Rabbi Menachem Froman
In memory of Rabbi Menachem Froman, who died today, we offer an excerpted transcript of our interview with him in Tekoa in July, 2012:
Why do you believe in religious reconciliation as a path to peace?
…in order to achieve peace here, which is also world peace, it needs to be built on the basis of religion, on a basis of the Muslim culture, which has a religious foundation. That is why I suppose, very simply, that the United States will support a new effort of that kind by the State of Israel to build peace on a religious basis between itself and its neighbors—Egypt, for example. And also between it and Palestine, and the Palestinian state. God willing, I hope that those things will come to pass far faster than many politicians think, and that truly the State of Israel, the prime minister of Israel will understand and will choose the direction that seems so self-evident in political terms here in the region. Namely, to build peace between ourselves and the Palestinians on a religious basis. To build peace between ourselves and Dr. Morsi or Jordan or Tunisia or perhaps Syria, and, of course, Turkey on a religious basis, on a religious basis. Okay? I have felt that for 35 or perhaps even 40 years. That peace cannot truly be built without taking the religious element into consideration. And I for many years have tried to promote peace. Because peace is the name of the Holy One Blessed Be He, both in Hebrew and in Arabic. To do God’s work, to work for peace. That is why I forged relationships withHamas, with the founder and head of that organization, Ahmed Yassin, and other leaders of that organization, such as Mahmoud a-Zahar. That is also the reason why I have traveled to Egypt, to Jordan, to Turkey. I created in all those places, God bless, relationships with the most influential religious leaders. I think that here in the Land of Israel, the place in which inter-religious peace can be achieved in the most powerful way, is in the settlements. On the boundary between original Muslim culture—the Muslim villages and cities—and the settlers, who are, generally speaking, religious. Here we live together, here we share religious faith. That is why, with God’s help, here there is the hope that, inshallah, inshallah, with God’s help, inter-religious peace can be achieved as a whole between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine and all the other countries in the region.
What is you connection to this place, the settlement of Tekoa?
You’re asking how long I’ve been here. When I first came here. I came from 3,500 years ago. From the rooftops of Tekoa you have facing you, as Napoleon Bonaparte, 3,500 years of Jewish history. I won’t be able to discuss all of that because that would take hours, days and perhaps even years. But I will cite a few important points. Here in Tekoa was the place where Amos the prophet lived. He was the prophet with the most extreme positions in the war against Jewish pride, Jewish hubris. I sometimes tell myself that one of the names our people have been given is the Hebrews, which comes from hubris, arrogance, pride. The Holy One Blessed Be He sent to us his prophets and he subsequently sent us his wise men to fight against Jewish hubris and perhaps the most extreme among them was Amos the prophet. He was from here. Here, when you live here, you do not live only your own personal history. Rather, you live the eternity of your people. The history of your people. It is impossible to understand why Tekoa was established here, just as none of the settlements can be understood, without understanding that people have come here to live more than just their own biographies of 70 or 80 years. Rather, they have come to live their biographies as part of the history of their people. As part of the faith of their people.
What is the future of the settlements?
With all the political plans to evacuate the settlements, to evacuate settlements, people keep on coming here and coming here and coming here. They can’t believe that the settlements will be uprooted. They believe that the settlements will remain here for eternity. They believe the words of the prophets. They believe the words of the prophets. They come and they build and build and build and build. That settlement over there (he points across a huge Judean canyon to a neighboring settlement) —two fellows from our settlement were murdered there—so we established a settlement in their name. There is a settlement here in which, incidentally, Deputy Prime Minister Lieberman lives, Nokdim. We established it after the funeral of the second fellow who was killed. Am Yisrael Hai [The Jewish peoples live].
Here is video made from our footage of Rabbi Froman and his son, Shivi: