Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and a delegation of rabbis from Judea and Samaria met with Ephraim Brigade commander Colonel Ron Kahane of the Ephraim Brigade on Wednesday.
At the meeting Kahane and his officers told the rabbis about the incident at the Ephraim Brigade headquarters, where some 50 angry youth clashed with soldiers and vandalized an army base after hearing rumors demolition orders were to be carried out in Jewish communities Monday evening.
At the meeting the rabbis shared their dismay over the incident, but also expressed the deep pain in the national camp caused by the political echelon’s decision to use IDF forces against Israeli civilians in Judea and Samaria.
They also reminded the officers that despite their frustration the youth of Judea and Samaria continue to enlist in the IDF at a higher per capita rate than other segments of Israeli society.
Rabbi Amar, who served as the rabbinic delegation’s head, told Kahane "The greatest enemy is the specter of civil war. This is possible and should cause us great trepidation. We must discuss these things openly for they are very serious. We must not remain silent. In silence there is danger. I call on everyone to be vigilant and consider the dire consequences of such actions."
"I object to this incident out of love, not only for the dignity of the brigade, but the dignity of the people of Israel," Rabbi Amar said, adding "It was important that we not wait a day more in coming and protesting what happened here."
Rabbi Levanon told Kahane, "We have gathered together – as rabbis and public figures in Samaria – to express our support for you. We also wish to express our shock at an attack that represents only an extreme minority who represent a negligible fringe.”
"We represent the many who wish to eliminate these activities and return a feeling of true partnership between all segments of Israeli society," Rabbi Levanon added.
Gershon Mesika, the head of the Samaria Regional Council, accompanied the rabbinic delegation and joined community leaders in the region in condemning the riot.
"It is not the path of the settlements to lift stones against our brothers,” Mesika said. “That was not the education we were given and I am convinced that some on the fringes do not understand our way and have done something very wrong, very serious. The communities of Judea and Samaria condemn these unacceptable acts. No such act may be committed in the struggle for Eretz Israel – never."
Mesika added, "We also denounce attempts by politicians, special interests, and some journalists to incite against the settlements in the past two days. We are 400,000 good citizens, loyal and law abiding. Settlers are the flesh and blood of the IDF, and the IDF is an essential part of the settlements."
Rabbis Amar and Eliakim closed the meeting by reading a joint resolution passed by the members of the Samaria Rabbinical Council in a special meeting Wednesday morning.
- The Torah of Israel is against violence. "One who even raises his hand to strike his brother – he has sinned." One who actually causes an injury shall be regarded as a scavenger of unclean animals!
- IDF soldiers and commanders work day and night to protect us from our enemies. One who raises even a finger to IDF personnel, in addition transgressing the Torah, cuts off the branch on which we sit.Joseph's brothers hated him and sold him into bondage in Egypt. We call on everyone: Brother, beware! Violence begets violence. Even when there are differences of opinion, never choose the path of violence. It is proscribed by the Torah and simple human morality.
- The inhabitants of Samaria and their leaders cherish the army and its essential societal function. Do not let the extreme elements harm the IDF.The unity of Israel is key to overcoming our enemies, and increasing growth and prosperity. If we talk to our enemies, how much more so can we discuss differences with brothers and sons? Focus on those outside our gates and do not strengthen the extremists within. Talk – everyone with everyone – and return to the path.
- And to the Government of Israel: The IDF is the army of the people. Do not use the IDF to carry out political agendas! Do not order it to work against the public interest. The only job of the IDF is to see to the security of Israel, not to be used in settling political disputes.
IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz met with key rabbis in Judea and Samaria asking them to endorse his view that attacks on IDF soldiers are against Halakha [Jewish Law].
The rabbis who attended the meeting included the Samaria’s Chief Rabbi and Elon Moreh Hesder Yeshiva head, Rabbi Eliakim Levanon; former IDF Chief Rabbi and Itamar Yeshiva head Gen. Rabbi Avichai Ronsky (Res.); and members of the Rabbinical Council of Samaria: Shavei Shomron community and Hesder Yeshiva head, Rabbi Yehoshua Shmidt, Rabbi Aaron Cohen of Yakir, and Rabbi Meir Hilbitz of Beruchin.
The Rabbis and officers agreed to more meetings aimed at to strengthen the relationship between local commanders and the communities they serve.