For The Land and The Lord: Appendix 3: Biographies of Selected Gush Emunim Activists, by Ian S. Lustick

Appendix 3: Biographies of Selected Gush Emunim Activists

Uri Elitzur. Raised in a religious household in Jerusalem and educated in the state religious school system, Uri Elitzur is the son of Professor Yehuda Elitzur, whose field is Jewish history and the history of the Land of Israel. His mother was a well-known author of Israeli children's books.

 Active in the Bnei Akiva youth movement, he studied for three 'vats in the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva in the mid- 1960s, but interrupted his studies there to serve in a Nahal army unit (combining paratrooper training and agricultural settlement work). After obtaining a university degree in mathematics, he began work as a teacher. Resentment against what he had perceived during his tour of army service as discrimination against religious soldiers, the trauma of the Yom Kippur War, and shock at seeing pictures of West Bank settlers being manhandled by soldiers led him and his wife to join Gush Emunim in the summer of 1974 and move to Ofra, near Ramallah in the West Bank.

 With Gush leader Haim Druckman in the number two position on the National Religious Part,' list in the 1977 elections, Elitzur worked hard on its behalf. He was bitterly disappointed in the party's support of the Camp David accords. With Hanan Porat, his former roommate at Merkaz HaRav, Elitzur was one of the religious activists who helped form Tehiya. While working in Amana, the Gush-affiliated settlement organization, he appeared in the number-11 place on the Tehiya list in 1981. Discouraged by Tehiya's performance, and concerned about the precedent Israeli withdrawal from the Yamit district would create, he was a major force in the organization of the Movement to Halt the Retreat in Sinai. After the evacuation of Yamit in April 1982 he returned to Ofra and spent the next year in meditative study in a Gush Emunim yeshiva. At the end of the year he resumed work in Amana and became one of its two general secretaries. Having left Tehiya with Porat, he joined Druckman's Morasha party, but he was disappointed with its performance and rejoined the National Religious Parry, where he is in charge of information and propaganda.
(Source: Hagai Segel, "A Man For All Seasons," Nekuda, no. 110, May 27, 1987, pp. 26-29, 55.)

Rabbi Yoel Ben-Nun. As a child in a religious household in Israel of the 1950s, Yoel Ben-Nun received a state- religious education, was active in the Bnei Akiva youth movement, and developed a sense of being part of a religious minority excluded from status and power by what he has termed "the aristocracy and oligarchy of Mapai (the Labor party)." He studied in the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva, and after the Six Day War studied and taught in Yeshiva Hat Etzion in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank (south of Jerusalem). Active in the establishment of Alon Shvut, a veteran settlement m that area, Ben-Nun was one of the founders of Gush Emunim in 1974.

 Subsequently, he moved to Ofra, near Ramallah, where the administrative headquarters of Yesha and the editorial offices of Nekuda are located. A regular contributor to Nekuda, Ben-Nun played a leading role in the editing and publication of Artzi a scholarly and polemical fundamentalist journal that began to appear in 1982, and of Megadim, a scholarly and religious journal published in Gush Etzion by the Yaacov Herzog Institute of Yeshiva Hat Etzion, whose first issue appeared in 1986.

 In his vigorous criticism of efforts by some Gush Emunim leaders to gain the release of all convicted Jewish terrorists, Ben-Nun threatened to lead a public sit-down strike in front of the movement's Jerusalem offices. He withdrew his threat in anticipation of the leadership shake-up that occurred in May 1987. (Sources: Yoel Ben-Nun, "Why in Koteret Rashit?" Koteret Rashit, no.114B, February 6, 1985, pp. 36-37; and Aviva Shabi, "Cracks in the Gush," Yediot Acharonot, May 15, 1987.

Tzvi Shiloach.Born in southern Poland in 1911, Tzvi Shiloach came to Palestine in 1931. A nonreligious Jew, Shiloach became a high-ranking Labor party politician and publicist. In the early 1950s, under Ben-Gurion's tutelage, he edited a part, newspaper, Hador. Subsequently he was appointed to head the Information Department of the Israel Institute of Productivity, became a member of the Labor Party Central Committee, and served as editor of another party publication, Hamifal. After the Six Day War, Shiloach left the Labor parry to join the Movement for the Whole Land of Israel, serving as an editor of its newspaper, Zot Haaretz. In 1979 he participated in the establishment of Tehiya and briefly served in the Knesset as a representative of that party. Residing now in a West Bank settlement, Shiloach is a regular contributor of articles to Yediot Acharonot, Israel's largest mass circulation daily. (Sources: Rael Jean Isaac, Israel Divided: Ideological Politics in the Jewish State [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 19761 p.169; and Nekuda, no. 100, July 11, 1986, p.66.)

Daniella Weiss. Born in the mid-1940s in Palestine to American- and Polish-born parents, Daniella Weiss grew up in an Orthodox Jewish environment. She received a degree in English literature and political science at Bar-Ilan University, but was uninvolved in politics until the early 1970s.

 After the Six Day War she was inspired by the success of Moshe Levinger and others in establishing a Jewish presence in the territories occupied during that war. After the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Weiss joined the Elon Moreh settlement nucleus, led by Beni Katzover, which tried unsuccessfully seven times to establish itself near Nablus, in opposition to government policy, and succeeded on its eighth attempt. Although her husband. a successful businessman, commutes to work in Tel Aviv, she has lived since that time in Kedumim, a settlement that grew out of the original nucleus. Weiss has divided her time between raising her four children and political work. In 1979 she affiliated herself with Tehiya and was active in the Movement to Halt the Retreat in Sinai. Known for her close relationship with Rabbi Moshe Levinger; Weiss was chosen, in 1985, by Gush Emunim to be its general secretary. Two years later she was the focus of intense criticism by many in the movement for her strident style. Weiss has been called "the queen of the Knesset cafeteria," because of her close and regular informal contacts with members of Knesset.
(Sources: Malka Eisenberg, "Women on the Frontier," Counterpoint vol., May 1985, pp. 6-7; David Shipler, "Jewish Settlers Power Grows," New York Times; June 5, 1980; and personal interview, Jerusalem Post International Edition, February 15-21, 1987.)

Aharon Ben-Ami. Born in Palestine in the mid-l92Os to second aliyah immigrant agricultural workers, Aharon Ben-Ami grew Op in an activist Zionist environment. Afforded a religious education by his parents, unusual in that context, Ben-Ami is nevertheless not religiously observant. In the 1940s he joined the socialist Zionist Palmach, the strike force of the mainstream Zionist underground army, composed mostly of recruits from Achdut Haavoda and its affiliated kibbutzim. Later he joined the military wing of Revisionist Zionism, the Irgun. He fought in the 1948 war and appeared on the Herut list for the Knesset in the 1949 elections, but was not elected. He left for the United States, where he eventually earned his Ph.D. in sociology. In the mid-1960s he taught sociology at Tel Aviv University; and Haifa University while participating with activist laborites in Rafi, Ben-Gurion's 1965 breakaway faction from the Mapai (Labor) party.

 After the Six Day War Ben-Ami helped organize the Movement for the Whole Land of Israel, and wrote articles for its newspaper, Zot Haaretz, and for the Revisionist journal Herut. Ben-Ami was greatly impressed by the vigor and idealism displayed by the religious settlers of Gush Emunim in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War. He became one of the first residents of Ariel, a large settlement in the northern bulge of the West Bank, where he served on the local council. He also became an active supporter of Tehiya. Since 1986 he has served as the editor of the newspaper Hayarden, which is designed to bring Gush Emunim's message to a wider Israeli audience.
(Source: Uri Orbach, One Bank to the Jordan," Nekuda, no. 95, January 21, 1986, pp. 16-18.)

Romem Aldubi. Nekuda describes Romem Aldubi as an outstanding example of the new generation of Gush Emunim. Born in 1963, he was raised in Tel Aviv in a nonreligious home. His father, Tzvi Aldubi, is a well-known Israeli sculptor. Both of his parents hold dovish political views that are diametrically opposed to Aldubi's own.

 In the early 1980s Aldubi attended a yeshiva in Jerusalem, where he heard of efforts to form a garin to establish itself in the city of Shechem (Nablus). While at the yeshiva he also heard Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook say that it was more important to build a yeshiva in Shechem than in Hebron. When Yamit was evacuated he recognized one of the organizers of the Shechem garin resisting the evacuation and was inspired to devote his life to the reestablishment of Jewish life in Shechem. He has since explained that he felt "Abraham knocking on my door."

 Aldubi sought advice from, and subsequently modeled himself after, Beni Katzover, well known for his success in opening the area around the city of Shechem to Jewish settlement in the mid- l970s. Following Katzover's advice, he began by studying alone in Shechem, near the grave of Joseph. Gradually others joined him, and there now (1987) are fifteen in the Joseph Still Lives Yeshiva. Although offered temporary housing in nearby settlements while he waits for government approval to settle in the city Aldubi refuses to live anywhere until he can be at home in Shechem. "He reportedly sleeps mostly in his car.) In addition to the yeshiva, he has organized a garin that now includes thirty families from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and various settlements. Aldubi spends his days studying, meeting with candidates for the garin, lobbying Knesset members and government officials, and consulting with Amana and Gush Emunim leaders, in an effort to generate movement on the issue to which he has chosen to devote his life. (Source: Bembi Erlich, "Master of that Dream," Nekuda, no. 106, January 9, 1987, pp. 22-25.)

Abraham Bar-Ilan. Abraham Bar-Ilan was raised in a religious household, from whose traditions he has strayed. In 1975 the Ministry of Housing and Construction, for whom he worked as an engineer, sent him to the city of Yamit for several months' work on design and construction projects. The death of his father in that same year affected him deeply, and he came under the influence of Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, director of the Yamit Yeshiva Hesder. His study in the yeshiva turned him from a non ideological technician to an observant Jew convinced of the decisive importance of settlement in the Land of Israel as a means of eventually transforming the entire Jewish people.

 Bar-Ilan left his job and became head of the building board of Yamit. During the struggle to prevent the evacuation of the Yamit area, he served as administrative director of the Yamit Yeshiva Hesder and as the logistical expert in charge of providing supplies and other services to the Movement to Halt the Retreat in Sinai. Even as plans for the evacuation of the area proceeded, he supervised the construction of shelters. gardens, and over 200 apartments. Bar-Ilan also created Amichai, a marketing company for Yamit products of all kinds, whose profits helped finance the movement to stop the retreat. Utterly distraught when Yamit was finally evacuated and destroyed, with his family Bat-Ilan moved to the Gaza Strip in 1982. A founder of the large Gush settlement of Neve Dekalim, he now serves as the chief engineer for the regional council of the Gaza Coast district. (Source: Bembi Erlich, "The Tzaddik of Yamit," Nekuda, no. 110, May 25, 1987, pp. 16-17.)

For the Land and the Lord