Making Pork Kosher

No matter how many times a piece of pork is certified as kosher, it is still treif. No matter how many times an illegal outpost built on land belonging to Palestinians is declared to be kosher, it too is still treif. The settlement regularization bill, being considered by the Knesset, stipulates that Palestinians, who can prove their ownership of land on which outposts were built, have no right to reclaim their property.

Living as we do in the era of Busload-Bibi (Israeli Arabs are voting by the busload), it’s hard to imagine that there was a time when the Israeli Right was solicitous of minority rights. But when Menachem Begin (a man of great integrity) led the Israeli right, he fought for the rights of Israeli Arabs. In a fascinating article that appeared in Haaretz on December 3, Ofer Aderet describes Menachem Begin’s opposition to the martial law decrees used to make life difficult for Israeli Arabs. The article notes, ‘MK Benny Begin, Menachem Begin’s son, says his father’s support for Israeli Arabs’ rights is documented from before Israel’s establishment. “That was his way from the outset, because his starting point was equal rights,” he says. “The fact that the Jewish people are a majority in Israel does not negate the rights of other nationalities living in it.”’

The article cites a leaflet put out by Begin in 1944 which states, “This war isn’t directed against you {the Arabs}, we don’t see you as enemies. We want to see you as good neighbors. We haven’t come to destroy you or evict you from the land you dwell on. In Israel, there’s a place for you too, also for your sons and grandchildren and for millions of Jews that have no lives, but in this country.”

One can imagine Begin’s reaction to settler land grabs of Arab property in the West Bank and the attempt to legitimize those expropriations in the settlement regularization bill. We don’t have to imagine – let’s look at the reaction of Benny Begin to the bill. Benny Begin, also a man of great integrity, views this bill through the lens of the values imbued in him by his father. His reaction to the bill, as cited in the December 7 issue of the Times of Israel, is: ‘Begin says that the Jewish people have a natural right to all of the Land of Israel but that the bill will only damage Israel and the settlement project.“This bill is not smart, responsible or stable, and that is why the government is still looking for other options,” he says. ” I can therefore not support it and will vote against it.”To punish Begin for voting against the coalition, he has been suspended for three weeks from the Knesset Constitution Committee.

It’s not just Benny Begin who realizes that the regularization bill is dangerous. As reported in a November 28 article in Haaretz, ‘Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit all warned members of the security cabinet against the passage of the so-called “Regularization Law,” ‘The article goes on to note, ‘Mendelblit and Sheindorf {Mendelblit’s deputy for international law} told the cabinet that the bill was in violation of international law and that passing it in the Knesset could strengthen the complaint the Palestinians filed with the International Criminal Court.’

Why then is the coalition sponsoring this bill? It’s politics of course. Naftali Bennett, Education Minister and head of the Jewish Home Party, is pushing the bill. Bibi fears being outflanked on the right by Bennett and losing the support of the right wing extremist bloc. Principles – Bibi – don’t be ridiculous!

As we go to press, there is an understanding that Amona will be evacuated without settler violence. Before the compromise on evacuation had been reached, Jeremy Sharon reports in the Jerusalem Post of December 15 that, ‘Some of the leading hard-right rabbis in the country have called on security personnel to disobey orders if instructed to evacuate the Amona settlement outpost. The rabbis include Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg, a leading inspiration for many religious radicals, Rabbi Dov Lior, former chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba, and Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, founder and director of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem.”

The December 18 issue of the Times of Israel reports, ‘A dozen IDF soldiers briefly abandoned their posts in the central West Bank Saturday to protest the looming evacuation and demolition of the Amona outpost near the settlement of Ofra northeast of Ramallah. The soldiers, belonging to the Givati infantry brigade, returned to their posts after their battalion commander spoke to them about the gravity of their actions. ……“As the army of a democratic state, the IDF will continue to carry out its assignments according to the instructions of the political echelon,” the IDF said, and promised “zero tolerance” toward politically motivated refusal to obey orders.’ No army can function if soldiers disobey orders and those who incite disobedience should be (but won’t be) prosecuted.

‘President-elect Trump is nominating David Friedman as his ambassador to Israel. Eric Cortellessa provides a detailed view of Friedman in the December 16 issue of the Times of Israel. Friedman is an Orthodox Jew who actively supports the settlement movement. ‘The 57-year-old bankruptcy lawyer has also been an outspoken and active supporter of the settlement movement, and has argued that Israel doesn’t face a “demographic threat” to its Jewish character if it fails to separate from the Palestinians. Friedman serves as president of American Friends of Bet El Institutions, an organization that supports the large West Bank settlement near Ramallah, and over the last year, he has excoriated groups who express criticism of Israel’s settlement policy.’ In short, he would fit in very well with the settlers of West Rogers Park and Skokie.

“Donald Trump wants to be as supportive of Israel as possible,” Friedman told The Times of Israel. “He doesn’t view Israel as a client state that you just kind of issue directives to. He views Israel as a partner, one of America’s key partners in a global war against Islamic terrorism, so he wants Israel … to be as strong and secure as possible.” Unlike Obama, who made Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank a fundamental issue of criticism throughout his presidency, Trump will not “put his finger on the scale or tell Israel what policies they should adopt,” Friedman said, adding that his new boss “doesn’t see Israel as in need of any particular correction at this point.”

Having David Friedman and the Trump administration behind the settlers poses a serious dilemma for Bibi. He will no longer be able to argue that he is 1,000% behind the settlers but cannot accede to all of their demands because of pressure from the US administration. There will be enormous pressure on him to move far to the right or lose the extremist vote to Bennett. If, however, he does accede to the extremists, that opens up a large space in the political spectrum for the moderate right — say a party headed by Moshe Kahlon, Moshe Ya’alon and Gideon Sa’ar. It will be fascinating to see how Bibi tries to finesse his dilemma.

About the Author
Richard Chasman, 1934-2018, was a member of the Modern Orthodox community in Chicago. Professionally, he was a theoretical nuclear physicist. Richard, who described his perspective as "centrist," wrote a newsletter for more than 20 years called "Chovevai Tsion of Chicago," on subjects of interest to the Modern Orthodox community.