Rabbis slam Haredi MK's advocacy for evacuating settlements

MK Moshe Gafni based his stance on concessions on a letter written by a leading Rabbi, involving peace with Egypt in 1978.

August 22, 2017 17:37
2 minute read.
Moshe Gafni



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A rabbinical group slammed United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni this week for his comments in favor of evacuating settlements.

The Rabbinical Congress for Peace, a group founded to oppose territorial concessions, protested in the name of 400 Israeli rabbis.

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Earlier this month, Gafni revealed a previously unknown letter from Rabbi Elazar Menachem Man Shach, the spiritual head of the non-hassidic haredi (“Lithuanian”) community and the Degel Hatorah Party, to then-prime minister Menachem Begin in 1978, when he was negotiating peace with Egypt. Shach wrote that “concessions made only for peace are not concessions,” and that in Jewish law, “there is nothing preventing concessions of parts of the Land of Israel.”

Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu said that Gafni’s behavior was an “affront to the entire concept of Torah authority,” because he was bringing up an outdated letter.

Since that time, Eliyahu said, there were serious halachic debates on the status of the Land of Israel.

Eliyahu pointed out that former chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef had ruled in favor of land for peace, but changed his mind following the wave of terrorism that came after the Oslo Accords were signed with the PLO. Yosef was the spiritual leader of Shas, which abstained on a 1993 vote on the Oslo Accords, allowing them to be approved by the Knesset.

“Different Israeli governments have tried dozens of miserable experiments to apply the land-for-peace formula, only to leave behind a long trail of Jewish blood and serious damage to the Israeli security,” he added.

Eliyahu said that concessions would mean giving land to “haters of Israel, the partners of ISIS.”

Outside of religious circles, Eliyahu is best known for his edict against selling homes to Arabs.

In addition, a group of Chabad emissaries who were personally selected by Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson to go to Israel in the 1970s wrote a letter protesting Gafni’s comments.

“This view, even in its time, was solidly refuted and stood in stark contradiction to established Halacha,” they wrote.

“How much more so it is irrelevant today, given the irrefutable evidence that every terrorist attack, rocket and mortar fire, shootings and knife attack was directly caused by Israeli concessions... The very territories delivered to our enemies as ‘concessions for peace’ have become bases for terrorist attacks against Jews.”

Rabbi Eliyahu Shleshinger, the rabbi of the Gilo and Mekor Chaim areas of Jerusalem, accused Gafni of being “asleep for the last 25 years” and speaking “absolute nonsense.”

“Our enemies have no intention of accepting our existence, and no concession on our part will make them change for the better; rather, the opposite is true. The pure Torah position cannot be based on pipe dreams,” Shleshinger said.

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