N.Y. Times Profiles Menachem Froman
You can tell how desperate events have become on the West Bank (after this week’s settler pogrom in Hebron) when the N.Y. Times opens its pages to Rabbi Menachem Froman. It comes about three years or so (that’s when I first wrote about him) late, but better late than never.
Froman was the co-founder of Gush Emunim, the gold standard and first-movers of the settler movement. Somewhere along the way, perhaps the extremist hilltop youth might say, he “went native.” He became buddies with the despised (by Israeli Jews) Yasser Arafat, partnered with a Hamas-affiliated journalist with whom he devised a peace plan, and founded Jerusalem Peacemakers, an interfaith clergy group seeking to find a way to share Jerusalem among all its religions.
Instead of being at the forefront of building new settlements as he once was, he is now the target of the Shin Bet who sabotages his every effort to publicize his joint peace efforts with Palestinians.
But he is still a settler, and now chief rabbi of the settlement of Tekoa, where he has lived for the past 35 years. The difference between 1967 and now is that now Froman is perfectly prepared to live on the West Bank under Palestinian sovereignty. As such, he presents a potent model of what could be if Israel ever cedes the Territories to a new Palestinian state. Those who truly believe in the original settler spiritual dream of having Jews return to dwell in the Judean hills among the holy sites should be able to realize that dream no matter whether they are ruled by Israel or Palestine.
Froman’s dream presents a challenge as well to the Palestinians. If they are ever to realize a state that is truly democratic it must be able to integrate fully Jews (and Christians). They must show that they are willing to co-exist with Jews like Froman. That is why Hamas and Arafat before it, saw Froman in such a favorable light.
Israelis normally might dismiss him merely as a dreamer, traitor, sell-out or lunatic. But they cannot because of his exalted status as founder of the settler movement. He is certainly a curiosity to the settlers and other Israelis who cannot really figure him out. But they cannot plant a bomb outside his home as they did to Prof. Zeev Sternhell, a long-time crusader against the settlers.
Many Israelis simply do not know what to make of a rabbi and settler willing to engage in a close relationship with someone they view as a fanatical terrorist. Willing to talk with Ahmed Yassin? Even to tell him off? The idea would be anathema to Israelis:
Rabbi Froman used to travel to Gaza for talks with Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas who was killed in an Israeli missile strike in 2004…
The rabbi said he used to shout at the sheik and tell him, “you will go to hell because you are taking Islam, a religion whose name has connotations of peace, and turning it into a religion of terror.”
The sheik would reply that he was only defending himself, Rabbi Froman said.
Isabel Kershner notes in her article that Tekoah was also the birthplace of the fiery prophet of social justice, Amos. What Israel needs these days is a lot more Amoses like Froman and a lot less of those who try to immolate Palestinian families in their homes as happened last week in Hebron. May God bless Rabbi Froman and may his efforts be fruitful and multiply.
26 thoughts on “N.Y. Times Profiles Menachem Froman – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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You plop down for us the fabricated assertion that Froman, “is now the target of the Shin Bet who sabotages his every effort to publicize his joint peace efforts with Palestinians.” As if this rabbi is a serious player but the nefarious Jewish secret police have thwarted his ambitions. On what basis sir do you make such a silly claim? It is obvious to all that nobody in the world needs to sabotage this man’s efforts. He does just fine self-sabotaging his own farcical activities.
I do not belive that he is followed by he Shin Beth. Simply because the Shin Beth is over occupied with the real nuts from the extreme left and right. As an Israeli on the sane left I and most of my friends wish him well. As for Jews living in free indepenant Palestine? The ethnic cleaning of the Jews of Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Libya etc. does not leave much hope. Also the ritual killing of Jews in Mombai and Pakistan should be taken notic of. Still the Rabi does no harm and as I said most decent people wish him well.
@tzvee: Do you think I would make the claim that the Shin Bet targets Froman w/o any proof that this is so? Next time, just Google “Froman Shin Bet” in my blog search feature & you’ll find the post.
If Froman is as much a fool as you claim, then why is the Shin Bet so afraid of him?
the source you cite is not credible… and even if it were it is a far cry from that one anecdote to your blanket claim, “sabotages his every effort to publicize his joint peace efforts with Palestinians”… and even if you were correct in your plaint, you do realize that no sitting government can allow foreign policy to be conducted by freelance civilians, let alone loose canons like this guy. so what exactly is your point? you want the shin bet to back off an let the lone ranger save the day? and yes, if you listen to what he spews forth as his diplomacy, you must conclude that he is an utter fool, or you must accept that there are no accepted canons of foreign policy or diplomacy… and you say…?
Richard, you seem to exhibit a schizophrenic attitude towards the behavior of the organs of coercion of the state of Israel. Here you accuse the SHABAK of hounding a “peace-loving” Rabbi, yet, in the past, you became indignant when people pointed out that there is something fishy about the SHABAK having found and nurtured Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, as the official Shamgar Commission of Inquiry found in its investigation of the assassination.
You accuse Rabbi Wolpe of “treason” and “sedition” for saying things you don’ agree with yet you support the law-breakers who conduct violent demonstrations against the building of the security wall, and you support the illegal attempts of various groups to enter Gaza.
Again, regarding Rabbi Wolpe, he tells soldiers not to carry out orders given by the state to destroy Jewish settlements, but you support soldiers who refuse to carry out orders GIVEN BY THE SAME STATE to liquidate terrorists in Gaza. You also support refusal of soldiers, again given orders by the same state, to serve in Judea/Samaria (your Peace Now friend Yariv Oppenheimer says specifically he DOES serve in Judea/Samaria to serve as a model that one must NOT refuse to carry out orders in anticipation of the big day when Israel will expel all the Jews from there). You state “the settlements are illegal according to international law”. BUT THAT ISN’T THE POINT..they ARE legal according to the state. So you are no different than Wolpe, he says ignore the state when it goes against the Torah, and you say to ignore the state when it goes against your interpretation of international law.
@tzvee: Haaretz, J. Post, and Tikkun Magazine are not credible? What are you smokin’ & why ever not? This isn’t the only time the Shin Bet has harrassed him or his collaborators. What’s your problem with Froman anyway? You’re venting an awful lot of spleen for some reason I can’t understand.
A government that can’t seem to muster any foreign policy regarding a political entity with which it should be a critical interlocutor like Hamas will have to excuse bold, courageous, visionary private citizens who fill the vacuum. So is it now & so has it been since the beginnings of ancient democracy. You must’ve detested Abie Nathan too. Too bad.
@bar_kochba132: No, I accuse Wolpe of treason & sedition not merely for saying things I don’t agree with, but for calling for the execution of elected leaders of the state of Israel.
It is not “illegal” to enter Gaza since Israel claims it is not occupying Gaza. Therefore, Israel cannot criminalize the attempt to enter Gaza. As for Jeff Halper, yes, I supported his visit to Gaza. If it was illegal though why hasn’t the government pressed charges against him?
Wolpe doesn’t merely tell soldiers not to obey orders, he bribes them not to do so.
I support the right of Israelis not to violate international law and their own consciences in murdering Palestinians, some of whom invariably end up being civilians.
Wolpe doesn’t say ignore the state. He along with other settler extremists wishes to overthrow the state. There’s a difference.
“The ethnic cleaning of the Jews of Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Libya etc. does not leave much hope. Also the ritual killing of Jews in Mombai and Pakistan should be taken notic of”
Richard careful study of history will show Jewish people living far better under arab/muslim rule as under so called western civilized cultures.
I think it is either naive or disingenuous to take the idea that a Palestinian State should accept self-governing islets of Jews, seriously.
Neil I am talking about 1947-50 on. Total ethnic cleaning of the Jews of Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq etc. Jews lived there before there were there Arabs, or Islam or Christianity. Historically speaking at times Jews were persecuted and killed by Christians and at other times by Muslims. At other time they did better. Always under Islam Jews were Dahimies. I would not recomend to you to live as one even today in KSA for example. As for the present there are as many Arabs in Israel now, inside the green line, as in whole of Palestine in 1946. No ethnic cleaning there. It is no fun being an Arab in Israel now, there is a war going on between ‘them” and Israel , most Arab-Muslims do not want to know that there may be a difference between Israeli and Jew (been in Mumbay lately). It is better though then being a Japanese or German in USA 1942-1945. As I said I do not belive that the Israeli secret service is spending much time on the Rabi, even if JP, Haaretz the BBC and NYT will say so, he is harmless and sadly influence less.
No spleen here and no detesting. I give you leeway on your own blog but where do you come up with these characterizations? I’m sure the rabbi would be a marvelous shabbos dinner guest or shalos shudus speaker. I just cringe at having this “bold, courageous, visionary” fruitcake conduct foreign policy in any capacity. How you can justify it is beyond my meager imagination.
@tzvee: And you think that Israel’s current “foreign policy” regarding Hamas & Gaza is so terribly successful that it can’t use a push or two in a more productive direction fr. an engaged citizen?
Yes, Froman is a visionary. Many visionaries were viewed as strange, obstreporous & iconoclastic in their own times. But their views were vindicated over time. So this will prove true with Froman. It may be that the future will not vindicate every single idea of his. But enough will be that he will prove a helpful figure in bridging religious differences bet. the sides.
@Neil: Those were not my views, but those of another commenter. Needless to say, I disagree with the inflammatory terminology.
@Rowan Berkeley: Who said they would be “self-governing.” They would accept Palestinian sovereignty.
@barni: READ MY COMMENT RULES. The term “ethnic cleansing” is one of the most overused phrases by extreme apologists for both sides of this dispute. Do not use this term again. It is not accurate in the historical context in which you use it. You know nothing of the history of Jews in Arab lands if you use such terms to describe what happened to them there.
Jewish life in Arab lands was not a piece of cake by any means, but there was historically far less antagonism to Jews fr. Arabs than from Christians. This is not just my opinion. This is the opinion of Jewish historians who specialize in the Arab lands.
Your next usage of the term will be yr last here. You are welcome as long as you stay clear of extremist terms.
As you probably know, in mid-November the Israeli navy seized three Gazan fishing boats off the coast of the Gaza strip, brought them (and the crews) to Israel and charged the three international observers accompanying the fishermen with “illegal entry” before deporting them. So Israel not only claims the “right” that might makes, but indeed formal jurisdiction, if not sovereignty over that part of the Mediterranean.
Note that a) the three internationals aren’t Israeli citizens and b) nobody claims the fishermen were doing anything other than fishing, 7 miles off the coast and hence well within the 20 miles granted by Oslo.
(The Palestinian crews were sent back immediately, but the boats only a week or so later, damaged and looted. Apparently the poor poor Israeli navy needs GPS devices so badly they have to rob them from Gaza fishermen.)
i don’t know, man. first you work hard richard to gain credibility for your blog then you blow it all away by endorsing the comic antics of a complete fuzzball. sheesh.
@tzvee: “Blow it all away?” Then I guess the NY Times blew over 100 yrs. of its own journalistic credibility away by featuring Froman in a profile. Not to mention Haaretz, Jerusalem Post, Tikkun Magazine and many others which have done the same. Somehow I think my credibility remains intact though perhaps it’s damaged in yr view.
“sure-Jews-were-presecuted-in-Arab-and-Muslim-countries-but-they-were-MORE-bitterly-persecuted-in-Christian-countries” is like the left-wing equivalent of “sure-Israel-abuses-Palestinians-but-the-neighboring-Arab-countries-do-it-worse.”
Both are irrelevant comparisons. Seeking to downplay the shoddy treatment that Jews experienced at the hands of their Muslim and Arab neighbors by asserting that they had it worse in Christian countries = merely changing the subject.
You are profoundly ignorant of Jewish history. And it shows. Jews have lived for centuries in majority Muslim countries in relative peace & prosperity. Life was not perfect, but nor was it as bad as living through a Christian Crusade if you could.
This is the truth & any medieval or modern Jewish historian will tell you the same. In this century, things became much more complicated because Zionism made Arab Jews seem like 5th columnists in their respective societies. Even with that, aside from overt hostility in places like Iran and Syria & a few other places, there has been relatively little Jew hatred in other Arab countries. The king of Morroco begged the country’s Jews not to leave, but they did anyway. Those Jews who stayed have been welcome and led ordinary lives. To this day, there are still Jews in Iran and other Arab countries. Their lives may not be sweetness and light, but many have the opportunity to go but don’t.
Now, if you wish to argue that the multiple Crusades during which Jews were murdered in their tens of thousands, the Spanish Inquisition (Jews murdered & forced into conversion by the tens of thousands), the Cossack pogroms (ditto), Russian blood libel & all the other Christian fomented violence against Jews was less intense & savage than Muslim hostility against Jews, you’re welcome to try. But why bother? You’d only show yrself to be a pathetic anti-Muslim propagandist.
Are you serious?
I didn’t say a word about which was worse — Jewish life in the Christian world or Jewish life in the Muslim world. My only point was that this very comparison is irrelevant and to bring it up amounts to changing the subject.
And yet that’s exactly what you proceeded to do. Again.
No, it’s a historical comparison. You wish to focus attention solely on alleged mistreatment of Jews by Arabs which you btw have hardly provided any proof of & I & others here have pointed out that Jews were actually hunted down & exterminated by various Christian nations. The comparison of treatment is like night & day. Yet you still, propagandist that you are, want to talk about one thing alone. I’m pointing out that you’re a monomaniacal propagandist.
6 million Jews were killed by a Christian nation (& this is but one of many that have made similar attempts). How many have been killed by Muslim nations?
Really? You’re gonna call me ” profoundly ignorant ” and then refuse to publish my rebuttal? How mature.
At least have the decency to delete your own post, which, as I pointed out in my unpublished response, has nothing whatever to do with what I originally wrote.
Give it a rest would ya. I’ve got other things to do w. my life than sit at the keyboard & wait for yr ever so important comments to come in & approve them. Say something interesting & worthwhile (even if it disagrees w. me) & yr comments will be approved quicker.
On second thought never mind.
Why so much hate against Menachem Froman? I mean, calling him a “fruitcake”, a lunatic, etc. Why, exactly?
Froman is indeed harmless, and is doing tikkun olam to his best. Quite successfully in my opinion.