I am a religious Zionist. I was taught to believe that we are living in the atchalta d’geula, the dawning of our redemption. Every Shabbos I continue to lead my shul in the prayer for the welfare of the State of Israel. I consider the State of Israel a gift that the Almighty gave to the Jewish people. I daven for the members of the Israel Defense Forces. I consider it a religious imperative to say Hallel on Yom Ha’atzmaut in gratitude to Hashem for the modern State of Israel.
And I am very frustrated, and honestly confused. Two news articles that recently appeared on Arutz 7 will help illustrate why.
One of the articles appeared on November 24. It is the story of a woman whose husband was murdered by Arab terrorists during their Sabbath meal. The family lived alone in a caravan, outside Kiryat Arba. When the week-long mourning period ended, the widow and her five children returned to live on the hilltop in her caravan. Two months later, without prior warning, IDF forces surprised the family in the middle of the night and forcibly evicted them from their home.
The women later said that the soldiers broke down the door, did not speak or produce a warrant, and began searching: “The police told me that I had to enter the car immediately. I told them that I could not leave the children alone in the house. They forcibly pushed me into the police car, and took the children from their beds.”
The other article, which appeared a few weeks earlier, told of Dr. David Matar, a resident of Efrat. He’d been called for reserve duty, as he’d been many times in the past fifteen years, but this time he would not be showing up.
“I’m willing to stand trial, and I can no longer serve in the IDF due to the government policy of disengagement,” he said. “The word ‘disengagement’ is simply a euphemism for the forced expulsion of some 8,000 Jews from their homes in Gush Katif and northern Shomron. The army has received an order to declare war on a group of innocent and loyal citizens, to define them as a target and an enemy, and to break into their homes in order to expel men, women and children.
“This is combat in every sense, with planned violence by the security forces against Jewish citizens. It will easily deteriorate into catastrophes such as occurred in the Altalena. These are blatantly illegal orders, and it is forbidden to carry them out. The Israel Defense Force is designed to protect the People of Israel and the Land of Israel, and to fight the Arab enemy – and not our Jewish brothers.”
Dr. Matar also explained that, as a religious man, he could not accept orders that would force him to choose between his fundamental religious beliefs regarding the Torah commandments to settle the Land of Israel and his loyalty to the state and the army.
How are religious Zionists supposed to react to these new stories? What conclusions should we reach? The people mentioned in the above stories undoubtedly would call themselves religious Zionists. But when you accuse your government of abuse and refuse to serve in its armed forces, how can you at the same time look at that same government with pride and refer to it as the beginning of the final redemption?
What happens if your officer in the army tells you to expel Jews from their homes? Answers Rav Shapira, the former chief rabbi of Israel and elder statesman and rav of religious Zionism today: “Soldiers and policemen should even now inform their commanders that just as they would not follow orders to violate the Sabbath or to eat non-kosher food, so they will refuse to uproot Jews from their homes. This is against Jewish law and one is prohibited from listening.”