CREDOS: Jewish theology — IV

Thus, each time an Israeli government has withdrawn from occupied territories, the religious Zionist community has begun to question its loyalty to the state. It happened in the early 1980s when Israel withdrew from Sinai, and it happened again in the mid-1990s when Israel handed over territory to the Palestinians in the framework of the Oslo peace accords.

In important ways, the current crisis over the pending withdrawal is even greater than those earlier confrontations. The late PM Yitzhak Rabin — assassinated in 1995 by an Orthodox Jew for his advocacy of the Oslo peace process — evacuated no settlements. And, while Israeli settlements were dismantled when Sinai was returned to Egypt in the 1980s, Sinai’s status as a part of the biblical land of Israel was more tenuous. It’s clear that if the settlements in the Gaza Strip and some in West Bank are dismantled, it will set a precedent for the evacuation.

My first home in Israel was in Kiryat Shmonah, a town near the country’s northern border with Lebanon. When I lived there, in 1978, Kiryat Shm-onah was regularly hit by rockets launched by Palestinian guerrillas in southern Lebanon, just a couple of miles away. In June 1982, just before I began basic training, Israel launched a massive invasion of Leba-non aimed at rooting out the Palestinian forces there. Then, too, Israeli forces gained control of territories that, according to the Bible, are part of the land God gave the Jews. —