An interview with R. Yaakov Meidan, soon to be co-rosh yeshiva at Yeshivat Har Etzion:
Do you truly believe the secular elite has risen up against you in order to destroy you?
So from your point of view the disengagement is not a strategic move - justified or not - but a deliberate attempt to break the religious Zionist movement?
"I must be accurate: for part of the secular elites breaking religious Zionism is the goal. For others, breaking us is not the goal, but a price they are willing to pay. And to pay easily. When someone rises up against you, it is a pain of a particular kind. When someone does not care at all whether you are broken and does not care where you will wallow after being broken, that is pain of a different kind."...
Did you draw operative conclusions?
"Yes. In order to forge an alliance with the secular elites, we neglected our more natural alliance with the Haredi [ultra-Orthodox] public. Today I think that was a mistake. In the future we will behave differently. In the past, with all the disagreements, I thought there was also something we could learn from the secular elite. After I saw the secular elite stick a knife in my back and turn away from its own values - democracy and human rights - I have no more to learn from them. After all, from the standpoint of democracy, what happened here is a disgrace; and what happened here from the viewpoint of the judicial system's protection of human rights is a shame. The courts, the press, the research institutes - no one heard us. No one heard our outcry. But it is not just us. The democratic elite did not remain loyal to the values in the name of which it spoke all these years. Therefore there are no positive values I can get from them. I have a serious problem with them."...
What you are actually telling us is that if you were a soldier and you were ordered to demolish a synagogue structure, you would not carry out the order. You would not do it.
"I find it very difficult to see how I would be capable of doing it."
And when a student of yours asks you how he should behave during the disengagement?
"I hope the IDF will have the wisdom now to have soldiers who feel this is their milk and their blood do it. I am against refusing orders. I think it is important for our soldiers to be there. Especially so they can calm down the situation. But whoever sends soldiers to drag people from their homes is assuming a very heavy responsibility. He is committing an act without both reason and heart. I want to see [Chief of Staff] Dan Halutz drag his mother from her house. Is he capable of that? Let him not demand that others do what he is not capable of doing."...
For years people on the left manned checkpoints because of the settlers, served as warders because of them, guarded your settlements. That seared their hearts no less than the disengagement is searing your hearts.
"There is no resemblance. The checkpoints guarded Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The detention facilities did not protect the occupation, but security. It is true that left-wing people guarded the settlements, but there is no comparison between the difficulty they had and the difficulty of removing good people from their homes and demolishing them."
You show consideration for the feelings of your public, but have no pity at all for the feelings of others.
"Uzi Dayan told me explicitly that if he received an order to remove Arabs from their homes, he would refuse to obey it. And he was a candidate for chief of staff. Everyone on the left and in the center says that if he were told to expel Arabs from their homes, he would refuse. We are not even talking about refusal. We are only asking you not to force us to trample our values."...
You are absolutely walking on the brink. You are endangering Israeli statehood. The rabbis of religious Zionism - Rabbi Eliahu and Rabbi Shapira - are encouraging refusal on the part of soldiers.
"With all my smallness, with all the fact that I am ignorant and small compared to them, I am ready to say the complete opposite of what those rabbis said. I think a religiously observant soldier should not refuse to obey an order. I say so explicitly: I do not accept refusal to obey an order. It is totally unacceptable to me. But when I am asked whether I would be capable of doing these terrible things I say that I do not know whether I would be capable. And I think when I say that I am not crossing the red line. Because if I do nothing, that will also have a price. If we are too afraid and leave Gush Katif without opposition, that will mean the destruction of Zionism. That is something we are forbidden to do. It is forbidden. Our loyalty to the land and to settlement obligates us to carry out a large protest."