Monday, June 13, 2005

I'm now performing one of the unheralded minhagim of Shavuos, namely, not sleeping the night after Shavuos. I'll use the time to go back to the Azza withdrawal business, a topic which I admit has been vastly over-discussed.

To review, I'm opposed to the plan but I think mass insubordination in the military is reckless. What I've found amusing lately is the huge discrepancy between how each side views itself and how it is viewed by the other side.

Some opponents of the withdrawal with whom I've spoken tell me that they are not ideologically opposed to any withdrawal under any circumstances. As pragmatic people, they are opposed to this particular withdrawal as having only downside (I agree). The problem, they say, is that the other side is dominated by goy-appeasing, dati-hating, acculturated lefties who are prepared to make idiotic withdrawals on other people's backs out of pure spite.

Some supporters of the withdrawal say that they are aware of the dangers of the plan and are genuinely pained by the sacrifices that some people are being asked to make but that the withdrawal is justified since it is likely to lead to a lessening of the defense burden and possibly to a break in the diplomatic deadlock (I disagree). The problem, they say, is that the other side is dominated by nut cases who will never agree even to obviously-beneficial retreats because they are in the grip of a messianic ideology that includes the certainty that they have the map of the geulah in their shirt pockets and all the streets on it are one-way.

I'm fairly sure that both sides' moderate self-perception is more accurate than the extreme image it projects onto the other side. But the failure of the government and the press to encourage reasoned public discussion of this topic (because they support the plan and thought they had inertia on their side) has resulted in the over-exposure of the most ideological representatives of each side.

But will it actually happen? While most politicians and commentators regard the withdrawal as utterly inevitable, the interaction of three processes might yet bring it down.

1. The Arabs' ability to screw themselves should never be underestimated. Some terrorist/military action of sufficient scale (chas veshalom) could cause a delay.

2. The police, army and resettlement makhers will wake up and realize that they are hopelessly unprepared to carry out the operation and will request a delay.

3. Such delays will provide craven Likud politicians with just the opportunity to realize that supporting the withdrawal is costing them their political careers and they will turn against it. Since 30 Likud MKs are sufficient to bring down this government, weird stuff might still happen. (The plan also has to get through the cabinet again but it seems unlikely that it can be stopped there since 8 of 21 ministers are from Labor and Sharon can count on his own vote as well as Olmert and Sheetreet, who are completely dead in the Likud in any case. But you never know.)

I'm tired of this topic myself. Next time I hope to discuss the often misunderstood views of the Hazon Ish on the length of the ammah and related arcana.


Blogger bar_kochba132 said...

I take strong objection to your statement that the opposition to Sharon's plan to destroy Gush Katif is dominated by "nut cases"
and "messianists". I also oppose the plan, and I consider myself a follower of Rav Kook's philosophy. I don't claim to have the roadmap to geulah any more than you do. However, I have noted several historical facts that do point to a certain direction in the actions we Jews need to take (1) the Arabs refuse to recognize any Jewish state of any size. (2) Any concessions made by Israel (e.g. unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, Oslo) lead to a radicalization of the Arabs and to more violence from them (3) Every attack on the Jewish settlement movement since the modern Zionist movement began, whether by the Arabs or by the Jewish anti-Zionists has led to a strengthening of the settlements. For example hundreds of thousands of people have visited Gush Katif since the plan was hatched, large numbers of families have moved there, the yishuv of Sa-Nur in the Shomron had been emptied out by the latest terror war, thangs to Sharon there are hundreds of people living there now. Thus, I draw the conclusion that any removal of Jewish settlements anywhere can only lead to a disaster.
Also, you seem to fall victim to a common American malady "moderatitis". You say "we have to moderate". Someone like Olmert or Brett Stephens (formerly of Jerusalem Post) arbitrarily decides "to settle Gush Katif is extremist" so we have to throw the Jews out, but "to settle Ariel or Gush Etzion is moderate" so it is okay to keep it. All I know is the original Zionists who drained the swamps and buried a lot of their children due to malaria would be considered "extremists" by you, yet look at the marvelous legacy they left us.

12:12 PM  
Blogger bar_kochba132 said...

I would also like to offer you my sympathy about being "tired of talking about this". I'll bet the people in Gush Katif are even more tired of it than you are. Of course, in the 1930's, all the Jews in Europe must have been really burnt out speculating about what Hitler and the Nazis had in mind. Well, as you stated, on to more important things!

12:20 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Dear Mr. Kochba,
Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I'm certain that your important activities on behalf of Eretz Yisrael don't leave you adequate time to read blogs too carefully, so you can be forgiven for confusing words I put in the mouths of over-wrought leftists with my own views. As it happens my point was precisely that most opponents of the withdrawal are not nut-cases and messianists. In fact, I myself am strongly opposed for pretty much the reasons you enumerate. (If you'll forgive the observation, there are some nuts opposed to the withdrawal and they're usually identifiable by their tendency to attack those one millimeter to their left rather than the legions of opponents way to their left.)
As for tiring of the topic, I find talking about breathing tedious as well even though it's a worthwhile activity. The relevant issue is whether I have anything useful to add to the discussion. If you're typical of my audience, I doubt that anything I say is likely to prove useful.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:59 PM  
Blogger bar_kochba132 said...

Please forgive me for misunderstanding what you wrote, but your point is rather subtle and I missed it. I do recall in the past you criticized Rav Kook followers for thinking they had the roadmap to geulah so I thought you were saying the same thing here.
I stand by what I said about you (and many other Americans) feeling they have to be "moderate" and thus being at pains to distance yourselves from "the extremists" rather than dealing with the issues at hand.
Regarding the "tiredness" matter, I would very much like to hear what you think. I agree with much of what you say on "Torah issues" and since we are in the midst of the biggest internal ideological crisis
since the creation of the state, I am continually testing my beliefs regarding the efficacy and morality of things like road blockings, seruv pekudah (refusal to carry out orders), relationship to the state (which I view as basically as having an illegitimate gov't-something like a military junta which overthrew a democratically elected gov't). These questions are troubling me a lot and my kids and wife are forced to hear endless discussions about these things, particularly around the shabbat table. So as far as I am concerned, you can keep talking about it!

4:02 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Moderation is no vice, though it often eludes me. Under my other name, I'm an active member of one of Israel's most subversive far-right groups. I am proud of this and hope to discuss it in some detail eventually.
As for civil disobedience and refusal of military orders, one needs to think about such things in a clear-headed way. It is illogical and pointless to ask whether breaking the law is illegal. It is by definition; arguing this point is a dead end. The question you have to ask yourself is whether the system is worth upholding even when it is wrong. The answer to that question depends on how much you value the system of government we have, or equivalently, how much you fear anarchy, how much damage to the system is likely to be caused by the proposed forms of subversion and how much such subversion is likely to achieve in terms of immediate political objectives (i.e. stopping the withdrawal). My feeling is that civil disobedience is the best bet to slow the withdrawal process and turn around enough waffling politicians to postpone it forever. But care must be taken not to cause a popular backlash which will have a boomerang effect. The price of this in terms of the internal coherence of Israeli society will be high but probably not intolerable since the hard-core left is unsalvagable anyway. Military disobedience (of an overt kind) is almost surely exceedingly destructive. To destroy the army, it's enough to destroy the army's confidence in its own ability to carry out its missions. If the withdrawal fails due to insurrection, God save us all.

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If your having a debate have it at Haredi Forums

2:17 AM  
Blogger Oysvurf said...

I've followed the conversation with interest. A few points:

1) While not reflective of Ben Chorin per se, there is certainly a perspective amongst Ben Chorin's neighbors that says "we're settlers but we're moderate "consensus" settlers. Some of these people even support a Palestinian State. There are groups in nearly every region of Judea, Samaria and Gaza that think this way. In the Gush Etzion the chief proponents of this perspective are the Chief Rabbi of Efrat, R. Riskin and the head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, Mr. Goldstein.

This notion of consensus areas of settlement should have been abandoned long ago - certainly when the whole Efrat expansion issue came up 12 years ago under Rabin. In any event, the evacutaion of the northern Gaza settlement is the final nail in the coffin of this attitude and shows the intention of a complete reurn to the 1967 borders (and possibly even the partition plan borders eventually). There are more Arabs between Gush Etzion and Jerusalem than there are between Alei Sinai and Ahskelon - simply b/c there are NONE between northern Gaza and Ashkelon. So Gush Etzion will also be evacuated. Unfortunately, this "consensus" issue still clouds people's thinking - Mr. Godlstein mentioned this as recently as the last issue of his monthly circular. Which leads me to my second point.

2) We can't base our decisions on what to do based upon how "popular" they will be or what anarchy they will bring. If trying to be popular leads to a destructive course of action then we have to become unpopular. Zionism was unpopular amongst Jews 100 years ago - even considered reckless and destructive by many - ultimately it saved the Jewish people. If one believes that the SUCCESS of the implementation is what will destroy the army, then the question of refusal leading to the destruction of the army becomes a moot point. I believe that one of the heads' of Mr. Chorin's subversive group makes this point over and over again, and I have to agree with him on this (though I disgaree with certain political moves he has made over the last few years)

3:59 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

I'm rushing before Shabbos so will just make two quick comments:
1. I know both people you mentioned personally and the views you attribute to them do not properly reflect their overall positions on the issues.
2. The analogy between Zionism and insurrection (yes, both were once unpopular) is silly.

Shabbat Shalom,

4:10 PM  
Blogger Oysvurf said...

1)I don't know them personally. I can only judge by what they write and what they say in the media.

2) Zionism was an insurrection against the established Jewish leadership and communities. For over 2,000 years Jews had a communal leadership structure - often involving an autonomous structure that sometimes extended to areas beyond religious and civil "internal" Jewish matters to the realm of criminal law and taxation. Zionism overtruned this structure. True, there were other historical elements at play and Zionsim may have been a response to external matters, but at it's core Zionism was a revelutionary movement against the established Jewish leadership of the times. I do not think my analogy is silly, and I do not think that Judaism has to necessarily throw in it's lot with the State of Israel to the extent that it becomes morally corrupt, undemocratic and de-judaizes itself. If you want to call that insurrection then fine. I will repeat - the ethical code of the IDF clearly instructs a soldier not to engage with a civilian that is not defined as an enemy and represents no danger to the solider - irrespective of the orders received. It is a patently illegal act and one MUST disobey an order to remove such a civilian from their home. If you believe that this order must be obeyed then by definition you define the settlers as an enemy of the state and disobeying the order is no longer an issue of insurrection as it is the IDF that defined the settlers as enemies of the state - not the settlers themselves. This would constitue self-defense, not insurrection.

(yes, I believe that the Southerners had a right to defend themselves from "Northen Aggression" - as they still call the Civil War)

10:36 AM  
Blogger Jewish Exile said...

At the risk of being jumped upon, and with great trepidation, considering that I have not yet moved to Israel (as my name indicates), I have a feeling that you are distorting the code of the IDF when you say:

"the ethical code of the IDF clearly instructs a soldier not to engage with a civilian that is not defined as an enemy and represents no danger to the solider - irrespective of the orders received. "

The question is, what does it mean to "engage?" Is the army not allowed to arrest protesters who pose it no threat, but are blocking the roads? (and answering that that is the job of the police is dodging the question. the IDF code is clearly not saying "refuse any order that is really the job of the police, not the IDF") Is the army not allowed to physically move a person who stands in front of their tank, even if that person constitutes no direct threat (for example, if they are in a non-combat situation). I could come up with hundreds of other examples, but 2 will suffice. With all due respect, that is patently ridiculous. If you are going to refuse orders - and I respect that decision and have no right to offer my opinion on the matter one way or the other - at least don't make the spurious claim that the IDF code told you to. Chotamo shel HKBH emet.

8:17 PM  
Blogger Oysvurf said...

Jewish Exile,

I don't know if you read Hebrew or not, so I have poste the english link for your benefit:

some highlights:
"IDF Mission - To defend the existence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the state of Israel. To protect the inhabitants of Israel and to combat all forms of terrorism which threaten the daily life."

(The above is codified in Israeli Law as well)

"Purity of Arms - The IDF servicemen and women will use their weapons and force only for the purpose of their mission, only to the necessary extent and will maintain their humanity even during combat. IDF soldiers will not use their weapons and force to harm human beings who are not combatants or prisoners of war, and will do all in their power to avoid causing harm to their lives, bodies, dignity and property. "

"Discipline - The IDF servicemen and women will strive to the best of their ability to fully and successfully complete all that is required of them according to orders and their spirit. IDF soldiers will be meticulous in giving only lawful orders, and shall refrain from obeying blatantly illegal orders. "

Unless you are willing to define the settlers in Gush Katif as enemy combatants, the ethical code requires a soldier to obey any order that will cause harm to these settlers. Harm; as defined by the code is harm to lives, bodies, dignity or property. The Supreme Court in its ruling last week defined the evacuation as being harmful to dignity and property - just that it's mitigated by other considerations as per Israeli Basic Laws. The court has NOT yet ruled on whether the army can be used for these tasks. As far as I understand it, the Supreme Court has not yet handed down a ruling as to whether the IDF can be used as part of the evacuation. This issue is still pending.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:44 PM  
Blogger Doctor Bean said...

Thank you for the fascinating post, one of your few I can understand! (This is a reflection of my knowledge, not of your writing.) The comments are also enlightening.

Tangentially, of the many unheralded minhagim that deserve to remain so, the one you cite tops my list.

6:06 PM  

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