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The radical Israeli Jewish settler threat

Special: IDF lieutenant who was part of messianic camp says Israel faces grave danger
Micha Regev says that
he is an anxious citizen. When the IDF Lieutenant (res.) hears talk of
settlement evacuation, he is overwhelmed by horrific scenarios. For
example: Settlers firing at soldiers and Palestinians. Such scenarios,
he says, are not unthinkable. Some people are already working on
formulating them.

“We are facing a much graver danger than the murder of a prime
minister,” he says. “The radicals may reach the stage of rebellion, and
possibly even mass suicide.” Regev’s words merit extra attention because
once upon a time he was there himself, a religious youngster with fire
in his eyes who joined the IDF in order to turn it into a “religious
messianic army.”

The 54-year-old Regev
was born to a national religious family. When he was 15, he joined his
friends in archeological digs near Gush Etzion. There, he first met
settler leader Hanan Porat and was captivated by the appeal of

“Porat, a master of words and brimming with charisma, promised that we are close to the Messiah’s arrival and that the Six-Day War
was a divine miracle en route to complete salvation,” he recalls. “We
admired every word that came out of his mouth. In retrospect I realized
that we, the youths, were the fuel of that revolution.”

After completing his studies at a high school yeshiva, Regev
joined the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem and on his breaks helped
his friends advance the settlement enterprise. “When the group of
salvation believers expanded we learned that with a little determination
and plenty of disregard for the law we can gain land and a housing
solution almost for free in a new settlement. The government’s
helplessness turned this phenomenon into a strategic threat for the rule
of law and State’s pillars,” he writes in his recently published book.

Regev performed his military service at the Golani elite
reconnaissance unit, also viewing it as a messianic mission. “In
preparation sessions ahead of enlistment, representatives of the
salvation movement repeated the idea of sanctifying the military by
turning it into a religious messianic army…the message was that we
should take up key positions,” he says.

Warning to Rabin Yet eventually things started
to change for Regev: “In one of our training sessions I discovered for
the first time kibbutz members celebrating the Shavuot holiday. I was
stunned; I discovered secular people who were no less moral and
impressive than us, the settlement pioneers.”

Regev says that Egyptian President Sadat’s visit to Israel in 1977 and Prime Minister Begin’s

call “no more war, no more bloodshed” were the turning point in his
life. The words that impressed him so deeply sounded disastrous to his
rabbis, and question marks began to crack the faith he grew up with.
Despite this, he continued to serve in the army as a proud religious
commander, sporting a beard and taking part in a series of secret

Lebanon, which was part of Regev’s life for 20 years, claimed
the lives of his young brother, Daniel, who was killed in 1982 and was
awarded a citation posthumously. “During the Shiva, the realization that
there is no point in sacrificing life for the sake of delusional
notions took shape within me. Risking soldiers for the sake of Joseph’s
Tomb or the Kasbah in Nablus seemed senseless to me. If God wants to
demand sacrifice from us, he should do it with His own voice, as He did
with Abraham,” Regev says.

In 1984, after a Jewish underground that killed Arabs was
uncovered in the West Bank, with two of its members being former close
friends, Regev’s ties to his past were completely undermined. “It was
clear to me that the zealousness of salvation is not a truthful path and
that salvation theory is unfounded,” he says. He removed the kippah
from his head, moved to Mitzpe Abirim in the Galilee to raise cattle,
and today lives there with his wife and three sons.

In November 1993, a few months after the Oslo agreement was
signed, Regev was a cadet in a division commanders’ course. When Prime
Minister Rabin
arrived to address the soldiers, the cadets were asked to prepare
questions. When it was Regev’s turn, he turned to Rabin and said: “I’m a
very close associate of the settlers and fear that your life and the
lives of other officials are in danger.”

“Rabin shook his head, smiled his modest smile and told me that
Israel has excellent security services and that there was no reason for
concern,” Regev recounts. “I realized that my message wasn’t grasped. I
got up again and told him that his response is so wrong that I feel like

‘The rabbis sinned’ “The Oslo Accords provoked
immense hatred in the Right. My settler friends made an effort to
explain to me that Rabin, who is about to hand over parts of our
homeland to foreigners, is a traitor, and that in an enlightened state
he would be sentenced to death,” Regev says. Referring to Rabin’s
assassination, he says: “It doesn’t matter who pulled the trigger and it
doesn’t matter that the rabbis said the murderer did not come from
their midst. The sin of this murder hangs over the rabbis, who turned an
elected prime minister into a traitor and criminal.”

Yet the danger has not passed. The opposite is true, as the
voice of the “salvation rabbis” grows louder. Regev decided not to
remain silent, and for some two years wrote his book, The Intoxication
of Salvation.” “I wrote the book as an active partner in the religious
salvation movement based on the doctrine of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook and
his followers, who view our era as a period of messianic salvation, with
those who stand in the way being criminals. For years I was a part of
it, until I sobered up,” he says.

“I can’t forget the boy who was evacuated from his Gush Katif home during the Gaza disengagement
and urged IDF soldiers to kill him. I have no doubt he meant it,
because for months the rabbis told him that evacuation is worse than
death,” Regev says. “I also can’t forget the marches of children with a
yellow Star of David on their clothes, as if IDF soldiers were Nazi
thugs. While this was a minority, it was backed by the ideologists of
salvation messianism. To my regret, in recent years we are seeing
radicalization among national rabbis too, who seemingly accept the
authority of the State and of democracy.

“The fact that Rabbi Dov Lior, for example, viewed Jewish killer
Baruch Goldstein as a saint shocked but didn’t surprise me, because the
rabbi represents all the dangers inherent in the salvation movement,”
Regev says. “The fact that he is an eminent rabbi with immense knowledge
only makes the danger even graver and proves this is not a marginal
group. Its hard core leads a mystical, violent line. Torah laws are more
important for them than the State and than democracy, and in the wake
of a trigger like settlement evacuation they may resort to unprecedented

Added: May-23-2012 Occurred On: May-23-2012
Other Middle East
Tags: Israel, Jews, military, settlers, settlements, fanatics, Palestinians, Goldstein
Location: Israel (load item map)
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