Former MK, Attorney Elyakim Haetzni, one of the founders of the modern Jewish community in Hevron and Kiryat Arba, spoke this week about Rabbi Moshe Levinger, who led the efforts to reestablish the community and just this month passed away.
In a special lecture hosted by Women in Green at Oz veGaon, the nature reserve in Judea restored in memory of the three teens murdered by Hamas terrorists last summer, Haetzni spoke about the importance of Rabbi Levinger's lifework.
His speech, with a live translation to English, can be viewed below.
Haetzni began by decrying the fact that around 50 years after the renewed movement to have Jews live in Judea and Samaria, the Israeli media today still presents the Jewish presence in the region as something that should be stopped. In such a reality, Rabbi Levinger's unconventional actions were needed, according to Haetzni.
Rabbi Levinger, who has been hailed as "the father of the settlement enterprise," worked in a situation where "everything was forbidden." In light of government inaction and limitation, civilians started to organize and act, with the rabbi not working out of a sense of anarchy against the government but rather loyalty to the Jewish right to the land, said Haetzni.
"In cases involving harm to the Land of Israel and the dignity of the Nation of Israel, Rabbi Levinger would become another person, a person who was capable of a roar that could shake the walls," Haetzni said. "This is how it was in arguments between us and it was so also in speaking with people in power. This quiet and polite person would suddenly seem to become a different person."
The attorney remarked, "he reminds me of a prophet of old, who, when the issue at hand was his mission, he would stand in front of the king and the establishment as steady as a rock, speaking on behalf of a greater power. And they feared him. It was not play acting, as it is today, when public relations professionals instruct the politicians. It was inside of him."
Aside from words the rabbi was a man of action, establishing a presence in Hevron and forcing the government to accept that the ancient city of the Jewish patriarchs would not remain without any Jews following the horrific Arab massacre of Jews in 1929.
"Without the awakening from below, nothing would have happened. The historic opportunity of the return of the people of Israel to its core and its heart would have been missed, and the next opportunity might have been only in another two thousand years. It would have passed and gone away," said Haetzni.