israel as the kingdom of heaven on earth." Followers of Rabbi Kook still refer to Israel as the "earthly support of the Lord's throne." Israel Harel, one of the most important Gush Emunim leaders, used this expression to make a political point in his weekly column in Haaretz on September 12,1996. Quoting an early essay by Rabbi Kook the elder, Harel wrote that the State of Israel was "the base of the Lord's throne in this world" and thus is and should be completely different from states "considered by Locke, Rosseau and others." For such people as Harel, total holiness envelops and justifies everything Israel does within the context of divinely inspired guidance. Tal wrote that from this vantage point "every action, every phenomenon, including secularism will one day be engulfed by sacredness, by redemption." It is not inconceivable that this type of sacredness could lead to the exploding of nuclear bombs in order to end the power of Satan and to establish "the base of the Lord's throne in this world."

In many respects Gush Emunim members and the majority of NRP supporters have continued to resemble the early Zionist pioneers. This fact has boosted their public image. They have helped to promote this image by presenting themselves to the uninitiated as successors of the pioneers of the 1920s and 1930s who are still cherished in the Jewish national memory and lauded in Israeli education. As previously indicated, Gush Emunim members, except for their miniscule skullcaps, continue consciously to emulate the dress and mannerisms of the early pioneers. The almost exclusively Ashhenazi background of both the early pioneers and the Gush Emunim settlers help this emulation. All Gush Emunim rabbis are Ashkenazi. The accepted Israeli standards of religious education, discussed in Chapter 3, are largely responsible for the absence of Oriental Jews among Gush Emunim rabbis. Although unwillingly to join, many Oriental Jews have supported and continue to support Gush Emunim. The Likud constituency has to date consistently supported Gush Emunim. By contrast, most members of the Labor Party supported Gush Emunim until the end of the 1970s but changed after Gush Emunim opposed the peace treaty with Egypt and demanded that Lebanon be annexed ''as a part of the heritage of our ancestors, the tribes of Asher, Naphtali and Zebulun." Gush Emunim infuriated many Labor supporters by continuing to advocate other extreme hawkish policies and by fiercely opposing Sharon's 1982 alliance with the Lebanese Falangists, who were Christians and therefore considered to be idolaters. Gush Emunim's position in 1982 was that Jews in their battles and conquests should only rely upon God's help. Any alliances with non-Jews could incur God's wrath and lead to His withholding help. Such ideas were, even for extreme Labor Party hawks, unacceptable.

Gush Emunim and NRP politics must be understood within the context of ideology. The ideology makes clear what members of these groups wish to accomplish. Books written in English have unfortunately failed to discuss adequately this ideology. Lustick's book, For the Land and the Lord, which discusses Gush Emunim's outward political behavior, is the prime example. Lustick relied to a great extent upon the writings of Harold Fisch for his analysis of Gush Emunim's political ideology. Fisch, a professor of English literature who seemingly has only limited competence in the Talmud and Cabbala, has mostly written for English-speaking readers and has primarily concentrated upon Christian fundamentalists in the United States. Lustick also relied somewhat upon the writings of Rabbi Menachem Kasher. Kasher was a highly respected talmudic scholar who wrote in Hebrew and influenced potential Gush Emunim initiates. His messianic tracts are well-known to many Gush Emunim and Yeshiva students. Lustick only briefly quoted Kasher twice and then obfuscated what he did quote. In our book we have relied more upon what Kasher wrote and have additionally utilized other Gush Emunim literature.

Gush Emunim activists live in a homogeneous West Bank society that they control. This society is mostly protected against "contamination" by rival detested ideologies, especially those that stem from Western culture and have been to some extent influenced the secular part of Israeli Jewish society. The possibility clearly exists that the Gush Emunim homogeneous society and its NRP supporters can increase their political power and influence within Israeli society. The ideology of the two Rabbis Kook is the determining force of NRP and Gush Emunim political action. The fundamental political tenet of Gush Emunim is that the Jewish people are unique. Gush Emunim members share this tenet with all Orthodox Jews, but they interpret it somewhat differently. Lustick discussed this tenet by focusing upon the Gush Emunim denial of one classical secular Zionist theme. Lustick correctly pinpointed the two assumptions of this theme, the first being that "Jewish life had been distorted on both the individual and the collective levels by the abnormality of diaspora existence." Second, only by undergoing a "process of normalization," by emigrating to Palestine and by forming a Jewish state can Jews become a normal nation. Quoting Fisch, Lustick stated that for Gush Emunim this classical idea "is the original delusion of the secular Zionists." The Gush Emunim argument is that secular Zionists measured that "normality" by applying non-Jewish standards that are satanic. The secular Zionists focused upon certain nations that they considered "normal" and asserted that the non-Jews in these normal nations were more advanced than were most diaspora Jews. Because of this, so argued the secular Zionists, Jews should try to emulate those non-Jews by becoming a "normal" people in a "normal" nation state. The Gush Emunim counter argument is: "Jews are not and cannot be a normal people. Their eternal uniqueness ... [is] the result of the covenant God made with them at Mount Sinai." Lustick further explained this Gush Emunim position by quoting one of the group's leaders, Rabbi Aviner: "'While God requires other normal nations to abide by abstract codes of justice and righteousness, such laws do not apply to Jews."' Haredi rabbis often cited this idea in their writings, but they strictly reserved its glaring consequences for the yet-to-come messianic age. The Halacha supports this reservation by carefully distinguishing between two situations in discussing codes of justice and righteousness. The Halacha permits Jews to rob non-Jews in those locales wherein Jews are stronger than non-Jews. The Halacha prohibits Jews from robbing non-Jews in those locales wherein the non-Jews are stronger. Gush Emunim dispenses with such traditional precautions by claiming that Jews, at least those in Israel and the Occupied Territories, are already living in the beginning of the messianic age.

Lustick failed to explain adequately the messianic age considerations and the distinctions between Jews and non-Jews. Harkabi's treatment was better. In discussing the halachic teaching and the Gush Emunim position regarding murders, Harkabi explained that the murder of a Jew, particularly when committed by a non-Jews, is in Jewish law the worst possible crime. He then quoted the Gush Emunim leader, Rabbi Israel Ariel. Relying upon the Code of Maimonides and the Halacha, Rabbi Ariel stated: " A Jew who killed a non-Jew is exempt from human judgment and has not violated the [religious] prohibition of murder." Harkabi noted further that this should be remembered when "the demand is voiced that all non-Jewish residents of the Jewish state be dealt with according to halachic regulations." Gush Emunim rabbis have continually reiterated that Jews who killed Arabs should not be punished. Gush Emunim members not only help such Jews who are punished by Israel's secular courts but also refuse to call those Jews "murderers." It logically follows that the religious settlers and their followers emphasize the "shedding of Jewish blood" but show little concern about the "shedding of non-Jewish blood." The Gush Emunim influence on Israeli policies can be measured by the fact that the Israeli government's policy on this matter has clearly reflected the Gush Emunim position. The Israeli government under both Labor and Likud leadership has refused to free Palestinian prisoners "with Jewish blood on their hands" but has not hesitated to free prisoners "with non-Jewish blood on their hands."

Another practical consequence of such attitudes is Gush Emunim's impact upon the conduct of the Israeli government in all matters concerning the territories. Gush Emunim continues to encourage Israeli authorities to deal cruelly with Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The refusals of Prime Ministers Rabin, Peres and Netanyahu to advocate the evacuation of even a single Jewish settlement is attributable primarily to the influence of Gush Emunim. Gush Emunim's influence upon all Israeli governments and political leaders of varying political persuasions has been significant.

The Gush Emunim attitude towards Palestinians, always referred to as "Arabs living in Israel," is important. Lustick mostly avoided this subject. Harkabi dealt with it honestly by extensively quoting the statements of Rabbis Tzvi Yehuda Kook, Shlomo Aviner and Israel Ariel. Kook, Aviner and Ariel viewed the Arabs living in Israel as thieves; they based their view upon the premise that all land in Israel was and remained Jewish and that all property found thereon thus belonged to Jews. Harkabi, who learned this when doing the research for his book, expressed his shock: "I never imagined that Israelis would so interpret the concept of historical right." Harkabi listed in sub-chapters of his book the numerous applications and extensions of this doctrine. He pointed out that for Gush Emunim the Sinai and present-day Lebanon are parts of this Jewish land and must be liberated by Israel. Rabbi Ariel published an atlas that designated all lands that were Jewish and needed to be liberated. This included all areas west and south of the Euphrates River extending through present-day Kuwait. Harkabi quoted Rabbi Aviner: "We must live in this land even at the price of war. Moreover, even if there is peace, we must instigate wars of liberation in order to conquer it [the land]." It is not unreasonable to assume that Gush Emunim, if it possessed the power and control, would use nuclear weapons in warfare to attempt to achieve its purpose.

For Gush Emunim, as Harkabi made clear and Lustick indirectly confirmed, the God-ordained inferiority of non-Jews living in the state of Israel extends to categories other than life and property. Gush Emunim has developed a foreign policy for the state of Israel to adopt. This policy stipulates that Arab hostility towards the Jews is theological in nature and is inherent. The conclusion drawn is that the Arab-Israeli conflict cannot be resolved politically. This conclusion is supported by Lustick's quoting the prominent Gush Emunim leader and former Knesset member, Eliezer Waldman: "'Arab hostility springs, like all anti-Semitism, from the world's recalcitrance to be saved [by the Jews]"' (pp. 77-9). Lustick also quoted other Gush Emunim leaders who left no doubt about their refusal to enter into political agreements with "present-day Jewish inhabitants of the land who resist the establishment of Jewish sovereignty over its entirety. " Lustick quoted Fisch who argued that Arab resistance could be attributed to Arabs' seeking "to fulfill their collective death-wish." Gush Emunim rabbis, politicians and ideological popularizers have routinely compared Palestinians to the ancient Canaanites, whose extermination or expulsion by the ancient Israelites was, according to the Bible, predestined by a divine design. This genocidal theme of the Bible creates great sympathy for Gush Emunim among many Christian fundamentalists who anticipate that the end of the world will be marked by slaughters and devastation. Gush Emunim has from its inception wanted to expel as many Palestinians as possible. Palestinian terrorist acts allow Gush Emunim spokespeople to disguise their real demand for total expulsion by arguing that expulsion is warranted by "security needs."

Harkabi quoted the views of Mordechai Nisan, a lecturer at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, that were published in the August 1984 issue of Kivunim, an official publication of the World Zionist Organization (pp. 151-6). According to Nisan, who relied upon Maimonides, a non-Jew permitted to reside in the land of Israel "must accept paying a tax and suffering the humiliation of servitude." In keeping with a religious text of Maimonides, Nisan, according to Harkabi, demanded that a non-Jew "be held down and not [be allowed to] raise his head against Jews." Paraphrasing Nisan further, Harkabi wrote: "Non-Jews must not be appointed to any office or position of power over Jews. If they refuse to live a life of inferiority, then this signals their rebellion and the unavoidable necessity of Jewish warfare against their very presence in the land of Israel." Such views about non-Jews, published in an official publication of the World Zionist Organization, resemble Nazi arguments about Jews. Harkabi commented: "I do not know how many Jews share his [Nisan's] belief, but the publication of the article in a leading Zionist periodical is a cause for grave concern."

The three following examples of other articles that appeared in Hebrew-language newspapers provide additional analyses of NRP and Gush Emunim attitudes. One of these articles deals with the most extreme group within Gush Emunim, named Emunim (Being Faithful). Established after the formation of the Rabin government in 1992, Emunim is led by Rabbi Benny Alon, the son of retired Deputy President of the Israeli Supreme Court Menahem Alon. Rabbi Alon, quoted by Nadav Shraggai in his September 18,1992 Haaretz article, stated:

The method of the mid-1970s will no longer work under a government whose moral profile is defined by the Meretz Party and whose members' hearts and minds are filled with scorn for the entire land of Israel and for Judaism. They not only want a Palestinian state without any Jews to be established in the very midst of the land of Israel. They also want a secular democratic state to replace the Jewish state of Israel. This government is spiritually rotten.

Rabbi Alon then contrasted the 1992 government leaders with the Labor leaders of the mid-1980s and before, who "felt like warm-hearted Jews feel" and were thus responsive to Gush Emunim's pressures. Alon continued,"But you cannot apply the same methods with the likes of [Meretz MK] Dedi Tzuker or [Meretz member] Moshe Ainirav who coordinate their deeds with our enemies." In preparing his September 18, 1992 Maariv article, journalist Avi Raz questioned Alon further and discovered Emunim's tactics: "Emunim wants to discredit Rabin [the then prime minister] by forcing him to rely [for a Knesset majority] on the MKs from the Arab parties and thus to destroy the legitimacy of his government." Rabin and Peres made concessions but nevertheless insisted upon expanding Jewish settlements. In his article Raz quoted Alon further:

From the spiritual point of view Rafael Eitan is wrong and should be criticized when he justifies Jewish settlements on the basis of helping Israeli's security. Security considerations in favor of the settlements are not the point. As I see it, politics rest upon spirituality. A body politic needs a soul. Israel's security and even the survival of the Jewish nation are no more than material dimensions of the spiritual Jewish depth. When we say that we must prevent the formation of a Palestinian state in order to save the Jewish state from extinction, we are not talking about spiritual things.

As Raz observed: "Blessed with profound spirituality, Alon and his associates go to the United States for five days in order to request Christian fundamentalists to support financially their activities." Alon and his associates succeeded in acquiring some of this requested funding. As Jewish fundamentalists who abominate non-Jews, they forged a spiritual alliance with Christians who believe that supporting Jewish fundamentalism is necessary to support the second coming of Jesus. This alliance has become a significant factor in both U.S.and Middle Eastern politics.

The second example concerns the policies of Gush Emunim itself under the Labor and Meretz government of the 1990s. In his October 5, 1992 Haaretz article, Danny Rubinstein quoted Gush Emunim leaders who believed the goal of Rabin's policies was "to destroy root and branch the [Jewish] settlements in the territories and all accomplishments of Zionism." Rubinstein carefully distinguished between the secular Golan Heights settlers and Gush Emunim. The Golan Heights settlers claimed that Rabin's policies were mistaken, because peace with Syria could be reached on Israeli terms. Gush Emunim claimed that "the Washington negotiations [with the PLO] amount to nothing else than a dialogue of human beings with a herd of ravenous wolves, aiming solely at turning the entire land of Israel into the entire land of the Arabs." This does not mean that Gush Emunim declined to take money for its own purposes from the government that negotiated "with a herd of ravenous wolves."

In his October 14, 1992 Haaretz article, Nadav Shraggai discussed a symposium, organized and underwritten by the ministry of religion in conjunction with the ministry of education, headed by Shulamit Aloni. The symposium's theme was: "Is autonomy for resident aliens in the Holy Land feasible?" Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the symposium's major speaker, explained: "'Autonomy is tantamount to a denial of the Jewish religion."' According to Goren, the Halacha considers the denial of Judaism to be the gravest Jewish sin and enjoins pious Jews to kill those infidels who deny Judaism. Rabbi Goren likened such infidels to those people who advocated autonomy. This indicated that an attempt to assasinate Rabin would occur for religious reasons. Goren argued further that Judaism prohibits "granting any national rights to any group of foreigners in the land of Israel." Goren also denied that a Palestinian nation existed. He asserted: "Palestinians disappeared in the second century BC, and I have not heard of their being resurrected." Goren reassured his audience that, undeterred by widespread infidelities,"the process of redemption, already underway for one hundred years, cannot be reversed when Divine Providence awaits us all the time." Another symposium participant, Rabbi Aviner, concurred with Goren that Judaism forbade granting even a small amount of autonomy to the Palestinians. Rabbi Zalman Melamed, chairman of the Committee of the Rabbis of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, made the same point even more clearly: "No rabbinual authority disputes that it would be ideal if the land of Israel were inhabited by only Jews." Rabbi Shlomo Min-Hahar extended the argument to Muslims and Christians specifically by claiming: "The entire Muslim world is money-grubbing, despicable and capable of anything. All Christians without exception hate the Jews and look forward to their deaths."

Israeli taxpayers, including Muslim and Christian Arabs, paid for this symposium, during which rabbinical leaders delivered such arguments. Prime Minister Rabin and the ministers of religion and education approved and did not utter publicly negative criticism of any of the views expressed. Rabin's approval might be understood as a part of his deliberate encouragement of political programs at variance with what he claimed to favor. Minister of Education Aloni's approval can be understood rationally only as another manifestation of her weakness, carelessness and foolishness. Both Rabin and Aloni visited Germany shortly before this symposium and fiercely condemned publicly the "German hatred of foreigners." They carefully avoided mentioning racist statements and recommendations made by rabbis in Israel about how foreigners should be treated. They did not mention, let alone condemn, Rabbi Melamed's advocacy of transfer, that is, the total expulsion of all non-Jews from the land of Israel. Such mention might have complemented their denunciation of German xenophobia.

The third example, also taken from the Hebrew press, stems from a book of responsa, published in 1990. The book, Intifada Responses, written by the important Gush Emunim rabbi, Shlomo Aviner, provides in plain Hebrew halachic answers to the questions of what pious Jews should do to Palestinians during situations that arise at times similar to the Intifada. The book is divided into brief chapters that contain answers to questions. The answers do not relate to Israeli law. Quotations from the first two chapters (pp. 19-22) illustrate the essence of the questions and answers contained in this book. The first exemplary question in Chapter 1 is: "Is there a difference between punishing an Arab child and an Arab adult for a disturbance of our peace?" The answer begins by cautioning people not conversant with the Halacha that comparisons should not be made between Jewish and Gentile underage minors; "As is known, no Halachic punishments can be inflicted upon Jewish boys below the age of thirteen and Jewish girls below the age of twelve ... Maimonides wrote that this rule applied to Jews alone ... not to any non-Jews. Therefore, any non-Jews, no matter what age, will have to pay for any crime committed." In providing his answer, Rabbi Aviner proceeded to quote another ruling by Maimonides that warned Jews not to punish a non-Jewish child who can be presumed to be "short of wisdom." Aviner concluded that determining whether a non-Jewish child is to be regarded as an adult depends upon whether that child, even if younger than thirteen, has sufficient understanding. According to what Aviner wrote in his book, any Jew is capable of judging whether a non-Jewish child should in this sense be considered and punished as an adult. The second exemplary question is: "What shall we do if an Arab child intends to threaten a [Jewish] life?" Rabbi Aviner explained that all prior responsa dealt only with the actual commissions of crimes by non-Jewish children. He explained in this answer that if a non-Jewish child intended to commit murder, for example, by throwing a stone at a passing car, that the non-Jewish child should be considered a "persecutor of the Jews" and should be killed. Citing Maimonides as his authority, Aviner maintained that killing the non-Jewish child in this instance is necessary to save Jewish life.

In the second chapter of his book Rabbi Aviner posed and answered a single question; "Does the Halacha permit inflicting the death penalty upon Arabs who throw stones?" His answer was that inflicting such a punishment is not only permitted but is mandatory. This punishment, moreover, is not reserved for stone throwers but can be invoked for other reasons. Aviner asserted that a rabbinical court or a king of Israel "has the power to punish anyone by death if it is believed that the world will thereby be improved." The rabbinical court or king of Israel can alternatively punish non-Jews and wicked Jews by beating them mercilessly, by imprisoning them under the most severe conditions and/or by inflicting upon them other extreme suffering. Gush Emunim spokespeople have argued that this power of the rabbinical court and king of Israel can devolve to the Israeli government, provided that government abides by the correct religious rulings. The punishments, mentioned here, should be invoked if the authorities believe that such punishment will deter other wicked people. Aviner made clear his preference was to invoke the death penalty and/or severe flogging upon any non-Jew found guilty of intending to throw stones at Jews.

The discussion in this chapter should distinguish qualitatively the Gush Emunim-NRP form from the Haredi form of Jewish fundamentalism. The greater potential danger clearly rests with the Gush Emunim and the NRP, because their members have involved themselves in the state in order to sanctify Israel.








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Notes


1. Pollard, an American Jew very devoted to Israel, was in the 1980s a highly placed employee of U.S.Naval Intelligence. He gave many intelligence secrets (not only concerning Middle Eastern affairs) to Israel. He received a severe prison sentence in the U.S. Many American and Israeli Jews, and since the mid-1990s also the Israeli government, have tried to persuade the U.S.President to reduce his sentence or give him a pardon. However, these attempts have been unsuccessful, due to the strong opposition of U.S.intelligence chiefs.




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