Daily Israel Report

Slogan in Debate: "We Won´t Forgive and We Won´t Forget"

A new motto has taken over much of the anti-disengagement camp - but not everyone agrees with it.
First Publish: 11/7/2005, 11:16 AM / Last Update: 11/7/2005, 11:36 AM

Even the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza - which some say was overly cooperative with the expulsion forces during the disengagement - has produced a calendar and other items with the motto "We Won't Forgive and We Won't Forget." Events have been held under this heading, youths wear T-shirts with this slogan, and bumper stickers advertising this message have been mass-produced and distributed.

B'Sheva correspondent Hagit Ritterman asked several religious-Zionist leaders how they feel about the slogan. Excerpts from their responses, which appear in this past week's edition of B'Sheva, follow:

Yesha Council Chairman Bentzy Lieberman:
"Regarding the first part, 'we won't forget,' it is certainly forbidden under any circumstances to forget the act of expulsion. The expulsion must be a meaningful Zionist narrative engraved in the public consciousness. But we must look into the second part. What does it mean not to forgive - are we divorcing ourselves from the State? ... In my opinion, we can't forgive as long as the wound is still bleeding. We are not divorcing ourselves from the army or the State. But as long as the people of Gush Katif and northern Shomron have not yet reached their final homes, we can simply not forgive... He who sinned by carrying out the expulsion must carry out counter-measures. If [the sinners] meet the needs of those who were expelled and remedy the injustices, then there is room to carry out the act of forgiveness."

Rabbi Yehoshua Shapira, head of Yeshivat Ramat Gan - a leading institution in the anti-expulsion campaign:
"One cannot forgive one who does not ask for forgiveness. When someone carries out a crime, supports it, and intends to do similar things in the future, he cannot be forgiven. The motto is therefore very correct. A terrible crime was committed, and we are obligated to express the clear voice of the truth, honesty, justice and Torah...

"Why is this sin different than others which we [are more quick to forgive]? The answer is that this sin is [beginning] now. When the sin of public Sabbath desecration first began, it was correct to cry out - but a person who desecrates the Sabbath today is doing so because that's what his parents did. Now that the situation exists as it does, we must bring them closer with love. But the struggle over the Land is different; our secular brothers also sacrificed themselves for it, and they 'belong' to it, and therefore we can demand that they fulfill it...

"And the main thing is that the danger is still at our doorstep, and we continue to fight for Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem; the slogan [at issue] is part of the public expression of this struggle...

"At the same time, we must also find a long-term solution - namely, to bring our brother Jews closer to our Father in Heaven, for there will not be a [national revival here] without a great return/repentance [Teshuvah]. It is incumbent upon us to establish a Teshuvah movement."

MK Gila Finkelstein (National Religious Party):
"I don't forgive the State of Israel and its organs for the purging of the Jewish communities from Gush Katif and northern Shomron. I don't forgive the Cabinet ministers and Knesset Members who approved the expulsion. I don't forgive the media that encouraged it and ignored the breaking of the principles of democracy. I don't forgive the army, police and security forces, and certainly not the public that supported, accepted or reacted with apathy to the expulsion from Gush Katif and northern Shomron. Yes, a State without compassion is not worthy of forgiveness... True forgiveness can only occur when the [sinner] abandons his former ways. But at present, it appears that they are not doing so..."

Educator and Author Rabbi Ze'ev Karov, of Karnei Shomron:
"The motto is doubly-sinful - one in its framework, and one in its content. The first is connected with its style and how it sounds: out of four words, two of them are 'no' [if translated as 'No forgetting, no forgiving']. Many people know what not to say and what not to do, but the question is what yes to do? The Torah way is to find out how to repair and how to improve, and to be involved in positive actions and positive talk... The motto is one of despair, crisis, putting down others, detachment and hatred...

"But the sin of content in this slogan is even worse. First of all, whom are we not forgiving? Every policeman and soldier who was involved in any way? Every Jew who supported [the disengagement]? The rabbis who supported or who did not sharply condemn it?... Secondly, it represents a lack of faith in the Congregation of Israel. We believe that there is no such thing as a total spiritual breakdown in Israel or total assimilation. Belief in the Congregation of Israel is the cardinal belief in the coming of the Messiah. It is accepted that Israel will ultimately repent... and one of the fundamentals of Judaism is forgiveness..."

MK Tzvi Hendel (National Union), who was expelled from his home in the Gush Katif community of Ganei Tal:
"I generally try to be a forgiving person. I believe that the natural Jewish desire is to forgive. But here it's not only me, my home and my life's work, but rather an unprecedented national crime. This was a cruel move carried out by a Prime Minister of Israel for corrupt motives and with the advice of advisors lacking in values and faith. For this, there is no forgiveness and no atonement.

"The destruction and cruelty are reflected from every angle. Security-wise, the Chief of Staff warned that it would lead to a supportive wind for terrorism, and this is coming true: The terrorists were convinced by this move that only by murdering Jews will they get rid of us, and in this way Sharon empowered Hamas and Islamic Jihad... Values were trampled. A Prime Minister elected by the nationalist camp spat in the faces of those who sent him in order to push aside his criminal files... Even now, after they were so shamelessly thrown out, Sharon and his government continue to humiliate them and trample the honor of these great pioneers of our generation. Therefore, even when I try to call up all my spiritual capacities, I can never forget and forgive. I know of no other issue since the establishment of the State [in 1948] about which we can say, 'No forgetting and no forgiving.'"

MK Michael Ratzon (Likud):
"We must not forget, and we must forgive. We are one nation, and if we desire life, we must be united. But this means that we must concede to each other. We are Jews, and forgiveness is a Jewish value...

"But at the same time, we must be on guard and do everything we can to prevent another expulsion... If Jews had been expelled from their homes in other countries, we would have been up in arms. The fact that it took place in the Land of Israel, at the hand of Jews, increases the pain so much more. The Prime Minister acted against the wishes of his voters, and is leading Israel to the 1967 borders. He was elected to put down terrorism, and instead he leads a unilateral process that encourages the Palestinians to demand gestures without giving anything in return... At the same time, we must not refrain from forgiveness, because we are brothers and that which was done cannot be undone... The expulsion is a grave chapter and unforgettable in our history, and as we move on to the next chapter, we must remember it - but we must also be able to forgive."