Much has been said over the years about the stand that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has taken that Israeli concessions can be made in order to avoid endangering lives (“pikuach nefesh”).

It is important to note that the implementation of the “pikuach nefesh” standard by Rabbi Yosef relies heavily on expectations regarding the short term rather than long term consequences of a decision.

And when projected medium or longer term losses are heavily discounted they can be swamped by short term benefits – be they from a temporary lull in violence or the benefits reaped from supporting a given decision.

Rabbi Yosef is hardly alone on the Israeli scene in giving little weight to mid or long term consequences of policy. It could be argued that the decisions made by secular Israeli leaders such as Ariel Sharon and others were driven by planning horizons measured in hours or days rather than years.

The interesting question is if it is possible for other rabbinical leaders to claim to embrace Rabbi Yosef’s “pikuach nefesh” concept while analyzing dangers with a considerably lower “discount rate” applied to the mid term and long term consequences of decisions so that temporary gains from concessions are swamped by the very real threat of future dangers they may bring.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730