CREDOS: Jewish Theology — V

Several months later, when I was part of an army unit serving in Lebanon, I passed through Kiryat Shmonah on my way to rejoining my unit after a few days home. Tacked up on several lampposts around town were signs announcing the formation of a group of young religious couples and singles who planned to establish an Israeli settlement in southern Lebanon, in the biblical territories of the tribes of Asher and Naftali. The imperative to settle all parts of the ancient land of Israel applied no less to these territories than to those in the Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), the sign declared.

By the next time I reached Kiryat Shmonah two weeks later, the signs were gone. The religious and secular leaders of the settlement movement quickly squelched this and a few other nascent plans to settle the biblical lands to the north of the current state of Israel. The time was not ripe, they said, the military situation was tenuous, and there was enough settlement work to do elsewhere. This little-remembered attempt to take Rabbi Kook’s theology to its logical conclusion in Lebanon is worth recalling now, because it shows that even the leaders of the settler movement realize that there are practical limits to the application of their irredentist beliefs. Israel’s current process of disengagement from the Gaza Strip is not a failure of faith. It’s a public policy decided on by Israel’s government. —