Rabbi Eliezer MelamedThe writer is Head of Yeshivat Har Bracha and a prolific author on Jewish Law, whose works include the series on Jewish law "Pininei Halacha" and a popular weekly column "Revivim" in the Besheva newspaper. His books "The Laws of Prayer" "The Laws of Passover" and "Nation, Land, Army" are presently being translated into English. Other articles by Rabbi Melamed can be viewed at: www.yhb.org.il/1
Summer Camps Run by the Ministry of Education
Q: Can we register our children for the summer camps run by the Ministry of Education after learning that Keren Yedidut is a partner in funding them, and people have said that this keren (fund) serves the aims of Christian missionaries, and that in the camps themselves, the children will be taught Christian missionary themes?
A: It is permitted to register for summer camps run by the Ministry of Education. These camps have been significantly upgraded this year in two aspects. First, the principals and teachers are responsible for them, thus allowing them to continue and compliment the educational process of the entire school year. Second, the reduction in cost, thereby opening them to all children – even kids from poor families. And for that, my friend Rabbi Shai Peron, the Minister of Education, deserves recognition.
It is hard to understand where such a libelous claim sprang from – that the Ministry of Education agreed to integrate Christian themes in the summer camps of Jewish children. Any sensible person should have realized for himself that this rumor is baseless.
True, in my opinion the Keren Yedidut acts improperly, collecting money by presenting Israel as being poverty-stricken, and thus, damages Israel’s dignity and slanders the country, seeing as that with God’s help, our financial situation is constantly improving, and there are fewer poor people in Israel proportionally than in the United States (see, S.A., Y.D. 254:1). It would be more appropriate to direct the goodwill of the donors towards worthy assistance that will benefit the building of the country and the entire world, such as funding research in the fields of medicine and environmental science (see, Shabbat 75b), to organizations involved in preventing assimilation and encouraging immigration to Israel, and to disseminate Torah literature on mussar (ethics) and emunah (faith) concerning the lives of the individual, the family, and society – for the benefit of all people, and to fulfill the verse, “For from Zion will go forth Torah, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
We Must Not Insult Friends of Israel
In any case, once the Evangelical’s have donated their money benevolently and with love for the Jewish nation – without placing any conditions or having any involvement where the money goes – it is forbidden to insult them by throwing their contributions back in their faces, while accusing them of trying to proselytize Jews.
Even if the issue of insulting the donators was not problematic, it would be permissible to participate in the camps, since bediavad (ex post facto), using the money is permitted (see, S.A., Y.D. 254:1-2).
Moreover, the amount of money received from the Friendship fund is marginal, upon which the camp project is not dependent, seeing as the fund contributes 36 million shekels compared to 260 million shekels allocated to the Ministry of Education and related offices.
Our Attitude towards Evangelicals
Regarding the claim that this contribution is liable to cause numerous Jews to view the Evangelicals – who are Christian friends of Israel – favorably, there is nothing wrong with this, because they definitely deserve our recognition for supporting us. We must battle missionaries, not moral Christians who respect our religion and support us.
It can seemingly be said that American evangelist’s are the most important and significant group supporting the State of Israel today. We are talking about approximately 70 million citizens of the greatest superpower of the world, who believe that the words of the Bible hold true today, and that the nation of Israel needs to return to its land and follow its Torah and commandments. Their moral stature is higher and more exalted than that of Coresh [Persian king Cyrus], who assisted the Return to Zion.
In his book ‘Miydot HaRaya‘(‘Ahava’, paragraphs 5 and 10), Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook writes: “The love for people must be alive in the heart and soul, a love for all people and a love for all nations”, “despite all the differences of opinions, religions, and beliefs”. The first and foremost to be honored and loved, of course, are those who support us, see us as the Chosen people, and ascribe to us the fate of repairing the world.
People with other opinions, who are greatly concerned about foreign influences that might sprout from this rapprochement, can be understood and respected. But this is on the condition they act honestly, and do not spread vicious lies. Readers of my column ‘Revivim‘ will surely remember that I wrote several times in previous years that even before I started clarifying the relationship towards evangelists, I publically pledged not to accept any donations from them for the Yeshiva, so that the clarification would be l’shem shamayim (for the sake of Heaven) and without any personal interests. There was even a case where our community Har Bracha received a major contribution, and I asked the community leaders to return it, despite the fact that my pledge applied only to accepting donations for the Yeshiva. With God’s help they acknowledged my request, the contribution was returned, and it was agreed that the community, as well, would not accept donations.
And here, despite all this being written in black and white, there are people who dare to spread lies, claiming that Yeshiva Har Bracha recently built five buildings with money from Christians. These people probably spread other lies, which honest individuals lack the strength to seek out, find, and refute. Someone who desires life should not believe any account on this topic, without receiving a complete and accurate, personal testimony.
The Sin of the Spies
Somehow, it always turns out that people who despise the mitzvah ofyishuv ha’aretz (settling the Land of Israel) are also shown to be unable to read the map of reality, and analyze it properly. Such people boast of being rational, but in practice, their predictions are proven false. They fear the Canaanites, but in the end, they die in the desert. They fear the difficulties of making a living in Israel, the swamps, the Arab riots, and chose to remain in the exile under Communist rule, or are murdered in the Holocaust. True, the challenges involved in building the Land are extremely complex and require wisdom, caution and dedication, but this is the realistic path for Israel’s continued existence.
Today as well, our situation is very complicated. We are surrounded by enemies. There is no solution at hand for the security problems and international pressure. But the solution of withdrawal offered by the Left-wing is the worst of all.
Recently, the Minister of Finance, Yair Lapid, said that the establishment of a Palestinian state is in Israel’s interest because “we cannot, and should not, control the four million Palestinians, who in a generation will double in number.” What we need, in his opinion, is “security and separation.”
First, the Facts
According to the assessment of Yoram Ettinger, who has labored diligently on this issue for years, the number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria is approximately 1,400,000. In addition, there are about 300,000 Arabs living in East Jerusalem. Dr. Guy Bechor, a noted Middle East expert, agrees with his assessment.
The number of Arabs holding Israeli citizenship is about 1,220,000 (approximately 15% of the citizens of the State of Israel. I did not include the Druze, who number about 130,000, for most of them live with us in peace and dignity).
In other words, the number of all the Arabs in areas governed by Israel without the Druze is not four million, but less than three million, with forty percent already citizens of Israel, for whom the establishment of a Palestinian state will not have an effect.
Incidentally, at every turn, the Leftists have erred in their demographic forecasts. By their assessments, there should have been an Arab majority between the Mediterranean and Jordan a long time ago. The novelty now is that not only are they mistaken in foreseeing the future, but they also err in the actual, current numbers.
The Demographic Trend
The fertility rate among Muslims throughout the world is declining drastically, and also in the State of Israel. According to figures on the information on website of the C.I.A., in the recent past, a family in Saudi Arabia had six children on the average, and today, the number has decreased to 2.2 per family. This is also the case in other Arab countries. At this rate of birth, there is no increase in the number of people. The same thing is happening to the Arab population in Israel: during approximately ten years, the average dropped from more than five children, to less than three.
In contrast, the Jewish family is experiencing a growth process, with the overall average rising to about three children.
The Situation in Judea and Samaria
The number of Jews living in Judea and Samaria today is approximately 390,000, compared with 1.4 million Arabs. About 14 years ago, at the beginning of the second Intifada, there were 190,000 Jews. In 14 years the number of Jews more than doubled. In contrast, the number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria did not grow, and perhaps even declined, thanks to emigration.
The average number of births among Jewish families in Judea and Samaria is growing much faster than Arab families. According to Dr. Guy Bechor, the average number of births for Jewish families in Judea and Samaria is six, in contrast to three births for an Arab family. According to him “this carries security implications, such as the [lesser] capability of the Arabs to plan new uprisings, when so many Jews live among them, and know the area just as well as they do; and these Jews will never give up.”
The Dangerous Solution – a Palestinian State
We find then that the statement of the Finance Minister is totally unfounded: currently, there are not four million Arabs living in Israel, and they are not about to grow within a generation or two into eight million. However, the precise solution, which unfortunately the Prime Minister also agrees to – the establishment of a Palestinian state – is the most dangerous of all. This is because with the support and funding of Arab countries, such a state is liable to take-in millions of refugees and people fleeing countries surrounding us, and before long, there will be five million Arabs in Judea and Samaria whose main goal will be to embitter the life of the State of Israel.
Time is on Our Side in Four Processes
Left-wing critics argue that time is working against us, however, they ignore four processes that hide within them changes for the better.
First, as previously mentioned, the death of the demographic demon, and the opening of new horizons for the growth of the Jewish people.
2. The Arabs are digging their Own Grave
The Arabs are increasingly digging their own grave in the eyes of the world. Muslim grievance over Western hegemony is being revealed through violence and terror. They could have strived to develop their countries, but instead, chose ignorance and terror. Many Muslims who immigrated to Western countries prefer to enjoy generous social benefits, without bearing the burden of economic and social development. They demonstratively spit in the well from which they drink, while hurling insults. Right-wing movements in Europe are increasingly gaining strength because of their opposition to the Arab and Muslim immigrants, and along with that, they are strengthening their support for us.
3. Alternative Energy Sources
In recent years, huge gas and oil reserves have been discovered throughout the world, including in the United States. Additionally, all Western countries are working on finding alternative energy sources to oil. Once this process materializes, the Arabs will no longer have influence. They squandered their wealth from oil resources on wars, luxuries, and hatred towards Israel, and when the price of oil falls – they will return to live in the desert, devoid of importance or influence.
4. The Transition to the Far East
The global center of gravity is gradually shifting to the Far East – to China, and India. In those countries, there is less of an anti-Jewish tradition, and perhaps with them we can establish healthy and fair relationships. For example, just recently, Narendra Modi – who is known to be a man who understands the dangers of militant Islam, and is regarded as a longstanding friend of Israel – was elected as Prime Minister of India.