Thursday, August 30, 2007

How "Illegal" Settlers Saved Israel


Well, it doesn't really matter how much the right yells from the rooftops that we are saving Israel, that is, until the left-media notice, I guess . . .

By P. David Hornik | 8/30/2007

An article this week in Israel’s second largest daily Maariv (in Hebrew) notes the preponderance of national-religious Jews in the officer corps of the Israel Defense Forces. Senior commentator Ben Caspit cites unconfirmed figures that no less than 50 percent of the IDF’s young combat officers are national-religious, as were 40 percent of the cadets in the latest course of the IDF’s officer training (combat and noncombat) school.

The article represents an acknowledgment by a major secular journalist that religious Jews have become, as Caspit puts it, “the IDF’s backbone.” The national-religious sector (as distinct from the ultra-Orthodox sector, very few of whose members serve in the IDF at all) accounts for only about 10-15 percent of the total population and so is now vastly overrepresented in the officer corps.

“Any way we look at it,” says Caspit (as translated in a report about the article by Gil Ronen), “it’s about education...It is clear that the religious Zionist movement’s educational institutions continue to disseminate values, Zionism, Judaism and mission orientation. The religious youth is mission-oriented. [It sets out to] conquer the hilltops, and then to conquer the military service and the officership.”

The politically-loaded phrase “conquer the hilltops” now refers in Israeli parlance to settlement of the West Bank, an enterprise in which national-religious Israelis are also overrepresented and have long been the spearhead. In other words, a sector that has long been vilified by Israel’s secular-Left elite now shows, by a considerable magnitude, statistically greater motivation for military leadership than the general population and has become a key factor in Israel’s security and survival.

All who profess friendship and support for Israel should presumably take an interest in this reality that has emerged. All plans for “peace” and a Palestinian state envision that some number of “West Bank settlers”—of whom this highly motivated Israeli sector forms a substantial part—will be forcibly removed from their homes in the interest of creating the Jew-free state that the Palestinians say they require.

As Gil Ronen notes, the abovementioned “statistics are significant [because] many religious soldiers have been refusing orders to evict Jews from their homes in [the West Bank] and Gaza. If half of the IDF’s new officers are religious, this means that the refusal movement could indeed have a deep deterrent impact on the IDF and government when and if it decides to attempt additional pullouts from territory.”

If so, one wonders if conservative, biblically-religious Americans like George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice must inevitably take the Israeli secular-Left view of such national-religious Israelis as lawbreaking nuisances instead of the admirable, idealistic people, ready to serve and sacrifice for their country, that they actually are.

It is difficult to square any profession of biblical religiosity with the belief that peace requires turning the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria, into yet another exclusively Muslim domain from which many Jews—many of whom live there out of deep biblical motivation—must be forcibly expelled.

The notion is beloved not only of the largely-atheist Israeli Left but also of largely-atheist leftists everywhere. In some sort of fantasy world, Bush and Rice would rethink it instead of continuing to push Israel toward dangerous, and possibly ruinously-divisive, concessions to Muslim supremacism.
P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Tel Aviv. He blogs at He can be reached at

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