Religious Zionist leaders’ reactions to the Tuesday morning attack
on an IDF
base in the West Bank were mixed, with some rabbis expressing vehement
criticism, and others, while decrying the attack, nevertheless blaming the
government for the growing number of such incidents.
“We’re in shock,”
said Rabbi Ya’acov Medan, co-head of Yeshivat Har Etzion in the settlement of
Alon Shvut, one of the largest religious Zionist yeshivot in the
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“The people who did this crossed not only red lines, but black
lines as well. They need to be brought to justice and strictly dealt with,” he
told The Jerusalem Post
Asked whether religious Zionist rabbis were
doing enough to counter the growing vigilante phenomenon among extremist
elements in the settlement movement, Medan stated that numerous rabbis were not
only denouncing these actions but working to thwart them by coordinating with
the army and police.
He added, however, that the people involved in such
attacks did not have a recognized leader.
“Since they do not follow
mainstream rabbis, the ability of leading religious Zionist figures to influence
them is limited,” he said.
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of the Ateret
Yerushalayim Yeshiva in Jerusalem’s Old City, also criticized the attack,
focusing on the methods as opposed to the motivations.
“You can’t do a
mitzva by doing a sin,” he told the Post, quoting a well-known dictum in Jewish
law. “Harming the army is a sin, and so is hatred. The IDF doesn’t set
They are simply carrying out the directives they
receive from the government, and the army is doing the best it can under the
He noted that “army serves the people” in a democracy,
and that people wouldn’t want it to be the other way around.
that in his opinion, the number of extremist settler activists was “extremely
small,” and that such people’s actions should not lead to generalizations of the
wider settlement community.
“There are always radicals, on the Right or
the Left, haredim [ultra-Orthodox], anarchists and others. There are always such
people who want to destroy the old world and build a new one in its place, and
the media always likes to talk about these outliers,” he said, adding that he
did not feel there was any great process of radicalization among the settler
Samaria Chief Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, who is also the rabbi of
the Elon Moreh settlement, criticized the attack but blamed government policy
regarding the unauthorized settlement outposts for the recent
“The government’s behavior is violence cloaked in democracy,
and those responsible for it are the defense minister and the prime minister,”
he told the Kipah website. “They are hardening their positions, and as a result
causing extremists to do things which shouldn’t be done.”
that there was no justification for evacuating outposts when compromise was
possible, adding that “the government is just fanning the flames.”
current policies are simply the caprice of the defense minister over some
buildings which aren’t bothering anyone.
It’s not Arab land, it’s not
anything,” he insisted.
Levanon did strongly denounce the attack itself,
however, saying that “it damages the people of Israel, the settlement movement
and the army.”
The Tzohar rabbinical group expressed “deep pain” over the
“Just days before Hanukka, it’s sad to see that there are
people in our midst who don’t know the importance and significance of a strong
and united Jewish army,” the organization stated.
director Rabbi David Stav met with the commander of the Ephraim Brigade, Ran
Cahana, and expressed his “embarrassment at the actions of these outlaws.”
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