Concerning  Duma - A personal manifesto for Yesha’s silent majority

A balanced, professional and both realistic and idealistic analysis of the questions sparked by the Duma arson investigation.

Tags: Duma arson
Dr. Chaim Charles Cohen

OpEds Chaim C. Cohen
Chaim C. Cohen

Yesha*’s silent majority

Opinions and analysis about the Duma incident are being thrown about in loud tones in all directions. I feel a strong personal need to try to make sense and order of my own attitudes, to write them down in a straightforward, less argumentative manner, and to share them with my national religious community. I tentatively believe that my opinions closely resemble those of the ‘silent majority’ (over forty five years of age) of Yesha (*Judea and Samaria) Jewish residents. For this reason I allow myself to write in the first person plural at the start of this essay.

Torat Eretz Yisrael is the answer

1) We believe that the ideology of Torah, Am Yisrael and the Land of Israel  (a combination of religion and nationalism)  is the main Solution to the state of Israel’s spiritual and security challenges; and Not the problem, as the Israeli Left argues.

No need for soul searching

 2)  We believe that calls by the Left (and even some liberal Orthodox rabbis) for the National Religious sector to do ‘soul searching/self accounting’ are cynical and unjustified. The abuse of a specific social-philosophical ideology does not delegitimize the ideology. For example, acts of sexual exploitation  do not inherently disqualify the libertarian ethic (justification by mature mutual consent) of intimate relations, any more than does the Duma incident disqualify our ideology of Torah, People, and the Land of Israel.

Media slander

 3)  We are all too aware of how the liberal media has for over forty years used isolated incidents of Jewish "settler" misbehavior to slander the whole Yesha movement.

Abuse of governmental authority

 4) We have painful, scarred memories of how the Israeli governmental establishment mobilized and politically misused, in 2005, the country’s media, security and judicial bodies to suppress the popular movement to prevent the expulsion of Gush Katif settlers.

However !! A need for condemnation

5) However, fully aware of the above considerations, I feel a need to unequivocally to condemn lethal attacks on Palestinian Arab civilians who are not actually participating in violent conflict with the Israeli government. I condemn the lethal attacks because:  A) They violate Jewish religious law according to 98% of rabbinical poskim .  B) Such lethal attacks encourage violent, non-discriminating Palestinian attacks on the   civilian Jewish population in Yesha, and thus seriously endanger the ongoing settlement of Yesha. C) Lethal attacks on civilians cause serious, long term strategic, geo-political damage to the historical, Yesha settlement enterprise.

We must win our ideological conflicts

6) The lethal Duma attack was reportedly based on an anti-Zionist ideology that contradicts the core elements Religious Zionist ideology, an ideology that has miraculously succeeded –against all geo-political odds- to settle 400,000 Jews in Yesha. These core elements (primarily based on the teachings of Rav Kook) see Redemptive, historical and spiritual worth in the Jewish state’s (including security forces) efforts to settle Jews in all parts of the Land of Israel. If we must struggle and strive to politically defeat our ideological opponents on the Left, we must also do so with regard to our ideological opponents of the fringe Right, young and minimal in number as they may be, particularly when we believe that our ideology is very much in accord with G-d’s Torah.

We need and deserve the government’s assistance

7) All true historical, political struggles are messy – even very messy - and often unpleasant. We now have to be very honest with ourselves. We have to admit that the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, and our family and educational frameworks, do not have the social-judicial resources to combat, on their own, the dangers of even a small. extreme, anti-Zionist, sometimes violent, fringe Right. Despite the many scars and disappointments that we have suffered in the past from certain Israeli state bodies, today we are dependent on the Israeli judicial and security forces to properly handle the above threats to the ongoing enterprise of Yesha Jewish settlement.

We have the obligation to criticize aspects of security and judicial actions, and to protest vociferously and demand an impartial investigation of claims of torture and unacceptable interrogation methods  but we also must candidly accept the imperative legitimacy of the security forces' efforts.

Compassionate understanding and assistance

8) The concept ‘tough love’ means  curtailing the deed, while at the same time trying to empathetically understand and accept the person connected with the deed. Thus while we must combat the dangerous deeds of fringe, juvenile elements in our midst, we also certainly want to understand the complex social factors that brought these juveniles to engage in such behavior. We will want to respect the idealistic elements in their behavior, and organize and extend the type of help that will allow them to make better choices in building their lives in the future. ‘Tough love’ can be a form of gemilut chessed, lovingkindness..


 I tentatively believe that the views expressed here closely resemble those of the silent majority of Yesha.