CREDOS: Jewish theology — VI

The country’s leaders have come to the conclusion that Israel has no vital interests in that territory and that the task of defending the settlements and the roads leading to them are straining a seriously overtaxed army facing a Palestinian rebellion that probably cannot be brought to a peaceful resolution any time soon. It’s all the more telling that this conclusion has been reached by PM Ariel Sharon, the former general who spent most of his political career pushing for the establishments.

Sharon is not a religious man, but religious Jews should in principle have no problem with taking practical considerations into account when making decisions of policy, even in a Jewish state. One only has to open a page of Talmud or a Jewish legal treatise to see how sages and rabbis have always balanced belief and precept against the practicalities of specific times, places, and concepts. Judaism is a legal religion, and the Jewish legal literature is in large part case law.

That’s why I can believe that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people, and at the same time argue that that general principle does not lead inexorably to the conclusion that the current state of Israel must control and settle Jews in all parts of that land. By advocating a rational defense policy that involves withdrawing Israeli forces and civilian settlements from the Gaza Strip and northwestern West Bank, I am not violating Jewish religious principles. I am observing them. —, concluded