As expected, the Agudath Israel convention this past weekend produced a resolution advocating continued Zionist control over Jerusalem, citing "considerations of security as well as the singular place Jerusalem has always occupied in Jewish religious and communal life". The following is the complete text of the resolution:
"WHEREAS, the American government is convening a conference later this week in Annapolis, Maryland in an effort to promote Middle East peace, and particularly to move Israel and the Palestinian Authority toward a final peace agreement; and
WHEREAS, the American government is reportedly urging the parties to proceed to the final status issues that remain to be negotiated, including sovereignty over the holy city of Jerusalem; and
WHEREAS, the delegates to the 85th national convention of Agudath Israel of America, following the direction of Agudath Israels rabbinic leadership, and for reasons relating to considerations of security as well as the singular place Jerusalem has always occupied in Jewish religious and communal life, are deeply pained and concerned about the prospect of Israel relinquishing parts of Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty.
NOW, THEREFORE, the delegates to the 85th national convention of Agudath Israel of America hereby resolve that Agudath Israel of America, under the direction of its rabbinic leadership, should communicate to appropriate government officials the organizations strong belief that, for the reasons set forth above, Israel should not relinquish parts of Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty, and the American government should not pressure the Israeli government into doing so.
(November 25, 2007 - Stamford, CT)
Agudah is an organization led and funded by laymen, most of whom harbor Zionist sympathies. Many rabbis participate in Agudah and are given the chance to speak, but in the end the agenda is set by Zionists.
Still, Agudah, in particular its American branch, has rarely taken such an openly Zionist stance before. Whatever Zionist activities the Agudah carried on in the past were done with the pretext of their need to cooperate with the Israeli government in order to "fight from within." But now the Agudah is taking a stance that is actually more Zionist than the Israeli government. They are speaking out in favor of Jewish rule over Jerusalem, whereas the Israeli prime minister is willing to relinquish that rule.
During this confusing time, in which we have already seen some Modern Orthodox Jews taking a stronger Zionist position than the Israeli government itself, we had hoped that Agudah would at least keep silent on the issue.
In an attempt to counter the effects of the Agudah convention, the Central Rabbinical Congress of the U.S.A. and Canada hung the following poster in Jewish neighborhoods:
Jewish brethren, hear us!
Our brethren in Eretz Yisroel, living in a war zone, are in constant mortal danger; the arrogant heretical regime continuously arouses the anger of the Arab nations. For the sake of their pride and desire for power, the Zionists think nothing of sacrificing thousands and myriads of Jewish lives. They already carry on their heads the responsibility for the thousands of lives lost in the many wars they have waged since their state was founded.
Unfortunately, every year it becomes more and more clear how correct and far-sighted our rabbis in the previous generation were when they raised their voices in warning of the terrible threat to the Jewish people posed by the Zionists, who transgress the Three Oaths: that the Jewish people must not ascend to the Holy Land en masse, that they must not rebel against the nations, and that they must not force the end of exile.
The Zionist state is a complete denial of the principles of Jewish faith and an affront to the kingship of G-d, because it constitutes rejection of G-d's decree of exile and the substitution of a human redemption in place of G-d's redemption. It is this state that is preventing moshiach from coming, as our Sages say (Sanhedrin 98a), "The son of David will not come until the lowly kingdom is gone from Israel."
Ever since the Zionist state was founded, the Jews' situation in the world has only become worse and worse. The Zionist-Arab conflict has come to involve all the nations of the world. Jewish blood has been spilled like water in countless battles, great and small. Furthermore, because many Jews in countries around the world support the Zionists in their wars, anti-Semitism has risen dramatically. Jew-haters in many countries have begun to threaten local Jews, who now live in constant fear of attacks.
With all this in mind, we are stricken with shock and disbelief when we see that a religious organization, which takes upon itself to speak in the name of traditional Orthodox Jewry, intervenes and expresses its opinion about the efforts undertaken by the nations of the world, and in particular by the leader of our enlightened country, President Bush, to make peace between the Zionists and the Arabs. At their convention in the United States, in which thousands of Jews will take part, they plan to publicize their opinion that it is forbidden for the Zionist state to return territories it has conquered in the area of Jerusalem in exchange for peace.
Trembling seizes all who hear! Who can take upon his shoulders the responsibility to involve the religious community in such a complex and dangerous issue? And specifically, how can religious Jews come out openly in opposition to the leaders of all enlightened nations, who believe that compromise can prevent bloodshed and spare us from wars?
And worst of all, this convention gives the impression that the Torah view and the desire of the religious community is that the holy city of Jerusalem should stay under the occupation of the Zionists, who falsify the ancient Jewish longing for Jerusalem, replacing it with the heretical idea of nationalism.
How can we be silent at a time when Jews who keep Torah and mitzvos, speaking in the name of the Jewish people make such foolish and provocative statements before the nations of the world, arousing hatred against all Jews?
It is our obligation at this time to again publicize the true Torah view that the very existence of the Zionist state is a rebellion against the holy Torah and the Jewish faith; and that it is the Zionist state that prevents our redemption from coming.
As individuals, we have no power to put an end to this misfortune; we only pray that G-d have mercy and cause the state to dissolve on its own without any harm to human life. G-d forbid for us to interfere in matters that affect the lives of millions of Jews, which are hanging by a hair. We must only pray to G-d that He inspire the gentile leaders to save our Jewish brethren in Eretz Yisroel, and may we soon hear the announcement of the coming of moshiach, amein.