For The Land and The Lord: The Evolution of Gush Emunim, by Ian S. Lustick
The Six Day War reopened the question of borders, rekindled mass interest and excitement in the whole Land of Israel, and helped Menachem Begin escape from the political wilderness into the Israeli political mainstream. Thus, it served as the catalyst in the combination of factors, described in the previous chapter, that explain the emergence of a redemptionist, visionary, and territory centered Jewish fundamentalist movement.
Soon after the Six Day War discussions began among young rabbis and rabbinical students associated with Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook as to how settlement in the "liberated areas" might be advanced. Such meetings produced little in the way of organized activity, but the urge to settle the West Bank for ideological reasons-as opposed to security purposes-led Moshe Levinger, a disciple of Rav Kook and a future leader of Gush Emunim, to establish a small, illegal presence in a hotel in the middle of Hebron during the spring festival of Passover in 1968.
The government was caught by surprise. Internally divided, depending for its survival on the votes of the National Religious Party, and reluctant to forcibly evacuate the settlers from a city whose Jewish population had been massacred thirty-nine years earlier, the Labor government backed away from its original prohibition against civilian settlement in the area and permitted this group to remain within a military compound. After more than a year and a half of agitation and a bloody Arab attack on the Hebron settlers, the government agreed to allow Levinger's group to establish a town on the outskirts of the city. That town is now one of the largest Jewish settlements on the West Bank-Kiryat Arba.
As a model for later actions by Gush Emunim to use the "creation of facts in the field" as a powerful political weapon, Levinger's success was important. But aside from Begin's Herut party, the only significant organized effort to push Israel toward permanent incorporation of the recently occupied territories was the Movement for the Whole Land of Israel. 1 This was an elite organization of well-known writers, intellectuals, poets, generals, kibbutz leaders, and other personalities prominent in the pre-1948 Zionist struggle. Founded two months after the Six Day War, it reflected the background of most of its organizers: militant, activist, romantic and focused on the Land of Israel. It adopted a platform calling for the rapid settlement and permanent absorption of all the territories. Its manifesto, filled with historical imagery, was devoid of religious language and sentiment:
Zahal's (Israel Defense Force's) victory in the Six Day War placed the people and the state within a new and fateful period. The whole of Eretz Yisrael is now in the hands of the Jewish people, and just as we are not allowed to give up the State of Israel, so we are ordered to keep what we received there from Eretz Yisrael. We are bound to be loyal to the entirety of the country-for the sake of the people's past as well as its future, and no government in Israel is entitled to give up this entirety, which represents the inherent and in-alienable right of our people from the beginnings of its history. . . . 2
Despite the presence of one or two rabbis among this document's scores of signatories, the organization was a manifestation of secular ultranationalist Zionism. It aspired to be neither a movement of the masses nor a political party, but a respected pressure group whose main objective was to influence government policy through newspaper articles, books, and personal contacts with government ministers. After the 1973 war it was rapidly eclipsed by Gush Emunim, which did aspire to lead a mass movement, for the purpose not merely of changing government policies toward the territories, but of transforming the cultural and ideological foundation of society. On the basis of Kookist injunctions to tolerate the religious nonobservance of Jews active in the settlement and redemption of the Land of Israel, Gush Emunim absorbed many participants from the Movement for the Whole Land of Israel. By 1977 the latter organization and its newspaper, Zot Haaretz, had virtually ceased to exist.
The actual founding of Gush Emunim and the beginning of its serious effort at political mobilization took place in 1974. Gush Emunim's establishment is not inappropriately viewed as the religious expression of a wave of intense and pervasive discontent that swept Israel after "the earthquake"-the popular epithet adopted to refer to the Yom Kippur War. This emotional upsurge produced several reformist/populist movements. Unusual in Israel's highly institutionalized, party-dominated political system, these were loosely structured grass roots organizations, led by well-educated but disillusioned young army officers with impeccable credentials as war heroes. Focusing at first on technical errors made by military, intelligence, and political figures before and during the Yom Kippur War, these groups made short-lived attempts to build a political base for a technocratic, progressivist political movement. 3
It was in that same atmosphere of crisis, of grass roots mobilization dedicated to remaking Israeli society in a manner that could justify the losses in the 1973 war, that Gush Emunim also arose. The Yom Kippur War was the first major conflict in which substantial numbers of Orthodox Jews participated within regular combat units. Famous for their knitted skullcaps, these soldiers came mainly from the recently created Yeshivot Hesder in which young religious Jews were permitted to integrate half-time study of sacred texts with regular service in the army. This participation gave religious Israeli Jews self-confidence and legitimacy within the wider secular society. Amid the psychological confusion of the period following the Yom Kippur War, a generation of young religious idealists, whose pride had always suffered by the honor granted to kibbutzniks and other secular Jews for serving in the army, felt empowered to offer their own analysis of Israel's predicament, and their own solution. But their analysis was not technocratic, it was theological. Their solution was a spiritual rejuvenation of society whose most important expression and source of strength would be settlement on and communion with the greater, liberated Land of Israel.
Early Activities of Gush Emunim. In 1973 a small group of religious zealots formed a garin (nucleus for a new settlement) called Elon Moreh. Its intention was to establish a Jewish settlement in the heart of Samaria, the northern bulge of the West Bank, densely populated by Arabs. In the spring of 1974, another, somewhat overlapping group of rabbis, religious war veterans, and hawkish Young Guard political activists, most of whom had been strongly influenced by Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, established an organization they named Gush Emunim. The express purpose of this "nonpartisan, extra-parliamentary" organization was to advance what one of their number, Hanan Porat, termed the Zionism of Redemption. After two unsuccessful but, for their supporters, inspiring attempts to establish a settlement near Nablus, the Elon Moreh garin agreed to join with Gush Emunim. In August 1974 a secretariat was formed, and a statement of principles and specific plans for political organization and action were approved. The immediate task was to mobilize mass opinion against the willingness of the Labor government to disengage from territories captured from Syria in the 1973 war. This, in turn, was seen as but the beginning of a struggle against Labor's policy, in the context of peace negotiations, to withdraw from territories Israel had held since 1967.
One of the group's first organized actions was to support a hunger strike staged by members of the Movement for the Whole Land of Israel to protest the government's apparent willingness to withdraw from Kuneitra, on the edge of the Golan Heights, as part of the disengagement agreement with Syria. When nonreligious supporters of this movement from a Golan settlement set up an unauthorized settlement in May of 1974, they were joined by Gush Emunim members wearing knitted skullcaps and determined to set a precedent of nonreligious-religious cooperation in the establishment of protest settlements.
But their primary focus was the West Bank heartland-Judea and Samaria. 4 Although the Labor party did invest substantial resources in settling the Golan Heights, the Jordan Valley, the greater East Jerusalem area, and the Gush Etzion area, 5 the government continued to resist Gush Emunim demands to create a large Jewish presence in the heavily populated highlands of the West Bank. The Labor party had intended to keep this area, as well as a corridor to Jericho through which Arab travel to Jordan was possible, free of Jewish settlement in anticipation of its eventual return to Arab rule.
From mid-1974 until the Labor Parry's ouster from power in May 1977, Gush Emunim's primary efforts were directed toward challenging this policy and laying the groundwork for a Jewish settler presence in precisely those areas targeted for return to Arab hands. With the blessing and participation of Rav Tzvi Yehuda, the dramatic involvement of whole families, and the skillful use of the symbols associated with Jewish holidays and with the legendary illegal struggle by Labor Zionism to settle the Galilee during the British mandate, Gush members made eight attempts in 1974 and 1975 to evade army roadblocks and establish a settlement in the Nablus area. Seven times they were foiled by the army, but each time the numbers involved in the effort, the extent of media attention, and the level of public support grew. These attempts also attracted visits of support to the temporary Gush encampments by influential political personalities, including Menachem Begin, Ariel Sharon, and Geula Cohen. Finally, on the holiday of Hanukkah in December 1975, some 2,000 Gush supporters succeeded in establishing a settlement in Sebastia. After prolonged confrontation with the Labor government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Minister of Defense Shimon Peres, the settlers received permission to maintain their presence in the nearby army camp of Kadum. Gush Emunim demonstrated its political muscle and mass base in May 1976 with the participation of 20,000 supporters in its first annual Independence Day March through the heart of the West Bank.
Gush Emunim and the Likud. Gush Emunim greeted the 1977 Likud victory with enthusiasm. Its expectations were heightened that the country was moving rapidly toward redemption. In fact, some Gush Emunim supporters appear to have felt that with the ascendance of a nationalist religious governing coalition, continued political activism on their part was unnecessary.
The new government immediately granted official status to several small Gush settlements that had received de facto recognition by the previous governments. In September 1977 Ariel Sharon, the new agriculture minister and head of the Israel Lands Administration, announced a plan to settle more than one million Jews in the West Bank within twenty years. The plan redirected infrastructural investments, residential construction, and land acquisition away from Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, and toward the highlands. The following year Mattitiyahu Drobles, chairman of the Land Settlement Department of the Jewish Agency, who was closely associated with Gush Emunim, issued the first version of a similar document, the "Master Plan for Judea and Samaria." Between 1977 and mid-198l the Likud government spent $400 million in the West Bank and Gaza, built twenty settlements in considered off-limits by previous governments and in-areas creased the number of settlers living in the West Bank, minus the Jordan Valley and East Jerusalem, from approximately 3,500 to 18,500. Following its second election victory in 1981, the Likud dramatically increased settlement-related expenditures and accelerated programs of land acquisition and infrastructural development beyond the already hectic pace achieved in the previous four years. By the end of Likud's second term, in August 1984, some 113 settlements were spread over the entire West Bank, including a half-dozen sizable towns. Some 46,000 Jewish settlers lived in the area (excluding expanded East Jerusalem), and housing and services were under construction to absorb 15,000 additional settlers each year.
Regarding the future of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the objectives of Gush Emunim and of the Likud have largely coincided. But beyond this key issue and related questions, substantial differences have always existed. Gush Emunim is a fundamentalist organization. The Likud is a coalition of practical political parties. The former wants to transform Israeli society and bring redemption. The latter has something of an ideological agenda, but primarily wants to win elections and organize governments. As mentioned in chapter 1, both the Likud and the fundamentalist movement, particularly Gush Emunim, have sought to use each other to accomplish their own objectives. 6
After a brief honeymoon, tensions emerged between Gush Emunim and the Likud government. With Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's visit to Jerusalem in 1977, the Camp David accords of 1978, the Egypt-Israel peace treaty in 1979, and levels of West Bank Arab political mobilization and anti-settler violence that Gush considered intolerable, the expectations of many of its leaders and rank-and-file members were shattered. It was at this time, when relations between the Likud government and the fundamentalist movement were at a low ebb, that Gush Emunim's effectiveness as a pressure group on key issues of settlement, land acquisition, and Arab policy in the West Bank became most apparent.48
Gush Emunim and the Circumvention of the Supreme Court: The Case of Elon Moreh. In the fall of 1979 Gush Emunim attacked the Begin cabinet for surrendering Sinai and setting the stage, with its autonomy plan, for what it feared would be the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. 7 Gush stalwarts vigorously opposed the idea of Palestinian autonomy of any sort in the occupied territories, as described in the Camp David accords. In their view the most effective way to sabotage the American-Israeli-Egyptian autonomy negotiations, begun in 1979, was to spread Jewish settlements throughout those areas while sharply increasing their number and the number of Jewish settlers. An Israeli Supreme Court decision, handed down on October 22, 1979, severely threatened these objectives.
Agreeing with Arab petitioners that prevailing international law prohibited expropriation of private property for settlement purposes, the Court ordered that the Gush Emunim settlement of Elon Moreh, southeast of Nablus, be dismantled and the land returned to its Arab owners. Gush Emunim objected strenuously, condemning the government for its betrayal of Jewish rights to the Land of Israel. Movement leaders argued that unless applicable law or government policy were changed so that substantial amounts of Arab land could be transferred to Jewish control, the result of the Court decision would be "the collapse of the Jewish hold on Judea and Samaria." 8 Despite the embarrassment the protest caused the Begin government, the settlers threatened to resist evacuation of the site.
The fundamentalist movement's political clout was dramatically illustrated by the extent and solicitousness of reaction to the Gush campaign and its threats to oppose evacuation of Elon Moreh-an action that would have placed the Likud government in the same relationship to the settlers and their cause as that into which illegal Gush settlement activity in the mid-1970s had placed the Labor government. Mattitiyahu Drobles, then director of the World Zionist Organization's land settlement department, expressed his "shock" at the Court decision and proceeded immediately to the prime minister's office to discuss the possibility of turning the site into a military base or rearranging the settlement in order to circumvent the decision. 9 On October 23 and 24, Gush Emunim members, led by Moshe Levinger, met with high-ranking sympathetic government officials, including Zevulun Hammer, a founder of the Young Guard and minister of education and culture; Yehuda Ben-Meir, another Young Guard leader and member of Knesset; Eliyahu Ben-Elissar, director of the prime minister's office; and Ariel Sharon, minister of agriculture. The government representatives offered alternative sites and an enlarged land area for the settlement and discussed various ideas for legislation to protect other settlements erected on privately owned land. 10 The following day, Zevulun Hammer met with Prime Minister Begin to discuss the issue. In response to a demand by the National Religious Party, a special cabinet meeting to deal with the problem of Elon Moreh in the broader context of land questions and the nature of Jewish settlement was held on November 1.
After a debate over legal options that lasted five and one-half hours, the cabinet decided to comply with the Supreme Court decision but to find an alternate nearby site for the settlement of Elon Moreh. It also agreed to meet again to discuss long-term solutions to the legal vulnerabilities of Jewish settlement in the occupied territories. Ministers Sharon and Hammer expressed their dissatisfaction with the outcome of the meeting in terms similar to those of Gush Emunim leaders, who insisted on annexation or some other immediate change in the legal framework of settlement. Israeli radio reported that mothers on the site were warning that their families would fortify themselves against evacuation and that Gush Emunim intended "to enlist thousands of people on the eve of the evacuation and disrupt it." 11 On November 11, the cabinet met again. It decided to conduct a thorough study of the legal options open to the government in regard to the status of Jewish settlements in the occupied areas, but reaffirmed its decision to transfer the Elon Moreh settlement to a nearby location. It also announced its intention to expand Jewish settlement on "state land" throughout the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights, and to do so without limiting itself to security rationales. 12
In an effort to head off a confrontation, Defense Minister Ezer Weizman met with Gush representatives for four hours, after which the latter reported their dissatisfaction and their insistence on a meeting with Prime Minister Begin himself Amid warnings of the need to avoid civil war and threats from the National Religious Party that it would bolt from the coalition, thereby bringing the government down, if a confrontation with the Gush settlers ensued, yet another special cabinet meeting was called. 13
The government's efforts to avoid a confrontation without categorically abrogating the Camp David accords (which prohibit change in the cabinet deci the legal status of the territories except as the result of negotiation) intensified. In his capacity as acting foreign minister, Begin asked the attorney general to consider legal solutions to the problem advanced by Member of Knesset Haim Druckman on behalf of Gush Emunim. 14 Begin also met personally with the Elon Moreh settlers to discuss ways to avoid a confrontation over evacuation of the site. In December he promised Hammer, Ben-Meir, and Druckman that he would speed the land survey process in the territories designed to identify state land and facilitate Jewish settlement upon it. 15 The creation of a special inter-ministerial committee on settlement affairs, including Sharon and Weizman, but chaired by Begin, was made public. It met and announced the inauguration of an ambitious and systematic fleshing out of existing settlements in five "settlement blocs." At least two cabinet ministers (Simcha Erlich and Shmuel Tamir) opposed this decision because of its expense and because, they argued, it stemmed directly from pressure exerted by Gush Emunim and its political supporters in the National Religious Party. 16
Finally, on January 17, the sixty members of the Elon Moreh settlement announced that they would peaceably move to the nearby site provided by the government. In their announcement they drew attention to the "serious situation regarding the legal status of the settlements" that had been uncovered. They stressed that their decision to abide by the Supreme Court's judgment was influenced by the impression gained from their meeting with Begin that he "would act to improve the situation" and by "a commitment undertaken by 30 Knesset members to act to change the legal situation in Judea and Samaria." 17 Indeed, within six weeks at least five proposals for change in the legal status of settlement in the occupied territories were under consideration by the cabinet and the attorney general's office.
But the transfer of the Elon Moreh settlement did not bring an end to Gush Emunim's campaign of political pressure with regard to land and settlement questions. Judging that implementation of the cabinet decisions was proceeding too slowly and that not enough land was being made available for Jewish settlement, and concerned about what they perceived as Defense Minister Weizman's moderating influence on the pace and extent of settlement, six heads of Jewish regional and local councils in the West Bank and Gaza (all members of Gush Emunim) began a hunger strike outside the Knesset on March 19, 1980. The strikers demanded immediate cabinet action in fulfillment of commitments made to the Elon Moreh settlers. Joined by other well-known Gush personalities, the hunger strike continued for more than six weeks. Prime Minister Begin was reported to have tearfully approached the strikers, trying to convince them to end their fast. In an interview he declared that they were not "seeking something that is contrary to the views of the government." The problem, said Begin, was that "this is a complex legal matter. The bill has to be worded clearly and we have to take all kinds of legal aspects under consideration. Therefore, this takes time." 18 Legal difficulties and opposition from Weizman resulted in a series of delays and postponements in the presentation of draft legislation to the Knesset. Nevertheless, on May 2 the hunger strikers declared an end to their fast. Yisrael Harel, speaking on behalf of the strikers and Yesha, explained that the fast had been concluded as a result of
sufficient and unambiguous commitments. . . that a legal and immediate solution will be found for the problem of the existence, development and expansion of the existent settlements in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza district and of settlements to be established in the future.
Harel continued as follows, apparently referring to Sharon and Begin:
. . .the guarantees are from determining factors in our state. Those factors have asked us time and again to stop the strike so that their final public decision is not made under the pressure of the strike. So far we did not have sufficient guarantees that the decision would indeed be made very soon. Now that we are in the possession of those guarantees-we have received very binding guarantees-we believe that the decision will be made. Then, the decision will be published by the factors making it. 19
One week later the cabinet adopted the Attorney General's recommendation that a special ministerial committee be formed to develop administrative measures to safeguard existing settlements from legal challenges, provide land for seven particular settlements surrounded by privately owned Arab land, and create opportunities for expanded settlement and land acquisition within the legal constraints established by the Supreme Court. Sharon, Gush Emunim's most vigorous patron in the cabinet, advocated sweeping new legislation to change the legal framework in the territories. Accordingly, he cast the only vote against this cabinet decision. But he muted his criticism, since the cabinet had chosen him to chair the newly created committee. On May 15, the government announced a five-year plan for the establishment of fifty-nine additional settlements in the West Bank. Ten days later, frustrated in part with the government's responsiveness to Gush Emunim demands and the implications of that responsiveness for any positive outcome to the autonomy negotiations, Defense Minister Weizman resigned. Sharon then moved quickly to develop and implement an elaborate array of administrative devices to bypass legal restrictions enforced by the Court on the seizure of land for use by Jewish settlements. Combined with declarations of large areas as state land, these new procedures brought an effective, if not formal, end to the ability of Arabs to protect their lands from seizure by appealing to the Supreme Court. As a result, within a year and a half so much land was transferred to Jewish, and mostly Gush Emunim, control that the settlers virtually ceased raising the issue of land acquisition or the question of the legal status of the territories. 20
The Elon Moreh episode clearly illustrates how relatively small numbers of Jewish fundamentalists, enjoying close political and personal ties with powerful figures in the Likud and the National Religious Party and possessing impressive public relations skills, were able to exert enormous influence. Important government policies were changed, careers of leading politicians were advanced or hindered, international negotiations were adversely affected, and the pace of de facto annexation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was substantially quickened. Moreover, this influence was exerted while the fundamentalist movement lacked coherent over-all organization, and while the party most closely associated with it, Tehiya (whose evolution is described below), was out of the government.
By this time, Gush Emunim had also entered an intense period of institutional elaboration and internal political realignment. In addition to the repeated disappointments it experienced vis-a'-vis Likud government policy, it was seeking to address new kinds of issues created by progress in the actual implementation of its visionary program. Before 1979, although thousands of Israelis identified with Gush Emunim and shared a powerful commitment to the permanent incorporation of the whole Land of Israel within the Jewish state, an organizational basis for carrying out Gush programs or translating the fervent commitment of its activists into entrenched positions of political power was absent. To a large extent Gush leaders blamed their failure to prevent the Camp David accords and, the April 1982 withdrawal from Yamit on the absence of an effective, sophisticated political organization that could arouse masses of Israelis not directly involved in settling the territories.
The Social and Political Base of Jewish Fundamentalism. From 1977 to 1984 Gush Emunim developed from a rather loose association of settlement activists and ultranationalist rabbis, writers, and military figures into an umbrella movement containing an elaborate array of interdependent organizations, each specializing in particular aspects of the overall fundamentalist/redemptionist struggle or in appeals to one or another particular constituency. These organizations have drawn most of their recruits from a mass base composed of many overlapping segments of Israeli society.
The most visible part of this recruitment pool were the West Bank and Gaza settlers themselves. Few in number until the late 1970s, the young Gush Emunim settlements in Samaria, the Etzion bloc, and Kiryat Arba attracted the most idealistic and dynamic fundamentalist activists. The leaders and apparatchiks of the movement, operating in close contact with more senior spiritual/rabbinical guidance, were drawn mainly from the individuals attracted to these settlements. The decisive majority were young, Ashkenazic, well educated, upper middle class, and highly motivated. To be sure, with the emergence of relatively large urban settlements, the Jewish population in the West Bank, as well as in the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights, has become increasingly diverse. But self-selection by new settlers and the common problems associated with living in occupied areas amid a majority of hostile Arabs have kept the settlements, which now contain nearly 70,000 inhabitants (excluding expanded East Jerusalem), a natural base of support for Gush Emunim.
Before 1948 the Yishuv educated most of its children in three separate school systems. The largest was the "socialist Zionist stream," operated by the Histadrut (the Labor Zionist Federation of Trade Unions). Another network of schools was sponsored by the centrist General Zionist party. The third was the Mizrahi school system. Shortly after the state was created the socialist Zionist school system was submerged, along with the General Zionist stream, within the "official" state educational framework. But a "state religious" school system and the traditional ultra-Orthodox schools were allowed to continue as separate entities. The influence of the fundamentalist-oriented Young Guard was felt relatively early in the state religious school system, which has included 25-30 percent of Israeli Jewish students. In contrast to the secular left, which lost the steady stream of youthful graduates of its partisan educational system when the socialist Zionist stream was absorbed by the state system, the religious sector has had its ranks replenished by individuals educated and socialized within a strong Jewish religious framework. The religious school system has thus been an important source of recruits for Gush Emunim, which is perceived by many of its graduates as religious Jewry's candidate to replace the socialists as leaders of the Zionist movement.
Closely associated with the religious school system has been Bnei Akiva. Founded more than sixty years ago, it presently has 25,000-30,000 members active in 150 branches. It operates thirty educational and other institutions and has helped found scores of cooperative and collective settlements, including many of those in the West Bank and Gaza. Bnei Akiva originated from the religious kibbutz movement, and a large proportion of its leadership traditionally has come from religious kibbutzim. But after the Six Day War, Bnei Akiva turned its energies away from traditional notions of "Torah and Labor" toward the question of the whole Land of Israel and the messianic ideas surrounding that question. Embodying the so-called generation of the knitted yarmulka, Bnei Akiva members and graduates have prided themselves on their idealism and their ability to combine patriotic duty, including military service and settlement, with religious observance and study. With the emergence of the Young Guard of the National Religious Party as its political inspiration, Bnei Akiva soon became a national political force to be reckoned with. In the mid-1970s Gush Emunim drew thousands of Bnei Akiva youths into its marches, demonstrations, and settlement actions.
Recruitment of religious school and Bnei Akiva graduates into Gush Emunim was facilitated by an institutional innovation adopted by the army, in cooperation with religious educators, the Yeshivot Hesder. Many teachers and directors in "national religious" yeshivas were eager to free themselves from a sense of inferiority relative to the ultra-Orthodox, even while moving toward more active participation, and more political power, in Israeli society. Frameworks were thus created within which religious high school graduates could fulfill their military service while stationed at religious seminaries located in the newly occupied territories. Modeled after the army's Nahal units, in which young Israelis interested in kibbutz life could join units whose work was divided between agriculture and military training, the Yeshivot Hesder, established after the Six Day War, permitted religious youths to divide their time in the army between military service and religious study. The overwhelming majority of the teachers in these yeshivas were oriented toward the outlook and policies that became associated with Gush Emunim. Indeed, it was expected that the majority of Yeshivot Hesder graduates would remain as settlers in the occupied territories. Fourteen Yeshivot Hesder are now functioning, with an annual enrollment of approximately 3,500 students. For an important segment of the national religious youth, they have served to bridge the gap between adolescent education and
Two important segments of the nonreligious sector of Israeli society have also provided Gush Emunim with substantial numbers of recruits: the activist Labor Zionist movement and the Herut party. Supporters of the former, as explained above, tended toward expansive conceptions of the proper territorial extent of Jewish sovereignty and were traditionally committed to the idea of creating settlements as a means of determining future political borders. Determined secularists, they yet found a common language with Gush organizers in their devotion to the Land of Israel as the highest operational imperative. They provided Gush Emunim with large numbers of experienced settlers with agricultural, organizational and military skills. They also provided a crucial symbolic link between Gush Emunim's often illegal settlement activities in the West Bank and Gaza and the Labor Zionist movement's famous '"watchtower and stockade" illegal settlement campaign under the British mandate. Many of these supporters came to Gush Emunim in the mid- 1970s through the Movement for the Whole Land of Israel.
In the 1930s two Revisionist Party members were accused of murdering Chaim Arlosoroff a leading Labor Zionist; Rav Abraham Isaac Kook came to their aid. At least one leader of the Irgun, David Raziel, spent some time as a student at Merkaz HaRav during that period. Those ties and the similarly 'visionary" terms, centered on the Land of Israel, in which both Revisionists and Kookists think of Zionism may help explain the close relationship that developed after 1967 between Herut circles and Merkaz HaRav. 21 Nor did it hurt these relations that Begin himself began regularly to employ religious imagery and display outward signs of religious observance. Once the Likud came to power, Gush activists enjoyed easy and direct access to cabinet ministers and high-level bureaucrats. Gush Emunim has drawn some of its most articulate publicists, such as Israel Eldad and Eliezer Schweid, and its best-known political patrons, including Ariel Sharon, Geula Cohen, Yitzhak Shamir, and Menachem Begin himself, from the ranks of the Revisionist movement and the veteran members of the prestate dissident undergrounds, Lehi (Freedom Fighters for Israel, also known as "the Stern Gang") and the Irgun. As we shall see, in the wake of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, a number of leading personalities within Herut deserted that party and joined with some religious leaders of Gush Emunim to found Tehiya. 22
While the above groups have provided skilled activists and powerful supporters to Gush Emunim, the electoral strength of the Likud, translated into support for the program of the movement, has been based largely on the votes of Sephardic Jews (those whose families came to Israel from the Middle East or North Africa) who have entered into Israeli politics. In the late 1970s their resentment at being effectively excluded from the Labor-and Ashkenazic-dominated Israeli establishment found increasing expression in their adoption of maximalist, anti-Arab political positions.
Organizational Elaboration and the Exercise of Power. The closest thing Gush Emunim has had to an overall representative body has been Yesha. Based in the Gush settlement of Ofra (in the West Bank, northeast of Ramallah), Yesha began as an association of representatives from various regional councils established by groups of West Bank and Gaza settlements with the assistance of the Ministry of Interior. It developed into an important coordinative organization that lobbies on behalf of settler interests and Gush programs with government ministries, the military government, and Jewish Agency offices; provides administrative resources and political guidance to settlements; and has played a key role in the design of zoning and development plans for the expansion of Jewish settler access to land and the regulation of Arab municipal growth.
In December 1979, Yesha launched Nekuda (Point), a monthly journal edited to this day by Yisrael Harel, a professional journalist and Gush activist who has also served as Yesha's general secretary. The first issue dealt extensively with the Supreme Court decision, a month and a half earlier, that had dismantled the Elon Moreh. The next few issues dealt with a variety of issues facing Gush Emunim-protests against settlement expenditure by Jewish slum dwellers, relations with the Arabs, the autonomy plan, and the hunger strike organized by Gush leaders in protest against what they perceived as the crisis in land acquisition brought on by the 1979 Supreme Court decision. Nekuda quickly developed into the primary forum for expression of settler opinion and the in-house deliberation of all salient issues confronting Gush Emunim. 23
When the Camp David Accords were signed in 1978-a move that Gush Emunim bitterly opposed-it precipitated a crisis for Gush supporters within Herut and the National Religious Party, both of which officially backed the accords. One result was the formation of Tehiya, the first political party traceable to Gush Emunim, though neither officially endorsed by it nor supported by a majority of Gush members. Tehiya was founded as an independent party comprised of both religious and nonreligious ultra-nationalists. Instructively, it originated in a meeting held in March 1979 at the home of Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook that was attended by several key religious figures in Gush Emunim, some prominent members of Herut, and leaders of what was left of the Movement for the Whole Land of Israel. Discussions focused on the implications of Begin's "betrayal" of the cause and the failure of Gush Emunim and other ultranationalist elements to prevent it.
Rav Tzvi Yehuda's endorsement of Yuval Neeman-Israel's leading nuclear physicist and a secular ultranationalist-to head the new party, as well as his emphasis on the overwhelming significance of the Land of Israel dimension of the redemption process, overcame both severe personal rivalries and religious differences within the group.
The Land of Israel is neither religious nor secular. It belongs to the whole Jewish people. The religious and secular frameworks should be discontinued. Today the Land of Israel is the focal point for the redemption. Both the religious and secular camps should compromise on any controversial issues. 24
On this basis, and without any religious language or mention of religious law beyond a vague call for "return to our Jewish heritage and a revival of the spirit. . . of pioneering Zionism," Tehiya was formed. In the elections of 1981 it received 44,500 votes and placed three deputies in the parliament: Yuval Neeman, Geula Cohen, and Hanan Porat. In 1984 its vote total rose to 83,000, resulting in a Knesset delegation of five deputies.
In addition to Tehiya, two other organizational manifestations the of Jewish fundamentalism, staffed largely by individuals active the within Gush Emunim, need to be considered: Amana and the Movement to Halt the Retreat in Sinai.
Amana was actually begun in 1976 as Gush Emunim's own small settlement organization. As such, it marked the beginning of for Gush's transition from a fringe group specializing in protest demonstrations and illegal political events, to a broad movement including within its purview practical efforts to establish and consolidate viable Jewish settlements. In the spring of 1980, however, with Gush Emunim's informal secretariat of leading personalities effectively disbanded, and with settlement and land acquisition activities rapidly accelerating, Amana announced that for all intents and purposes it was Gush Emunim and could speak on its behalf. 25
Amana played a particularly important role in the months before the May 1981 elections, as a debate raged within Gush Emunim over which, if any, of the political parties deserved support. Sharing the Likud's fear that a Labor victory would revive the Allon Plan, both Amana and Yesha cooperated closely with the Likud government to establish as many settlements and to seize as much land as possible before the elections. Much to the relief of Gush Emunim, the Likud won the elections, but that did not interrupt the government's intention to complete the withdrawal from Sinai by April 23, 1982, including the evacuation of 5,000 Jewish settlers from the Yamit district, in fulfillment of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty. After the shock of Yamit's evacuation, Gush Emunim formally reconstituted its secretariat, but Amana remained. By the spring of 1983 Amana had ten full-time staff members, representatives in Europe and the United States, and an annual budget approaching $2 million.
Indeed, it was opposition to the evacuation of Yamit that led to the establishment of another important organization related to Gush Emunim, the Movement to Halt the Retreat in Sinai. The first groups to mobilize against the withdrawal were businessmen and farmers living in Yamit. Having moved to the district with official encouragement and lavish government assistance, they had established a comfortable and profitable life. Their organized opposition dissolved, however, amid prolonged and, for Gush Emunim, embarrassing negotiations over just how generous the relocation and compensation packages awarded by the government would be. 26
In the spring of 1981 the organization was formed. Leading roles were taken by two overlapping groups: Gush activists from Tehiya and Yesha, fearful that evacuation of Jewish settlements in Sinai in return for peace would set a dangerous precedent for the West Bank and Gaza, and a number of rabbis committed to the principle that Yamit was an integral part of the Land of Israel, the abandonment of which would severely interrupt the process of redemption. The organization's primary objective was to stop the withdrawal through mass mobilization of public opinion. The fallback position, if the primary objective proved impossible to achieve, was to engineer such a dramatic and painful clash between the government and settlers opposing withdrawal that the memory of the psychological and political trauma would inhibit any future government with inclinations to evacuate settlements elsewhere.
In August 1981 Yesha passed resolutions urging West Bank and Gaza settlers to join actively in the organization. Hundreds of Gush settlers from the West Bank infiltrated into Yamit, taking up residence in houses evacuated by settlers who had accepted compensation. In September the organization launched a countrywide petition campaign to express what it claimed was the opposition of most Israelis to implementing the withdrawal from Sinai. The petition was widely circulated, but the movement's declared goal of one million signatures apparently was not met. 27 In March1982 an antiwithdrawal rally at the Western Wall in Jerusalem drew more than 40,000 demonstrators. The final stage of activity was an attempt to concentrate 100,000 opponents of withdrawal in Yamit itself to confront the army on April 22, when it was to receive the order to complete the evacuation.
In its effort to rally wider sections of the public, the organization employed appeals designed to obscure the spiritual/redemptive ideology that actually motivated most of its leadership. Its propaganda and public statements instead focused on the security dangers that would be associated with the withdrawal, the undependability of Egyptian and American guarantees, and the contradiction of Zionist pioneering values that abandonment of the settlements would represent. 28
However, truly widespread public support to halt the withdrawal process was not forthcoming. In the weeks preceding April 22, the Movement to Halt the Retreat in Sinai managed to concentrate no more than several thousand supporters (mostly yeshiva students) in Yamit to resist the army. Fully televised confrontations occurred, including some pushing and shoving, but despite reports that extremist groups were ready to resist with arms and explosives, and despite threats by supporters of Meir Kahane to commit suicide if the operation was not halted, the evacuation was completed by unarmed soldiers without serious injury. Many of the evacuees, including such leading Gush figures as Beni Katzover, Moshe Levinger, and Haim Druckman, formed a new organization Shvut Sinai (Return to Sinai), dedicated to returning Jewish rule to Sinai. The Yeshiva Hesder located in Yamit and several groups of Yamit settlers belonging to Shvut Sinai were reestablished in settlements across the border in the Gaza Strip.
In subsequent years Gush Emunim has attempted to turn the anniversary of the "uprooting of Yamit" into a national day of remembrance and rededication. But neither the "national trauma it sought to inflict nor the yearning for a return to Sinai it has sought to engender has taken hold beyond its own ranks.
Gush Emunim and Related Groups in the Aftermath of Yamit and the Lebanon War. Within Gush Emunim the failure of the Movement to Halt the Retreat in Sinai was traumatic. It occurred just six weeks after the death of Rav Tzvi Yehuda and just six weeks before the outbreak of the Lebanon War. Both of these events sharpened emerging divisions within the movement. In this context, the evacuation of Yamit precipitated a severe crisis of confidence within Gush Emunim, a reevaluation of the movement's hitherto primary focus on the establishment of "pioneering" settlements, and another series of organizational experiments.
In symposia sponsored by Gush Emunim to discuss the meaning and implications of the Yamit disaster, 29 some argued that the failure was due to the overconfidence displayed by many religious leaders that in the end, God would intervene to prevent the evacuation. Others argued that it was the spiritual imperfection of the Yamit settlers that explained the debacle. Others interpreted it as the inscrutable will of God.
The political conclusions drawn from the episode were of two opposing varieties. Many Gush militants identified the key problem as a failure to integrate the fundamentalist movement's efforts with the concerns of the Israeli mainstream. They advocated a broadly gauged campaign of political and cultural outreach to Israelis not actively involved in the fundamentalist movement. The second kind of conclusion emphasized the undependability of the government and the Israeli public where matters of redemption were concerned. This analysis stressed the imperative of acting purely and decisively to establish or destroy political facts according to the will of God, regardless of the temporary opposition of most Israelis or the government.
These two conclusions strengthened two Opposing trends in the
development of Jewish fundamentalism in Israel in the 1980s-political and
cultural outreach, and direct action and violence.
According to the first interpretation, the failure in Sinai was due to the isolation of Gush Emunim from the wider Israeli public. This isolation explains why Gush was caught off guard by the enthusiasm with which so many Israelis greeted Sadat's visit to Israel and the subsequent Camp David Accords, and why the effort to "save Sinai" did not get off the ground until it was too late. To prevent the repeat of Yamit in Judea and Samaria, much larger numbers of Jews had to be persuaded to settle in the territories than could be mobilized from the ranks of Gush Emunim itself, and a great deal more emphasis had to be placed on effective political organization and ideological and cultural outreach within Israeli society as a whole.
This focus on increasing the number of Jewish residents in the West Bank beyond some decisive point received enthusiastic and generous support from the Likud government, which energetically implemented policies in support of this objective from the fall of 1982 through the winter of 1984. These programs entailed the investment of truly gigantic amounts of public money in the subsidization of garden suburbs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. By offering spacious homes at cut-rate prices, and rapid transportation to jobs located in metropolitan areas the government could attract tens, and eventually hundreds, of thousands of non-ideological, upwardly mobile Israelis to live in those areas. 30
The strategy of political outreach also entailed a flurry of attempts to revitalize Gush Emunim's organizational structure and to create new political parties that could mobilize broader support for fundamentalist goals. Rabbi Haim Druckman played a central role in these personal and political maneuvers. Druckman is credited with having coined the name Gush Emunim at a meeting of its early leadership in his home in February 1974. A fervent, very observant, and mystically inclined leader of the Young Guard, he was number two on the National Religious Party's list for the 1981 Knesset elections, but opposed his party's support of the Camp David accords. He played an active role in the Movement to Halt Retreat in Sinai and threatened as early as January 1981 to bolt from the National Religious Party in protest against the planned evacuation. In March 1983 Druckman left the party to establish his own party, Matzad (the Religious Zionism Camp). Druckman's appeal was directed to the yeshiva wing of the National Religious Party, the participants in the Yeshivot Hesder. Early in 1984 Druckman was joined by Hanan Porat, who left Tehiya because of its secularist stance and who failed in his own short-lived attempt to found a new political movement in the spirit of the Kooks-Orot (Lights). Attempting to build a more broadly based religious ultranationalist movement, Matzad joined with an ultra-Orthodox party, Poalei Agudat Yisrael (Pagi), whose fiercely anti-Arab stance and support of settlement in the West Bank were allowed to compensate for its officially "non-Zionist" character. This new alliance entered the July 1984 parliamentary elections under the name Morasha (Tradition), emphasizing the religious side of Gush Emunim's appeal. In head-to-head competition with Tehiya and the Likud, it received 21 percent of the votes cast by Gush settlers in 1984, but many more votes from Israelis within the green line. Although it placed two deputies in the Knesset, Morasha was disappointed by its performance. 31 In July 1986 the party came to an end with its redivision into Matzad and Pagi.
The secularist emphasis in Tehiya, which prevented Druckman from entering that party and drove Porat from it, was strengthened by its alliance with Tzomet (the Movement for Zionist Renewal), founded in 1983 by superhawk Rafael Eitan, who had just retired as chief of staff. The 1,300 activists who formed Tzomet were drawn from the ranks of activist Labor collective and cooperative settlements. The movement's platform emphasized its commitment to Jewish sovereignty over the whole Land of Israel, including the Golan Heights, the need to respond to the "traitorous" behavior of the dovish left during the Lebanon War, and a Spartan philosophy of militarism, discipline, and pioneering austerity. In 1984 Tzomet and the Tehiya party formed a joint list for the Knesset. Eitan was placed in the number two position, between Yuval Neeman and Geula Cohen. Thus, the first three positions in Tehiya's 1984 Knesset list were held by secular ultra-nationalists. Rabbi Eleazar Waldman, in the fourth position, was the most prominent religious figure still associated with the party and the only one elected to the Knesset on the Tehiya ticket in 1984. Gershon Shafat, another Gush Emunim stalwart and also religious, was the fifth candidate elected to the Knesset that year. Tehiya received 23 percent of the votes cast in Gush settlements. 32
By 1984, then, little was left of Gush Emunim's original principle forbidding the active participation of its leadership in political parties. Still, in the wake of the Yamit disaster and the gradual withdrawal from Lebanon, Gush Emunim made repeated attempts to construct some sort of overall administrative-political framework, including a major effort following the political fragmentation of the fundamentalist movement in the 1984 elections. In August of that year 1984 Yesha adopted a wide-ranging and detailed list of bylaws specifying its political objectives and institutional structure. It identified the Yesha Council as "representing the settlers and settlements of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, in the public political arena on a non-partisan basis." 33 In February 1985 Gush Emunim announced it had formed a fifty-person secretariat and ten-member action committee, and had appointed a new general secretary, Daniella Weiss, a member of the original Elon Moreh garin and a religious activist in Tehiya. It also announced plans for an educational council of rabbis and other learned men were. In its editorial praising these developments, Nekuda noted just how disorganized Gush Emunim had become.
The public as a whole responded to these developments with surprise. It appears that Gush Emunim, even in the absence of orderly and coordinated activities, is seen in the eyes of the public as gigantic, well-organized, and ideologically influential. . . . It appears that only within the movement itself was it known that in recent years Gush Emunim carried out no organized activities and that most of the key personalities who served as its leadership had found other political or public frame-works within which to pursue their spiritual and political objectives. 34
The immediate catalyst for the creation of the Gush Emunim secretariat, and the most divisive issue to emerge within the Jewish fundamentalist movement since its inception, was the question of the organized use of illegal violence. According to official Gush spokesman Noam Arnon, had it not been for the new organizational effort, the arrest of the Jewish terrorist underground in April 1984 would have destroyed the movement.
The bitter controversy that erupted within our camp following the arrests was liable to have been, God forbid, the final split, the decisive schism, from which we would not have been able to recover as a broad, united movement. . . . But at the last possible moment, and with the help of God, Gush Emunim revived itself. 35
Analysis of the continuing debate inside of Gush Emunim over the
origins, consequences, and implications of the machteret will provide
valuable insights into the Jewish fundamentalist world-view and the range
of acceptable disagreement within it. In the balance of this chapter, 1
provide the background for that analysis.
The second kind of conclusion many Jewish fundamentalists drew from the Yamit episode led not in the direction of mass settlement or conventional political and educational action to mobilize political support and build a new Israeli consensus, but toward confrontational postures combined with dramatic and, especially, violent actions. The proliferation of groups implementing such strategies reflects the deep distrust toward the Likud government that the Camp David peace process as a whole, and the Yamit evacuation in particular, engendered within the Jewish fundamentalist movement. The general intent of those who have responded to the events of 1982 in this manner has been twofold: to eliminate opportunities for a negotiated peace agreement that otherwise might be exploited by what they would consider fainthearted or traitorous Israeli governments; and to do so by means of actions that would themselves advance the process of redemption. Of particular importance in this context were the rise of Meir Kahane and his extremist Kach movement, a dramatic escalation in attacks by underground Jewish terrorist groups against Arabs and dovishly inclined Jews, and a burgeoning campaign to change the political and religious status quo in sensitive locations such as the city centers of Nablus and Hebron and the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.
The existence of various vigilante and terrorist groups within the fundamentalist movement can be traced to the shocked reaction of many of its activists to the Camp David accords and the implementation of the withdrawal from Yamit. 36 In 1979, at the behest of Chief of Staff Eitan, Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were integrated into regular reserve units responsible for patrolling local Arab areas. With weapons, ammunition, and training readily available, and a sympathetic political climate created by Chief of Staff Eitan and Defense Minister Sharon, attacks on Arabs and Arab property became commonplace. In June 1980, following an Arab attack on Hebron settlers that left six Jews dead, car bombs severely injured the mayors of Nablus and Ramallah as well as one border policeman. The Yamit evacuation, frustrations associated with the Lebanon War, and rising levels of Arab militancy in the territories accelerated the activities of the Jewish terrorist underground, setting the stage for another major action in July 1983, in which three Arabs were killed in an attack by masked gunmen on the Islamic College in Hebron.
But these were only the most spectacular events in a wave of less serious vigilantism and terror that swept through the West Bank and Jerusalem from 1980 through 1984. During that period the Israeli press reported more than 380 attacks against individuals, in which 23 were killed, 191 injured, and 38 abducted. Hundreds more attacks were directed at property-automobiles, homes, and shops. Forty-one attacks on Muslim and Christian religious institutions were counted. 37 Broadly speaking this violence was carried out by three distinct but inter-related groups.
Meir Kahane and "Kach". Meir Kahane is a fiery American-born rabbi, who founded the Brooklyn-based Jewish Defense League. Under investigation by the FBI, he left the United States in 1971 and created another movement in Israel-Kach. In 1980 he was arrested and held in administrative detention by the Israeli authorities for six months, reportedly on suspicion of participating in a plot to destroy the Muslim shrines on the Temple Mount. He endorsed and is suspected of having been behind the activities of a shadowy group or groups known as TNT (Terror against Terror), which claimed responsibility for a long series of violent attacks against West Bank Arabs, Christian missionaries in Jerusalem, and dovish Israeli Jews. He has publicly praised violent attacks against Arabs and has led his followers repeatedly to Arab villages, addressing the residents as "dogs" and warning them to leave the country.
In three unsuccessful campaigns for election to the Knesset he appealed to Jewish voters on an overtly racist platform, proposing laws that would forbid intimate contact between Jews and Arabs and promising to rid the country of its Arab population through intimidation, discriminatory legislation, and enforced servitude. Then, in 1984, drawing support mainly from poor, undereducated Sephardic Jews, he received 29,907 votes, sufficient to put him into the Knesset. Although Kach has established two small settlements on the West Bank, it received only 3-6 percent of the vote in Gush Emunim settlements. 38 But in 1985 Kahane had enough support in Kiryat Arba, the largest of all Gush settlements, to give Kach two seats on the local council and a role in its governing coalition.
Activities of Temple Mount Related Groups. The small plateau behind the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem is reputed to be the biblical Mount Moriah, where, according to Genesis, Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice. It is where both Solomon's Temple and Herod's Temple were built. Indeed, the Western Wall itself is a retaining wall for the courtyard of Herod's Temple, the only portion of the structure that remains intact. The plateau is sacred for Muslims as well as for Jews. Mohammed is said to have ascended to heaven from it. The magnificent Dome of the Rock was constructed upon it to mark the exact spot of his ascent. The el-Aksa Mosque, also located on the plateau, is the third holiest shrine in Islam-following those in Mecca and Medina. While Jews refer to the area as the Har Habayit (Temple Mount), Muslims call it Haram el Sharif (Noble Sanctuary). The halacha bars religious Jews from setting foot on the Temple Mount plateau since the exact location of the Holy of Holies, into which entry by anyone other than the High Priest was strictly forbidden, is unknown. Supervision of the Muslim shrines has thus been left largely to Muslim authorities in Jerusalem.
Since 1967, however, at least five separate groups, with a total estimated membership of 1,500, have sought to change that. 39 Their objectives range from building a Jewish synagogue on the site to exercising full Jewish sovereignty, restricting Arab/Muslim access to the area, and even replacing the Muslim shrines with a rebuilt Temple. Most of their activities are peaceful, but in addition to two acts of arson and murder on the Temple Mount by deranged individuals in 1969 and 1982, a number of illegal, sometimes violent, attempts to change the status quo on the Temple Mount have been made.
In May 1980 the police uncovered a plot to blow up the el-Aksa Mosque. A large cache of explosives was discovered on the roof of a yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem. The conspirators were two soldiers with links to Kach and to Gush Emunim. Roni Milo, a leading Herut politician, defended them at their trial. It was at this time that Meir Kahane and one of his lieutenants were arrested and held for six months in administrative detention.
In March 1983 several dozen religious zealots were arrested after a Muslim guard on the Temple Mount heard digging underground. Equipped with arms, shovels, and diagrams of the underground passageways leading to the area, the group appears to have planned to seize the Temple Mount and hold public prayer services there. Participants included soldiers and yeshiva students from Kiryat Arba and Jerusalem. Most of those arrested in connection with the incident were discovered in the home of Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, a prominent activist within Gush Emunim, known for his extreme views. Ariel was the number two candidate on the Kach list in the 1981 elections. Hanan Porat, Moshe Levinger, Eleazar Waldman, and other Gush leaders who appeared to have had prior knowledge of the operation criticized its modus operandi, but expressed support for the group's objectives.
On the night of January 27, 1984, an Arab guard interrupted a small group of unidentified intruders in the immediate vicinity of the Muslim shrines. When police reinforcements arrived, the intruders had escaped, but their intentions were apparent from what they had left behind-thirty pounds of explosives, nises, detonators, and twenty two grenades. Bombs had been prepared with considerable expertise, suggesting the participation of army veterans with demolition experience.
The Gush Emunim Underground. By far the best organized effort to destroy the el-Akia Mosque and the Dome of the Rock was undertaken by a group of Gush Emunim activists from the West Bank This plot was carefully and systematically developed between 1978 and 1982. An army officer with a high level of expertise in explosives was involved, and sufficient munitions to carry out the operation were stolen from the Israel Defense Forces. The plan was aborted following the group's failure to gain explicit approval from leading Gush rabbis.
Details of this conspiracy were uncovered after the arrest, on April 27, 1984, of twenty-five Gush activists, mostly West Bank settlers, who were charged in connection with the placement of bombs under five Arab buses. The police had thwarted the bombings at the last minute. During the interrogation and trial of the accused, their responsibility for the attacks on the Arab mayors and the Islamic College was established. Several among this group were also charged and convicted in connection with the 1978-1982 plot to destroy the Temple Mount.
What is so significant about this network of Jewish terrorists is that virtually all of them were respected members of the Gush Emunim mainstream, with close and in some cases very personal ties to the leadership of the movement. They included one rabbi (director of a religious school in Kiryat Arba), a former general secretary of Gush Emunim, a former member of Gush Emunim's secretariat, the head of the Committee for Renewal of Jewish Settlement in Hebron, several officers in the army reserve, the son of one of the Gush founders, a Nekuda reporter, and a certified war hero. Indeed in their backgrounds as soldiers, pioneering farmers, political activists, and observant Jews, they corresponded in almost every detail to the Gush Emunim ideal. And, apart from one or two individuals, they expressed no serious regrets about their deeds. One of the organizers of the network, and its leading theoretician, was Yehuda Etzion, who began serving a seven-year prison sentence in 1982 for his role in the attack on the Arab mayors and in the conspiracy to blow up the Temple Mount. 40 At his trial Etzion said that he had been "privileged to cut off the legs of some of the murderers. " 41
The initial public reaction of Gush Emunim to the arrests was one of stunned silence and official statements, by the Yesha Council, of the unacceptable nature of the alleged behavior of the accused, the importance of emphasizing the government's responsibility for controlling Arab violence, and the need for a thorough process of soul-searching within the movement to determine how terrorist attacks on Arab women and children could be carried out by "good religious boys"-"some of our best comrades." 42
But as details of the activities and histories of the accused became known, it became clear to most observers that leading figures within Gush Emunim, including Moshe Levinger and Eleazar Waldman, must have provided at least tacit approval for their actions. Indeed, rather quickly the publicly expressed sentiment within Gush Emunim and the wider publics from which it has drawn support shifted. The activities of the underground were portrayed as an understandable and perhaps even necessary reaction to the failure of the authorities to provide for the personal security of Jewish settlers-particularly in regard to stone throwing against settler vehicles on the roads of the West Bank. Settlers and politicians from Tehiya, Morasha, and the Likud flocked to the prison where the accused were held to express their sympathy and support. An organization of settlers quickly formed to provide legal and financial assistance to the defendants and their families. Debates continued for a long time inside the movement over the implications of the affair. But within two months the Yesha Council and the editorial board of Nekuda admitted that they had come under severe attack from within Gush Emunim for their "hasty" condemnation of the machteret. They immediately threw their support behind the effort to provide moral, financial, and political support to the defendants. 43 In July 1985 both Yesha and Nekuda joined the families of the defendants in a demand for a blanket pardon. From July 1984 to April 1986 Nekuda published a series of five lengthy articles by Yehuda Etzion, written in his prison cell, presenting an elaborate ideological, political, and theological justification for his actions.
The material presented so far suggests how complex are the various
components of ideology, organization, tactics, and leadership that have
made up the Jewish fundamentalist movement in Israel. The period since
1974, when Gush Emunim was formed, has been a tumultuous time in Israeli
politics, and it has been no more stable for the fundamentalist movement
than for any other segment of Israeli society. Though Gush Emunim has
formed its ideological and organizational core, several of the groups and
many of the individuals who have played a prominent role in the
advancement of fundamentalist objectives cannot be identified as
belonging to Gush Emunim per se. Nor has one organization, including Gush
Emunim at its most coherent, ever included within its scope all the
radical national-religious and secular-ultra-nationalist activity that
must be considered part of the fundamentalist phenomenon. In the next
chapter, however, I will show that elements within the worldview of
Jewish fundamentalism give the movement a coherence that might seem
surprising, in light of its organizational fragmentation and the
heterogeneity of those groups within Israeli society from which it has
Note 1: Much of the planning and financing of the Hebron-Kiryat Arba operation was actually provided by the Movement for the Whole Land of Israel. See Amnon Rubinstein, The Zionist Dream Revisited: From Herzl to Gush Emunim and Back (New York: Sehoeker Books, 1985) pp.99-100. Back.
Note 2: "Manifesto of the Land of Israel Movement, August 1967," translated in Rael Jean Isaac, Israel Divided: Ideological Politics in the Jewish State (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976) p.171. Back.
Note 3: The origins of the Democratic Movement for Change, led by Yigal Yadin, can be found in this milieu. Although the movement managed to garner nearly 12 percent of the vote in the 1977 parliamentary elections, internal divisions destroyed it. Back.
Note 4: Judea and Samaria are the biblical names for the general areas south and north of Jerusalem (respectively). Historically, they include substantial portions of pre-1967 Israel, but not the Jordan Valley or the Benyamina district (both within the West Bank). For political purposes, and despite the geographical imprecision involved, the annexationist camp in Israel prefers to refer to the area between the green line and the Jordan River not as the West Bank, but as Judea and Samaria. Back.
Note 5: Gush Etzion is an area south of Bethlehem that was one of the only areas containing Jewish settlements captured and held by the Arabs in the 1948 war. Former residents made a dramatic return to the area soon after the Six Day War, and the Labor party declared its support for settlement there. Back.
Note 6: See Gershon Shafir, "Changing Nationalism and Israel's 'Open Frontier' on the West Bank," Theory and Society, vol.13, no.6 (November 1984) pp.818-819. Back.
Note 7: At the same time (November 1979), Moshe Dayan resigned as foreign minister to protest what he perceived as the Begin government's commitment to annexing the West Bank. Back.
Note 8: Beni Katzover, interview broadcast on November 13, 1979, by Jerusalem Domestic Service, (translated in FBIS, November 14, 1979, p. N2). Back.
Note 9: Haaretz, October 23, 1979. Back.
Note 10: Haaretz, October 15,1979 (translated in FBlS, October 26, 1979, pp. N4-N5); and Jerusalem Post, October 16, 1979. Back.
Note 11: Jerusalem Domestic Service, November 1, 1979 (translated in FBIS, November 2, 1979, pp. N1-3). Back.
Note 12: Jerusalem Domestic Service, November 11, 1979 (translated in FBIS, November 13, 1979, pp. N2-4). Back.
Note 13: Jerusalem Domestic Service, November13, 1979 (translated in FBIS, November 13, 1979, pp. N2-N4). Back.
Note 14: Davar November 14, 1979 (translated in FBIS, November 15, 1979, pp. N9-10). Back.
Note 15: Jerusalem Post, December 25, 1979. Back.
Note 16: Jerusalem Domestic Service, November 15, 1979 (translated in FBIS, November 16, 1979, pp. N4-6, 8); and Israel Defense Forces Radio, November 15, 1979 (translated in FBIS, November 16, 1979, pp. N6-7). Back.
Note 17: Yediot Acharonot; January 17, 1980 (translated in FBIS, January 18, 1980, p. N7). Back.
Note 18: Jerusalem Domestic Television Service, March 26, 1980 (translated in FBIS, March 28, 1980, P. N7). Back.
Note 19: Jerusalem Domestic Service, May 2, 1980 (translated in FBIS, May 5, 1980, p N1). Back.
Note 20: For details on how this was accomplished, see Ian Lustick, "Israel and the West Bank after Elon Moreh: The Mechanics of De Facto Annexation," Middle East Journal, vol.35, no.4 (Autumn 1980) pp.557-577. Back.
Note 21: Tsvi Raanan, Gush Emunim (Tel Aviv: Sirfriat Poalim 1980) p.47. Back.
Note 22: The interrelationships among the above-mentioned groups and institutions, their importance as sources of leadership for the fundamentalist movement, and the opportunities to pursue common objectives provided by the various Gush Emunim-linked organizations discussed below are illustrated in the biographies of several key activists included in appendix 3. For discussion of the ideological links among Kookist thinking, former Lehi members, and activist laborites, see Gideon Aran, The Land of lsrael Between Politics and Religion: The Movement to Halt the Retreat in Sinai (in Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Institute for Israeli Studies, 1985) pp.3-4, 25. Back.
Note 23: The extent to which fundamentalist activists view Nekuda as an in-house forum, where genuine concerns, doubts, and aspirations can be shared, is reflected in letters to the editor that occasionally scold leaders of the movement who criticize one another "publicly" (that is, in Israeli daily newspapers or in the electronic media), rather than keeping such matters '"within the family" by discussion them in the pages of Nekuda. Nekuda is available only by subscription. Back.
Note 24: Haaretz, September 16, 1979 (translated in Joint Publications Research Service, [JPRS], Near East and North Africa Report, no 74485, October 31, 1979, p. 83. Back.
Note 25: Jerusalem Domestic service radio broadcast, September 5, 1980 (transcribed in JPRS, No. NEA-76442, September 17, 1980, pp.62-63). Back.
Note 26: Indeed, the financial compensation offered to the Yamit settlers was very generous, amounting, according to one early estimate, to approximately $530 million. See Jerusalem Domestic Service, January 11, 1982, (translated in FBIS, January 12, 1982, p.19). Back.
Note 27: Yechiel Orio, "Talmi Yosef: The Stubbornness of a Few," Nekuda, no.34, September 28, 1981, p.13; Aran, Land of Israel, p. 89. Back.
Note 28: Aran, Land of lsrael, p.12. Back.
Note 29: The word generally used is hurban, meaning "destruction." It is the term traditionally used to refer to the greatest of all catastrophes in Jewish history-the destruction of the First and Second Temples. More recently it has been used, as well, to refer to the Holocaust. Back.
Note 30: The purpose and relative success of the new subsidized settlement effort has been discussed extensively elsewhere. See Ian S. Lustick, "Israeli State-Building in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip: Theory and Practice," International Organization vol.41, no.1 (Winter 1987) pp. 151-171. Back.
Note 31: In 1984 the Likud received 48 percent of Gush Emunim settler votes, Tehiya 23 percent, and Morasha 21 percent. The National Religious Party placed only four deputies in the Knesset, receiving a mere 4 percent of Gush Emunim settler votes. This dismal performance reflects the extent to which the party was hurt by the defection of Porat and Druckman, and the doubts raised about maximalist Gush Emunim demands by Zevulon Hammer and Yehuda Ben Meir (former Young Guard leaders who have remained inside the party. See Nekuda, no.77, August 31, 1984, p.4. Back.
Note 32: Mainly as a result of a personal feud with Tehiya' Geula Cohen, Eitan separated from Tehiya in November 1987 to form his own Knesset faction. His call to Tzomet supporters to reconstitute the movement is likely to attract many of his early supporters whose attitudes on certain issues, such as treatment of the local Arab population, are more extreme than those officially espoused by Tehiya. Back.
Note 33: Nekuda, no.77, August 31, 1984, pp.34-35. Back.
Note 34: "Gush Emunim Arises," Nekuda, no.84, March 1, 1985, p.4. See also Noam Arnon, "Neither Destroy nor Split," Nekuda, no.89, July26, 1985, pp.18-19. Back.
Note 35: Arnon, "Neither Destroy nor Split," p. 19. Back.
Note 36: See Aran, Land of Israel pp.1-4; and Ehud Sprinzak, op. cit., pp.6-7. Back.
Note 37: Jan Demarest Abu Shakra, Israeli Settler Violence in the Occupied Territories: 1980-1984 (Chicago: Palestine Human Rights Campaign, 1985) p.15. See also Dedi Zucker, Report on Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (Tel Aviv: International Center for Peace in the Middle East, 1983). Back.
Note 38: Yoav Peled and Gershon Shafir, "Thorns in Your Eyes: The Socio-Economic Basis of the Kach Vote," 1986. Back.
Note 39: See pages 169-176, for a discussion of the Temple Mount issue itself. Back.
Note 40: It is ironic but instructive that Etzion was pictured engaging in apparently friendly conversation with an Arab on the cover of a special issue of Nekuda in June 1980 dedicated to friendly relations with the Arabs. The caption reads "Who is hurting coexistence?" In fact, the issue appeared very close to the day of the attack on the Arab mayors that Etzion, live years later, would be convicted of having helped to organized. Back.
Note 41: Nekuda, no.88, June 24, 1985, p.24. Back.
Note 42: Nekuda, no.73, May 25, 1984, p.6, and the resolutions of Yesha concerning the affair, p.7; and Nekuda, no.75, July 6, 1987, p.7. Back.
Note 43: Nekuda, no.77, August 31, 1984, p.4. Back.
For the Land and the Lord