By Rabbi Yisrael Rozen, Dean of the Zomet Institute
(Ed. note: an extract from SHABBAT-B'SHABBATO, a weekly bulletin
distributed free of charge in hundreds of synagogues in Israel. It is
published by the Zomet Institute of Alon Shevut, Israel)
I am writing this article at the end of Shabbat, after the kidnapping of three yeshiva students. I am here in Alon Shevut, not far from the scene of the terrible crime, in an atmosphere of national ingathering and unending prayer for the return of all three victims safe and sound, with the help of G-d, who battles for Yisrael. At this moment, at the end of Shabbat for the Torah portion of Shelach, our entire nation dwelling in Zion and all of the Jewish nation in the Diaspora eagerly await any bits of information. We are paying rapt attention to the media, both broadcast and on the internet, which so often fills our world with meaningless reports and analyses. I pray to the Master of the Universe that when these words are published at the end of this week we will be engulfed in an atmosphere of good news, salvation, and consolation.
Since we do not know all the facts at present and we certainly cannot predict future events, I will make some comments about secondary issues related to this affair.
The Disastrous Concept of "Two Countries"
Even though we cannot tell what the results of this kidnapping will be, it is eminently clear that if we currently had "two countries for two peoples" the status would be much worse than it is. It would clearly be an impossible situation, in that our security forces would not be able to move around and carry out house-to-house searches in a neighboring country. In Chevron and the surrounding area, and in the rest of the area of Yehuda and the Shomron, even though the area is densely populated with hostile inhabitants, the IDF soldiers can still move around without having to cross any international borders, without having to fear decisions by the Security Council, and without any need for a declaration of war. It is not necessary to be an expert in military intelligence to realize that gathering information, handling agents, and operating sophisticated intelligence procedures are much easier in areas under our own military control than they would be across enemy borders.
These thoughts alone are sufficient to totally reject the policy of "two countries for two peoples." Mortal danger takes precedence over everything, even international condemnation and even demographics. Therefore, the idea of "one Jewish nation for two peoples" is to be preferred, even if it means absorbing a million Moslems into our sovereign land, and a consequent increase in the demographic problem within Israel. There are even times when mortal danger takes precedence over democracy... Certainly, before a change in sovereignty it will be necessary to pass laws of "The Jewish Country" and "Loyalty to the State," along with some criminal laws to cope with hostile terrorist acts, including the ability to rescinding a person's citizenship, expulsion, and forfeiting his or her property.
Independently of the kidnapping, after the "peace talks" ground to a halt calls went out for one-sided annexation and the granting of sovereignty to the settlement blocs. The slogan "Start with Gush Etzion" has already been thrown into the air, since this area is the subject of a large national consensus. In my opinion the timing of the kidnapping presents a good opportunity – sad and forlorn, but appropriate – for a reaction of indeed annexing Gush Etzion to the State of Israel. In fact, I am confident that during the coming week, between when I write these lines and their publication, there will be some political figures who will suggest that such annexation is "the proper Zionist reaction" to the kidnapping. I will be happy to join these politicians! As far as I am concerned, this act of annexation must be carried out immediately and announced as the "price" paid for the kidnapping. The world will accept this, and I hope that even the Israeli left will come along (for example, after the Australian Prime Minister will agree to such a move as "a necessity"). In addition, I would quietly add with respect to the timing that the world is busy right now with the World Cup Games and with Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Maybe nobody will notice any moves we make!
Annexation of settlement blocs is not really a direct reaction to kidnapping and it does not exact a price from terrorist organizations whose sole desire is to ignite the area. But it is a price to exact from the Palestinian Authority which bears overall responsibility for the crime. In addition, a continued policy of creeping sovereignty, dunam after dunam, for every tragedy that we are forced to endure, might influence the "other side," including our worst enemies. Also, and this is the main point, a creeping annexation of the areas of Yehuda and the Shomron with their populations is a way to advance the concept of "one nation for two peoples" and to block the option of "two nations for two peoples." As noted above, with the kidnapping in Gush Etzion in the background, we will be able to stand up against international censure and the outcries of the Israeli left. In any case, annexation of Gush Etzion has a broad base of approval, even if we do not announce a policy of creeping annexation. Let's go ahead with it!
The IDF at the Center of the Consensus
Many national myths have been shattered in the post-Zionist era. The last one that has survived, for the good, is the IDF – also known as the Security Forces. The operational arm of the IDF and the Security Forces in general are broadly accepted among all sectors of the public. This is an asset that must be nurtured and carefully guarded! We should note that the Chareidi sector also agrees to this appreciation – and perhaps even admiration – as can readily be seen by surfing their websites. It seems to me that the raving dispute about the Conscription Law and the increasing number of Chareidim who join the army have dulled the declared policy of the Chareidi sector to turn its back on the country and its parts. The next step that we can expect is for the Chareidim to begin to say a prayer for the welfare of the "Security Forces" and for "Zaka" (their own emergency rescue teams).