Photo Credit: Yair Kahati / TPS
Yehuda Dimantman hy'd

Those that question why Israel built a wall separating the West Bank territories from Israel’s pre 67 borders, need look no further than the brutal murder last Thursday of 25 year old Kollel student Yehuda Dimentman. Yehuda was obviously a Religious Zionist who believed that settling all of the land of Israel was a Halachic imperative under all circumstances. Which is probably why he chose to study in a Yeshiva in the settlement of Homesh. That is something for which he was willing to risk his life. Tragically that is what happened. I cannot imagine what it’s like to lose a husband who was also the father of your 9 month old infant.

Yehuda was ambushed while driving his car as he was leaving his Yeshiva. The following excerpt from the Times of Israel is a description of Yehuda by one of the passengers in that car:

“He was my friend. He was a really good guy. He was a very sweet person and was welcoming to everyone who wanted to speak with him. We got to talk a lot,” Entman said. “He was fun to have as a friend. We didn’t have any fear of a shooting. We didn’t think it could happen.”

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Well it did happen. Thankfully, the Islamic Jihad  terrorists that ambushed Yehuda were caught. They will now face Israeli justice. But that will hardly comfort the bereaved. His loss will be felt for a lifetime by all that were close to this gentle and kind man.

This is one of the reason I get so angry at the critics of Israel’s defensive needs. If there were no wall, this would surely be happening a lot more. On both side of the ‘green line’.

Settlements?! That isn’t holding up peace. Islamic Jihad and other terror groups are. Of which Hamas is clearly a major player – recognized as such by the US State Department. Before that wall was built, busses and restaurants filled with a lotof people were blown up on regular basis by terrorists infiltrating Israel from the West Bank. The wall has pretty much put a stop to that type of attack. Now they are rare The point being that much of the terrorist attacks originates from the West Bank. Which is still a base for terrorists. Jews that live there are unprotected by a wall. Murdering Jews happens more frequently there. The deeper into the territory, the greater the odd, it seems.

That beibg said, I am not here to criticize Yehuda for living according to his principles. He was not a wild eyed settler whose purpose was to stick to Palestinians living near him. I’m sure that he would preferred living in peace and harmony with his neighbors. I’m sure his goal was only to be able to live there too. Acting on his belief that the Jewish people have a right to live anywhere in biblical Israel they choose, He joined a Kollel in Homesh to make his point. He certainly did not deserve to pay for that with his life.

Here’s the part that’s hard for me. But I am going to say it anyway. It is my sincere belief that had Yehuda not been going to that Yeshiva, he would still be alive today.

Now is not the time to try and settle all of Eretz Yisroel. Sometimes ideals have to be delayed for purposes of Pikuach Nefesh – in order to save lives.  I know my Religious Zionist friends who have the same ideals Yehuda did will will vehemently disagree and even be angry at me for expressing these views. But it is my sincere belief that one should not place themselves in a Makom Sakana – a place of danger, Which Homesh has proven to be.

The counter argument that ‘They (the Arabs want to kill us anyway and don’t need an excuse to do so’ never swayed me. That might be true. But that does not mean we should make it easy for them.

It turns out that Homesh – where Yehuda’s Yeshiva was located was an illegal settlement. But the residents believed they had a higher calling and decided to live there anyway. To further that end now after Yehuda’s murder – 3 structures were built. I suppose that was done as a sort of ‘answer’ to the attackers that they will no succeed in driving them away. From the Jewish Press:

IDF and police forces on Sunday morning demolished three structures that had been built during the night in the Homesh settlement, home to the Hesder yeshiva that was attended by Yehuda Dimentman H’yd who was murdered in a terrorist ambush last Thursday.

The Jewish Press  registered their objection to this action. Suggesting that by doing so, the government was in essence rewarding the Yehuda’s murderers.

Perhaps the timing was off. I would have preferred that this had been delayed – giving the bereaved some time to heal. But although the timing was off, I do not disagree with their actions. If anything that settlements should never have existed in the first place if it was illegal. In my view by looking the other way the government shares some of the responsibility for this tragedy.

I realize that this is not a popular view among my Religious Zionist friends on the right. But I have never supported illegal settlements. And oppose them even more now.

These settlers consider themselves to be zealots for the sake of God. Who gave us the land to settle. That they do not attack their neighbors and try to live in peace with them is admirable. But the Palestinians aren’t buying it. And the terrorist among them are trying to do something about it. Making places like Homesh a serious Makom Sakana that should be avoided. Despite the best intentions of the settlers.

There are those who might accuse me of bad timing, too. Making my case right in the middle of Shiva for this beloved young husband and father. And that I am being extremely insensitive to the bereaved, should they read this.

But the time to strike is when the iron is hot. I feel very strongly about saving lives. Especially Jewish ones. I do not want to see anyone killed. Least of all idealistic young religious Jews. By trying to fulfill the word of God in this way, too many of them have paid a price too high.

{Reposted from the author’s blog}

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Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.