“I live in this country because it is an obligation ordered by G_d. Otherwise, why would I want to live in a country which, from my point of view, is miserable and uninteresting? If G_d hadn’t ordered us to live in this country, I really wouldn’t want to have anything to do with it. Because this country is an absolute disaster, from a geographical as well as a material viewpoint.”
(On material considerations, the Pele Yoetz stated about aliya, “Even if this mitzvah is greater than the mitzvah of lulav and similar Biblical commandments, nonetheless, one who cannot afford [to make aliyah] is not obligated, and he does not have to beg door to door in order to fulfill this mitzvah.” Rabbi Shlomo Kluger likewise wrote, “Even those who hold that we force people to make aliyah, and that it is a mitzvah, agree that this applies only to one who has enough [money] on which to live during the trip, and to someone who will not need to rely on others once he arrives. However, a pauper who does not have the means with which to pay for the trip and sustain himself once there certainly has no obligation to make aliyah…” These sources and additional related ones appear in Rise from the Dust: Eretz Yisrael in Halachah and Hashkafah by Tzvi Glatt Hy”d.)
Along with the horrors that followed Oslo and Gush Katif’s destruction, there has been another major change since Rabbi Kahane’s murder in 1990 that might have affected the degree to which he advocated aliya. I refer not to external threats like Iranian nuclear development but an internal threat: the attack on people’s God-given right of self-defense through the disarmament of citizens that went into high gear after Yitzhak’s Rabin’s assassination in 1995.
A Reuters article soon after the assassination that foreshadowed this change began, “Hundreds of thousands of Israelis are allowed, even encouraged, to arm themselves against Arab attacks.” In stark contrast, an ominously titled report from last month quoted Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch as saying, “Over the past decade the number of weapons permits has been reduced from 300,000 to 160,000, and now we are working to reduce the number of people holding weapons permits by 10,000 per year.”
I wonder if that reduction extends to the “public security” minister’s own protection entourage?
As a gun store owner in Jerusalem said in December, “In Israel it is not a right to bear arms, but a privilege.” A friend from Be’er Sheva likewise comments, “I have looked into owning a handgun in Israel. It’s pretty much impossible.”
Call me warped from having grown up in a diasporic land that relatively honors the right to bear arms, but this situation brings to mind what the American jurist St. George Tucker observed in 1803 about the Second Amendment to the Constitution:
“This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty…The right of self defence is the first law of nature…Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.”
It doesn’t seem most Israelis share this conviction. David Hazony was likely accurate when he wrote in April that “Israelis do not believe they have a ‘right’ to bear arms. Israel has no Second Amendment, nor would it ever dream of introducing one.”
Consequently, there has been no large-scale outrage over the growing repression of firearms ownership, including weapons seizures that in at least one case might have resulted in the murder of four citizens. A friend of those victims said, “There are four bodies today because the government, instead of fighting terrorism, is fighting citizens.”
Rabbi Kahane wrote in 1976, “The government of Israel is the greatest danger to the State of Israel that exists today.” How timely and how sickening are these words.
About the Author: Menachem Ben-Mordechai has written for numerous publications on subjects ranging from Israel and Latin America to the sport of powerlifting and life insurance. He has also coached elite powerlifters as well as beginners. Menachem's other writing can be found under the name Myles Kantor.
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