Should Jews live in the occupied territories?

08/03/07

what is the torah perspective today on the jews living in the occupied territories?

Dear Avraham,

The Brisker Rav stated in 1937, when the Peel partition plan was under consideration: In our holy Torah, it makes no difference what character this Jewish state will have. Even if it would be a Jewish state run completely according to the Torah law, even if the president and prime minister would be Reb Chaim Ozer, and everything would be done according to the Torah even then it is forbidden that even one Jew be killed in order to establish a Jewish state. That is the crux of the issue here. The issue is not how the Jewish state will be run, religiously or secularly. The point is that it is forbidden for Jewish blood to be spilled for the purpose of establishing a Jewish state. And since it is impossible to accomplish the partition without spilling Jewish blood, it is forbidden to accept this plan.
There is nothing more precious than a Jewish life, and those Jews who put Jewish lives on the line for the sake of a nationalistic ideal, or even for the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel, are to be considered rodfim (endangering the lives) of the Jewish people.

If this is true of the State of Israel in general, it is even more true of the settlers. The Israeli victory in 1967 angered the Arabs even more than that of 1948, because the Israelis now controlled large pieces of land whose population was entirely Arab. The least the Arabs could hope for was that the world would eventually recognize the injustice of Jews ruling over Arabs in a land with no Jewish population, and some concession would be reached. The settlers came to destroy that hope by creating facts, creating a Jewish population in the territories, so that it would even harder to return them. Thus their settling was an act of belligerency, and led directly to the rise of Arab terrorism. (This is without mentioning the acts of violence and destruction of property committed by some settlers.) And that is why most acts of terrorism have been directed at the settlers - because the purpose was to discourage them.

Rabbi Elazar M. Shach ztl wrote about the settlers in his sefer Mictavim Umaamarim 2:4: The idea of settling is simply starting up with the nations of the world, and it comes from the fundamental error of the Zionists, who think that all that has ever befallen us is because we did not have a state and Jewish sovereignty, but now that we are a state equal with all the states of the world, if we show strength and do not budge, our enemies will back away. Even if there are many who adhere to these views, it is a departure from the path we have received from Chazal, and the opposite is the truth.

The opposite that showing strength and not budging will only lead to further attacks and further loss of life is the truth, according to Rav Shach. The settlers are actually the rodfim of our people, because they incite the Arab terrorist groups to attack us.

The settlers they are the strongest Zionists of all. Because "Zionism" has become somewhat of a negative term among religious Jews, they try to use different phrases and portray the Israeli government as being the Zionists. There are some of these extremists who have stopped saying the Hallel prayer on Zionist independence day because they no longer respect the government (after the disengagement etc.). But this is all a confusion of the issue. Regardless of what words you use, the ideology that advocates Jewish sovereignty over any part of the Holy Land is forbidden by the Torah and is contrary to the Jewish belief that we are in exile and must wait for the coming of the messiah.