Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef on Withdrawing from Territories
As a result of both Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef’s illness, may he recover and live until 120, and the appearance of Shas MK Yitzhak Vaknin at the J Street Conference, a number of people have been speaking about Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef’s responsum on withdrawing from territory that has been captured/liberated (whichever you prefer). See for example the following comments in Haaretz from Avirama Golan:
Rabbi Yosef sought to inculcate throughout society the awareness of the authentic place of the people of this land, in a tolerant and flexible Mediterranean spirit. In this context he dared, for example, to rule that the value of pikuah nefesh – preservation of life – outweighed that of settling the territories; insisted that the establishment of the state was not a religious miracle; did not segregate secular people, and sought to create a single prayer service for everyone, in Sephardi style. The worldview he expressed resembled the dream of Israel’s founders of a unified national consciousness, but it was better suited to the true Israel. Despite the slander, this view is anti-nationalist and anti-Haredi. Although the leaders of Shas dragged their party into separatism, their rabbi was and is a Zionist leader in the full social and national sense of the word. His worldview, which was distorted, stained and taken advantage of, still exists, crystal-clear, in his writings. For all the foolish slips of the tongue that he made under the pressure of the power-hungry bullies who surrounded him, and despite his human weaknesses, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is nonetheless a revolutionary. And the revolution he led still issues its own fascinating call to Israeli society.
The responsum itself can be found here (Hebrew).
It may be one of the only responsum that has had an entire book devoted to criticizing it. This specific responsum has been discussed a number of times in scholarly literature. Online one is able to read Shlomo Fisher’s Excursus: Concerning the Rulings of R. Ovadiah Yosef Pertaining to the Thanksgiving Prayer, the Settlement of the Land of Israel, and Middle East Peace and Devorah Schoenfeld’s Formalism, Morality and Ovadia Yosef: A Response to Daniel Statman.