úterý 22. března 2011

Interview with rabbi from Jewish settlement

Interview with rabbi Yair Dreyfuss from Efrata
30. 1. 2011

Efrata is large Jewish settlement south of Jerusalem overlooking Palestinian town Bethlehem. Now it houses over 8500 Jewish settlers – both religious and secular. Its territory is almost 10 kilometre long going from north (area of Bethlehem) to south (area of Hebron). Some of its parts are new comfortable stone houses with modern infrastructure. But rabbi Dreyfuss is living in northern part which which consist of simple container houses and this area is surrounded by electronic fence and overlooked by concrete military observing tower. For the first time I met rabbi here but we arranged another meeting in Jerusalem cafeteria.
Here, when we sit inside suddenly came the great whirlwind and everything in the streets started to fly as a lefas. In this stormy atmosphere we started our interview about similarly stormy conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and about one of its important actors – Jewish settlers.

In my opinion the roots of contemporary conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is not religious but rather secular-nationalist. What is your opinion? Do you see the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians as religious or secular conflict?

Yes, you are right that on the beginning it was a clash of secular movements. Every of the sided wanted to be owner of this territory. But after many years religious spirit in the Islam is very, very strong because of Ahmadinejad, Hamas, Nasrallah... growth of Iran religious arguments are more dominant.I am not sure what is going in the Egypt now. Is it secular or religious motivation to topple Mubarak?

What do you think about radicalization of religious Zionist community? Kahane, Levinger on one hand, on other hand Froman?

Yes, even for us is now conflict more religious. I think we are too much concentrated to nationalism and not on humanism. We all are human beings and we have one God – Jews, Christians, Muslims.
I know many Arabs and I can talk to them. I do not have any problem with it. And even if we do not have same opinion we do not have to fight but live together.
I know for example Sheik Ja'abari from Hebron. I have grandson, he has grandson. He told me, he want our grandchildren to play together. So we wont next generations not fight, but to live together. And I think it might be, because when we come to religious option, there is no problem. My dream is to live together without fear. I think I am realistic.

..so what you say is a proof that the conflict here is not religious but rather political

Yes, yes.

I think that settlements are for many Palestinians great problem because they see it to be built it on their land...

I think this is not exact. There is a lot of space there. Look at New-York, there is 6 million people on much smaller space and many of them are Jews and Arabs and they can live together. And here is territory much bigger – from Metulla to Eilat. And I think that borders are not such a problem. Look at Europe – there were borders after WW2 and now the situation is completely different and even there are officially borders, you can go softly through Europe.
I was in the Czech republic and Slovakia few years ago and I was also in Bratislava. And we just passed the borders only with passport. Ad I think it is also possible here. Look at Israel – there are so many Arab towns and villages and Jews and Arabs could live together without bigger problems. And Arabs in Israel have sometimes better conditions than in Arab countries – more money, good education, their schools. In Saudi Arabia or in Jordan it is sometimes much worse.
It is part of my understanding of Judaism to talk with other nations and not to be closed in my area in my thought but to open myself. And when I spoke with sheikh Ja´abari he told me that it is also his approach and that it is in Koran. So I understand that terrorism is not anything Islamic but it is against Islam.
And I try to teach also understanding to other when I am teaching in yeshiva. And also try to teach to live not just with someone you like but also with someone whom you do not like.

I am positively surprised what are you are saying - but what do you think about Jewish personalities (and also settlers) like rabi Kahane, Amir, Baruch Goldstein,... Are you thinking about them similarly like about Islamic terrorist (that their deeds were against Judaism)?

I have very sharp meaning about them – its opposite of the opposite. Of course – if you are in war you have to fight. But if you use weapon against innocent people it is really very bad. I think most of the people in Israel are not extreme. They are not sympathetic to radical left wing and radical right wing.

I think when we look for example at contemporary foreign minister Liberman, we could say that radical right wing is now more popular...

Yes you can have this feeling according the media it could look like that but when you for example look at the people in this cafeteria they really do not look they are prefering some radical right-wing or left-wing party. And I think also that most of the people on Arab side they want to live together with othres in peace. They want to have work, to give education to children, to have families, culture. They want to live as a normal human beings.
On other hand many people still have on their mind Holocaust. It is very hard psychological issue. That is why they are so anagry for example on speeches of Iranian president Ahmadinejad. Many people are really scared that it could happen again.

Yes but if I look at the Israeli political system – it causes that some small political formations have much bigger influence than is their real size.

I think this is not exactly, I think that you have two things „picture of our reality“ (in media) and „real life“ (in fact) Who is shouting more is also heard more. And I think in media or in politics you do not hear a majority of people.

What do you think abüot peace process and its consequences?

I am very critical about it. I think we have to change mind about so called „West Bank“ and „East Bank“. If we look at Oslo in 1993 nothing good come from it. Only fighting and more hate. We have to look at all territory. There are Jews and Arabs on both banks living together. Now look at the concrete border between territories. It makes very bad feeling: for us and for them. There are same families on both sides of the wall and now it is for them very complicated. It makes hatred. I think the solution is not to build the walls. I think it is possible to live here without walls. In Berlin there was a wall and it fell after Perestroika. I think it will be the same here. I think we can live together on civic principle. We are here, Arabs are here, we have to live side by side. I know it can take many yers to be it like that.

Gush Emunim movement still exist?
("Bloc of Faithful" - fundamentalist settler movement which was very influential in 1980-90s)

Only on the paper. As a ideological movement it does not exist anymore.

Have you heard about Eretz Shalom?

It is a very new thing – they want more discussion ...they want what we want.

What is your view of Hamas?

Hamas is complicated. On the one hand they are authentic. On the other hand they are terrorists. But we have to see Hamas (and now we have to fight him) if they leave terror they are much more partner than Abu Mazen. For example sheikh Jaabari hates Abu Mazen. He sees Abu Mazen like someone who came from Tunisia and like someone who is corrupted.

And how influenced you the evacuation of settlements in Gaza in time of prime minister Sharon?

It was very bad. The settler there were our friends. And I think it did not help peace so much because Hamas in Gaza radicalized. But it is five years ago what can we do. I hope that in the future the soulutions will not be unilateral.

What is in your opinion common between datiim (modern-orthodox) and haredim (ultra-ortodhox)?

There is a difference between old and young generation of haredim. Young haredim they are Israeli. They are much modern in many aspects. They look similar like 20 years ago but they are bit different. But if you speak about their grandfathers they were very like the traditional European Jewish communities – living in closed communities without interest to open it to outside world. But on the other hand it is very difficult to be haredi and to be open.

How you see rabi Teitelbaum or Neturei Karta?

The are old and there are not many of them. Satmar is very small...

...But Satmar is one of the largest hassidic group...

Yes in America but not here. Yes there are few thousands of anti-Zionists but they do not have any serious influence. Personally I do not have problem to speak with any kond of haredim a we have haredim also in our family.

Who is your favourite rabbinical authority?

It is a very difficult question. I see myself as a continuer of rabi Kook.

Older or younger (his son)?

Older, older.

Do you see great difference between them?

Yes, they are almost opposite. Avraham Kook – you can see the universalist spirit of his teaching. Wide thought. He was great educator. I teach now in yeshiva Givat Dagan his thought. His teachings can give us opinions why we are now in Israel. He does not say everything openly but he gives us many opinions about our contemporary problems here. Not just about between Jews bat also between us and other nations – Arabs, etc.

Who is your favourite Israeli politican and political party?

It was Mafdal but it split apart.

And when you vote you vote for which party if it is not secret?

It is not the same. We have elections quite often (smiling). I do not know what really to say. I´m wearing this kind of yarmulke – knitted (symbol of religious zionism). But it is not politic – it is social. It gives you belonging to special group.

Thank you, rabbi.

Marek Čejka

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