Jonathan Pollard
Jonathan PollardPhoto: INN

Rabbi Moshe Lichtenstein, the co-head of the Har Etzion Yeshiva recently wrote against the "hilltop youth" and stated that their actions are "a moral stain that taints us all."

I wish that Rabbi Lichtenstein had refrained from making such a sweeping generalization about all "hilltop youth," and I think he should also temper his words about the those few who took the law into their own hands After all, during the pre-state days it was the Irgun’s operations that really stopped the deluge of Arab mayhem against our people- not the Haganah’s policy of restraint. They basically gave it back to the Arabs in a way that the murderers understood.

Today, the army’s reaction to the gradual Lebanization of the Territories is to some extent similar in many respects to how the British handled Arab terror directed at Jews during the Mandate period: basically, the British treated the Jews as being as “guilty” as the Arabs.

And there is a very real danger of this disproportionate reaction re-occurring if people like Rabbi Lichtenstein continue to make unqualified statements. He’s giving a tail wind to people, like certain commentators, who want the army to “smash” so-called “Jewish terrorism”.

The sad fact of the matter, is that there is a growing threat of the army using force, torture, house demolitions and broad scale community closures against whole swaths of our people in Judea and Samaria, in order to intimidate them into refraining from unauthorized action. These are responses. I should point out, that the army uses sparingly against the various terror groups operating in the area.

The problem, as I see it, is that the settlers feel that they are considered “hefker - abandoned - by the Left, the army, the current government, and the Americans. Nobody seems to understand that the presence of their communities is the only thing standing in the way of another Gaza being created, this time hard upon the vital center of our country. So, in what they see as the absence of an army policy that will act decisively to prevent this, what are the settlers expected to do? Wait to be murdered?

Personally, I am opposed to vigilante actions of any kind. However, in this particular situation, I understand that such behavior is being undertaken by those who have lost hope of any effective government counter terror policy. This is why I will not follow Rabbi Lichtenstein in blanket condemnation of the frustration and fear of those giving it back to the Arabs in their own coin, but call out to the government to make it unnecessary.

As far as I’m concerned, the Arabs occupying our G-d given Land in Judea and Samaria are our enemies. You can see it when they openly celebrate the murder of our people and none of them, including their leaders, criticize it. You can see it in all the polling that’s done by reputable organizations, that clearly shows they will never accept our presence. Basically, they constitute a clear and present threat to our survival and should be treated as such.

If rabbinic figures, such as Rabbi Lichtenstein, who encourage settling Judea and Samaria, consider the vigilante action conducted by a small number of the settlers and others contrary to Torah, I suggest they should also devote their commentary to pushing for a more robust government counter terror policy.