The peace movement needsreligion’swisdom
that Rabbi Yosef understood the Jews’ historic connection to certain sites in the West Bank. Significantly, he also believed that Israeli settlements were not the priority if maintaining them put the lives of Jews and Palestinians at risk.
By marginalising religious Jews from the peace process, by assuming their centre of gravity lies to the right, the Israeli pro-peace move- ment loses hundreds of thousands of potential supporters. It loses people for whom land swaps in exchange for peace might represent more than Realpolitik, but a religious imperative. With their extraordinary growth rates — half of world Jewry by 2050 — ultraOrthodox Jews in particular are marginalised at our peril.
Yosef was not alone. Orthodox rabbi, Michael Melchior, a former member of the Knesset and current chief rabbi of Norway, who also spoke at this conference, believes land swaps are a halachic imperative. He compared the peace process to “driving a car into a cul de sac again and again.” Melchior belonged to the left-wing religious Zionist political party, Meimad (an acronym meaning: “Jewish state, Unity: The peace process needs to hear voices outside of politics