B"H. Beis Moshiach Magazine is powered by:




To Pray For The Real Moshiach, The Real Geula
By Shai Gefen

Interview with Knesset member Benny Alon

Rabbi Benny Alon was born in 1954 in Yerushalayim. He received ordination for rabbanus and is a teacher and rav by profession. He was one of the founders and directors of Yeshivas Beit Orot, and also served as rav of Kibbutz Shluchot. He also served as an emissary for the Jewish Agency to Jewish student organizations in North America.

Rabbi Alon wrote and edited the series Av Ro’I, Rabbi Kook’s commentary on Talmud, and published various Torah articles. He and his wife founded the Sifriyat Beit El publishing house.

Rabbi Alon entered the 14th Knesset with Moledet, and today he is a Knesset member with Ichud HaLeumi – Yisroel Beiteinu.

* * *

With the Knesset in recess, Rabbi Benny Alon is trying to have a law passed to prevent the Prime Minister from quickly ratifying a political agreement during the recess. Knesset Member Benny Alon talks about this law as well as other burning political topics of the day.

What is the law you are trying to have pass while the Knesset is in recess?

According to Israeli law, the prime minister can sanction a political treaty, which includes adjusting borders, without the Knesset’s approval. Until now, all prime ministers brought these treaties to the Knesset, at least for a symbolic approval, if not a binding one. The situation today is such that Barak’s coalition consists of only 30 Knesset members, a quarter of the Knesset. Even were we to add Meretz, that would only bring it up to 40 Knesset members.

I think that Barak wants to face the elections with a signed agreement, which, in his opinion, will help him win. So there is a situation in which even if he does not win the election and another government is formed, the agreement he signed will be binding on the next government. The point of the law I am proposing is that the Knesset must approve all political agreements before they are signed, even tentatively. An Israeli prime minister cannot sign an agreement before the Knesset approves it.

Is there any precedent for this?

Certainly. In the United States, the president can only sign technical agreements, but not treaties between nations. He needs the approval of the Senate for that. Likewise, in other countries, you cannot ratify important political agreements without Parliament’s approval.

Do you really think it’s possible to have this law passed during the break?

Practically speaking, laws initiated by individual MK’s are not passed while the Knesset is in recess; only laws that the ruling government brings up are passed. But in the event that 61 members of the Knesset sign the proposal for a law, the chances are great that the chairman of the Knesset will allow the law to be voted upon even during the break.

Furthermore, this law relates to the very foundation of the government, which is why we need a majority of the Knesset. Now, during vacation, my work is focused on getting the required majority. At this point, 55 Knesset members have signed. Because of the break, it’s hard to reach some of them. I hope we will succeed in having the law passed during the break.

Are you afraid that Barak will try to cram a treaty during the recess?

My impression is that there is no political agreement and that there will be no summit in the near future. But these days it’s hard to know. We could wake up one morning and discover that Yerushalayim is divided and the country has disintegrated (ch’v). We must prevent the Prime Minister from signing any political agreement without the approval of a majority of the Knesset.

Barak has three months to do as he pleases without the Knesset, and that’s extremely dangerous. Barak, in his great fervor and due to his shaky position, can make suicidal political moves. As soon as the law is passed, G-d willing, it will receive much publicity in the U.S. and will weaken Barak’s power. Heads of state will not agree to enter into negotiations with a prime minister who tries to operate in an anti-democratic fashion. I’m sure that the U.S. will also understand that this is a government that is trying to carry out a “hijacking,” as he lacks the support of the Knesset and only has a coalition of a quarter of the Knesset. It’s simply unprecedented.

What did you think of Barak’s position this past month when he was operating without a coalition and still attempted to reach a political agreement with the PLO?

I think that everything that took place last month was sayata di’Shmaya and was an open miracle. Barak went to Camp David intending to give everything away. His goal was to get Arafat to sign an end to their disagreement and he wanted to concede on everything, including Yerushalayim. This led to a dead end because the Arabs didn’t accept our offer, but these plans definitely have to put us on the alert.

Barak is feeling tremendous pressure, which could cause him to take the most reckless steps. Lately we see how every day he tries another gimmick to survive. A man like that is dangerous, which is why we are so frightened. That is why I’m rushing to get this law to the Knesset during the recess.

It sounds like an anti-democratic prime minister.

No normal person would dare to continue governing this way. The media would not allow any other prime minister to rule in such an anti-democratic fashion. Because the media is silent, we have to plan and respond accordingly, in order to prevent – at all costs – the “hijacking” Barak will attempt at all costs.

What do you, a person with a strong connection to the Old City who bought land from the Arabs, think about Barak’s willingness to give up Yerushalayim?

What a disaster! There are people who bought land to redeem it from the Arabs who are wondering now whether it was all in vain. At the same time, I believe that G-d is on our side. Perhaps the summit falling apart, despite all the dangerous concessions Barak agreed to, will help our leaders realize that there’s simply nobody to talk to. Arafat wants it all and he doesn’t want to let us live. Maybe it’s good this came about through Barak rather than a prime minister from the Right, whom they would have blamed for ruining the process. Who knows? Maybe through this darkness we’ll soon come to see the light.

Maybe finally we will begin to understand what the Rebbe said years ago, when he saw, that ultimately they will want to return Yerushalayim. I remember when we spoke with people about buying land in Yerushalayim and they said, “What are you talking about, Yerushalayim is part of the consensus.” Today nobody is saying that. Everyone knows that the fate of Yerushalayim is uncertain.

But perhaps our salvation will indeed emerge from this situation. Perhaps through the Palestinians’ declaration of establishing a state, the whole process will collapse and our Jewish leaders will return to their senses after being liberated from the obsession with “peace.” I hope the Left will also recognize that there is no one to talk to, and instead of selling off their homeland they’ll start dealing with the country’s domestic matters.

Despite my optimism, we can’t count on this happening. We have to do all we can to prevent Barak from making hasty agreements, and do what we can to neutralize him and have elections to change the government.

But what do you think will happen with a new government? Will things be any different politically?

Now you’ve asked the question. It’s no secret that Netanyahu, along with Ariel Sharon, promised Chabad and signed to it too, that they would not give away an inch of Eretz Yisroel. The reality, of course, was different. The day after Netanyahu fell we began building in Ras-el-Amud, something we had not previous undertaken in deference to Netanyahu, who had not allowed us to build there. Whenever I spoke to him about it he would yell at me and say it would interfere with his negotiations.

Netanyahu gave away most of Chevron, thereby placing the Jews living there in an unbearable situation. At Wye he signed an agreement to give away 13%. If elections are held in the near future, it will turn out that Barak did not give anything away at all, aside from the land Netanyahu had signed away at Wye. We’re definitely in a mess.

Then there are other questions, difficult ones, about the coming elections. If Netanyahu is elected again, who knows if he’ll even take us into his coalition. He would probably prefer a national unity government. If he gives away even more land it will be the greatest chilul Hashem, when, of all people, a prime minister from the Right is the one making withdrawals.

We cannot deny the fact that despite Barak’s government, the building in the territories is ongoing, and in this past year we achieved a lot, though we’d rather keep quiet about these accomplishments. This past year, the population in Yehuda-Shomron grew by 13%, which is unprecedented.

So maybe Barak should stay in power?

Despite these fears, I think Barak has to get out at all costs. On the other hand, if we get a prime minister from the Right, we will have to reign him in and compel him to get on the right track.

In any case, I don’t live with the illusion that a prime minister from the Right is Moshiach. The Jewish people must pray for the real Geula. If Barak falls in the next few weeks and elections are held within the next few months without a new agreement being signed, I’ll know that we at least succeeded in deterring the establishment of a Palestinian state for the year-and-a-half in which we toppled first Netanyahu and then Barak.

There is a sense of a total collapse of the state. Do you also feel this way?

People feel that everything is changing and everything we counted on is failing us and falling apart. But there’s no question that this is heading in the direction of Moshiach. When you read the Gemara at the end of Sota about what will happen b’ikvisa d’Meshicha, you feel that this is happening in our times. There is no question that after what’s going on now, the light of Moshiach will shine and we will merit the final Geula.

All artificial solutions, all efforts to develop some sort of modern “Messiah,” to dance around the politicians and think that salvation will come through them — are absurd. We still have to deal with politics and try to minimize danger, but at the same time we mustn’t forget that we cannot rely on politicians. We’ve seen them perform. Even if the Right wins, we’ll have to have learned a lesson from last time and not fall asleep standing guard.

You were the main protagonist in toppling Netanyahu after the Wye Accords. Many people on the Right are angry with you. In retrospect do you think you did the right thing?

I definitely think it had to be done, and we even had great sayata di’Shmaya. Looking back, I think it was the right move. The fact is that there have been no other withdrawals to date. Nevertheless, unlike what people think, I was a bag of nerves before I did it. But I saw the huge danger and concluded that we could no longer rely on the Prime Minister.

We can learn an interesting lesson from the past: any prime minister or Jewish leader who harmed Eretz Yisroel was harmed in turn. Not one prime minister, starting with Begin, walked away “clean” after giving away parts of Eretz Yisroel.

It seems that a partnership and a new common front between the ideological Right and the chareidim has developed. Is this only a chance political collusion?

Eretz Yisroel symbolizes everything the name “Yisroel” stands for: Toras Yisroel and mesoras Yisroel. The connection between the religious and Eretz Yisroel has become much more clear and sharp, as opposed to what it was in the not-so-distant past, when only the Rebbe screamed about Eretz Yisroel and the rest stood off to the side. Today you can hear great rabbanim talk against giving away land, when in the past they said just the opposite. There’s no question a great change has taken place. There is also a great strengthening of Torah and mitzvos among the religious-nationalists who always supported shleimus ha’Aretz.

When you look at the other side of the political map, you can see just the opposite. When irreligious people like Tommy Lapid, who was always on the Right, votes these days, he votes along with the extreme Left. Apparently Eretz Yisroel goes hand in hand with Toras Yisroel, and those who are estranged from Toras Yisroel are also estranged from Eretz Yisroel. This has been proven altogether.

There’s talk about settlements being left in place under Palestinian rule. Is this really being considered?

This was always part of the negotiations, and unfortunately even the Likud governments spoke about settlement blocs, with all other settlements being in Palestinian territory. Take a place like Chevron, which Peres handed over to the murderers of 1929. See what’s happening there the past few weeks? At Camp David, Barak spoke about the need to give them Chevron and to dismantle the Jewish settlement there. So we must go out to the public and not be ashamed to talk about Eretz Yisroel.

The topic of Jewish areas within the P.A. is not just about Chevron. Lately they’ve been talking about clearing out the area of Kever Yosef.

The fear is a real one, and we have to be on guard and make sure they fail to uproot the Jews from Kever Yosef, which Yaakov Avinu bought at full price, as it says, “And Yaakov acquired the portion of the field that was in Sh’chem.”

It’s interesting to note that the three places which Chazal say the nations of the world cannot make a claim to are the very locations where today we have the biggest problems: Kever Yosef, Me’aras HaMachpela, and the Har HaBayis.

Kever Yosef is the issue of the day and they plan to get rid of the Jews there, which means uprooting the connection Jews have with it. We are working on ensuring that this doesn’t  happen, ch’v. We should mention Rabbi Yehuda Liebman, director of Matteh Sh’chem Echad, along with those in the yeshiva there, headed by Rabbi Yitzchok Ginsburgh. They need to be encouraged and supported as much as possible. They are Jews who are moser nefesh for Am Yisroel.

What can people do in these trying times?

First of all, people should come and visit Kever Yosef and the Me’aras HaMachpela. Secondly, we mustn’t stop protesting. Chabad Chassidim have an important and decisive role to play.

From the very beginning, the Rebbe led the way on the entire issue of pikuach nefesh, which is based on siman 329 of Shulchan Aruch. If we translate the siman into modern-day terms, when every eight minutes a Jewish-owned car is stolen by a Palestinian, this is what “matters of chaff and straw” are about. Car theft just shows how great is the danger to all Jews in Eretz Yisroel, and we’re not talking about worrying about a small group of settlers who want to live davka on some hill in Shomron.

The Rebbe didn’t stop talking about pikuach nefesh. Our mistake was that all the movements that dealt with Eretz Yisroel used the wrong reasons. They explained the importance of Eretz Yisroel and did not emphasize what the Rebbe spoke about, which was protecting Jewish lives. Chabad has to lead the way.

Do you sometimes get up in the morning and worry about the continued existence of the Jewish presence in Eretz Yisroel?

What’s the question? That’s our guiding thought which is constantly with us. The situation is extremely serious. We are in tremendous danger. People here are afflicted with blindness. They know about a new “Messiah” called “peace,” and another “Messiah” called the I.D.F. It is this false Messianism we have to destroy.

The Drashos ha’Ran on the verse, “And remember Hashem your G-d, for He is the One Who gives you strength to act valorously,” says that you need strength and valor, but you have to know that Hashem is the One Who gives it to you. So all those who think they have strength of their own and so they can go and make hasty moves will be shown to have nothing of substance. Look at the Hizballah, 400 people who believe in the justice of their cause, succeeded in routing the world-renowned Israeli army.

Sometimes you speak as a rav, sometimes as a politician, and sometimes as an activist of the Right.

You always have to seek the most effective route. In Rabin’s era we worked mostly outside the Parliament through Zu Artzeinu. Now we are focusing our efforts within the Knesset. I see that in recent years, the most successful work was done within the Knesset. I constantly pray for Hashem to show me the proper way so that I know what to do to save the Jewish people and Eretz Yisroel. The responsibility is great and we all need to pray, “And give understanding in our heart to understand and be wise.” I hope that in the upcoming elections we will succeed in uniting forces and aggrandizing the camp loyal to Eretz Yisroel.


In any case, I don’t live with the illusion that a prime minister from the Right is Moshiach. The Jewish people must pray for the real Geula.






I think that everything that took place last month was sayata di’Shmaya and was an open miracle. Barak went to Camp David intending to give everything away. But the Arabs didn’t accept our offer.








I remember when we spoke with people about buying land in Yerushalayim and they said, “What are you talking about, Yerushalayim is part of the consensus.” Today nobody is saying that. Everyone knows that the fate of Yerushalayim is uncertain.


Home | Contents | Archives | Contact Us | Subscriptions | Submissions | Interactive | Chat | Advertise

©Copyright. No content may be reprinted without permission.