The Baal Shem Tov, or Besht —  the founder of Chasidism — 
met the soul of the Messiah during an ascent to heaven. 
The Besht asked him, "When will the Master come?" 
The Messiah answered, "When your wellsprings break forth to the outside!" 
(from a letter written by the Besht to his brother-in-law about one of his soul ascents) 

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I wrote a letter to JNF and emailed my Rabbi, Margaret Holub, to open discussion of a way to bring this topic into our community so that as a group we can take action (and not create tension and fighting among people).

I thank you David, for this web site and your leadership.
Hyla Bolsta

Hyla Bolsta , posted July 26, 2007 06:26 PM

With all due respect, have you been equally as up in arms about the decision of the Israeli gov't to uproot its loyal citizens from Gush Katif? And once the decision was carried out, what have you done to support the resettlement of these Jews, and their reintegration into the rest of Israeli society?

Heshy Rosenwasser , posted December 21, 2007 05:34 PM

Dear Heshy,

I appreciate the question, and the respect. Because this issue stands on its own, whatever position you or I took on Gush Katif is not related. So my personal answer may not be relevant to the people I hope will take a stand against Blueprint Negev—though you can read what my position on the Gush Katif settlers was below.

The main thing is that we can do something still to stop this uprooting.

Concerning the tachlis, there are of course many obvious differences between the Negev and Gaza, and between the settlers and the Bedouin. One important one is that all the Gush Katif settlers knew when they went there that the territory might be ceded in the future, and another one is that the settlers gave up a normal way of life to move to Gaza, and are being offered (we hope authentically) the chance to restart a normal way of life in Israel proper.

The sacrifices the settlers made notwithstanding, the Bedouin are being asked to live in a way which would destroy any chance they have of maintaining their traditional way of life. So it's kind of the inverse problem.

One can claim that the validity of Zionism rests and falls on how the Jewish state treats the ger toshav (the non-Jews living peacefully under Israel's jurisdiction). That measure comes not just from the ideals of Zionism but also from the basic definition of what our end of the covenant is, according to the Torah.

Nevertheless, I do have a personal answer about Gaza: I always supported whatever efforts the government would make to help the Gaza setttlers with reintegration. I was there during the summer of the hitnatkut (the "disengagement"), and even though I strongly supported the withdrawal, I also went to demonstrations and events by the folks in orange because they needed to be heard.

BTW, one of the proposed avenues for resettling the people who returned from Gaza is to create similar settlements in the Negev. There's every reason why that can and should happen in a good way, without driving the Bedouin into the economic equivalent of shanty-towns. A new blueprint for the Negev should mean sustainable development for all.

– Reb Duvid

David Seidenberg , posted December 21, 2007 08:08 PM

I am continually outraged by the treatment of the Bedouin in the Negev. Have we not learned from Canada and the United States what happens when we force nomadic indigenous cultures onto "reservations"??? I wish Israeli government would regonize this flaw, and I wish the JNF would show more insight into this human rights atrocity. Not to mention--how sustainable is it REALLY to place hundreds of thousands of people in a desert where there is no water?! I don't see how this is in ANY way sustainable.

Courtney Robinson, Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation , posted March 31, 2008 12:22 AM

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