Twelve assumptions that collapsed -- and one that didn't -- and the lessons to be learned from them, in the wake of the destruction of Gush Katif and northern Samaria.


I do not want to focus on the past. All our energy must now be devoted to the struggle for the leadership of the Likud and of Israel. But we cannot progress when a black hole lies gaping behind us. The following discussion is not intended to initiate arguments, but to disinfect the wound. I don't hesitate to sting -- not even myself. I have not quoted names, as there is no need to do so. This clarification is not complete, but it seems to me that it is sufficiently comprehensive to give an initial explanation as to what actually happened. Those who study and assimilate these ideas will be better equipped to combat the coming disengagements. It is essential that we realize that only a new kind of leadership -- Jewish leadership -- can not only slow down the expulsion process, but totally change the direction for the physical and spiritual building of the nation in its land.

Gush Katif and northern Samaria collapsed like a house of cards. They left in their wake an entire series of basic assumptions -- some erroneous and some perhaps justified, but inadequate. An entire world convinced that its foundations were strong found itself planted on shifting sands.

We could have learned virtually all of today's lessons after the destruction of Yamit and the other Sinai settlements. But we didn't. Instead, we continued to follow the same leaders -- Menachem Begin, Ariel Sharon and Rafael Eitan -- who destroyed Yamit, and the same leaders and rabbis of the Religious Zionist camp who avoided looking reality in the eye and changing their way of thinking. In Gush Katif, we reaped the results of our refusal to deal with the reality of the expulsion from Sinai. If we do not do serious and penetrating soul searching now, we will continue to reap more expulsions.

The first signs that certain leaders and rabbis in the belief-based public are behaving in precisely the same way as after the destruction of Yamit are already apparent. Very few of the rabbis who preached in favor of obeying the order to perpetrate the crime have repented. On the contrary, most of them are still continuing to support this approach.

Up to now, we have not heard a single Judea, Samaria and Gaza Council leader admitting the failure of the management of the struggle in the field. In the near future, we will see the same rabbis, leaders and Knesset members of the Right proposing precisely the same political solutions that they proposed after the destruction of Yamit. We will probably be offered version 13 of the Techiya party, model 5 of the Ichud Leumi or mutation 3 of Moledet.

Those proposing original suggestions will be attacked by supporters of a specific sector, who will accuse them of deviation from the true path and ruining things for everyone. The same rabbis who gave the keys to Gush Katif to IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and Police Chief Moshe Karadi (who justifiably now praise them) will continue to confuse the young people and explain that we have actually won and that we should not fear a long road, at the end of which Redemption will come.

The very same Judea, Samaria and Gaza Council will continue to organize for the same public the same useless demonstrations that achieve nothing except the perpetuation of their leadership. The very same MKs (who generally came from the same Judea, Samaria and Gaza Council) will propose to the leaderless public the identical political platform that failed in the past, and will lead it again to the same collective failure (and personal success).

There is no alternative. Despite the tremendous desire not to argue and to avoid conflict, we must confront ourselves and do the soul-searching that the Religious Zionist establishment will not volunteer to carry out of its own accord.

Assumption 1: State Supremacy (Mamlachtiut)

The state-orientated approach, the positive and romantic attitude towards the renewal of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel, even if it does not yet acknowledge the Creator, is legitimate and under certain conditions may even be reasonable. However, there is apparently a mutation of this approach that is riding without checks and balances on the carriage of Zionism and the State. For many in the Religious Zionist community, this fascist approach that regards the State of Israel and its institutions as a supreme value has become real idol worship. Precisely the best and most devoted people have fallen into the trap of several populist rabbis and adopted this form of idolatry.

A stranger observing how the evictors and the evictees fell into each other's arms against the background of the destruction, or how a very well-known rabbi hit and pushed a resident of N'vei Dekalim who dared to try and block the path of a sacred vehicle (an IDF jeep) that came to destroy his home, would come to the conclusion that he was in a madhouse.

The State is, in fact, sacred and the IDF is a sacred tool. However, they cannot replace the Creator and they are capable of every abomination. Those who, at a time of crisis and conflict between the laws of the State and those of the Creator (or their personal consciences), choose those of the State are destroying their scale of values and degenerating into idolatry. In my humble opinion, the settlements were established on the basis of this form of idolatry and for this reason, they were destroyed.

If we desire life, we must clarify in depth the issue of State supremacy and its limits.

Assumption 2: The Rabbis

Fortunately, most of the great rabbis of the Religious Zionist public did not bow down to the idols and had the courage and integrity to denounce obedience to the expulsion order. The problem was that with some of the intermediate generation of rabbis, the illness came out in all its virulence. Unfortunately, it is these rabbis who directly influence many of the soldiers and the young generation.

These rabbis did not listen to their former teachers, the wiser rabbis of the elder generation. Most of the rabbis of the Hesder yeshivas and the pre-induction military colleges lined up with the IDF establishment that nurtures them, and gave the Halachic ruling that the IDF and Ariel Sharon wanted. Other well-known rabbis from the intermediate generation also inexplicably clung to the altar of State supremacy.

Some of them even personally acted in the field, with great determination, to thwart any real opposition to the execution of the expulsion. These rabbis placed all their weight against the three measures that could have defeated the eviction plan: they publicly denounced the young people blocking the roads (but did not criticize Sharon, G-d forbid); they denounced refusal to obey army orders; and they condemned a determined struggle in the field.

"Sharon has a secret weapon," a neighbor complained bitterly, on returning home after hard weeks of struggle in Gush Katif. "He has our rabbis on his side. I saw how the army and the police made use of them at the critical moments," he added sadly.

When I passed by the N'vei Dekalim central synagogue, I saw a large group of young people, about a thousand boys and girls who had come to defend Gush Katif. They were sitting on the grass and listening attentively to the words of one of these rabbis.

I felt badly, but I kept my feelings to myself. As I walked through a narrow path, a local resident identified me.

"You're Moshe Feiglin, right?"

"Right, Shabbat shalom," I replied.

"Why aren't you blocking roads? You held a 'trial run', but now no one hears anything from you. What are you waiting for?"

"You know," I replied bitterly, "we have wonderful youngsters, who were prepared to go and block roads, to be arrested, to ruin their vacation and their studies, and even to sustain terrible beating by the police. But when they returned home, they sustained a far harder blow. The rabbi who is now speaking held a press conference with all the media, and on the first occasion on which he expressed political views (as he claimed), he chose to make a terrible attack against those young heroes. How do you think such a youngster felt, whose parents didn't regard him as an idealist, but simply as a young ruffian? If here in N'vei Dekalim such a slandering rabbi is given such honor, then how can you expect the youngsters to block the roads?"

If we desire life, we must clarify in depth our attitude to "Sharon's secret weapon".

Assumption 3: There is Leadership for the Struggle

In the struggle for Gush Katif we had the best possible troops, but the worst possible commanders. From the moment that the young home-grown leaders of the new generation (the leaders of the National Home and others like them) were arrested and brutally eliminated from the field, the public yearning for a struggle was left in the hands of the veteran leadership -- the Judea, Samaria and Gaza Council and its State-oriented rabbis.

The Judea, Samaria and Gaza Council decided from the very beginning that it was opposed to the sole, essential legitimate actions that had a chance of preventing the expulsion -- blocking of roads and disobedience of orders. All the media and the judicial system identified the potential latent in these actions, and joined together to present them as a danger graver than terrorist attacks.

The Judea, Samaria and Gaza leaders who derive their legitimacy in their own eyes from the Zionist (as opposed to the belief-based) ethos are fundamentally incapable of winning and disconnecting their own umbilical cord. As a result, the tens of thousands of devoted activists who had already liberated themselves from this complex found themselves imprisoned inside the fences of Kfar Maimon for three dubious days of sectoral sweating.

The activists passed the time in calling on the soldiers to disobey orders, thus demonstrating that their consciousness has been freed of all the nonsense to which the heads of Judea, Samaria and Gaza and some of the rabbis are still chained. However, when the tremendous column lined up to break through the siege and start moving towards Gush Katif, they were stopped at the edge of the village, not by the notorious riot police or the IDF soldiers, but by the students of that well-known rabbi (who later hit the resident of N'vei Dekalim), who stood like a wall on the inside of the fence, preventing people from breaking through.

The Judea, Samaria and Gaza leaders and the MKs who marched at the head of the column made sure that the public was seated to hear the vapid words of that same rabbi. Later, one of his students (an MK and the leader of one of those fly-by-night Rightist parties) made sure that the public marched futilely around Kfar Maimon until the tremendous strength about to burst forth there had dissipated.

"The battle was decided in Kfar Maimon," Halutz explained in an interview upon the completion of the expulsion. He was absolutely right.

The sole Rightist MK who didn't associate himself with this defeatist leadership was Dr. Aryeh Eldad. "I couldn't understand what was happening," he told me. "The gate was open and there weren't very many soldiers there. The leadership simply deceived the public."

If we desire life, we must establish a new leadership in the field that does not worship the Zionist ethos, but treats it as an equal and can defeat it in a time of conflict.

[Part 1 of 4]