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Professor Paul Eidelberg, a man of egregious virtue and accomplishments and a great thinker, reasons deductively, from first principles. This method has led him to an earth shaking conclusion: The impossibility of Secular Zionism. We can't build a Jewish nation state after all. Herzl and Ben-Gurion were wrong it seems. If so great an authority as Professor Eidelberg has reached this conclusion, who am I to say otherwise? All that I see around me must be an illusion.

However, as was discovered quite a number of years ago, deductive logic is not a good method of reaching conclusions about the real world. In reality, we are fairly certain that Israel exists, and there is no way to reconcile the existence of the city of Tel Aviv, the Israeli Army, the farms and factories and secular people living in Israel with the dictum that secular Zionism is impossible. The secular Zionists who are struggling to found a settlement in the Negev at Be'er Milkah exist, despite the proof of the learned professor. There are more things on heaven and earth, Professor Eidelberg, than were dreamt of in your philosophy.

"Grant me one false syllogism," stated another famous professor, Bertrand Russell, "and I will prove to you that I am the successor to the throne of England." Eidelberg has made a number of false assumptions as well as false syllogisms, and therefore he has reached a conclusion that is opposed to reality. He starts with an inappropriate understanding of secularism:

Secularism is the tendency of man to assert the autonomy of his own will or reason vis-a-vis any deity. “Man,” said Protagoras, “is the measure of all things, of things on earth and in the heavens.”

. That is one definition, but Protagoras lived quite a while ago, and never dreamt of nation-states, the UN and the Treaty of Westphalia.

In the context of modern political theory, secularism means:

The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education.

. According to this doctrine, the state must be secular. The individuals in it can have any belief they want or no belief. Eidelberg makes this error because he tries to derive meaning not from usage, but rather from etymologies and historical uses that may be archaic or irrelevant. An "anti-Semite" as we know, is not a person who is opposed to speaking of Semitic languages or to Arab and Jewish people as a whole, but a person who hates Jews. When a person throws down the gauntlet today, he or she is not about to engage in Medieval combat.

Eidelberg also has a wrong definition of Zionism, arrived at in the same way. He writes:

: As for “Zionism”: the term is derived from Zion, one of the most sacred words in the dictionary of authentic Judaism. Zion is the dwelling place of God’s glory. It is the Sanctuary of the Torah, the Holy City which surrounds it. From Zion, from Jerusalem, the word of God—the Truth—shall come forth. The Jewish people, living according to the word of God in the Land of Israel, would thus be a blessing to all the families of mankind.


From this grandiose platform that invokes the name of the almighty and the vision of the prophets of old, Eidelberg goes on to reinvent Zionism in His own image. He states:

Zionism embraces three fundamental and inseparable principles: the Land of Israel, the People of Israel, and, above all, the Torah

.With respect, the Zionists define what Zionism is, and that isn't it. It might be Eidelbergism. If Zionism is founded on the Torah, then not only would Zionism be impossible, but religious anti-Zionism would be impossible as well. Nonetheless the Netureh Karteh and "True Torah Jews" insist that Torah and Zionism are antitheses, while secular Zionism exists and flourishes.

"Zionism" as it was formulated and intended, could not embrace the Torah or reject the Torah in the sense that Eidelberg means. The purpose of Zionism, as enunciated at the first Zionist Congress, was:

:Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law

. Not a word there about Torah or God from Zion or Bar-Ilan, and for good reason. The thesis of Zionism was that the condition of the Jews had become impossible as a landless nation in a world of nation states, and that problem could only be corrected by obtaining a country for the Jewish people. (see also here.).

The modern order of nation states is inherently secular. There are no states based on religion and there cannot, in the good order of things, be such states. The Islamic Republic of Iran is an aberration in the modern world, and it is not a model we wish to follow. If Zionism were to ask for a state for a religion, rather than a nation or people, its claims on self determination would be invalid. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of Zionists were and are either secular Jews or supporters of a secular state. What would the the criterion be for "who is a Jew" in such a state? Would only believing Jews be admitted? Would people fleeing persecution have to confess their sins and repent before the state of Israel admitted them?

Even if Eidelberg and his followers could create a Halachic Jewish state, not many Jews would want to live in it. Secular Jews who form the majority of Israeli Zionists, would not abide such a state. On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of orthodox Jews in Israel are not Zionist, and some are anti-Zionist. The religious Zionist party, the NRP, garners only a small percentage of the vote. So who would live in this state, and who would support it? Who would build its cities and fight in its army?

Eidelberg's opening remarks tell us where his sort of reasoning will lead:

: From time to time we hear that secular Zionism is dead. Zionism was always a logical impossibility—as contradictory as atheism and theism.

That is only true if we accept the claim of anti-Zionists, that the Jews are a religion and not a people, and therefore do not deserve a state. Meanwhile, secular Zionism can say what Mark Twain said, "Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."

Trotsky is dead, so Eidelberg instead, leads the anti-Zionist fight. Those who follow Eidelberg will necessarily get to where Eidelbergism leads: a community of religious Jews living in a Muslim state, deprived of national self determination.

Hat tip: Israpundit

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2006. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000289.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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Replies: 5 Comments

Dear Ami,
As usual you out did your self. It's too bad that the religious continue to deny that our existance. As for Ed,
After we secularists did all of the fighting, bleeding and building you moved from the states to your large and comfortable villas in "Eretz Yisrael".
As for whose side 'HaShem' is on, he is on the side of those who do not defame his honor.
When I can see the cleaning up of the cesspool of the "ultra religious", and all of the actions that the Nazi's used against us in their propaganda war, i.e. Lying, blackmail, thievery, murder, prostitution, white slavery, etc. Then you can talk about Sodom and Gamorah to me.
As for the billions of our 'secular' tax monies and contributions to build up the wasteful Gaza settlements and the millions wasted on the West Bank-your 'Kingdom of Judah" and the hours and days that my sons and I wasted guarding your snobbish and totally ungrateful 'friends' then I'll be glad to blow smoke in your eyes.
Also Ed how would you like spending 35 days a year guard 10 ungrateful snobby New York born religious couples,who by the way shouldn't have had children for the way they disregarded theirs. They reaked and there homes reaked. Their kids where dirtier than the Arabs who lived near by, who by the way where nicer to us than them. As a parent I couldn't understand how 'HaShem' was on their side. They kept 'Shabbat'? They studied? Big Deal!!! They were like the original religious 'Juden' that lived on 'Halokah'. They studied? I never saw it. They were too busy stoning the Arabs, tearing up their olive trees and driving me and my soldiers up the preverbal wall. Not once did we receive a word of kindness, thought we guarded them day in, and day out-rain and shine, cold and hot. So my 'secular' soldiers from the 'Gmorrah' of Tel Aviv, who by the way lost out on the University studies,they aren't given money like the 'Chavre' either. Did their duty without question. So where do you have the frigging audacity to open your mouth?
Sincerely yours,
Yakov Marks

big_yakov, Wednesday, November 15th

I never considered modern Zionism separable from its launching pad in Europe, which is to say, The Dreyfus Affair in France. I can't see today's Zionism as being given the credibility it did among Jews without those events, which preceded even The Holocaust. It was the event inside France which alarmed Herzl, of course. Those events were the foundation for his arguments in his famous essay. -- thanks, Lurene Gisee

Lurene Gisee, Tuesday, November 14th

Ami Iseroff in her valiant defense of 'secular' Zionism (which today has few true ideological adherents in Israel) forgets one not so tiny detail, there would be NO Israel today if it wasn't for Ha Shem's promise of Eretz Israel as a home for His Nation, Am Israel. The secularists would have considered Uganda or Argentina, etc. There is no reason for Jews to live in the Land of Israel without that elemental root!!!

Dr. Moshe Israel, Tuesday, November 14th

The article is filled with its own assumptions and contradictions. The author condemns Eidelberg for the use of old definitions and avoiding reality. He then defines Zionism by using the First Zionist Congress. While it is true that the First Zionist Congress defined Zionism, it is not true that this is the definition that most Jews follow today. Most of them are not even aware of it.
The real question is how most Jews living in Israel view it. Whether the reason for being there is to have a safe haven (political Zionism) or to fulfill the dream that is found in the Bible (idealistic Zionism) whether it is connected to God or not.My own experience after serving as a community Rabbi in Israel (Kfar Saba) for over twenty years is that the latter is more prevalent. It includes the religious community, the Haredi (You can be an idealistic Zionist but against a secualr State)and a large portion of what usually is called secular Jews. They will not say it themselves but they will respnd positively to the idea when it is presented to them. They can see Israel as the fulfillment of a dream of thousands of years and appreciate the central position that the Jewish nation has played in the unfolding of history.They can also understand the irony that the battles that we are fighting withour neighbors are battles for this story.
The question as to whether we can make this work and build a modern State based on the dream, is the most important question facing Jews in this century.
My Foundation The Yad Yaakov Fund (yaadyaakov.org) is trying to do just this. You are welcome to join with us.

Yosef Leibowitz, Tuesday, November 14th

well now,
Ami, you have stepped off the deep end, while at present it is true thatprof. Eidelbergs philosophy has not come to pass, I will look at Hebrew history with a much longer timespan than the past 58 years to determine the permanence of todays Israel compared with Israel of historical past...that of Noach ,who was saved out of all the secularists who perished, and Avraham along with his Grandfather of ten generations passt and Eber his so, and even Terah who was ransomed from a secular life
all were preserved while the secularists perished, even Nimrod the chief secularist was slain by Esau while hunting...tho Esau was himself a secularist, he was used to dispose of the rebellious chief secularist,...then later in Israels history, we see another head secularist arise in Egypt ,pharaoh,whom Hashem had to prove wrong again...with Moses and Aaron as His spokesmen.....every world leader who has opposed the will of Hashem concerning Israel down thru all history were secularists....even in Babylon the model of all bsecular society, where as you say anyone may practice their own religion.....yet people like Edelberg are still around to jab the pricks into the tender skin of secularists today...because he has an eye for lasting Zionism.....not the temporaery type you espouse.....of course we must have Moschiah to defeat hasatan first before the true Zionism that prof. Edelberg speaks of can flourish....so in the meantime we have a defective Zionism...consisting of the body of jews but in many cases ,lacking the true soul who is devoted to Torah, and Hashem first....so we may define you secularists in an old hebrew term known as [jewish golems] instead of real com0plete jews...yes Ami, chaver, thats what you definitly are [a jewish golem] lacking an important part of your intended makeup....it was a matter of choosing good over evil...maybe you have not yet had your eyes opened...do we need another Sodom and Gommorah to help you see Achi..??
there were 5 towns full of secularists in Israel that were very impressed by Hashems demonstration, in fact in 2 of those there were no survivors....secularists could learn from this that Zionism that lasts is from above....all the works of men perish
I'll have to vote for Edelberg's definition of Zionism, thats the kind I support....SEE YOU WHEN THE SMOKE CLEARS....ed lintz

ed lintz, Tuesday, November 14th

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