Come to Think of It

The country takes the disengagement easy. On the disengagement week the TV showed almost nothing but the eviction pictures, which, of course, weren’t comforting and occasionally my eyes got wet, but all-in-all it was not that interesting. Was Yair Lapid just right when he said that “… most of all, this Disengagement is just not very important”? It’s history, of course. But the aftermath is eerily quiet. There was a suicide bombing on Sunday; the terrorist died, two security guards were severely injured. It was reported that the terrorist came from Hebron. A few Kassams were shot at Sderot since the disengagement ended. Of course, Arik promised a harsh response to any bombings after the disengagement, but no-one believes him. Nothing of it is very new. Just the same. In the meantime nothing got worse, i hope it will stay at least there. A bothering question remains – if nothing changed, why did the government demolish twenty five wonderful villages?

There are two columnists in MaarivEr’el Segal and Avishai Ben-Haim, who used to write various things once but in the last few months suddenly became ardent disengagement opponents. Their writing is surprisingly fluid and coherent. Ben-Haim’s writing is almost devoid of “religious” language (Bible and Talmud citations, Aramaisms etc.); in a totally secular language he explains why destroying settlements is senseless, immoral and just plain wrong. Segal is more ornate – he does use some religious citations, but not too consistently, even amateurishly; he styles his writing as a rant, but the patient reader gets a clear message. But even without the language it is surprisingly hard to read something like that and to believe that the person who wrote it doesn’t wear a kipa.

I just couldn’t believe. It’s all too right – secular journalists writing like that. It couldn’t be right and it wasn’t.

I emailed them both and asked whether in their past they had any religious education. I hope they forgive me for posting their replies here in public. I think they are really important for anyone who cares about history and culture.

Ben-Haim’s reply was not too clear:

“When you find someone who received secular education and in whom Jewish nationality burns and he is not a datlash [formerly religious], tell me.”

From this i understand that he is a datlash, but i might be wrong. Segal was rather less ambiguous:

“Shalom Amir, my brother,
You got me, I am a yeshiva-tichonit graduate, I keep the Sabbath, but don’t wear a kipa for a purpose. Unfortunately it was proven that in practice there is no secular right, and maybe it is for the better, after all a question arises: can the security value of a land without an essence be a fetishist replacement for [moral] values.”

The beginning of Segal’s reply is simple and unequivocal, unlike Ben-Haim’s. But the ending made me think. I had to read a few times to understand it properly. Then i finally got it. Time will tell whether this conclusion is positive or depressing.

Security value – yes, of course these lands have an enormous security value. When the supporters of the disengagement say that it is good, because the soldiers who defend the settlers won’t be in danger anymore, the settlers’ supporters reply that the soldiers don’t defend the settlers, but rather the settlements defend the rest of Israel. And i believe that it is true – in Gaza and even more so in Samaria. But a good fence, it is said, is better than putting soldiers’ lives in danger. I don’t buy it, but who am i to have an opinion at all. These arguments can go on forever, and, as with many things here in Middle East, only time will tell if the land is properly secured. The thing is, that this “Security Value” is nothing but a good excuse for those who support the settlements and don’t want to sound fascist and “messianic”. It’s totally circumstantial, however – it would be even more secure to leave this crazy peace of soil and move to Canada. So that is the real fetishism without any essence – security is at best a science and it is not very exact. Essence can be only ideology; the essence is Torah. It is the Torah that says – this country belongs to the people of Israel. I understand it today more than ever.

And then again – who am i to speak about Torah either?


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