Thursday, December 22, 2005

The measuring stick of Zionism

The battle over the soul of the State of Israel is being waged before our very eyes, and the stakes are, simply put, the very future of the Jewish People.

It is said that when Tel Aviv mayor Meir Dizengoff was informed about prostitution in his city, he evinced satisfaction that the Jews had become a "normal people."

Was the purpose of Zionism, and the establishment of the State of Israel, as a State of the Jews, simply to enable the Jewish People to become "normal", or was the re-establishment of the State of Israel, as a Jewish State only a means to a greater end, whereby the Jewish People would be able to actualize their religio-national destiny?

Depending how one answers the above question will determine their attitude to the following two stories:

1) Police bust central Israel's `Ocean's 11' burglary ring
A sophisticated burglary ring has been at work in central Israel almost every weekend for the past few months, netting millions of dollars by means of special burglary tools and methods straight out of a Hollywood movie, police investigators believe.

2) Last year, Labor MK Opher Pines Paz, in relation to the numerous corruption scandals involving Ariel Sharon and his family, said the following:
This is very sad, very grave, but this is the reality of Israel in 2004. There's Sopranos on television, and there's Sopranos in Israel.

Are we to view the fact that Israel is faced with prostitution, rampant government corruption, and a mafia crime ring that would make Al Capone and John Gotti proud -"Zionist" versions of the Sopranos and Ocean's 11 - as a source of national pride, celebrating the success of Zionism in turning the Jews into a "normal people", or are we to view the existence of such societal ills as a national badge of shame - that in the desire to turn the Jews into a "normal people", Judaism got left behind, Zionism lost its way, and these are the fruits of the labor?



5 Comments:

Ze'ev,

Interesting - usually you are so careful to back up your sources and yet you have none for this apocryphal anecdotal aside attributed to Meir Dizengoff. Also attributed by others to Teddy Kollek. And of course you have missed the point. Neither Meir Dizengoff nor Teddy Kollek wanted Prostitution, nor did they see it as something good. What they were glad for was that we the sovereign nation of the Jews were the ones dealing with it.

It is ridiculous that you try and paint prostitution as a sickness brought on by secular zionism - it is of course largely supported by the Hareidi world and the oppressive and repressive approach to sexuality engendered by orthodoxy. How ironic. And of course prostitution has long been a problem for the Jews (see the bible) and in fact it is the excuse which the orthodox use to disallow unmarried women their opportunity to go to the mikveh.

Zionism's desire to normalise the Jewish People, as you well know, had nothing to do with making the Jews lose their morality or their tradition or to make the Jews adopt the culture of other western societies, but rather to make the Jews a real "normal" nation - one with a nation state. One ruled by the people for the people. Not by the rabbis for their own benefit.

Zionism was the revolution of the Jewish people to overthrow the theocracy and its corrupt leadership which Galut had bequeathed us. It is a shame that the Orthodox world is so scared of Modernity that it refuses to accept the medicine being offered which will release it from the sickness of Galut.

H

By Anonymous H, at Thu Dec 22, 02:26:00 PM GMT+2  

Haim, what I am arguing is that once Judaism was placed in the back seat (at best) in favor of normalcy, it was only natural that morality would find itself in the back seat as well.

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Thu Dec 22, 03:51:00 PM GMT+2  

I'm afraid, as H said so much better than I could have done, that a Jewish/Torah state in no way guarantees the dissappearance of society's ills.

Far from expressing relief about them, dafka we have an obligation to fight them from the inside without waving our tanachim around. And get on with this all together, while trying not to be too disappointed that our Holy Land isn't so Holy (and probably never was.)

By Anonymous PP, at Thu Dec 22, 05:35:00 PM GMT+2  

PP - you are right that being religious is not a garuntee towards leading a moral life - but once one takes Judaism out of Israel - then we are left with a vacuum that is filled by foreign values and ideologies which leads to a lack of commitment and connection to the Jewish people and Land of Israel as we see is so prevalent today.

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Thu Dec 22, 08:07:00 PM GMT+2  

Ze'ev,

Two problems:

1) The Zionists never wanted to take Jewishness out of Israel - the early Zionists were very committed to the Tanakh and to the Jewish Tradition - just not in the heteronomous manner that you are. Why did the early Zionists visions of the state fail - because the Orthodox refused to integrate and alienated the average Jew from the tradition. And perhaps because the Zionists welcomed millions of non-Zionists (like you) into the country, after they had worked so hard to create it?

2) Religion, as anyone who has studied a modicum of philosophy (like you) will know is actually an alternative ethical system to morality. Morality is an attempt to perform what is right from a posited objective position, while Religion is an attempt to do what is right from the subjective position of G-d. So actually religion causes an erosion of morality - as witnessed by Yigal Amir, Baruch Goldstein, Eden Natan Zada, The settler movement, the woman who set herself on fire, the man who set himself on fire (should I go on?).

I do agree that western culture has impinged upon Jewish culture. While I think that some elements of that are bad, I also recognise that it has happened around the world and that that is the nature of the world today - it happened to India and China and other great proud traditional societies, and like all societal influences some outcomes will be good and some will be bad. You and the Hareidi world may want to bury your head in the sand - but those of us who actually build the country and defend it, don't have that luxury.]

H

By Anonymous H, at Fri Dec 23, 08:33:00 AM GMT+2  

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