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Beliefs & Perspectives Judaism Zionism/Nationalism

The Impossibility of Secular Zionism

From time to time we hear that secular Zionism is dead. Actually, secular Zionism was always a logical impossibility—as contradictory as atheism and theism. Let’s define our terms.

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

David Ben-Gurion agreed with the Greek sophist: “…as one who is non-religious, I believe that theology reverses the true sequence of events. To me it is clear that God was ‘created’ in the image of man…”

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.

Clearly, this was never the program of any secular party. The Likud may call itself a Zionist party, and it may even be called such by some religionists. This is shallow if not disingenuous.

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

From this one may get the impression that “secular Zionism” is a chair with two legs: (1) the Land of Israel, and (2) the People of Israel, i.e., the Jews. If this were so, secularism and Zionism would not be wholly contradictory. But the impression is erroneous, as may be seen via a candid analysis of Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence.

The very first sentence of the Declaration proclaims: “The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish People.” This is a literal falsehood, even though the document was signed by four rabbis, who surely knew that the children of Israel were called a “people” as well as a “nation” before the Exodus.

To compound that falsehood, the document goes on to say of the Land of Israel: “Here their spiritual, religious, and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.”

Aside from the fact that such words as “religious” and “political” are foreign to the “Book of Books,” to say the Jews created cultural values of national and universal significance is tacitly to deny the Law-giving at Sinai. (By the way: to refer to the Book that prescribes these cultural values as “eternal” is an oxymoron: nothing created by man is eternal.)

To reinforce its secular orientation, the Declaration not only makes no mention of God, but it refers to Theodor Herzl—the only name in the body of the document—as “the spiritual father of the Jewish state.”

Here it should be noted that Herzl’s tract, The Jewish State, severs the state from Jewish law and relegates Judaism to the family and the synagogue. Given the Declaration’s pronounced secularism, it’s reasonable to conclude that the ultimate goal of the founders of the so-called Jewish state was to change the identity of the Jewish people!

This is what secular Zionism is all about: A state devoid of Torah and nominal Jews to rule the state. But for nominal Jews to rule the state they must make sure that religious Jews do not become a majority. This can be done in various ways, of which I shall mention only one: undermine religious Zionism by withdrawing from Judea, Samaria, and Gaza and expelling its Jewish residents.

We see, therefore, that “secular Zionism,” having abandoned the Torah, has no leg to stand on. It has betrayed the Jewish People as well as the Land of Israel.

But all this was foreshadowed in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. That document, said the Supreme Court, has “laid down the way of life of the citizens of the State, and its principles must guide every public authority.” The key operational principle of that document is political equality, which applies to Jews and non-Jews alike. The logic of this principle cannot but transform the so-called Jewish state into “a state of its citizens.”

There is not a single “secular Zionist” that rejects that egalitarian principle. Conclusion: Secular Zionism is an impossibility.

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