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Gush Emunim

GUSH EMUNIM

Movement dedicated to the establishment and strengthening of Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and the Gaza Strip.

Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful) has played a significant role in Israeli political life since its inception in the mid-1970s. The movement is concerned with establishing and strengthening Jewish settlement throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which its members believe belong to the Jewish people and the State of Israel by divine promise. Gush members are opposed to any territorial compromise or Israeli withdrawal from these regions, even as part of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

The movement was formed in 1974 by a group of national religious activists associated with the Young Guard of the National Religious Party (now Mafdal). They opposed the minimalist policies of the Allon settlement plan and, in the light of the limited withdrawal on the Golan Heights after the October 1973 war, set out to create the conditions that would prevent any similar withdrawals taking place in the West Bank and Gaza.

Opposed by the Labor Party governments of the time, Gush Emunim underwent a process of legitimization following the election of the right-wing Likud Party of Menachem Begin in 1977. It created a settlement movement, known as Amanah, that undertook the logistics of establishing settlements throughout the region. Its settlement blueprint envisaged no less than 2 million Jews throughout the West Bank and Gaza by the year 2000, but this translated into a more realistic policy aimed at creating twelve new settlements in the first year of the Begin administration, thus laying the foundations for future settlement activities.


The ideology of the movement stems from its belief that God promised Abraham the whole of the land of Israel (from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River and even further east) for the Jewish people as their exclusive territory, as stated in the Old Testament. Gush Emunim draws much of its support from the ranks of the Bnei Akiva youth movement, whose slogan is, "The land of Israel, for the people of Israel, according to the Torah of Israel." They view Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel) as holy territory, parts of which were liberated (not occupied) by divine intervention in the June 1967 war and which is never to be relinquished by any human decision, not even by a democratically elected government of the state of Israel.

In the early 1980s, Gush activists were implicated in the Jewish underground movement Terror-Neged-Terror (Terror against Terror), which undertook attacks against Palestinians in revenge for Palestinian killings of Jewish settlers. Its targets included mayors Bassam Shakʿa (Nablus), Karim Khalif (Ramallah), and Ibrahim Tawil (al-Bira), and the Islamic College in Hebron. Plots to blow up Arab buses in Jerusalem and, more sensationally, the Dome of the Rock, were thwarted by Israeli intelligence.

During its first almost twenty-eight years of existence, Gush Emunim transformed itself from a grassroots extra-parliamentary movement to one that provided the ideological underpinnings for a number of political parties, municipal organizations, and settlements (villages and townships) throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Its representatives have been active in right-wing political parties in successive Israeli governments since 1977, in some cases achieving cabinet positions. Two leading ministers in Ariel Sharon's government of January 2003, Infrastructure Minister Rafael Eitan (National Religious Party) and Tourism Minister Benny Elon (National Israel Party), were staunch supporters of the Gush and the West Bank settlements.

Gush Emunim does not have any formal membership; it is difficult to estimate its size or support, but it has become the most visible ideological force for active and, in some cases violent, opposition to all attempts to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians involving any form of territorial withdrawal.

Leading Gush Emunim activists have also become administrators of the regional and local councils set up to administer the settlement network and provide a conduit for the transfer of public resources from the central government to the settlements. The major political lobby for the West Bank settlement network, the Yesha (an acronym for Yehuda ve-Shomron, Judaea, and Samaria) Council, is made up of leading Gush personalities. This organization also serves as an umbrella group for West Bank municipal councils in the face of political threats to remove any settlements.

The original leaders of the Gush Emunim movement, notably Rabbis Moshe Levinger of Hebron and Hanan Porat from Gush Etzion, have stepped aside to make way for a younger generation of leaders, although none of the new generation has achieved their prominence. Some of the younger activists have attempted to set up new settlement outposts not approved by the government and have been called "the hilltop youth." They are perceived by many as constituting the contemporary equivalent of the earlier Gush activists of the mid-1970s, who attempted to establish the first settlements despite government opposition of the time.

Gush Emunim's Greater Israel and prosettlement ideology has had a major impact on Israeli society in general and on the peace process in particular. Its opposition to any form of territorial withdrawal or settlement evacuation added to the obstacles that faced the post-Oslo negotiation process.

See also arabisrael war (1967); arabisrael war (1973); begin, menachem; gaza strip; levinger, moshe; oslo accord (1993); sharon, ariel; west bank.


Bibliography

Friedman, Robert I. Zealots for Zion: Inside Israel's West Bank Settlement Movement. New York: Random House, 1992; New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1994.

Lustick, Ian S. For the Land and the Lord: Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel. New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1988.

Newman, David, ed. The Impact of Gush Emunim: Politics and Settlement in the West Bank. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985.

Newman, David, and Hermann, Tamar. "Extra-Parliamentarism in Israel: A Comparative Study of Peace Now and Gush Emunim." Middle Eastern Studies 28, no. 3, (1992): 509530.


Segal, Haggai. Dear Brothers: The West Bank Jewish Underground. Woodmere, NY: Beit Shamai Publications, 1988.

david newman

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"Gush Emunim." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Kook, Abraham Isaac

Abraham Isaac Kook (kōōk), 1864–1935, Jewish scholar and philosopher, b. Latvia. He settled (1904) in Palestine, where he became the chief rabbi of the Ashkenazi community in 1921. He attempted to show that Palestine and Zionism were an integral part of Judaism; that those secularist Jews who worked to build up the Jewish homeland were unknowingly doing God's work, which one day would become evident to them; and that nationalism was a necessary step on the way to universalism. He was the author of several books that were influential among Jewish nationalists.

See biography by J. B. Agus (2d ed. 1972); study by S. H. Bergman, Faith and Reason (tr. 1963).

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Kook, Abraham Isaac

Kook, Abraham Isaac (1865–1935). First Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel. Kook emigrated to Israel in 1904 and became Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi in 1921. He maintained that the return to Zion was a step towards the beginning of the divine redemption. He was a prolific writer, and his books combine learning with mystical insight. Among his books are Orot ha-Kodesh (3 vols., 1963/4), Iggerot ha-Reʿayah (3 vols., 1962/5), and Orot ha-Teshivah (1955; Eng., 1968).

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"Kook, Abraham Isaac." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/kook-abraham-isaac

Gush Emunim

Gush Emunim. Organization of the faithful, a Jewish religious and nationalist group of the 20th cent. It was led by Tzevi Yehudah Kook (1891–1982), the only son of Abraham Isaac Kook. Gush Emunim took the initiative in establishing Jewish settlements in the Administered Areas of Palestine/Israel after the Six Day War in 1967.

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"Gush Emunim." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Gush Emunim." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/gush-emunim