Rabbi Haim Drukman, the dean of Ohr Etzion Yeshiva and the head of the Center for Bnei Akiva Yeshivot, on Sunday posted a surprising video, in which he said: “I am calling on everyone to come to the demonstration at the Tel Aviv Museum plaza on Tuesday to cry out about the unfair treatment of the prime minister. It is an injustice. A real injustice. Because every person is innocent until proven guilty in a court, so much more so in the case of the Prime Minister, who by law can continue to serve until after his trial.”
Rabbi Drukman, one of the founders of Gush Emunim which ushered in the entire settlement enterprise, is extremely influential in the Religious Zionist community, which is why he’s been known to pick his fights sparingly. His endorsement of the hastily organized Likud rally could mean a hefty additional crowd from the settlements would brave into a hostile Tel Aviv to defend Netanyahu.
Which is why Rabbi Igal Ariel, head of the Ruach Ha’Golan Institutions and founder of Hispin High School yeshiva, saw fit to challenge the honorable rabbi’s call in a column in the Srugim website he titled: “Bibi Is No Dreyfus.” We enclose these excerpts:
Rabbi Drukman called on the public to protest against the injustice done to Netanyahu. And I’m puzzled. Is that the only thing the rabbis have to say at this hour? After all, not only Netanyahu’s fate is being decided, but all of our fates as well. In two and a half weeks we will all go into unnecessary elections, while we are surrounded by a sea of security and national problems that need to be resolved.
And we keep mum?
These elections will wreak on us, on the country, a social, political and economic disaster. All the major problems and national values will be pushed to the corner, and the only question will be “Yes Bibi” or ‘No Bibi.” We will enter into a bitter campaign that will set the country on fire. In this campaign the gloves will be taken off and every abomination allowed. Hatred and polarization will increase, each side will utter execration, scorn and curses, falsehoods and wickedness, and what will be left behind? Only scorched earth. How will we continue to live here together afterwards?
Shouldn’t the rabbis say something about this?
Netanyahu is not Dreyfus, Mandelblit is not Esterhazi, and Rabbi Drukman is not Emile Zola. Netanyahu is a gifted man with achievements and rights, but his behavior has not set a moral example. He is still presumed innocent and will be able to prove his innocence to the courts.
We certainly have many questions about the police and the judiciary, but what Netanyahu has not allowed to be fixed in this system for the past decade will not now be corrected in one demonstration. He who carelessly derided the public’s decision and the democratic process and dissolved the Knesset deluding himself he would win, has lost already and his hopes were shattered.
Twice the entire public was demanded to decide on the “Yes Bibi” question and we ended with a draw. Who would deceive himself that come the third time things will suddenly turn up better? Bibi will not establish the next government. Anyone who is delusional and insists on not learning the lesson, and dares to take responsibility for another adventure, with the next cycle of hatred, attests to the nature of his considerations and disqualifies himself.
The rightwing camp goes to this election bruised, and Religious Zionism is divided, with our prospects for a clear decision in our favor slim and hallucinatory. We must not gamble on the whole jackpot, sacrifice all our achievements and lose our goals. I understand that the Likud members have trouble abandoning Netanyahu and crowning someone else. but the religious and Haredi public bear no such total commitment. The bloc is not sacred. We need not fall on our sword with Netanyahu and commit suicide with him.
I call on the rabbis to be the responsible adults and declare that we would not agree to the destruction of all our state systems. Blue&White and Labor-Gesher are not anti-Semites and we can establish with them a government that would preserve the unifying national bond. Such a call could bring Likud members together and prevent last-minute elections that would surely be a national disgrace.