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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Coping with terrorism through faith

Terrorism tries to sow panic and cause the public to give up. Israelis are finished with delusions of peace, so terrorism will not achieve its goal, but a rational, gradual, and realistic means of teaching the Torah view must be proposed.
Rabbi Eliezer Melamed
The writer is Head of Yeshivat Har Bracha and a prolific author on Jewish Law, whose works include the series on Jewish law "Pininei Halacha" and a popular weekly column "Revivim" in the Besheva newspaper. His books "The Laws of Prayer" "The Laws of Passover" and "Nation, Land, Army" are presently being translated into English. Other articles by Rabbi Melamed can be viewed at: www.yhb.org.il/1

The War on Arab Terror
People are very worried about the Arab terror raging in the streets. This is the goal of terrorism - attacking a few people and sowing panic among the public at large, causing them to surrender their assets and interests in hopes of gaining peace and quiet.
Even in the recent weeks in which terror has raised its evil head, more people were killed in traffic accidents, many of which could have been avoided. Despite this, the fear of terror is far greater than that of road accidents, because the terrible evil of acts of murder captures the mind and arouses fear and horror.

The Effect of Terrorism on the Left and Right
The goal of terrorism is to weaken our hold on the country; in practice however, its influence branches in different directions, according to the state of mind and moral fiber of those attacked.
There are some Jews who weren’t interested in living in Israel in the first place and fled here only because of the Holocaust and other troubles in the Diaspora. Terror petrifies and paralyzes many of them. They would be willing to accept any withdrawal or humiliation, just as long as the fear of terrorism is removed.
There are some Jews who go a step further – their hearts are drawn in a sick manner to the figure of the killer, striving to understand and justify the motives for his wickedness, hoping that perhaps in this way they will find a solution to the situation. In an effort to do so, they are forced to skew their moral viewpoint, as one can hear by listening to the Leftists.
And then there are Jews with a healthy moral consciousness for whom justice is imperative, those who are not willing or able to surrender to terrorism. The exact opposite – it spawns within them a reverse reaction, and a strong will to fight back.

The Division between Right and Left
In order to analyze the issue properly, it is important to first define the basic essentials. In practice, the dividing line between Jews for whom terrorism overpowers and compels them to concessions on land and rights, and those who terrorism triggers a desire to fight back is based on one’s attitude towards the Land of Israel.

Those Tending to the Left
Jews who tend to the Left never really wanted to immigrate to Israel in the first place, and only when the troubles in the Diaspora were about to drown them, did they decide to go. Some chose to immigrate to Israel and not move abroad to America or other foreign countries; some had no choice but to immigrate to Israel because no other country agreed to accept them. Consequently, the Holocaust for them is the supreme justification for the existence of the State of Israel. Their descendants live in Israel because they got used to the country and their friends and family are here as well. The majority of them have a certain connection to the Bible, the People and the Land, but they wouldn’t weep if fate somehow brought them to a Western country. For them, annual visits to Israel would suffice.
These are the Jews willing fall for any “peace” proposal. Even for the slightest chance of quiet they are willing to give up parts of the homeland. In exchange for a temporary lull in the international arena, they are willing to give up the basic fundamentals of sovereignty and Jewish identity.

Those Tending to the Right
Those tending to the right view immigration to Israel and the blossoming of its wilderness as a process of Redemption for the People and Land of Israel, based on the mitzvot of the Torah and Prophetic visions, or at very least, based on a national and historic mandate. True, most of them immigrated to Israel only after the troubles in the Diaspora increased dramatically. But after being forced to flee, they saw in the settling of the Land a phase of Redemption. The supreme justification of Israel's existence for them are the mitzvot of the Torah, or at very least, a national historic right.
These people are willing to sacrifice and pay the price in order to secure Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. Only in a situation of absolute duress would they be prepared to withdraw; short of such circumstances, they would prefer suffering international condemnation and terrorism, and not retreat. Arab terror spurs them to fight back, and expand Jewish presence in the area.

Those in the Middle
The majority of the public is somewhere in the middle; they understand both the Right and the Left. Ideally, they prefer the approach of the Right, but for increased security would be inclined to lean to the Left. When such people are successfully deceived into thinking that withdrawals will bring peace, they are tempted to support the retreat. When they fail to be deceived, they will oppose withdrawals and violation of sovereignty.

A Cautious Assessment: Terrorism Will Fail
Presently, it appears that most of Israeli public leans to the Right - unfortunately, not thanks to a deepening of Jewish identity, but mainly because reality has refused to toe the line to the delusions of peace. Consequently, chances are the current wave of terror will not achieve its goal – on the contrary, it will strengthen Jewish identity and harm the Arabs who rise up against us.

The Security Question and Its Roots
It is interesting that when the two sides debate, they often gear themselves with security, economic, social and moral claims, without being aware of the roots of their arguments. When it comes down to it, those who are more firmly connected to the Torah, People, and Land of Israel find realistic arguments for settling the Land, while those who are not will find realistic claims for withdrawal.

The Path to Security
Invariably, over the long term, people who only worried about not dying faced greater harm than those who made an effort to live. For example, Jews in Europe were extremely worried for their lives. They felt the growing anti-Semitism, and tried to do anything to survive. However, since their main concern was how not to die, they feared making aliyah to Israel, because someone whose main desire is not to die is afraid to face reality and have the courage to do what it takes to increase his chances of survival. Therefore, when the Jews in Europe heard about Arab terrorism in Israel before WWII, they were afraid and remained in the Diaspora, and ultimately were harmed sevenfold.
In contrast, a person who wants to live and sees the meaning in his life dares to act even under risk and self-sacrifice to fulfill his life’s purpose. And if his actions are carried out within the framework of rational considerations, he is able to survive longer.
The same is true concerning illnesses: a person who is always worried about getting sick is usually more ill. In contrast, a person whose life is full of content is usually healthier.
When the primary desire of the Left is that the State of Israel not be harmed, it brings upon the country far more economic, social and securityproblems than the Right, who are not willing to give up on our national identity.

The Problem of the Faith-based Right
Recent years have proven that the Right was correct. Withdrawals did not increase security, rather, the exact opposite. The Arab world did not soften their views towards us, but instead became more radical. The Western world also stepped-up its delusional demands of us, despite all the concessions we already made.
Representatives of the faith-based Right foresaw all of this. So why is it that the public at large does not accept the positions of the faith-based Right? Why is the public still willing to listen to the nonsense of all the commentators and experts from academia and graduates of the intelligence community, chattering incessantly in the media? After all, it has been proven time and again how they embroiled governments in complicated and dangerous concessions, and have never been able to predict the future.
It appears the reason is that often, the faith-based Right proposes implausible suggestions based on wishful thinking and beliefs rather than on reality. The public fears that these irrational positions are liable to endanger their existence. Who knows? Faith-based leaders might suddenly decide to destroy the mosques on the Temple Mount and provoke a world war. Or maybe they’ll apply sovereignty over territories in Judea and Samaria while giving full citizenship to the Arabs living there. Or alternatively, maybe they will come out with a program of immediate deportation of most of the Arabs, causing the entire world to rise up against the State of Israel.
The various commentators indeed are always mistaken because they fail to understand the meaning of national identity and faith and therefore do not understand the motives of the enemy or the source of strength of the People of Israel. However, the information they provide is factual and solid, and their arguments are drawn from the here and now, without relying on miracles. Consequently, the public is willing to listen to them even though they do not trust their suggestions.
In such a situation, the public prefers the leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu. Although he concerns himself mainly with survival, and only occasionally credits us with little flickers of faith, national achievements, and settling the land, nevertheless, his considerations are rational and based on solid reality, free of the grave errors of the failed commentators.

A Proposal for a Gradual, Faith-Based Approach
This situation can be improved if we present a comprehensive and idealistic vision as written in the Torah and the Prophets, while at the same time offering a gradual way of achieving it, taking into maximal consideration reality – including Israeli public opinion and that of the international community, and the powers they represent.
For example, concerning the Temple Mount, a suggestion can be made that from now on, every preacher who incites and speaks out against Israel or the Jews, and any Muslim who disturbs those ascending the Temple Mount by screaming or other actions will not be permitted to go up the Temple Mount. This is a proportionate measure whose reasoning can be understood by any normal person anywhere.
Similarly, with regard to the continuation of settlement in Judea and Samaria: It is possible to expand the existing communities on state-owned land without depriving any Arab who has property rights. In this way, friction will be reduced in all respects – settlement will be regulated by law without any complaints of discrimination and dispossession, and all the positive energy of the "settlers" will be directed to completely legal areas of the State of Israel, without an attempt to seize land that is not regulated or privately owned.
It is also possible to gradually apply Israeli sovereignty over Jewish communities and uninhabited areas in Judea and Samaria, while proposing regional autonomy to the local Arab leadership.
It is certainly possible to demand loyalty from Israeli Arab citizens.
This gradual process does not demand conceding any rights of the Jewish people, but only exercises our rights incrementally, in the sense of: "I will drive them out from before you gradually, until you have grown in number and can take possession of the land” (Exodus 23:30).

Learning Logic from Within the Torah
To be able to put across this kind of leadership and approach, Torah must be learned in a more complete and truthful way, so that its practical logic will shine forth "as the sun in the afternoon". Today, many people fulfill the mitzvot for mystical reasons, while declaring that although practical considerations indicate the opposite, faith trumps logic and nature. Many even take pride in this, because in their view, the absolute believer must ignore practical considerations.
They are, however, gravely mistaken and damage the cause of Torah, for even though the roots of Torah and the Jewish faith are in the Heavens,  the entire revelation of the Torah is logical and practical halakha (Jewish law).

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting and informative articles by Rabbi Melamed and his highly acclaimed series of Jewish law and thought “Peninei Halakha” can be found at: http://en.yhb.org.il/

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