Beit Midrash

  • Family and Society
  • Understanding Circumstances
To dedicate this lesson

There is a Jewish Alternative

First, Some Definitions, Political Implications, It's Just Not True. An Unhealthy Dependency, "L'Havdil", Translating Our Views Into Action, Three Fronts.


Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed

23 Cheshvan 5761
1. First, Some Definitions
2. Political Implications
3. It's Just Not True
4. An Unhealthy Dependency
5. "L'Havdil"
6. Translating Our Views Into Action
7. Three Fronts

Given the current situation in the Land of Israel - and its roots - it is important to clarify the fundamental disagreement between the Israeli left and the religious right-wing. By understanding the approach of the secular left, we can perhaps discover the means by which to confront it successfully.

The secular political left is convinced that the Jewish people is not special, and that we do not have a claim on the Land of Israel. The secular left believes that all men are created equal, that the Jewish nation is no more special than other nations. For the secular left, the Jewish nation has no specific mission, either. Furthermore, Eretz Yisrael has no unique qualities that link it specifically to the Jewish people. It therefore follows that, for the secular left, Jews have no unique, intrinsic claim to the Land of Israel.

This approach has far-reaching ramifications: it strips our struggle for sovereignty over the Land of its meaning, and it empties us as a people of any motivation to fight for the Land of Israel; in fact, for the secular left, the Arabs are right! Obviously, without any moral justification for being here, and without any motivation to remain here, it is impossible for us to wage a war and to win.

Moreover, the blurring of the uniqueness and mission of the People of Israel dashes any hope for unity and mutual responsibility - since it is our national mission that really forges us into one nation and fosters an appreciation of our mutual responsibility. It is against this backdrop that we face a united Arab front determined to wage war with us.

From the secular-leftist perspective, there is no way of solving our conflict with the Arabs militarily, because military power has its limits, and we don’t have the capability of forcibly imposing our rule over the Arabs. For the secular left, there is no real moral justification for employing force! It follows, therefore, that the only way to bring the conflict to an end is via a deal in which Israel offers the Arabs major territorial concessions. There is just no choice, we are told, and the forfeiture of land is the "proper moral choice" under the circumstances.

The secular left, a group of people estranged from Jewish faith and divorced of nationalistic values, looks at the conflict with secular eyes. As such, it sees it as a political, diplomatic conflict, and not a religious-nationalistic one.

For a political conflict, there are political solutions.
A view devoid of faith cannot understand religious belief or a nationalistic identity, and proponents of secular-leftist philosophy therefore explain both of the above concepts superficially. From secular eyes, it is still possible to consider the notion that the Arabs desire peace, and that if we accept their demands, the conflict will end!

The secular understanding is, to put it bluntly, wrong. The Arab-Jewish conflict on both sides of "the Green Line" is fundamentally a national and religious struggle, and thus it will be perpetuated even after any agreement is signed. Diplomatic deals will not lessen the latent hatred, and even if such hatred lies dormant for a while, it will eventually re-surface. Only the fulfillment of the vision of our Biblical prophets in the form of "Tikkun Olam" - the rectification of the world - will bring about a true, lasting peace.

The blurring of the parameters of Jewish identity and national unity has brought the secular left to establish a political alliance with the minority Arabs who now live within the borders of the State. In fact, the left has become politically dependent on this minority, without which the left could not rule over the country. Since Israeli Arabs are part of a broader Arab nation, the secular left has become dependent on the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, who personally determines the positions of
the Arab Members of Knesset. Thus, the hands of the left are tied; it cannot effectively overcome the terrorists, who hold the keys to the continued rule of the secular left itself.

Our perspective is fundamentally different; we believe that the Nation of Israel is God’s Chosen People, a unique people with a major, eternal mission. The Land of Israel also has its special qualities. This is our land, and only here can we truly fulfill our Divine charge. Therefore, we have a complete right over the entirety of the Land; it is our homeland, the Land of God; we are thus motivated to fight and defend it.
The special character and mission of Israel unite us and energize us with a national, spiritual zeal to fight and defeat our enemies in the battle over the Land of Israel/

We believe that there is no political solution to the conflict. The Arabs will only refrain from going to war with us in response to our deterrent capability. No agreement signed on the White House lawn will prevent them from going to war with us. The approach therefore must be to improve our deterrent capability, by acting cleverly and diligently against any attempt by terrorism or war - of striking at us. The enemy must know that it will pay a high price for trying to harm us. Thus, in stark contrast to the defensive and withdrawal-oriented posture the country has taken in recent years, we believe that we must stand strong and constantly move towards discouraging the Arabs from trying to harm us.

The knowledge that the conflict has deep roots, and that it is currently impossible to fully solve it, gives rise to a fundamentally different approach to the problem. Just as any nation considers how to control organized crime and does not think for a moment of the possibility of capitulating to the criminals, so too, we must struggle with terrorism and not give in to it. We live with other problems such as illness and traffic accidents; still, we are not overwhelmed by them, and we have learned to live with them. We can do the same when it comes to terrorism, which claims fewer lives than sickness and car crashes. Our attitude towards terrorism will be nurtured in great measure by our deep commitment to our cause.

The huge gap between evaluations of the situation and the conclusions of how to deal with terrorism stems from the world-view of those in charge. Since the political and security perspective rests on weak conceptual foundations, the great military wizardry of the IDF in its battle with the Arabs has not brought results, because, as architects know well, even an otherwise well-built structure cannot stand long if it rests on weak foundations.

As such, the security establishment should not absolved of responsibility for government policy, since the government would not have the gall to employ a security policy completely in opposition to the views of the top army brass. Since the army’s conclusions are based on faulty premises, its leaders bear the heavy responsibility for the grave security situation no less than the government.

Proposals for Action:
1) Regarding the left: Given our evaluation of this group, we can conclude that we will not succeed in changing the views of these people without drawing them back to the warm embrace of the Jewish faith. This is a long process, but it seems that the Arabs have begun the work, and are in a sense teaching the secular left how wrong it really has been all along. To our sorrow, this lesson has proven painful for all of us.

2) For the population as a whole: Our main goal should be to unite the haredi, religious, nationalist and traditional public into one large group, whose joint interest is to preserve Jewish identity. To this end, we must explain to these communities the grave danger that lies ahead for the Jewish character of the state as well as the security dangers entailed in further agreements that stem from the incorrect worldview of the secular left...

3) The struggle in Yesha: We must adamantly defend each community, and stand strong against the trials and tribulations facing us. We must view this period as a test period and as a challenge. The Creator of the World is testing us to see the extent of our cleaving to Him and to His Torah and to the Land of Israel...

We must pass this test as children of Avraham Avinu, who also withstood numerous trials. Each successful struggle moves us one step closer to our redemption. We must stand firmly against Arab terror and the internal weakness of the left, until both of these groups prove that their efforts to weaken and harm us have backfired in the face of our perseverance...

We shall continue to settle the Land of Israel despite all of the pressures that face us. We will continue to call out the name of Hashem, the Creator of the world, the God of Israel - in all places, at all times. With confidence, faith, and dedication, and with God’s help, we will triumph - because God is with us.
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