31 July '15..
Two buildings in the settlement of Beit El that were demolished under order of the High Court of Justice this week have brought a small group of Jewish pioneers to the point of frustration, prompting them to insult IDF soldiers and harshly criticize the legal system and the government. Before we go any further, I must say that the remarks made by MK Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) on Wednesday (saying the High Court should be bulldozed) were not legitimate criticism, but rather an embarrassment to his party and to the pioneering settlement enterprise that he purports to represent. Having said that, I will say this: Dear brothers and sisters, the current government is as right-wing as a government in Israel will get. It is legitimate to criticize, even harshly, and it is okay to protest, but anyone who is incapable of playing by the rules of democracy needs to step out of the game and let others carry the settlement enterprise on their shoulders.
It was only 10 years ago that entire communities were destroyed by order of the Israeli government. Has our spirit been broken? Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook used to say that during times like these, nerves of steel are in order. Do not fall into the trap of impatience and frustration and avoid throwing away all the good that we already have. Look for what we have rather than yielding to the fatalist tendency to see only what is absent. The demolition of two buildings is no reason for all this drama. Where is the common sense? This is a classic recipe for "cry wolf" syndrome: When something truly devastating happens, the general public will not be receptive, having had its fill of empty, wasted drama.
The Jewish people are returning home. I say "returning" because this is a years-long process -- hundreds of years in the making and with hundreds of years left to go. The people who look at the diplomatic, social and political picture as a string of specific failures or successes are looking at reality through minimizing, petty eyes, and obviously no government could possibly live up to their expectations.
It is fascinating to see the mirror image of last week's Peace Now conference in some of the reactions to the events in Beit El. In both cases the "rule of radicalization" was in play -- with individuals turning to the radical end of the spectrum when things don't go their way in a kind of puritanical way, as if to say "at least my conscience is clear." It is legitimate to want more, but it takes some degree of maturity and responsibility to understand that you can't always have everything. Sometimes it is best to be content with what you have, out of respect for the independent passing of time that is not always congruous with our own inner timing.
What does it mean to be puritanical? It means a lack of maturity and failure to understand that by nature, political, diplomatic and social processes require compromise. If we aspire to absorb large social groups, in the millions of people, we have to strike a middle ground that will accommodate the widest possible range of people.
In the last 48 years, no Israeli government has imposed full sovereignty over the parts of the homeland that we have conquered. I am not afraid of puritanical language. We reconquered the land that was originally ours, the land that had waited for us for years. We did not take this land away from any foreign entity that had sovereignty over it, and therefore our claim to it is entirely justified -- historically, legally, internationally and religiously. But the fact is that for decades Israel has avoided imposing full sovereignty over the entire scope of the land.
On the other hand, we are settling the land, acre by acre, family by family, home by home -- using the good old Zionist method. Most of us have plenty of patience. What doesn't get done in this generation will be done in the next, God willing. In the meantime, the important thing is to make sure the Zionist foundations are strong.
For the sake of our collective consciousness, it is imperative that we understand that if sovereignty has yet to be declared it is because we are not ready for it yet. I would have been very pleased if the conclusions of the report compiled by the late Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy (on the legality of the settlements) were adopted. But it is impossible to coerce an entire public to embark on a historic process, rife with ramifications, before it is ready to do so. The only way to become ready is to incorporate a long-term educational program, and to use compassion. Not everyone is a pioneer, and not everyone sees things from the viewpoint of a leader. Society is prone to feel threatened by great vision when it is not sufficiently ready to receive it.
For now, we look to our leaders to refrain from lashing out irresponsibly. Tisha B'Av is behind us, and we are wise with historical experience. The zealots have never been the ones to lead us to salvation. In addition, I am not convinced that the zealots have ever been motivated by a pure loyalty to the people of Israel and to the land. More often than not they are immature and unwilling to operate within the confines of reality, childishly believing that God owes us something.
It sometimes seems as though we lack a degree of cunning. Some of us have a tendency to worship heroes who fall on their swords. King Saul was direct, naive, and above all else did not fully comprehend that he was no longer looking for donkeys but rather the king of Israel. He went to battle for the last time with the knowledge that he would be defeated, and that he would die with his soldiers in the field. Unlike Saul, King David was politically and militarily crafty. He was clever enough to retreat from Jerusalem so as to avoid confronting his rebellious son Absalom, and thereby prevented a civil war that would have destroyed the city, only to set a trap for the rebels and return to his city victorious. Many times I have suspected that Niccolò Machiavelli's "The Prince" was based on 1 Samuel.
Our natural inclination is to be like Saul and declare unabashedly that we are building and settling in Judea and Samaria. Let us hope that one day we will do just that. But in the meantime, we are forced to conduct ourselves in the face of a hostile international community that opposes our return to Zion. Amid the various constraints, we also have a country to run, with a robust economy and scientific advancements and commercial dealings and an army and threats and boycotts and all sorts of challenges. That is why we need a healthy dose of diplomatic wisdom, or cunning (in Aramaic, cunning is translated as wisdom), in order to navigate the Zionist ship between the icebergs.
This is not the 1980s. The last two decades have buried the diplomatic vision proposed by the Left deep, deep underground. The public, as a whole, is telling the Left "no, thank you." Over the last 200 years, the most consistent historical rule of thumb has been the return to Zion. The return to Zion is first and foremost a return to Jerusalem and to the heels of Judea and Samaria -- the biblical land, cradle of our historical, national and religious identity.
Anyone who urges bulldozing the High Court of Justice is not a worthy alternative to lead the Zionist ship. Anyone who makes such a remark has a sectorial outlook: One sector of Israeli society looking out for its own buildings and its own communities. When your perspective is so narrow, it is easy to understand how two buildings can become equivalent to the entire settlement enterprise. For the sake of our buildings, it is okay to do away with reverence for the government, and who cares if people start eating each other alive as a result.
But those who understand that they are messengers -- pioneers working in the name of the people throughout the generations -- never lose touch with those who sent them on this great path to prepare the land for future generations.
The responsibility is immense. Ever since we lost our independence in the year 135 C.E., we have been knocked around on the margins of history and in foreign lands. The 67 years that the State of Israel has been in existence are a drop in the bucket in the history of our people. The state is like a tiny infant that we must protect very carefully. In addition, we bear a responsibility toward parts of the Israeli Left and we must not allow the alienation toward Zionism and the state to spread among them.
Let us recall the judgment of Solomon: The real mother would rather give away her son if that means that his life would be spared. What we need is patience. And faith.