Analysis: Splits in the family

By MATTHEW WAGNER
August 8, 2006 00:14
2 minute read.

The fallen Yehuda Greenfeld and his outspoken sister Shoshi are a microcosm of the opposing ideologies battling for prominence within the religious Zionist camp. Yehuda's conscious choice to join the war effort against Hizbullah, which cost him his life when he was killed near Kfar Giladi on Sunday, represents mainstream religious Zionism. Students and graduates of hesder yeshivot and pre-military yeshivot have filled IDF ranks in the North. The "ketumim," or the orange crowd, named after the color that symbolized their struggle against disengagement, are proving their loyalty to the state of Israel. Soldiers like Ro'i Klein, Benjy Hillman and Amihai Merhavia, who gave their lives in recent weeks to protect Israel from Hizbullah, all identified with the fight against disengagement. Meanwhile, Shoshi's biting message of despair over the loss of Gush Katif and utter disenchantment with the present political leadership may strike a chord of empathy in the hearts of many religious Zionist soldiers. But her extreme operative conclusions - a call for widespread insubordination in the North - are widely rejected except among those on the fringes. Shoshi, who freelances for the right-wing daily Makor Rishon and for Arutz 7, has an agenda. Since the outbreak of warfare in the North, she has inundated people on her e-mail list with diatribes against the war. Shoshi's position was strengthened by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's statement last week that success on the northern front would lay the groundwork for his realignment program, which includes the dismantling of dozens of settlements in Judea and Samaria. In the wake of that statement, Rabbi Zalman Melamed, who had encouraged all his students to join the fight in the North (half are currently serving), reversed his position and said that he was very sympathetic towards soldiers who said they could not serve. He also called for a group of reservists to organize demonstrations against Olmert. Avi Abelow, a 32-year-old American immigrant from Efrat, abandoned his IDF demolition unit in the North after Olmert's statement. Eran Sternburg, former spokesman for Gush Katif, said last week, even before Olmert's comment, that he would not answer a call to do reserve duty. This week he said, in response to a question, that he had no regrets. In fact, he was even more certain he had made the right decision. But veteran Yesha leaders such as Pinchas Wallerstein and Uri Elitzur and leading settlement rabbis such as Rabbi Dov Lior and Rabbi Haim Druckman say that fighting in the North is a mitzva. "Even a bride under her wedding canopy is commanded to go to war under the current situation," says Wallerstein.


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