01 January 2005

The Hilltop Youth

I've been following this phenomenon for a while now, and can't help but find it endlessly intriguing. A growing group of young Israelis known as the No'ar ha-gvaot, or Hilltop Youth, have moved into the hills of Shomron (Samaria) to protest the disengagement plan and to claim Jewish ownership of Israeli land. Supposedly there are 100-400 people in the group which has over 1,000 supporters.

According to one editorial in today's Arutz Sheva, titled The Angst of Apathy, the Hilltop Youth are the only Israelis left who are dedicated to fighting for the Jewish right to the land. According to their supporters they are nonviolent and primarily Orthodox; according to their detractors they are armed zealots, ready to attack anyone (including fellow Jews) who attempts to force them from their land. According to the inhabitants of these hilltop settlements, they just want to live in the land promised to them by G-d, peacefully.

Unlike most Israelis who are willing to compromise, who believe in "land for peace" and just want the fighting to be over, the Hilltop Youth have a faith that transcends the olam hazeh-- the world around them. Unlike the majority of their peers, Jewish or not, Israeli or not, they have ideals and convictions that are based in Torah and Rabbinic Orthodox Judaism instead of the political and cultural boundaries of this world. As I understand it, unlike most of the world around them, they believe that all Jews (Orthodox, secular, Israeli, Diaspora) must work together in order for Israel to survive; the catch is, survival means obeying G-d's Law, and establishing the current government of Israel in accordance with Torah principles and practices.

Logical? Well, yes. Biblical examples prove this so; every single time the Israelites in the Tanak disobeyed G-d's commands and strayed from Torah, a prophet popped up and acted as G-d's mouthpiece to forewarn of disaster if the people did not repent. Of course, the people dismissed the prophet as a loon and often tortured, if not killed him. Then, within a matter of years, they were attacked, exiled, or conquered by outsiders (Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, you name it) because they didn't heed G-d's warning and return to obeying the Torah. So, lesson in short? Disobey G-d, suffer the consequences. It can't get any clearer than that.

At the same time, would a Torah-based State be practical in today's world? Let's see... requiring every citizen to recognize G-d as the Supreme Authority and the One True Living G-d. Hm, well, you'd probably have quite a few Jews griping about that. Installing a system of absolutes based on the concept of Truth, the concept of Right and Wrong, versus the concept of law and justice or political correctness? Wow, even more people to bitch and moan at you.

No wonder these kids live on deserted hills in the wilderness. It doesn't mean they're wrong; in fact, I believe they're quite right in a lot of ways. The Land is ours, and we should live in it and care for it wherever we choose, instead of letting a bunch of pagan, bloodthirsty terrorists bent on our destruction and world domination push us around. We should recognize G-d as Supreme and Torah as law-- that's why it was written, and following it has ensured our survival for the past 5,000 or so years. (Really, we don't have secretive plans for world domination; we just know that to stay healthy you shouldn't eat ocean scavengers or animals that wallow in their own shit. Big surprise there!) So, on those basic principles I can't help but agree with the Hilltop Youth and pray for their success. In fact, good for them for getting out there and actually doing something to save Israel from complete destruction. Good for them for acting as an example to the world that we can stand up against Arab terrorism. Good for them for taking advantage of their inalienable human rights; we as Americans may have written about them, but they, as Israelites, are acting on them. For that alone they should be held up as a shining example in the growing darkness around us.


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