The countdown is well underway here and the constant thought of all those gathered in this beautiful town on the shores of the Mediterranean is: When are they coming? The thought is a grotesque one. �They� are the ones that the children have come to fear. �They� are the ones that hundreds of Jews have come to look upon as the threat. �They� are the Jewish soldiers of the army of Israel. It is the Kafkaesque tragedy.

The truth is that I am appalled at the lack of organization and policy here. The settlers simply do not know what to do. There is no definite line. When the soldiers come, what should the reaction be? Should people simply leave? Should they sit down and be dragged out? Should they fight? There are no directions from the leaders because they themselves are not sure.

The bomb shelters, which, if stored with food, water, light and other supplies, would be ideal fortresses that would take the army days to break into and pull out the settlers, are all locked. The settlers spend their time going to meeting after meeting, all of which end with ringing declarations that mean little, and a decision to meet again.

Sholom Oren meets me. He is the reporter for Israel Radio. What do I think of the situation? I tell him. What do I intend to do about it? I am forming a second command post which will advocate using counter force against any effort to drag Jews away by force. I make it clear that I am opposed to any force if the army does not use it, but that the halacha is clear:
�If the King orders to violate a law of the Torah, we do not listen to him.� That night, the interview is broadcast on state radio. A debate develops in Yamit. I explain the halacha and add: �I respect anyone who refuses to lift a hand against the army. But let that person know that he will not stop the retreat. The army uses force and a Jew does not depend on miracles. Faith yes, but along with it, the self-sacrifice needed."

A number of rabbis, notably those from Merkaz HaRav, as well as Hanan Porat, are alarmed. They sense that many of the settlers are frustrated and want concrete answers. Some of the rabbis, including Rabbis Nerya and Aviner forbid any violence. Rabbi Nerya, head of yeshivot Bnei Akiva, is quoted in the papers as having told two of his students, now soldiers, that if the army orders them to drag away settlers, they must obey. I am appalled. The
halacha is clearly the opposite.

Unfortunately, the leaders of the Stop the Retreat Movement had no coherent plan to seriously deal with the naked fact of Israeli army force. The elementary question of how to deal with the arrival of the army was simply ignored. Does one resist or simply give in to the soldiers with guns, the gas and the strength? If one resists, the question remains... how? If there are no plans to physically fight the soldiers, then the retreat is assured because Begin and Sharon will have no fears or hesitations about moving against people they know are not �dangerous.�

When I arrived and told the news media that the answer was either determined resistance or guaranteed retreat, many Jews were angered. But many others, frustrated and hapless, agreed. Above all, for the first time, a red light flashed in the government�s mind.

For months, Begin has lived in fear of a serious clash in Yamit between Jews. He has no fear of Tchiya, a Geula Cohen or Hanan Porat. They are �moderates� who will be forcibly moved out with relatively little trouble. It was the sudden arrival of Kach with its image of �extremism� that caused the pulse rate of the Prime Minister�s office to quicken. The point is so clear and logical, that one almost wants to weep in frustration: The way, the only way, to stop the Begin-Sharon steamroller is to have them believe that they are dealing with �fanatics� and �extremists� who may do anything.

Rabbi Meir Kahane
March, 1982
Yamit Dispatch
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