Thursday, January 06, 2005

The national religious crisis

Two must-read pieces in today's Ha'aretz and Jerusalem Post regarding the immense theological and practical crisis facing Religious Zionism / the National Religious camp today.
Disengagement means the certain end of the dream of Eretz Yisrael Hashlemah (Greater Israel), a cause the National Religious camp has completely devoted itself to and pursued almost single-mindedly for the past 35 + years.
The fringe of this camp, as both articles explain, has reacted by rejecting one of the central tenets of religious Zionism, that is, the belief in, and their association with the state of Israel, which they feel has betrayed them. Yisrael Harel, who should know, insists that the rest of the Religious Zionist camp is horrified by this development; I hope he is correct and that this does not spread any further, because that would mean the complete breakdown of the 'national religious' community, with an emphasis on 'national.'
Others insist disengagement is a temporary setback; that even if the land is returned, the settlers still managed to achieve a lot spiritually and this was not wasted; or that the generation was not worthy. Last but not least,
Rabbi Shai Peron, co-head of the Petah Tikva Yeshiva, believes the religious Zionist camp must change tactics.
"In order to maintain our connection with the rest of Israeli society, we must emphasize other values besides settling Judea, Samaria and Gaza. For too long we have neglected other values dear to us, like socioeconomic justice, equality and fighting poverty. As a result, we failed to present to secular society the intricacies of the religious Zionist movement. Instead, we have appeared one-dimensional."
That is the closest you are going to get to an admission that the religious Zionist camp may have been wrong to place all its eggs in one basket, and a vision to get on with instead. Significantly, it comes from a rabbi in a rare, urban Hesder yeshiva within the Green Line.

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