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Beliefs & Perspectives Zionism/Nationalism

The Obsolescence of the Religious Parties

Thirteen bloody years of experience with the serial killers of the Palestinian Authority (PA) have taught Israel’s Left nothing—and the mentality of Left has infected the nation, including the religious parties and the misnamed Right. Despite the genocidal objectives of the PA, Israel behaves as if peace with these Jew-killers can be achieved by “disengagement.” How is this bizarre state of affairs to be understood?

Israel’s secular and religious leaders have been corrupted by the decadence of contemporary democracy. This decadence is the result of moral relativism and materialism. The combination dulls people’s moral sensibilities. The religious parties are not immune to this decadence: they cannot participate in democratic politics without becoming tainted by its narrowness and short-sightedness.

Relativism and materialism cause people to err in two ways. First, they become indifferent to evil or fail to see its long-range consequences. Second, and far worse, they see evil as though it were good, and good as if it were evil, and, because of this, they cling to their foolish and evil ways. Notice how often Israel’s leaders have negotiated in vain with the terror masters of the PA, and how they persist in making unilateral concessions, such as releasing Arab terrorists.

Their inability to see implacable evil without distortion is the consequence of their own self-aggrandizement. They cloak their self-serving motives—their lust for power and prestige—in the garb of “democracy” or some other soporific like “peace.”

Thirteen years of Oslo and five or six diverse prime ministers suggest that there is no political and therefore no democratic remedy for Israel’s malaise. To understand this we have to back to the founding of the State.

The State was founded as an instrument of “Zionism”; Zionism was the State’s raison d’etre. However, this Zionism was based not on the Torah but on the territorial nationalism of nineteenth-century Europe. The Zionism professed by the Likud, for example, has nothing to do with the “Zion” of the prophets or with Torah Judaism. Zion is the dwelling place of God’s glory. It is the Sanctuary of the Torah, the Holy City which surrounds it, Jerusalem. From Zion the word of God—the Truth—shall come forth.

Such exalted ideas obviously transcend the Zionism of the Likud. No wonder the Likud spawned Kadima, a party without an ideology. But this is because the Likud never had a Torah-based ideology—not even a kippa-wearing minister. Its nationalism was European, not Jewish.

Just as European nationalism supplanted Christianity, so Zionism was intended to supplant Judaism, that is, to make Jews a “normal” people—a nation like all other nations. This means that Zionism was to endow Jews with a new identity: Jews would only be nominal Jews. Is it any wonder that Zionism has been replaced by democracy as the sole justification of the State of Israel?

While Zionism was to supplant Torah Judaism, the State was to provide the institutional mechanism for this deconstruction of Jewish beliefs and values. The Torah would be reduced to a “religion”—a matter of private conscience—relegated to the home and the synagogue and divorced from public law and public life. The “Jewish State” was to be Jewish in name only.

Consider “religious Zionism.” Religious Zionism is an attempt to make the laws of State conform to the Torah. But this is impossible given the modern concept of the sovereign state, which makes the laws of the State the supreme law, hence superior to the laws of the Torah. That was the message of the Disengagement Law and the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif. Disengagement revealed that “religious Zionism” is illusory or the result of intellectual shallowness.

Notice the decline of the National Religious Party. It was saved from extinction by its merger with National Union. Notice that the NRP is willing to submit further disengagements to a national referendum! Religious Zionism is comatose.

What about the anti-Zionist religious parties—United Torah Judaism and Shas? It was UTJ that doomed Gush Katif when it joined the Likud-Labor coalition government—the government that implemented the Disengagement Law. UTJ was paid 290 million shekels (about $63 million) to ignore the Torah principles against yielding Jewish land to non-Jews and expelling Jews from their homes. And now Gaza has become a base for global terrorism and a transit station for arms shipments to Judea and Samaria. What this may cost in Jewish lives and in billions of dollars reflects badly on UTJ and its mentors.

Now UTJ has no grounds for opposing Olmert’s “convergence plan,” which involves the deportation of at least 70,000 Jews from in Judea and Samaria. Left-wing journalist, Yaron London, commenting on the hidden costs of this plan, writes in Yedioth Ahronoth (April 4, 2006):

Based on the justified precedent that was set in the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, convergence will cost approximately $50 billion, and there are some people who estimate that even that will not be enough. Only the power of imagination is capable of grasping the full price, including the army’s … relocation of bases and installations….

We do not know at what pace convergence is going to be carried out, but … there can be no doubt that for a number of years, payments for welfare will be cut, investments in the economy will decline, taxes will be raised, and the state’s debts will increase. Do not place too much hope in contributions that will be made by generous countries because no one but us is going to pay the price of convergence …

Obviously, the convergence plan will require the State to slash funding for religious services, and no sector will suffer more than the Haredim.

Shas is another party that puts its own narrow and immediate interests over the national interest. For example: In January 1993, a special Report of the State Comptroller stated that an illegal agreement was made on October 6, 1989 under which Shas agreed to back Labor in the Histadrut elections of that year in return for monthly consecutive payments of 110,000 NIS (about $55,000 at the time) which were spread out over a three year period lasting until the end of 1992, six months after the June 23 national elections.

During the election campaign, Shas promised its voters it would not join a Labor-Meretz government. It did more than that: it made that government. (Labor and Meretz had only 56 seats, whereas the Likud and the religious parties had 59.) By joining Labor and Meretz, Shas became a party to the Oslo Agreement. Shas must therefore be held responsible for 6,000 Jewish casualties and the loss of Jewish land resulting from that agreement.

The religious parties, no less than the secular parties, are a national disaster. Therefore, it seems to me the religious community must cease supporting religious parties, must drastically reduce its dependence on the State for its religious needs, but it must also engage in fundamental criticism of the anti-democratic nature of the State’s political and judicial institutions.

I know this is a tall order. But since Israel has become a Kadima-type State—a State without any ideology—a State that makes Jewish life expendable—we need to start a revolution in this country by forming an alternative government.

People will say this idea of an “alternative government” is unrealistic or not pragmatic. To this I reply as follows. To be realistic or pragmatic is to perpetuate the existing system—to play according to the rules and concepts and myths of the existing system. We have 120 pragmatists in the Knesset. We’ll have 84 pragmatists in the Olmert government, with 27 or 28 ministers—all pragmatists dividing the public treasury.

If you want to change the system, you must cease acting according to the system. We need new men and women who are not pragmatists, who are dedicated to changing Israel’s unJewish, undemocratic, and suicidal system of governance that is making Jewish life in this country expendable—as we saw by the government’s failure to retaliate after the latest Tel Aviv suicide bombing.

Israel is at war; we need leaders with courage enough to win this war. Instead, we have politicians and even generals who hide their cowardice by talking about the problem of civilian casualties. Could the Allies have won World War II without civilian casualties? Besides, 80% of the Palestinian Arabs support suicide bombers and are committed to Israel’s annihilation. These are not innocent civilians; they aid and abet the terror masters of the PA. They elected Hamas to be their leader. They—and not Jews—should suffer the consequences.

But the only way to reduce Jewish, as well as Arab, casualties is for Israel to win the war in the shortest possible time; and this will require the use of overwhelming ground and air attacks. This is the only moral way to conduct a war. The shame of shames is that the religious parties are silent while Jews are being murdered because of the government’s cowardly policy of self-restraint. Enough of religious parties that have the Name of God on their lips but not in their hearts!

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