In the Name of God

Rabbi Yigal Kaminetzky is not a 'stray weed.' He represents an authentic crop that sprouted in the messianic garden bed and spread like crabgrass throughout the field of the settlers.

It requires a good measure of audacity and insensitivity to say what Rabbi Yigal Kaminetzky is quoted as saying about the disengagement plan. Kaminetzky, the regional rabbi of Gush Katif, and considered to be one of the educational figures of the bewildered settlers, told Haaretz: "It is not farfetched to believe there will be divine intervention that will stymie the disengagement. A miracle here is no less realistic than the implementation of uprooting."

One must read these words a few times to believe that such an outlandish assessment would come from the mouth of such a senior personality from the settler community, some 60 years after the Holocaust.

After all, there are two possibilities: Either an omnipotent God, who does not intervene in the evil that human beings inflict upon one another during their days on earth, and thus stood aside when 6 million Jews, including 1.5 million children, were executed in the death furnaces, will continue to display divine restraint in the face of the "terrible and awful crime" of transferring settlers from their homes in Gush Katif and Gaza to the other side of the Green Line.

The second and shocking possibility is that God does, indeed, intervene in history, but displays a cruel countenance to human beings, his own handiwork. And, if this is the true picture of reality, it is hard to imagine that the God who remained silent, who failed to lift a finger from His heavenly abode to put an end to those atrocities, would make an exception this time and create a miracle to prevent the transfer of residential structures, mobile homes and hothouses from one place to another. There is also a third possibility, of course, which is certainly not acceptable to Rabbi Kaminetzky - that if God ever existed, He died at Auschwitz.

Rabbi Kaminetzky is not a "stray weed." He represents an authentic crop that sprouted in the messianic garden bed and spread like crabgrass throughout the field of the settlers. In the naivety of his remarks, which are reportedly shared by many settlers, rabbis, educators and teachers of halakha [Jewish law], he exposes the depth of the moral nadir to which the harbingers of "the Third Kingdom of Israel" have fallen.

When a handful of irresponsible and reckless people came up with the daft idea of the "orange patch" [recalling the yellow Star of David patch from the Holocaust], a great hue and cry arose. Public opinion, both secular and religious, objected to the cheap exploitation of the Holocaust for settler needs, and the patch was removed. But now, when the settlers are invoking the name of the almighty and awesome God in the same breath as the evacuation and disengagement - which, for God's sake, means basically switching one residential address for another - no one is uttering a peep.

The name of God is publicly defamed, but who really cares these days? Moreover, Rabbi Kaminetzky, who believes there will be divine intervention to prevent the disengagement, is guilty of the same original sin that rabbis and (ultra-Orthodox) teachers of halakha committed during the Holocaust: What did the Satmar rabbi do when he was rescued from the valley of death in Europe and found refuge in America?

At the very same time, he instructed his followers to remain where they were because, at the last, decisive moment, God would appear in His glorious wisdom and block the plan of the evildoers. The rabbi was saved and his Hasidim perished, and God's will was done.

An echo of this can also be found in the approach of the esteemed rabbi. Instead of gathering his flock and preparing them for their difficult hour (and it is, indeed, a difficult hour for them - difficult, but not Holocaust-like), and instead of providing practical counsel on how to cope with their individual pain (and there is, indeed, pain involved), he is instilling false hopes. He is a regular visitor to the salon of the King of Kings, is well versed in His hidden intentions and in the small signs of the divine plan, and he believes that at the last moment He will generate a miracle to prevent the disengagement. Is this not a manifestation of the "settler-Haredization" of religious Zionism that is much discussed in halakhic contexts?

But the truth is that what has always motivated the teachings and actions of the settlers from Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook's school, and what nurtured the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria (or, what I call "the occupied territories"), is not the security concern that the settlers have deceitfully and vainly presented to the secular public and the Supreme Court. What guided them was only a religious vision, according to their interpretation. After all, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook posed a challenge: "How is it that a movement of practical redemption in our days, including the settlement and conquest of the land, and exodus from and liquidation of the Diaspora, has not sprung forth from religious circles?" (Avi Ravitzky, "Messianism, Zionism and Jewish Religious Radicalism").

And this is his response: "The [anti-Zionist] religious Jews did not recognize that we, flesh and blood, do not expedite history. Rather, it is the Landlord, the Master of the world, who prods us; it is not the voice of flesh and blood, but rather the voice of the living God that broke down the wall between us and our land by exhorting us: `Make aliyah!'" That is, the parentage and birth of the enterprise of Zionist rebirth can be found in the rebellion against the messianic idea. And now, when the voice of God, in Rabbi Kook's interpretation, is fading and dying, and when a sense of reality demands from all of us the price of disengagement, not only from "strips of our homeland," but also, and primarily, from "messianic tribulations," and when the messianic vision is collapsing, there is nothing left for the secular than to rely on a miracle.