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For some reason, it is easy to be so Jewish that you become an anti-Semite. We are all too familiar with the Netureh Karteh fanatics and their kin who merrily consort with Palestinian extremists and with Neo-Nazis in Austria. However, it doesn't end there at all.

The Religious Zionist movement has a glorious place in the rebirth of the Jewish people. For many, many years they represented Jewish values and pioneering in the best sense of the words. They provided a moral conscience and voice against violence, they promoted the study of our heritage, they contributed selflessly to pioneering efforts and Hebrew and Jewish education in Israel and throughout the world.

After the Six Day war, some religious Zionists were beguiled by the dream of Greater Israel. They led the religious Zionist movement down a dead-end path, not because it is wrong to want the best for Israel, but because insistence on Messianic perfection had to lead to tragedy. Their moral mistakes were to put real estate and rocks before national unity, Jewish ethics and the injunction to seek peace and love peace. Pragmatically, a movement that tries to enslave a modern state to a religious ideology is bound to fail. Religious Zionists of this type made the loudest claim to be standard bearers of Zionism. However, the marriage between Zionism and that brand of religion could not last it seems, perhaps for much the same reasons that Neturei Karteh Jews have denied their heritage.

Zionism is a pragmatic and democratic political movement to build a state. A state is a secular institution. Its policies cannot be determined by the dictates of Jewish law (halacha) as interpreted by particular rabbis. States must compromise with reality. Religions can insist on perfection to be brought about by the miraculous arrival of the Messiah. For extreme representatives of religious Zionism, redemption is an end to be achieved in only one possible way. For the rest of us Zionists, redemption is a process. Thus, Ben-Gurion remarked that the important thing about the Messiah was not his arrival, but the anticipation of his arrival.

As long as the state served the ends of Greater Israel advocates, they were Zionists. However, it invevitably became apparent that the process of redemption would not immediately culminate in perfect Messianic deliverance. Even ignoring ethical considerations, the flesh and blood government and soldiers of Israel had to adjust policies and tactics to the dictates of superpowers international law and military necessity. Israel could not continue to waste huge resources: money, manpower and international prestige on the dubious venture of settlements in Gaza. No matter what you may believe about divine intentions, three divisions of the IDF could not be tied down to defend 8,000 settlers. The entire moral basis of the state of Israel could not be jeopardized for some caravans in Amona. King David could have a kingdom without Gaza, but King Feiglin could not have a state without Gush Katif. The extremists would make us lose Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv trying to save Amona and Hebron. These realities were understood not only by dovish Israelis, but by a big part of the hard core of the traditonal Israeli right, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert among them.

The inevitable clash came, and religious Zionists had to choose between Zionism and a distorted version of religion: worship of the golden calf of real estate. Some are choosing Zionism. Others have turned against Zionism and against the state, as Zvi Grumet reports in Haaretz. He writes:


..What I see looming is nothing less than the end of religious Zionism. Here are some anecdotes:

A 75-year-old grandmother, a woman who was an avid Zionist from her youth, who used to bake cookies for soldiers, takes pride and delight in sticking out her foot to trip soldiers on duty in Amona.

A 43-year-old father of seven, who led his siblings and parents in making aliyah, teaches his children that the police and army are evil, and that the family should find ways to defeat those forces of evil.

Residents of a nationalist, upscale, intellectual community in Judea refuse to give lifts to hitchhiking soldiers: They don't want their cars defiled by the presence of the dirty enemy.



Aren't these the very same people who were quick to chastise any Jewish opposition to Israeli policy as "self-hating Jews?" Aren't these communities and these people the product of the state that they now despise? None of these communities could ever have existed without the state and without the IDF, and they would not survive a day in their settlements without the protection of the state.

The signs that Grumet reports now are not entirely new. There have been Jewish terror groups and a "state of Judea" for some time. Groups like Women in Green have been insisting that Israeli leaders are traitors for many years. Of course, we cannot forget Yigal Amir either. However, in the past, the revolt against Zionism could be shrugged off as an aberration of extremists. It is apparently no longer so.

Grumet writes:


I am neither a historian nor a sociologist, so I cannot pinpoint the exact moment at which the process began, nor when it picked up momentum. But I sense that the very group I always imagined would be the bridge between the secular and religious communities in Israel is finishing the job of burning the very bridges they so carefully cultivated. Supporting and defending the state have been replaced by its complete delegitimization. When did the Jewish-religious national dream become defined exclusively by the construction of communities in the West Bank and Gaza?



When indeed? Isn't there an oxymoronic contradiction and confusion inherent in the phrase Jewish-religious national? It sums up the whole dilemma of religious Zionism. The Jewish religion, like most ancient religions, was a religion supported by a state, and the Jewish people were and are a people held together by its religion. Throughout 2000 years of exile, the Jewish religion became the main vehicle for transmitting Jewish national culture and maintaining a community of the Jewish people. The rise of Zionism forced a change in this relation and separated these Siamese twins. A modern nation-state cannot be confounded with a religious institution. There is only one such example in the world today, the Islamic Republic of Iran. This horrid regime must be a warning for anyone who would contemplate a religious state of any kind. The goal of Zionism was to produce a national home, which became expressed as a secular nation-state, recognized in international law, and it could never have been anything else.

For a thousand reasons grounded deeply in European history, international law would look askance at a Jewish (religious) state as it would at a Catholic or Lutheran state. Jews in the Diaspora are always first in the fight for separation of church and state. A state of the Jewish people can be a home and support for the Jewish religion, and it can be the expression of an aspect of the Jewish religion. However, it cannot be an instrument of the Jewish religion or identical to it. If religious Zionism is to survive, it must internalize this distinction. In practical terms, religious Zionists must decide: What is more holy to them, the survival of the Jewish community in Israel, or the rocks in Amona?

Ami Isseroff



Last update - 09:41 06/03/2006

Too terrifying, too tragic
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/690405.html
By Zvi Grumet


I first started writing these musings when I came on aliyah, between four and five years ago. Mostly, they reflected my delight in the little things, and the big things, that make this country special. The sights, smells, people, seasons, quirks and, yes, even the annoyances and problems - I delighted in the problems because they were ours.

But I have found the events of the past six months deeply troubling. No, that word is not sufficient. Frightening. Terrifying.

No, I am not speaking about the rise of Hamas or the nuclear capabilities of Iran. Nor am I referring to the disengagement/evacuation/destruction from Gaza/northern Samaria/Amona. What I see looming is nothing less than the end of religious Zionism. Here are some anecdotes:

A 75-year-old grandmother, a woman who was an avid Zionist from her youth, who used to bake cookies for soldiers, takes pride and delight in sticking out her foot to trip soldiers on duty in Amona.

A 43-year-old father of seven, who led his siblings and parents in making aliyah, teaches his children that the police and army are evil, and that the family should find ways to defeat those forces of evil.

Residents of a nationalist, upscale, intellectual community in Judea refuse to give lifts to hitchhiking soldiers: They don't want their cars defiled by the presence of the dirty enemy.

The rabbi in that same community is pressured by many members not to say a prayer for stricken Prime Minister Sharon, and gives in to that pressure.

The rabbi of a community in Samaria speaks of the youth in his community as a "new ultra-Orthodox society" that does not ascribe value to the state.

In yet another community, activists send letters to Jewish communities across the United States, encouraging people to stop providing support to Israel of any kind - financial, political, or other.

And yet another (fringe?) group speaks of setting up an independent "State of Judea & Samaria."

To put it quite simply - and these are the words of the national-religious community, not my own - they are disengaging from the state and its institutions.

I was always led to believe that Zionism in general, and religious Zionism in particular, bore noble dreams of building a Jewish national home that could serve as the laboratory for actualization of the noblest of Jewish ideals. I am haunted by the voice of the prophet Jeremiah - who railed against those who would consider the Holy Temple or the royal throne as being of paramount importance. "If you really mend your ways and your actions; if you execute justice between one man and another; if you do not oppress the stranger, the orphan, and the widow; if you do not shed the blood of the innocent in this place ... then only will I let you dwell in this place."

Or how about the great prophet Zechariah, many of whose prophecies we've seen come true in our own day. Asked whether one should continue fasting in mourning for the Holy Temple, his response was: "Execute true justice; deal loyally and compassionately with one another. Do not defraud the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and the poor; and do not plot evil against one another - But they refused to pay heed. ... 'So ... let them call and I will not listen. I dispersed them among all the nations ... and the land was left behind them desolate.'"

For these and other prophets, no values stand above those that will bind society together.

I am neither a historian nor a sociologist, so I cannot pinpoint the exact moment at which the process began, nor when it picked up momentum. But I sense that the very group I always imagined would be the bridge between the secular and religious communities in Israel is finishing the job of burning the very bridges they so carefully cultivated. Supporting and defending the state have been replaced by its complete delegitimization. When did the Jewish-religious national dream become defined exclusive by the construction of communities in the West Bank and Gaza?

It was not long ago - after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin - that the religious-Zionist community was outraged that they were all labeled as right-wing extremists, that they were refused lifts when hitchhiking, that taxis and buses would not stop for men wearing knitted kippot or women who dressed modestly. That outrage was understood: What right did anyone have blackballing an entire community because of the actions of an individual? It was not long before all yeshiva high schools and their students were considered suspect because one graduate killed 29 Muslims at prayer in the Tomb of the Patriarchs. That suspicion and accusation, too, was outrageous. Could it be, in retrospect, that we are providing our accusers with reason to believe that they were essentially correct?

I tremble to think of what the demographics of this fragile country I so love, warts and all, might look like: Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) anti-Zionists, religious non-Zionist nationalists (formerly the religious-nationalist community), Arabs, leftist anti-Zionists. The brink we are at is not just all about crossing the red lines of violence, both on the parts of the army/police and the protesters - it's the brink of dissolving the last bit of glue holding our people together. If we lose that glue, if we allow the voice of the religious-Zionist community to become narrow and sectarian rather than broad and inclusive, then I fear that we will endanger the entire Zionist enterprise.

For anyone with a sense of history, it is a thought too terrifying to contemplate. And for anyone with a sense of destiny, it is a thought too tragic to imagine.

Original content is Copyright by the author 2006. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000010.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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