Gush Emunim

Settling all the land.

Print this page Print this page

"And all that lies beyond the Jordan--each and every clod of earth, every region, hill, valley, every plot of land, that is part of Eretz Israel [the Land of Israel]--have we the right to give up even one grain of the Land of God?! On that night, nineteen years ago, during those hours, as I sat trembling in every limb of my body, wounded, cut, torn to pieces --I could not then rejoice." 

These words would resound prophetically following the Six Day War in June 1967, which resulted in Israel's takeover of all of Jerusalem, Shehem (called Nablus by the Palestinians), Jericho, and Hebron. Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook and his followers were confident that the victory was another sign from God that the redemptive process was fully underway. 

As it became clear that the Israeli-Arab impasse would remain, the Israeli government began to plan and establish strategic settlements in areas occupied in 1967. These settlements were built to widen and defend the pre-1967 border (known as the Green Line), usually avoiding areas of concentrated Arab populations. At the same time, the messianic overtones of this period led many within the national religious world to dream of settling all of Judea and Samaria, the biblical heartland. 

The Founding of Gush Emunim

The national trauma following the 1973 Yom Kippur War equaled the ecstasy that followed the Six Day War. At this time, the members of the young religious faction left their burned out tanks and bunkers with renewed determination that the secular, strategic settlement plan was not to be depended on any longer. This crisis led to a meeting in Kibbutz Kfar Etzion in 1974, the outcome of which was the founding of Gush Emunim. 

Gush Emunim's platform defined the movement's mission in the following way: "To bring about a major spiritual reawakening in the Jewish people for the sake of the full realization of the Zionist vision, in the knowledge that this vision's source and goal in the Jewish heritage and in Judaism's roots are the total redemption of both the Jewish people and the whole world." 

According to Harold Fisch, an ideologue of Gush Emunim and a professor at Bar Ilan University, the Jewish people's divine imperative to settle every inch of the Land was a value above all others. In his 1978 book, The Zionist Revolution, he interpreted Zionism according to the Gush Emunim worldview, stating that the covenant between the Jews and God behooved the Jewish people to act in the interests of the Land of Israel and exercise their right to settle and control it.

To Fisch, the Arab opposition was "suicidal," and the Jewish people must not compromise with them in any way. The Jews' role as the vanguard of the redemption means that they will never be a normal nation among the nations, and they must operate in a different dimension, fulfilling their God-given destiny.   

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Rabbi Ed Snitkoff

Rabbi Ed Snitkoff is the Director of the Ramah Israel Seminar and lives in Jerusalem.