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Monday, February 06, 2006

After Amona / Moderate rightists at a crossroads

As you can all imagine - and as many of you saw last night - the right wing is in an uproar over the way in which the 'Amona' expulsion was carried out last Wednesday. If last summer we were hearing that many religious Zionist boys were considering going to Yeshiva full time and deferring the army, my guess is that trend will only increase as a result of Wednesday's events, and will accelerate if events like Wednesday's occur again. What Nobel laureate Robert Aumann said last week about the Satmars being right about the State of Israel is something that has to be going through the minds of many religious Zionists today.

This is from al-Ard (HaAretz):

Rabbi Benny Lau sees "the solidarity of the betrayed" and increasing despair among the national religious public since the "Amona crisis." Lau, an educator, rabbi and researcher, a bona fide member of the religious Zionist community, is considered a symbol of moderation in the community. However, now he feels as though his job is virtually impossible. That state, he accuses, "stabbed our community in the heart".

Before the disengagement, he took part in training the security forces for the evacuation. A congregation rabbi and advisor to schools in Jerusalem, Lau explained to the evacuating forces how the settlers viewed the disengagement and how Jewish law relates to returning territory.

In a presentation at the time to military and police officers, Lau spoke about heroism. "Who is a hero? He who overcomes his urges. If you are cursed and insulted, remain silent. Restrain yourselves," he advised.

Today Lau is beside himself. "Our community and our youth barely survived the summer in terms of its relationship with the state. My motto and that of my colleagues, and I think we succeeded, was to instill recognition that there is a state, and lines in the sand that we do not cross. Amona shakes that message, a crisis for which primarily the establishment is responsible - decision-makers, the judicial system and the police," he says.


He adds, "The religious public's lack of confidence in the High Court of Justice could have become confidence in a moment, if the court had said 'Take another week'." Lau notes that this was the first time that Yesha Council leaders Pinchas Wallerstein, Ze'ev Hever and Hanan Porat raised a white flag and took it upon themselves to dismantle the nine houses. "I have no doubt there must be a commission of inquiry. I have spoken to hundreds of groups of youths since the summer, and every talk turned to our ability to keep being part of Israeli society. What should I tell them now?"

After disengagement, many accused urban religious communities of apathy. "The Amona events," Lau theorizes, "deepened internal solidarity. This is the solidarity of the betrayed. We have developed codes, internal black humor, crowding together to survive. I just this moment got a fax from a relative - someone so establishment, so tied to the state and its institutions, comparing what he saw to the sights of the Holocaust. Do you understand where these things take people?"

Read it all.


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