Agudat Council of Sages Leader Castigates Begin for Golan Move
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Agudat Council of Sages Leader Castigates Begin for Golan Move

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A senior member of the Agudat Israel Council of Sages chastized Premier Menachem Begin last night for annexing the Golan Hights on grounds that the act jeopardized the Jewish people by angering the “goyim” (gentiles).

The impassioned keynote speech in Yiddish delivered by Rabbi Eliezer Shach at the opening of the World Agudat Israel Executive meeting here suggested that the formula for survival followed by Jews during centuries of ghettoization in Europe is still valid. Provoking the gentiles is “not the Jewish way,” he said.

The existence today of a sovereign Jewish state, Shach maintained, could in no way justify changing the age-old “Jewish way” of “dancing before the wicked, vicious goy, like the ma yoffis (beautiful) yid of old, while never forgetting that the goy is nothing but a vicious, mad murderer.”


Specifically, the 83-year-old rabbi contended that while annexation of the Golan may be beneficial to the State of Israel, it is harmful to “Am Yisroel” (the people of Israel) and especially jeopardized American Jewry because it caused a confrontation with the Reagan Administration.

Shach noted that Begin, in his recent attack on the Administration for suspending the U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation agreement, had said that Israel lived 3,700 years without such an accord and can live another 3,700 years without one. The rabbi observed in that connection that “Am Yisroel” lived 2,000 years without annexing the Golan and could live another 2,000 years the same way.

Shach’s speech clearly embarrassed Aguda politicians who recently were reprimanded by Begin for abstaining in the Knesset vote to impose Israeli law on the Golan Heights. The four-man Aguda Knesset faction, a coalition partner, abstained because they had no instructions from the Council of Sages to support the measure.

But after last night’s session of the Executive, Aguda sources told reporters that the other senior member of the Council of Sages, the Hasidic Rebbe of Ger, did not object to “Israel holding the Golan until the Messiah comes.” The Gerer Rebbe himself made no speech at the gathering but simply uttered a blessing.


Shach insisted that Begin had made a grievous error and “who knows what high price we might have to pay for this error?” He called on the Aguda delegates to pray that the price is not too high. But he also praised Begin for his “warm attitude toward religion.”

He warned that the State of Israel could not survive in the long term if there continued to be large scale desecration of the Sabbath and large-scale “education in atheism.” He also sounded a note contrary to Zionist tenets when he said the fate of “Am Yisroel” was “not necessarily linked to the State of Israel.”

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