Religious Zionists split over joining haredi boycott

In a surprising move uncharacteristic of the religious Zionist community, a leading settlement movement rabbi joined the haredi community's call to boycott El Al. Rabbi Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Arba-Hebron, expressed support Monday for the expected boycott of El Al by the haredi community and said that he would tell his students and followers to join the boycott. "The El Al incident is another example of how secular Israelis are trying to turn Israel into a state like all the others," said Lior in a telephone interview from his house in Kiryat Arba. "Secular Jews are trying to blur the differences and ignore Israel's unique Jewish character. Whether it is the recognition of same-sex marriages or desecrating the Shabbat, the goal is to undermine the Jewishness of Israel." Lior, who is also the rabbi of the religious Zionist youth group Ariel, a more religious alternative to Bnei Akiva that separates the sexes, said that his decision to support the boycott is a direct result of recent developments in Israel, especially the disengagement from Gaza. "The expulsion taught religious Zionists that we have to change our tactics in the battle to shape the character of the state of Israel." In contrast, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, rabbi of Beit El, opposed joining the haredi boycott. "The Shabbat desecration is a fiasco," admitted Aviner who was one of the leading rabbis who opposed military insubordination during the IDF-led Gaza pullout. "But coercion is not the way, not even through boycotts and other non-violent means," said Aviner echoing the opinions of religious Zionist politicians such as MKs Uri Ariel and Zevulun Orlev (National Union - National Religious Party). "El El is our national carrier which means two things: we expect it to refrain from desecrating the Shabbat as a representative of Israel but we also cannot attack it aggressively because that would be tantamount to shooting ourselves in the foot."