This column frequently attacks the errors of others and infrequently attacks its own mistakes. This time it's the reverse.
More than 30 years ago we lived in Kiryat Shmona. Those were bad days. Terrorists invaded the city and killed mightily; Katyushas made life miserable.
One day a neighbor, Rabbi Zephaniah Drori, came to visit me. A good-hearted man who had linked his fate and his family's to that of his city, he never considered abandoning it.
"I have a request," he said. "I want to establish a hesder yeshiva here," an arrangement that combines Torah study with army service. He had already applied to the Defense Ministry and had been told no. The hesder quota had already been filled, they explained. "Can you talk to the defense minister?" he asked me.
Why not, I replied. Scores of young men, with swords drawn and Torah-observant, will come to Kiryat Shmona and fill its depleted ranks. I spoke with Shimon Peres, who was defense minister at the time, and he changed his mind.
I confess now: That was a mistake in judgment. The whole hesder concept was a huge mistake - separate ideological-political streams are a recipe for trouble. It was with good reason that David Ben-Gurion fired on the Altalena with its shipment of smuggled arms for the Irgun pre-state underground militia, and then dismantled the Palmach. I never imagined that after some time, rabbis would want to be the successors to military commanders, that two kings would insist on wearing the same crown.
Who could have imagined that the yeshivas would be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, that every good-for-nothing would be called great and a rabbi, and that every one of them would hand down rabbinical rulings? And not only on matters of women's ritual purity, but also on matters of state. Who could have imagined that every gang would choose its own rabbi and every rabbi get his own gang? Who could have imagined that every second settlement in the territories would be given its very own hesder yeshiva?
Back then I naively assumed that Kiryat Shmona and its rabbi deserved special consideration, and I ignored Theodor Herzl's warning about the blight of clerics who invade areas that are not theirs.
Now the Golem is on the rampage and turning incessantly on its creator. The Golem is claiming that in the secular universities they also preach refusal to serve. Only people who have no clue about what a university is could make such an argument. Is a professor who calls for conscientious objection the infallible supreme head of a religious academy? Is he someone who determines what will happen? Are there no professors who think one way and educate students as they see fit, in the opposite way? Has the Israel Defense Forces offered the universities a special arrangement whereby they not only get money from the army, but also their students' active military service is cut to only 16 months? Secular culture does not recognize oracular breastplates.
The rabbi-rebels are now invoking mighty precedents: They are basing themselves on a ruling by Rabbis Yair Tsaban and Yossi Sarid in an article published ages ago. In that article they wrote that if an order for transfer of Arab citizens were given, they would lie down under the wheels of the trucks to stop them. Ethnic cleansing is a crime against humanity and taking part in it is strictly prohibited.
And what is the law regarding transfer of Jews, as in the case of the evacuation of Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip? It is thus: There is no transfer of Jews in the state of the Jews. "A Jew does not expel a Jew" - he just evacuates him when democracy authorizes him to do so.
The equivocator who permitted the driving of a stake into the heart of the dispute is the one who is entitled to bring the settlers back home. They aren't going into exile, heaven forbid, they are just moving - and under preferential conditions. May our eyes behold the return of all of you to Zion and the Lord of all the earth will return with you.
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