Monday, August 30, 2010

Closer to God or to Gadi?

In In Israel, Settling for Less, Gadi Taub, an assistant professor of communications and public policy at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the author of “The Settlers”, asks

WILL Israel remain a Zionist state? If so, what kind?

And in order to get the proper answer - or to give it - he sets the framework.

First, he announces that

The secular Zionist dream was fundamentally democratic. Its proponents, from Theodor Herzl to David Ben-Gurion, sought to apply the universal right of self-determination to the Jews, to set them free individually and collectively as a nation within a democratic state.

Of course, when Herzl was forced to renounce the "Uganda" option (actually it was territory in Kenya), he did it not because of self-determination but the concept of Zion and raised his hand to swear by the Psalmist.

He continues:

This dream is now seriously threatened by the religious settlers’ movement, Orthodox Jews whose theological version of Zionism is radically different. Although these religious settlers are relatively few — around 130,000 of the total half-a-million settlers — their actions could spell the end of the Israel we have known.

The roots of the problem have been there from the birth of modern Zionism. The relations between Herzl’s movement and Jewish Orthodoxy were uneasy from the start.

And what did Herzl write:

Our return to the land of our fathers, foretold by Holy Writ...the Promised Land must first be conquered. But let these poor people see that they are already at home...The noted God-given charm of Palestine lay unseen and forgotten for long centuries. Where in the world will you find a country where the springtime is so accessible at all times of the year? Palestine has warm, temperate and cool zones which lie not far apart from each other. God has blessed our land.
Taub continues:

Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, later focused his father’s theological ideas around a single commandment: to settle all the land promised to the ancient Hebrews in the Bible. His disciples, energized by a burning messianic fervor, took Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War of 1967 as confirmation of this theology and set out to fulfill its commandment. Religious enthusiasm made the movement subversive in a deep sense — adherents believed they had a divine obligation to build settlements and considered the authority of Israel’s democratic government conditional on its acceptance of what they declared to be God’s politics.

Although religious settlers often describe themselves as heirs of the early Zionist pioneers, they are anything but. Herzl’s vision was about liberating people, while theirs is about achieving a mystical reunion between the people of Israel and the land of Israel...
Well, yes, there are differences and we need to ask ourselves, if Herzl were alive today and had been witness to the Arab riots of 1929, 1936-39; the War of Independence; the fedayeen; the PLO; etc. and et al., would he be "Herzlian" or somewhat closer to Gush Emunim? Closer to God or closer to Gadi?

Taub's last try at turning Zionism on its head:

The religious settlement movement is not just secular Zionism’s ideological adversary, it is a danger to its very existence. Terrorism is a hazard, but it cannot destroy Herzl’s Zionist vision. More settlements and continued occupation can.

People who actually kill Jews, people who subvert Israel's legitimacy, who practice boycott, and a host of other indelicacies are not as bad as religious nationalists.

And he gets to write in the New York Times.

(Hat tip: BT and also O)

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1 comment:

exposicion muebles madrid said...

No doubt, the chap is totally fair.