Sunday, July 31, 2005

HaAretz Natan L'Bnei Adam?

A side issue that I've found interesting in this whole disengagement brouhaha is that the most fascinating interviews and articles recently have been by or about rabbis. And even more interesting is that these articles haven't been in the two major dailies (Maariv and Yediot) or even the more right wing and religious friendly Jerusalem Post. Where can you read about rabbis? In the flagship of the left wing, secular elite - HaAretz.

I'm not sure if this is due to the religious background of the current editor-in-chief, David Landau, or maybe it's connected to the reporters themselves. In any case, there have been interesting interviews recently with Rav Yoel Bin-Nun and Rav Benny Lau. HaAretz also printed Rav Aharon Lichtenstein's piece about refusing orders. And the most recent post to create waves both in Israel and in the blogging world was with Rav Yaakov Meidan. I don't agree with everything he wrote, especially about the part about joining the Haredi world. (This seems particularly strange when the UTJ is sitting with Sharon in the government now.) I also remember Rav Meidan mentioning in a previous HaAretz interview (that I can't find online now) a parallel to a driver coming at you on in the wrong lane. He's wrong, you're right, but if he's coming straight at you, you need to get off the road, even driving into a ditch, in order to avoid a crash. The analogy was that while what Sharon is doing is wrong, we have to be responsible, and take our car off the road to avoid the crash. The more recent article takes a slightly different approach.

What I think is most new about this trend of HaAretz interviewing rabbis is that the other papers now have a need to play catch-up, and discuss these interviews in their own editorials and columns. In other words, the interviews themselves are becoming news.

That's what happened this week in the Jerusalem Post. Amotz Asa-el wrote an op-ed entitled, Rabbi Medan Joins Mapam. It's based on the recent HaAretz interview. I think Asa-el goes a bit far, and Rav Meidan is not nearly as extreme or messianic as Asa-el makes him out to be. And I'm sure someone who uses historical parallels as often as Asa-el does knows that Meidan wasn't being literal when he referred to a "idolatrous city".

But he does bring up a few interesting questions. Have we isolated ourselves so much that the rest of the State has a right to view us as a dangerous outside element (to their worldview?) Is Feiglinism really showing anything else? I'm not saying that revolutionaries don't have a right to say the revolution has started, but it is important to be honest about it. And every revolutionary needs to know that it is the responsibility of the establishment to put down revolutions.

Also, are we being honest when we act shocked about the disengagement plan and the very idea to uproot settlements? Tachlis, the left has been talking about this since Peel in 1937.

I don't think we should be leaving Gaza - at least not like this. But there's a real lack of historical and intellectual honesty in our camp that sometimes makes it hard for me to identify with it.