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Friday, March 9, 2007

Zionism vs Fanaticism

Bradley Burston has summarized the credo of radical religious Zionism. Burston's summary could be a credo for progressive Zionism. It omits some essentials:
The original sin of all fundamentalists is the notion that religious law must govern the political decisions of a state. This dangerous idea is the property of Jewish fundamentalists, Islamists and some Christian extremists. The foundation of modern states at the peace of Westphalia in 1648 was a compromise that evolved into the secular state of today, and was generalized from European to world experience. Bitter experience proved that it is the only way that states can function. All fundamentalist ideologies should be labeled, "This way lies madness and chaos." Allowing for the primacy of religion over politics, and implanting in the religion ideas that were never there, provides the radical religious right with the license to break the law, to build illegal outposts, to advocate the murder of politicians they don't like, and to glorify the murder of civilians by people like Baruch Goldstein, the Jewish "Shahid." Nowhere in the Bible, the Talmud or the Shulhan Aruch are the "Mitzvot" (commandments) of building illegal outposts or beating up Arabs mentioned.
The corollary and second most harmful article of faith of right-wing religious Zionist extremists is that Zionism can only be based on religion. That destroys the foundation of Zionist ideology, which is that the Jews are a people and deserve a nation state like any other people. It also leads to the demand for a theocracy.
The next most harmful article of faith of the radical right is that settlements and acquisition of territory = Zionism. It fulfills the caricature of Zionism painted by its enemies.  It is this credo that has delegitimized Zionism in much of the world, and caused much resentment even among Jews. It is the Achilles heel of Israel that is attacked by anti-Zionist Jews.
Burston notes this article of faith of religious extremists:
1. Jews have the full right, and the duty, to settle anywhere they choose in the biblically defined Land of Israel.
Jews have the right to settle anywhere they bought land, and anyone should have the right to buy land anywhere in the undefined area called "The Holy Land," "Land of Israel" or "Palestine" that is centered around Jerusalem and, roughly, runs from Dan to Eilat and eastward from the Mediterranean for an undefined extent.  That was the foundation of Zionism, from the time of Herzl. After the foundation of the state, the borders were defined. The duty of settling within those borders is incumbent on all Zionists. However, nobody has the right to steal land from its owners. Nobody can give exact borders for the biblically defined land of Israel. There were several promises, with variable borders, and none of them were ever fulfilled. The largest extents of the ancient kingdoms of Judea and Israel never reached to the Euphrates river as in the Biblical promise. (see Israel Maps).
Burston wrote:
Apologies are tendered in advance to the rational right, the members of whom often hate the following as much as anyone.
Or not, depending on the individual and the political circumstance and the particular article of faith. The right in principle to settle in all of Israel-biblical or otherwise, is often upheld by many, even some who are not adherents of the right-wing. However, it is usually tempered by a prudent regard for pragmatic constraints that is absent in the proclamations and actions of the radical right. On the other hand, apologies must be tendered also to Orthodox Zionist Jews who follow the milder traditions of the National Religious Party of old, exemplified by Yosef Burg in his time and his son, Avraham Burg.  
Those who are upset by a seemingly one-sided attack on the religious right should keep in mind that Burston's article is one of a series in which he excoriates extremists of all political factions, and for the most part, I agree with him.
Ami Isseroff

Far-right and wrong, or how to ruin Judaism
By Bradley Burston


Apologies are tendered in advance to the rational right, the members of whom often hate the following as much as anyone.

For years, the members of the radical right have done their best to help ruin any chance for peace. They've done quite a job.

Given free rein, in the end they'd ruin Judaism as well, replacing it with their own belief system. If the rest of us would only let them.

How would it look? Something like this perhaps:


1. Jews have the full right, and the duty, to settle anywhere they choose in the biblically defined Land of Israel.

Author's note: No one in this world has the right to settle wherever they choose.

2. Settling the Land is a commandment of the highest order in Judaism.


3. Ceding land to Arabs under so-called peace deals is a sin. Judaism must revive the medieval concept of the moser, under which Jews who hand over Jewish land to gentiles, inform against fellow Jews or hand over fellow Jews to gentiles are guilty of capital crimes.

Author's note: The distortion of contemporary Judaism to a perverse extreme is especially evident in the works of the self-appointed "Sanhedrin" of leading far-right rabbis, whose rabbinical court recently pronounced overall IDF West Bank commander Yair Naveh, himself Orthodox, a moser for approving the eviction of 20 occupants of an illegal outpost.

Leaving aside the problematic issue of a Great Sanhedrin arbitrarily constituting itself after 1,650 years of inactivity, the ancient Sanhedrin was historically renowned, if for nothing else, for its marked reluctance to impose the death penalty.

4. Refusal of orders by leftist soldiers serving in the territories is an act of cowardice, self-hatred, treachery, defeatism.

5. Refusal of orders by rightist soldiers serving in the territories is an act of conscience, of uncommon valor, a defense of Jewish values, a historical necessity.

6. Meir Kahane was a saint and a prophet.

Author's note: Corollary - Racism against Arabs is thus not bigotry, but realism.

7. Baruch Goldstein was a saint and a savior.

Author's note: In Hebron, the second most holy city to Jews and the contemporary headquarters of twisting authentic Judaism into obscenity, Goldstein's grave has become a pilgrimage magnate for the Voodoo Jews who revere his massacre of 29 Muslims at prayer. Going obscenity one better, Goldstein chose for his terror attack the holiday of Purim, arguably the most joyous occasion on the Jewish calendar.

To hear the radical right tell it, Goldstein's action prevented an unimaginable terrorist plot from unfolding and murdering large numbers of Jews.

It was a fiction that has become an article of faith. Thus it is that radical rightist Jews have come to revere Goldstein not because of the lives - Arab and Jewish - that he saved as a physician, but because of those - exclusively Muslim - that he took as a gunman.

8. Leftist Jews are systematically destroying Israel. The leftist-dominated media foments and directs that process of destruction, through its treasonous criticism of right-wing governments.

9. Criticism by Jews of left-wing Israeli governments is a patriotic duty.

10. There is no difference between the Arabs of today and the Nazis of World War II. There is no such thing as a Palestinian people. The Arabs of the Land of Israel should be transferred to Muslim nations.

11. The Israel Defense Forces, the Border Police, and the Shin Bet, acting under the orders of left-leaning government officials, coddle the Palestinians and refrain from carrying out the kinds of operations that would put an end to terror once and for all.

12.Jews are no longer bound by the rabbinic prohibition against setting foot on the Temple Mount.

Author's note: No less an authority than Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hacohen Kook, first chief rabbi of British Mandatory Palestine, ruled that "it is a Torah commandment that until the day of the resurrection, we are not permitted to even enter the courtyard of the Temple."

The fact that Jewish law can be summarily ignored or rescinded for reasons of politics and ideology does not bode well. Neither does the possibility that it can only be revamped for reasons of right-wing politics or ideology.

13. The Muslim occupation of the Temple Mount should be ended at the first opportunity, and the construction of the new Temple to begin. Jews, who everywhere in the world pray facing the direction of the Temple Mount, have a clear right to the site, in contrast to Muslims, who pray facing Mecca.

Author's note: For Jews to decide how much Muslims care about their holy sites is fully as wrong as Muslims deciding how much Jews care about theirs.

Among many of us, there is a tendency to discount the potency and the danger of the far right. Perhaps this is because of the funhouse mirror carnival aspect of the ragtag righteous: the End of Days addicts, the Temple Mount groupies, the hilltop hormone punks, the Kahane-rama tubby hippies, the curiously mousy men of the Women in Green, the fanatical would-be settler, the gun nut, the Messiah crank, the Earthmother curser of Arab mothers, the thick of payes and the thin of patience, the wide of scullcap and the wild of eye, the would-have-been ghetto fighter and the might-have-been Maccabee.

What unites them? What do they know that we don't know? The destructive potential of the lunatic notion, the obscene plan, the crackpot mantra.

They know that this is no joke. This is a struggle for the soul of Judaism. Ultimately, however, the result will not be up to them. It will be up to the rest of us.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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