More than 15 years ago I was dragged out of the Neve Dekalim Synagogue by four soldiers and then bussed out of Gush Katif. In those moments I wondered why and where the protest movement to stop one of the largest injustices brought upon Israeli citizens by their own government had gone wrong.
The fact is, up until that point and including the Oslo protests headed by Moshe Feiglin, all of the nationalist protests had a sectoral feel to them. They weren’t meant to be sectoral, but Israel with all of its claims of the need for national unity breaks down along tribal lines and that is the failure of all of the protests in the past few years.
True, the disaster of the first Amona protest in 2006, when cops used horses to stampede settler youth, drew condemnation from the left, but the protest itself was not successful – meaning it did not strike a real chord with anyone else except settlers.
A lot has happened since then. Israelis know each other far better than before. Religious Zionists have penetrated the mainstream media and stand poised to take over the army in the next generation. All the while, both Chareidim and Religious Zionists find common ground on many issues.
Still, there appears to be a lack of real unity of purpose other than just survival or standing by while the country’s hi-tech leaders represent their craft as being indicative of the Israeli citizenry as a whole. The more we know each other, the more we realize we are all being pulled along together, without regard to whether or not we want to be heading where we are heading.
Perhaps the uniting factor in this new young generation, growing up in a post Gush Katif reality is the need for a new national ethos. Many settler youth reject their parents’ views that they need to conform to make it in Israel and like many on the left, they see the vacuous drive towards participation in the hi-tech ecosystem as being disconnected from the larger issues plaguing Israeli society.
This is where the intersection has arisen between the protests surrounding Ahuviya Sandak’s death, potentially at the hands of a negligent police and the disconnect many have in Israel from the government and the elite that rules it.
When Hill Top Youth were placed in administrative detention for six months over Duma and then tortured to be made to confess and still be found guilty despite an admittance that the confession came by way of torture – Israelis scratched their head.
True, most questioned it, but then went on with their life. What is going on now is a confirmation that the bias against the idealistic youth of Judea and Samaria is real and the “fringe opinions” over Duma might have had some legs to them after all.
The simple question is now beginning to be asked: Why all this trouble over a handful of teenagers that seem to be only focused on defending Jewish land from Arab squatters?
Why claim these kids are a threat to the entire nation?
The protests are growing, because people see that Ahuvia Sandak’s death is a symptom of a larger problem in Israel. True, we lead the world in innovation, but we are beginning to lose site of what guides us here in the Land in the first place. We have come home, but have buried the vessels of Redemption in the sands of the Negev.
The youth are showing us something else – that rights are not given to us by the police, the judges, or even the Knesset, but rather they are given to us by G-D himself.
In a sense, the hate for these youth by the apparatchiks in the leftwing controlled security forces and judicial system stems from a sense of embarrassment and jealousy. After all, it is supposed their kids doing this – being Zionists, not these rag tag youth of the hills.
Yet, this goes beyond Zionism that guided Jews back to Israel – this is about Redemption itself. For that, one has to leave behind the trappings and false understandings fomented by those who built the early state, which were then foisted on everyone else.
In a sense we have to leave the construct of our assumptions about what we are doing here to see past the illusions that the governing institutions wants us to believe.
No one trusts the police here, yet before this past year there was too much at stake for all of the various groups to unite. Lockdown after ridiculous lockdown has taken its toll on the public and with it, the last remaining barrier that had prevented it from truly making grassroots change.
The youth of the hills are more than just guardians of the Land – they are messengers of a new way, which is really an old way. They are the David to the government’s Saul. We are not meant to come home to our Land and live like other Nations. Our soul’s are whispering that to us – trying to wake us up and these youth are the reminder that we can behave differently.
There is a price for conformity and that is the anonymity the machine wants us to fall into. However, these youth can and will save us from ourselves at the end. Most of us want something else, but we are just too afraid to admit it to anyone else. All of the technology and entertainment has done nothing to quiet the yearning for a shift to a Redemptive paradigm.
These protests are about regaining the process of reawakening what the Jewish return to its Land was supposed to be about. While this might be scary to many here, it is necessary if we are going to complete the transition from a nation like all other nations to one that is truly a Kingdom of Priests.