There are many commandments and laws in the Torah of Israel. Tradition recognizes that some people commit dastardly deeds within the letter of Torah law; such a deed is called a nevala berushut hatorah (an immoral act within the bounds of Torah). And there are many laws in the State of Israel, which are interpreted – and sometimes created – by the Supreme Court. The recent events in Hebron where Jews living in Beit Shalom (the “House of Peace,” though the Israeli media insists on calling it the “House of Contention”), a building they had purchased, were expelled by Israeli security forces prove that a person can sometimes obey the law and yet be a scoundrel.
The Supreme Court that ordered the Jewish residents of the house expelled even though the house had been purchased according to all the legal requirements, committed an act of moral turpitude in the name of the law. The defense minister who rushed to execute this order even though the order set no timetable for the expulsion, chose to play politics and adopt corrupt and foolish spin tactics in the name of the rule of law. It was a political spin because he ordered the Jews expelled in order to improve his own position and that of his party, which is disintegrating in the public opinion polls, and to find favor in the eyes of the Left, which is abandoning his sinking political ship. The praise he received the day of the Labor party primaries from MKs Ofer Pines and Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, praise for his decisiveness and determination in executing the expulsion, proves that this was politically motivated. It was a corrupt act because Defense Minister Barak tied policemen and soldiers to his political wagon on the most divisive issue facing Israel today, the fate of Judea and Samaria – again in the name of the rule of law. It was corrupt because Barak knows that in another two months Israel will have a new government, one that will authorize people to live in the House of Peace, and he’s using the last moments of his power not to strike at Hamas in Gaza or free POW Gilad Shalit or destroy Hizbullah rockets or eliminate the Iranian nuclear industry. He’s making political use of his power, to expel Jews. This is corruption.
And why is it foolish? At the entrance to Kiryat Arba, the Chazon David synagogue is housed in a tent. Security forces have destroyed it 35 times because it is supposedly an illegal outpost, and 36 times it has been erected, and worshippers are there today. If it is destroyed again, it will be erected again. This is foolishness. It is foolish to risk the lives of policemen and young men in violent expulsions which are destined to be reversed, either a week later when the settlers return without permission, or after the elections with the permission of the next minister of defense.
This act of moral turpitude and foolishness in the name of the law was able to be executed in under an hour because there weren’t thousands of settlers in the House of Peace fighting on its behalf. The police are patting themselves on the back because they supposedly “surprised” the settlers. But the expulsion went smoothly not because of any surprise but because the majority of public leaders and rabbis who head yeshivas did not bring their followers to the site. Two weeks ago about 10 members of Knesset – from Kadima, Likud, Shas, the National Union, and my Hatikva party – visited the House of Peace and promised to be part of its struggle. Many yeshiva leaders and public officials visited and promised to take part, but during the expulsion we were not there, and not because we were surprised.
I was on the roof of the fortress in Sa-Nur during the disengagement from Gaza and Northern Shomron. I was in the front line in Amona and am now handicapped because of the insane violence of the police. But in Sa-Nur and in Amona I knew that we had control of our ranks. Unfortunately, in the House of Peace, masked youths, answerable to no one, were leading the fight. These youths may wear large yarmulkes but do not have the fear of God in them. Where those with masks stand I do not, nor do many others who are faithful to the Land of Israel.