November 11, 2005

by Reb Yudel
Yossi Klein Halevi reflects on Rabin's 10th Yarzheit

In assessing the role of religious Zionism in creating this culture in which assassinations have become a permanent part of Israeli political thinking and planning, it seems to me that the religious Zionist community passed one test and failed another.

It passed the test in that their sons (in the army) went into the settlements in Gaza and pulled out friends, in many cases relatives, and participated in an act that most of them considered political madness. Nevertheless, they did so because of their profound commitment both to Jewish unity and to preserving the integrity of the Israeli army. And they revealed a level of maturity and of loyalty to democratic principles which needs to be emphasized.

The test that religious Zionism has so far failed, and it is a significant failure, is that the leadership of the community, as opposed as they are to political violence, did not make clear to their young people that however appalling it is to dismantle settlements and to destroy organic communities that were sent by successive Israeli governments to Gaza, there is one scenario that is far more devastating to Israel's ability to survive - and that is, God forbid, another political assassination. I don't know if Israeli society could survive another, similar trauma and still remain intact.

When I think about the future of democracy in Israel, my fear is the state of mind of a generation of religious Zionists who are among our best and most dedicated young people. They're the ones filling the commando units, the officers' corps. They're the ones who travelled the Diaspora looking for Jewish communities to reach out to. And yet, their commitment to democratic principles is, I would argue, thin.

The Globe and Mail

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