The anti-Zionism of Jewish Israelis is probably made of different stuff from that of other Jews, as it was formed in reaction to the existence of the Jewish state, rather than before the state. The rhetoric of secular anti-Zionists is often the same: "Jews are not a people, secular democratic state, government is not legitimate ..." but the motivation is different. Among religious opposition, from the inception of Zionism
, religious fanatics of the Neturei Karteh
insisted that a secular leadership could have no legitimacy and, logically, rejected the authority of the Jewish state. Religious Zionists, on the other hand, accepted the authority and sovereignty of the state, which was the purpose of Zionism.
Zionism was the result of rebellion against traditional Jewish society, which was opposed to Jewish political initiatives, and against assimilationism, which tried to efface Jewish identity. The old anti-Zionism was a "pre-existing condition" that formed the background for the Zionist revolt. But Israeli Jewish anti-Zionism is a revolt against Zionism.
Jewish Israelis who grew up after 1948 grew up in the shadow of the mythical founding generation, the people who gave us the state. Israel
was now a fact, thanks to those people, however imperfect they might have been. It is hard to grow in the shade of such a large tree, to find some independent intellectual legitimacy and to make some contribution that is equal to theirs. The best thing to do, for many, was therefore to deny the legitimacy of the whole thing. To invent a new history in which the Jews were the Nazis and the ethnic cleansers with the powerful armies, the Arabs were defenseless against the Jewish Juggernaut, and the Grand Mufti Hajj Amin al Husseini
was a well meaning and enlightened humanitarian rather than a Nazi war criminal planning a second Holocaust.
The Six Day War
created a new generation of malcontents. The IDF that liberated Jerusalem and conquered the West Bank was led by secular Zionists, including a lot of Kibbutzniks. The orthodox rabbis of New York and Los Angeles and Bnei Brak had little part in building the society or the army that produced that victory, but now they wanted "in." The conquests engendered an ideology that is is an oxymoron - a Zionism based solely on religion. By an ironic dialectic, a number of them have now become so "Zionist" that they deny the legitimacy of the state and are trying to undermine and destroy it.
The death knell of so-called religious Zionism of this type was sounded by the assassination of Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin
. It seemed impossible to image that a Jew and a Zionist would assassinate the head of the new Jewish state, but it happened. As it turns out, Yigal Amir is not alone, as a substantial number of Israelis support pardoning the assassin.
Two recent bizarre occurrences highlight have sounded the battle cry of the new rebellion. The first is the report of a criminal legal case, in which somehow the rabbinical courts claimed or were given authority, after the defendant, a West Bank settler, refused to cooperate with the court on the grounds that she does not recognize the jurisdiction of Israeli courts. The account
, from a sympathetic source which sees nothing wrong with her actions, is hard to believe, but it is true:
In what was deemed an unprecedented move, an 18 year-old Jewish girl was sent to a rabbinical court in an attempt to convince her to cooperate with the secular Israeli judiciary in a criminal case.
Tzvia Sariel was taken to a hearing before a Jerusalem Rabbinical Court which declared her to be innocent of charges of assaulting an Arab and ordered her to be immediately freed. At that point, however, prison guards spirited Tzvia to a waiting van and she was returned to prison to continue her fourth month in jail.
Human rights activists assess that Tzvia remains in prison solely because she refuses to cooperate with authorities. She has refused to identify herself, retain an attorney or submit a defense.
Every day and every hour that Tzvia Sariel spends behind bars is a wrongdoing to this girl," Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, head of the court, said "Justice demands to release her immediately. It is a serious stain on the judiciary system in Israel. According to the Torah law of Israel, we are demanding her immediate release without conditions and to erase the indictment."
Here we have a "Zionist" who has been made into a martyr by other "Zionists" because she refuses to recognizes Jewish sovereignty in Israel. This" cause" is supported by an organization that calls itself Zionist, and we have a rabbinic court that trying to usurp the authority of the state. Rabbinical courts are empowered to rule in cases of marriage, divorce, Jewish identity and other religious issues. It is hard to imagine how anyone can think that "Torah Law" applies to a criminal prosecution. What will we do when Muslim Imams rule that members of their congregation must be released from police detention by the dictates of Sharia law? What happens in Israel to Arab defendants who refuse to cooperate with the court or recognize its jurisdiction, and how to we judge such people?
The second incident was more dramatic, if less significant from a legal and ideological point of view. Crowds of angry religious Jewish extremists stormed the East Jerusalem neighborhood of the Arab terrorist who carried out the recent Yeshiva massacre. This was not a quiet and dignified procession of mourners and protesters. The conspirators converged on the neighborhood from different points. One of them carried a large knife. They proceeded to carry out a good old fashioned pogrom, throwing stones and destroying property of innocent people at random. At least, this very un-Jewish (never mind un-Zionist) event met with rabbinic disapproval.
The new Israeli anti-Zionism is far more dangerous than fringe groups like anarchists and communists. The extremist Yeshiva students and settlers are not 'outsiders.' They are nurtured and subsidized and supported by the state that they are trying to destroy, and defended by the IDF. The rabbinical judges who usurp the authority of the state get their salaries from that state. They are tearing down their own house from within.
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Replies: 5 Comments
Dear Larry Riteman,
To put it diplomatically, your reading comprehension skills leave something to be desired, as I didn't write that there were no religious Zionists.
As for your second letter, you might as well say that you were inspired by Jehovah. You didn't give any data to back your case. It is well that you have such a high opinion of yourself, but that is your own affair.
You would do better to read some media accounts of the case and argue the facts.
Ami Isseroff, Monday, March 24th
Ms. Lynne T, I did not say "did not know the particulars of the history" what I said was I did not know the particulars. (ie of the "Tzvia Sariel" case) and that I did know that the "history" proported to give it context was partisan and flawed. What merit does my criticism stand on? It stands on a breathtaking database from left and right, from ancient to modern, a reading list of writers too vast to articulate here and my own living experiences in the eretz. As for your council, it speaks for itself.
Larry Riteman, Monday, March 24th
The awful truth is that the 'riot' by some angry Jews in the Arab neighbourhood may well cause Arab Muslims to think twice about attacking religious Jews... During centuries of Muslim domination & occupation in eretz Israel (& throughout the Islamosphere) Muslim individuals or groups could do ANYTHING they liked to the dhimmis (and I mean ANYTHING) - kick, slander, spit at, shove into the gutter, hit, throw rocks at, bash up, rape, rob, hold to ransom, verbally abuse & even outright murder - while the dhimmi victims were supposed to cringe like beaten dogs & 'take it', "yes massa no massa whatever you say massa" - dhimmis had NO right of self-defence, NO right to bear arms, NO right to respond, NO right even to utter a squeak of complaint (like abused spouses or children, the abuse was ALWAYS 'their' fault & the abuser, the Muslim, was ALWAYS 'in the right'). The overriding aim of way too many Muslims is to force those nasty 'uppity' Israeli Jews and their upstart Jewish state back into the dhimmi pattern of submissive nonreaction even to ultraviolent Arab aggression - so to refuse to conform to that pattern is probably, on balance, a good thing. Unpleasant but true. Sweet reason & appeasement never work with bullies, gang members, or hardcore dyed-in-the-wool abusers, & Islam's default pattern toward non-Muslims - thanks to its denial of the Golden Rule - resembles all of these nasties. Much of the ummah, with no firm idea that 'do as you would be done by' might possibly apply to everyone, not just fellow Muslims (and that non-Muslims should NOT be treated as prey) may find itself suffering 'be done by as you did' at the hands of enraged non-muslims who have finally HAD ENOUGH.
S McCosker, Wednesday, March 19th
If you haven't read Nick Cohen's "What's Left: How Liberals Lost Their Way", I suggest you do. He puts down the hostility expressed by citizens of the various western countries that joined into the efforts to remove the Taliban and Saddam Hussein from power comes from the ease with which one can hate that which one knows well, more easily than that which one doesn't know as intimately. Hence, Bush = Hitler, Tony Blair = Tony BLIAR, but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been misquoted on his desire to annihilate Israel, and Israel is being unreasonable for refusing to negotiate with Hamas just because of what Hamas's Charter has to say about eradicating Israel.
As for Larry R -- if you don't know the particulars of the history Ami cites, what merit does your criticism stand on?
Lynne T, Tuesday, March 18th
I don't know the particulars but I do know your history is flawed and highly partisan, there were always religious Jews who were zionists and not every religious Jew is a Neturie Karta or Satmar Yidden. There is always two sides to every story and that is certainly the case here. It is quite clear that you are attempting to forment contempt and thus it is equally clear that your "opinion" can't stand on its own merit.
Larry Riteman, Monday, March 17th
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