November 20, 2018

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Where may a Jew live?

In my previous post I said that Rabbi Raziel Shevach, z”l, was murdered only because he was a Jew. A reader of my blog took issue, and because I think this question is important, I’ve decided to write a special pre-Shabbat post. Here is the comment:

I very much regret the loss of lives and certainly of a young father of 6 children.

But Rabbi Raziel Shevach Z.L. was not killed because he was a Jew. He was killed because he was Jew living in an unsecured area. A security fence/wall was build to protect Israeli from terror and people living on the other side of that wall know the risk involved traveling around as if there is no war going on. This rabbi was trusting that Hashem would protect him.

The least charitable interpretation to give to this comment is to say that it implies that we must allow Jew haters the right to determine where a Jew may or may not live. I don’t think the writer intended that, but it is a somewhat slippery slope. There are places in France and the UK and perhaps other countries where a Jew may not live, because he or she will certainly be attacked by antisemites. But can we allow this to be the case anywhere in the Jewish state?

One could interpret the comment as simply pointing out that it’s dangerous to drive on Route 60 near Schechem at night. But this amounts to the same thing. Rabbi Shevach lived there. Should he stay at home after dark? Not that it would make so much difference. The murderers came to the homes of the Fogel family, Dafna Meir, the Salomon family, and many others.

So does it mean that a Jew should not live outside the security fence, or, in other words, that Israel should not include most of Judea and Samaria as part of the state? We are fortunate to have an answer, because this proposition has been empirically tested. Every Jew, living and dead, was removed from the Gaza Strip in 2005. One of the reasons for taking this step was that the Jews living there were exposed to terrorism. And what happened? The Jew haters did not stop trying to kill Jews, they simply developed means to attack Jews on the other side of the fence, with rockets and tunnels.

Route 60 in Samaria is dangerous, but if we decided on that account to end the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, the danger would move to Route 6. Terrorists will not be appeased by withdrawals, they will be encouraged. The object of the Jew haters is to drive the Jews out of the land of Israel. The way to frustrate their design is to stay in the land of Israel. What could be simpler?

I am sure that Rabbi Shevach believed that Hashem would protect him, but I’m also sure that he understood that Hashem gave us the land of Israel to live in it, not to run away.

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