Friday, May 14, 2004

This and last week two very good letters, both written by readers living in Jerusalem, were published in the Friday Magazine of Ha'Aretz following an interview with Hagi Ben Artzi that appeared in the magazine two weeks ago ( see my posting on April 29th ). In Friday Magazine, May 6, 2004: Hagi Ben Artzi declares that the dismantling of settlements in the Gaza Strip will spell the end of his spiritual world. It would be interesting to check just what spiritual world he is talking about. According to the Torah, the return of the people to its God is a condition for its return to its land, and the borders of the state are not included in the three things about which it is said that one should be killed rather than let pass. Thus, Ben Artzi's spiritual world obviously has no basis in Judaism. In comparison, history is full of examples of ideology in which territory is more important than life itself, in which withdrawal is worse than suicide, and those who object to such ideology are dubbed "opportunists," "lunatics," "bleeding-heart leftists," "dirty," "criminals" and other similar terms that Ben Artzi does not omit. Zvi Lifschitz In this weeks's magazine: Whoever wishes to understand Hagi Ben-Artzi's thinking will find the answer in the following words: "If, God forbid, this enterprise (Gush Katif) were to collapse, then I would ask: How is it possible ... What kind of God is this? It [would] cause me a crisis of faith, leading to the collapse of my personal faith." Ben-Artzi is holding his God hostage: If this God sustains Gush Katif, he will continue to believe in him, but if God (via his emissary Ariel Sharon) uproots Gush Katif, then there is a crisis of faith. It is the duty of the believing Jew to worship God under any conditions, in any situation. In every generation, there were Jews who suffered great harm and troubles, and they accepted the heavenly decree with love. Ben-Artzi puts God to the test: Save Gush Katif - swell; don't save it - be fired. He thus follows the path of Gush Emunim: This is idol worship, worship of the land, the sanctification of stones and fields, and the enlisting of God to satisfy man's earthly desires and appetites. Motti Kaplan

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