Rabbi Hanan Porat was just another face in a crowd, and then it lifted him above their shoulders, as they demonstrated in 1975 for the right to build Jewish housing beyond the Green Line. Through his efforts, there is Elon Moreh, Kedumim and Shavei Shomron. But those are just the early communities, founded through Gush Emunim, the “bloc of the faithful.” Today, a half million Jews live in these communities, including eastern Jerusalem.
As we go to print on Wednesdays, we are sometimes entertained on the radio by former British lawmaker George Galloway, who has a morning talk show on WBAI. Galloway spares no opportunity to stick the apartheid label on Israel. He speaks of lands illegally colonized by foreign-born settlers. Perhaps the comparison to South Africa is too generous. If anything, the situation in Israel is worse than in South Africa, because when Nelson Mandela was elected to power, he forgave the white settlers and allowed them to stay if they chose.
In contrast to the Afrikaners, the Jewish residents of the territories have an ancestral tie to their homes. Rabbi Porat was responsible for renewing this connection. His actions transcend Zionism, because they are more than about Jewish independence. Porat is the conscience of the settler enterprise, speaking about the right to live on ancestral land, one granted to all indigenous groups but the Jews of “the territories.”