K A H A N E
The Magazine of the authentic Jewish Idea
Adar- 5737 March –1977
THE DEADLIEST RETREAT OF ALL
The deadliest retreat of all took place in Israel this month and made clearer why I am running for Knesset on an independent ticket and not on that of Likud. The Likud platform has now changed its former policy of opposition “to the re-partitioning of “Eretz Yisroel” to one that merely opposes giving up land in “Judea and Samaria.” It is a retreat on the part of the one major party that, until now, had stood firm on the principle of the totality of the Land of Israel, and it is not only a betrayal of the many Jews who stood loyally at the side of Menachem Begin for decades but will aid, immeasurably, the proponents of Jewish retreat on all sectors.
The Likud, the leading opposition group in Israel, came into being in 1973. It is today composed of four factions: the Herut Party of Menachem Begin (who is also head of the Likud bloc); the Liberals, a capitalist group which includes in it many dovish as well as anti-religious members; La’am, made up of former members of the Labor Party who originally defected to form the Rafi party of Ben Gurion and Moshe Dayan and then left Rafi when it rejoined Labor; a new faction led by Hillel Zeidel, late of the Independent Liberals. There is not the slightest doubt that Begin’s partners and internal Herut forces have pressured him to agree to retreat from the principles of total opposition to partitioning of any part of the Land of Israel, a principle that is an integral part of the Jabotinsky teachings on which Begin was nurtured.
Begin, after successive defeats in his effort to become the leading party of Israel, defeats that never brought him more than 17 seats of the Knesset’s 120, agreed years ago to form an election bloc with the Liberals who were the former General Zionists. The Liberals were hardly a hawkish group, being more interested in free enterprise than free settlement, but since they were a colorless group with a bleak future they agreed to adopt the Herut’s views on the Land of Israel, in order to assure for themselves a future in Israeli politics.
Thus, Gahal (Gush Herut Liberalism or Herut-Liberal bloc) was formed and was able to become the second largest political constellation in Israel. But with less than 30 seats they were still light years away from any hope of taking power. And so, a group within Herut, led by Ezer Weizman, demanded that Begin to widen the political bloc. This, together with the appearance on the civilian political scene of Ariel Sharon, led to the formation of the present Likud grouping.
Thanks to the Yom Kippur War and a growing revulsion against the Labor machine that has dominated the country for nearly half-a-century, Likud won some 38 seats in the 1973 election, by far the highest total a Begin-led group has ever achieved but still far from any possible government opportunity.
Frustrated by the failure to oust the Labor Party after the Yom Kippur War (the typical comment was, “If Begin could not win now he never will”), Weizman and others stepped up their demands for the Likud (read: Herut and Begin) to “improve their image.” What they meant was that Begin with his ideological view against giving up any part of the Land of Israel had built for himself an image of a man who would guarantee war (no one asked why, despite the fact that Labor had been continually in office, there had been four major wars and 28 years of no-peace). Weizman aided by disgruntled young people who looked upon Begin as a man who did not allow “new blood” to come into the party leadership, finally persuaded Begin that this was his last chance to achieve power and that there would be a flood of demands for his resignation as Likud leader if he failed in this election, too (the ninth defeat).
Begin realized that his Liberal partners were not above breaking up the Likud coalition in the event of a defeat and that their own leader, Ehrlich, had called for concessions on land. When Zeydel, a member of the dovish and anti-religious ILP now joined, it was clear that Begin had a bare majority for his views in the Likud. At some point this past year, he agreed to modify his lifetime views and Weizman returned to the Herut Party as number two man and heir-apparent. It is Weizman, a former general and pragmatist, one without the Jabotinsky or religious ideology, who has started to change the image. At the Herut convention held a short time ago, he attacked the settlers of Elon Moreh (Kadum) for “illegally” establishing their settlement against government opposition and condemned Rabbi Moshe Levinger for defying an army ban on his entering Hebron. The convention then heard a declaration that Herut was prepared for concessions in the Golan and Sinai. This has now culminated in the official Likud change of policy in regard to retreat from the liberated lands.
For those who question why I have not joined Likud, this is only one reason. A second – and more important one – is that the concept of no retreat even when uttered is meaningless unless it is based on religious trust in the All Mighty. A People that does not have faith in the G-d of Israel will not be saved, though we stand on borders that stretch to the Nile and Euphrates. The importance of no retreat lies in the fact that it is a Biblical prohibition and that retreat from lands out of fear of the gentiles is a desecration of G-d’s name. That is the real reason for my opposition and not mere military of political motives. For those can change at will, as we have seen in the case of Begin’s Herut and Likud groups. “Not one inch” of retreat is not a political question, it is a religious one. A secular party such as Likud cannot grasp this and not from it can salvation come.
And there is yet another reason why it becomes impossible for a religious Jew to vote for Likud. The question of territories is, of course, one of the most basic ones. But there are other issues, and many of them, as important. On these issues, there are members of the Likud who are as dangerous to Judaism as any within Labor and we saw such a bitter example just recently as the murderous Abortion Bill was passed by the Knesset.
Despite the fact that the Knesset parties are bound by tight discipline and that the party line effectively binds individual Knesset members, a number of Likud Knesset representatives voted for the abortion bill. This was so because the Likud leadership allowed a free vote on the measure.
One asks: Would the Likud leadership, would Begin, allow a free vote on whether to give up Hebron to the Arabs? Clearly not. But the abortion bill that legalized murder of Jewish children was suddenly seen as a bill that Likud members could vote as their consciences dictated. I put it that the murder of Jewish children – the totality of the Jewish people – is at least as important as the totality of the Jewish Land. Likud is not a religious party and no religious Jew can in good conscience vote for it. Increasingly, nationalist secular Jews will have to overcome their own qualms as expediency takes over the Likud.
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