Rabbi Goren Urges Soldiers Not to Remove Settlements
Rabbi Shlomo Goren. Photo: National Photo Collection of Israel

December 17, 1993

Shlomo Goren, the first head of the Military Rabbinate of the Israel Defense Forces and Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi from 1973 to 1983, publishes a statement in the newspaper HaTzofeh calling on IDF soldiers to disobey orders to remove Jewish settlers from the West Bank, Gaza Strip or Golan Heights.

The statement demonstrates the rising tensions between religious and secular Israelis as the 1993 Oslo Accords with the Palestine Liberation Organization are implemented. The accords provide for Palestinian self-rule in parts of Gaza and the West Bank and the removal of some settlements. Goren objects to the Oslo agreement and to Israeli withdrawal from the lands Israel captured in 1967.

According to halacha (Jewish law), a soldier is expected to disobey an order that is contradictory to the Torah, and Goren interprets any order to remove settlements as conflicting with the Torah’s commandment to settle the land promised by God to the Jewish people.

“Any order that contradicts the law of Moses is a rebellion against Moses, against the Torah, against Judaism and against the Almighty, and it must, absolutely must, be rejected and refused,” writes Goren, who reached the rank of general during his decades of IDF service.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin calls Goren’s statement “extremely grave.” Other government ministers and leaders condemn Goren and ask that he be charged with sedition and rebellion against the Israeli government. Goren dies the following October at age 77