Last updated on: 6/25/2008 5:03:00 PM PST

How Is a Form of Messianic Judaism / Religious Zionism Related to the Establishment of Settlements in the West Bank?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Avi Shlaim, PhD, Professor of International Relations at St. Antony's College, Oxford, in his 2001 book The Iron Wall, wrote:

"The Six-Day War [1967] had a profound effect on the religious camp in Israel and gave rise to 'religious Zionism.' The conquest of the West Bank, which as Judea and Samaria had formed part of the biblical Jewish kingdom, convinced many Orthodox rabbis and teachers that they were living in a messianic era and that salvation was at hand. The war represented the Divine Hand at work and was 'the beginning of redemption.' Almost immediately, these rabbis began to sanctify the land of their ancestors and to make it an object of religious passion. They made the sanctity of the land a central tenet of religious Zionism. From this it followed that anyone who was prepared to give away parts of this sacred land was perceived as a traitor and enemy of the Jewish people."

2001 - Avi Shlaim, PhD 

Rabbi Zvi Yehudah Kook, Rabbi and leader of the Gush Emunim Settler Movement, quoted by Yehoshafat Harkabi in his 1988 book Nationalistic Judaism, said the following at a public meeting in 1968:

"I tell you explicitly that the Torah forbids us to surrender even one inch of our liberated land. There are no conquests here and we are not occupying foreign lands; we are returning to our home, to the inheritance of our ancestors. There is no Arab land here, only the inheritance of our God—and the more the world gets used to this thought the better it will be for them and for all of us."

1968 - Zvi Yehudah Kook 

Yehoshafat Harkabi, PhD, a former Major General of the Israel Defense Force General Staff and Chief of Military Intelligence, in his 1988 book Nationalistic Judaism, wrote:

"Taken together with the victory of 1967, the achievements of Zionism were now seen as the harbinger of a new age of great religious and national eminence. Significant sectors of Israeli Judaism adopted Herut's [Israeli right wing revisionist zionist political party, predecessor to Likud] position of entitlement to the occupied lands, which were now referred to by their Biblical names, Judea and Samaria. The religious Gush Emunim movement assumed the principal role in pioneering settlement activities in the occupied territories. The bond between religious Judaism and the state was changing. Whereas in its old borders the state had been merely a secular refuge, for many religious circles its new boundaries, which included the holy places in Jerusalem, Hebron, and elsewhere, endowed it with a theological significance. The Yom Kippur War and withdrawal from territory on the Egyptian and Syrian borders did not controvert the notion that a new age had begun—the 'beginning of the Redemption.'

Thus, within the Jewish state, Orthodox Judaism has changed its stance in recent years: instead of being content to be a follower it has demanded a role of leadership, insisting that both domestic and foreign policy be derived from religious law. Whereas Herut opposes conceding and withdrawing from the West Bank for nationalist reasons (with security considerations a secondary factor), many religious circles offer religious arguments against withdrawal. For them, the security problems associated with withdrawal are secondary to the religious behests: because of the achievements of the Six Day War in recovering holy places, militant Jewish nationalism has become a significant factor in bringing closer the ultimate expression of Judaism—Redemption. The relationship between religion and policy has become more intimate; religion in the service of national policy, and national policy as the implementation of religious commandments...

Many in the religious camp find justification for the annexation of the occupied territories, or at least a prohibition against withdrawal, in Nachmanides's (1194-1270) commentary on Maimonides's (1135-1204) Book of Commandments: 'We are commanded to inherit the land that God gave to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and must not leave it in the hands of any other nation... We must not leave the Land in the hands of the [seven Canaanite nations] or of any other people in any generation.' Rabbi Zvi Yehudah Kook, the mentor of Gush Emunim, commented as follows: 'These are explicit words of halakha... The main thrust of the commandment is conquest by the state, Jewish national rule in this holy territory.'"

1988 - Yehoshafat Harkabi, PhD 

David K. Shipler, author and journalist, in his 2002 book Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land, wrote:

"The biblical arguments for holding the West Bank excite very few outside the ranks of the militant movement of [religious] settlers; most Israeli reluctance to relinquish the occupied territory rests on worries about security, not on God's deed to Abraham. Yet the Bible is the basic literature of Israel, even for the secularists. It is seen as the foundation of Jewish history, and so its themes have a resonance beyond the immediate circle of [religious] activists for whom the Bible is a living commitment.

In the years following the capture of the West Bank during the 1967 war, these religio-nationalists seized the center of visionary activism from the old guard of Israel's [secular] founders. They captured Israel's romantic passion by joining a religious and nationalist fanaticism with a pioneering purpose."

2002 - David K. Shipler, MA