Once again the death toll mounts in the Holy Land .
Once again Zionist "doves" and "hawks"
lock horns as to the proper response.
Is there any real alternative to the seeming never
ending spiral of death and killing?
These are the questions that Jews of various persuasions
are asking themselves today. Few and far between are
those who believe that salvation lies in the camp of
Barak or that of Sharon . A sense of being checkmated
has enveloped Zionism and with it those unfortunate
souls who have allied themselves to it over the years.
In the paragraphs to follow we ask the reader to thoughtfully
re-examine some of the current fashionable assumptions
concerning the state of Israel and the Zionist movement.
We have cast our viewpoint in question and answer format
in the dialogue between an enquiring mind (EM) and a
traditional Torah sage (TTS).
EM - Why now, in particular, is the time for a rethinking
of old assumptions?
TTS - Frankly everyone is exhausted. The Israeli state
has not delivered its promised goods. It is far from
a safe haven for Jews. On the contrary it is in a perpetual
situation of war and terror. Neither fighting nor peace
negotiations seem to succeed. "Orthodox" pronouncements
of devotion to further war no longer inspire.
EM - But isn't that because . . .
TTS - Yes, yes, I know. Not enough real fighting and
war or not enough real concessions for peace. Listen,
I said we would be going beyond the old clichés
not wallowing in them.
EM - OK. What's your angle?
TTS - First mistake. It's not my angle.
EM - Whose is it?
TTS - It is the "angle" of the Jewish people
since our exile began, namely, that we are homeless
due to our sins and that only repentance and G-d's miraculous
mercy can end exile. Not tanks and bombs. It seems that
this is fairly clear today, don't you think?
EM - So, you're one of those ultra-Orthodox fanatics
against the state of Israel ?
TTS - Always beware of media stereotyping. When Zionism
began it was opposed by the overwhelming majority of
Torah leaders and rank and file observant Jews. It is
only since 1948 that the strange hybrid of quasi - Zionism,
best exemplified by the Agudath Israel movement, came
into being. This position wanted all the results of
Zionism, a state with wars and sovereignty but refused
to participate in the killing and dying necessary. It
demanded money and protection from a state it refused
to defend. Zionists have justifiable despised this position.
EM - But that's the Charedi position? The ultra- Orthodox,
TTS - Again, don't let the ill informed media think
for you It is the Agudah position. Take the money and
run. It is not the traditional view at all. The traditional
view opposed Zionism. It regarded as vastly secondary
who were the Zionists or how they ran their state. This
traditional point of view is consistent and coherent.
It refuses and has always refused state money and sees
the real problem as the existence of the state itself
EM - But the state protects them doesn't it?
TTS - Quite the contrary. The ancestors of those who
adopt this view lived in large numbers in the Holy Land
long before Zionists arrived and provoked the native
Muslim population. They lived at peace with their non
- Jewish neighbors. It was after the immigration began,
which sought political rule, that animosity started.
So, Zionism has protected no one. At first it endangered
the old Jewish inhabitants of the Holy Land . Then it
endangered the millions who lived there. Finally, it
has plunged into danger Jewry world wide and many others,
including Americans around the world.
EM - The state is a reality. You can't wish it away.
Today there is no alternative. It is protecting millions.
TTS - For 52 years, actually for 100 years, we have
heard how, first we'll have to fight a bit, then Israel
will be a safe haven for Jews. It hasn't happened. How
many wars are needed? How many deaths till we say that
too many people have died, until we are willing to admit
that it was a lie, a horrible lie? A false guarantee
that delivered the reverse of what it promised?
EM - So, what do you propose now?
TTS - First, let's get it clear that you are proposing
nothing. You have no solution. All your solutions have
been tried. Both war and peace have been attempted.
For decades you have mocked our constant references
to Talmudic statements which predict endless bloodshed
as a punishment for seeking to prematurely end the exile.
For a moment, just a moment, pause and consider that
everything we foretold has come true. Nothing you envisioned
has. Maybe our Talmudic sages were right, after all?
EM - Again what is your plan?
TTS - Well, first we have to cleanse our minds and
hearts of Zionist understandings of history: I) We cannot
shoot our way out of Divine punishment. 2) It is a grave
sin to kill or be killed in order to establish pre-Messianic
Jewish rule over the Holy Land . 3) The Israeli state
in no way represents Jewry or Judaism. 4) Its "keeping"
or "giving away" land has nothing to do with
Jewry or Judaism. 5) Zionism -the arrogant usurpation
of Divine Providence, must always fail, as foretold
in Bible and Talmud and by Torah leaders over the centuries.
6) Jewish aggression against non-Jews is antithetical
to our Torah mission.
EM - Your plan?
TTS - Our short term plan is to lesson somewhat the
anti-Jewish sentiment which Zionism has created around
the world and particularly in Islamic countries. We
seek to inform the nations of the world that the dispossession
of the Palestinians which exploded in 1948 but which
had really been taking place since the turn of the century
was wrong. And, that Torah Jewry had no part in this
evil action. In general, we want to present an alternative
to, so called, organized Jewry which forever wanders
the globe seeking, in the true spirit of Zionism, to
sew the seeds of hate against the nations.
EM - And long term?
TTS - We pray for a peaceful dismantling of the state.
EM - Is this realistic?
TTS - Is the current slavish devotion to Zionism at
all realistic? Has it achieved anything except an endless
body count and exacerbated anti-Semitism? The Almighty
governs the affairs of men. Would all Jews see the evils
of Zionism and then approach the Palestinian people
in a spirit of reconciliation, with a sincere desire
to relinquish control of the Holy Land the results would
be surprisingly pleasant. In the meantime , though,
our task is to disassociate ourselves from the heresy
of Zionism and the evils it has perpetrated. By so doing
we will sanctify the Creator's Name and restore the
Torah dignity of the Jewish people.
EM - In the meantime it seems that not many are interested
in your message?
TTS - First, many have continued the original Torah
true anti-Zionist belief.system over the last century.
They number in the hundreds of thousands. As far as
the others are concerned there is a sense of total exhaustion.
Half hearted efforts at peace accomplish nothing. The
moral burden of the refugee question is overwhelming.
The right offers only further war and terror and death
in "defense" of the Holy Sites. Behind all
the clichés is the ever growing sense that Zionism
is dead. It has failed utterly. With G-d's help this
sense will harden into a clear realization. May this
brief conversation serve as a signpost on that path
back to truth. And may the Creator's mercies extend
to all our people.
EM -I've got some serious thinking to do. TTS - Indeed.