“For 2000 years Jews would have gladly exchanged the horrors of exile for the current State of Israel. They would have given anything for a Jewish government headed by [Ehud] Olmert and for a Jewish army – despite the Expulsion. After the Holocaust, how can anyone deny the tremendous gift that we have received from the Creator – the gift of the State of Israel?”
There is certainly much truth to this claim, voiced primarily by the “state supremacy” side of religious Zionism. On the surface, it is a decisive assertion, portraying those who disagree as ungrateful apostates. There is something demagogic, though, in this claim. Reality is measured not only by position on the timeline, but also by direction. A baby’s hesitant first steps are generally greeted with delight – but not if he is heading toward an abyss.
The inability of religious Zionism to fight for its most valued principles does not necessarily prove singular love for the state. Is a prayer for Olmert the same as a prayer for the welfare of the state – or the opposite? Does refusal to obey orders to destroy Jewish settlements destroy the army and the state, or does it save them and delineate the borders beyond which the government cannot legitimately act?
Experience from the Expulsion and its aftermath shows that the state-supremacist arguments against all forms of conscientious objection deprived the state of the vital checks and balances that the faith-based public should have supplied. To claim that the state is a holy tool – no matter what – leads to the extreme notion that the regime is also holy. And by definition, a “holy regime” cannot issue an illegal order.
When the state began to strip itself of its basic Jewish values and when, during the Expulsion period, it sank into nihilism on the one hand and fascism on the other (above all else, the state’s refusal to obey a criminal order is more dangerous than carrying it out, the will of the majority is insignificant, etc.), it was time for religious Zionism to step forward. The struggle against the Expulsion was not for Gush Katif alone. It was a struggle over the moral foundation of the State of Israel. It was a struggle to allow the IDF to fight its true enemies, and a struggle for democracy.
The state-supremacy theories that led to our defeat in the struggle for Gush Katif paved the way for the unraveling of the state. These theories led directly to the IDF defeat one year later in Lebanon. The defeat in Gush Katif led to the widespread despondency that we are now experiencing. The public has tasted Israeli “democracy,” and understands that it has no real control over its fate. The public feels that the state is imploding, and is helpless to stop it from happening. The faith-based public that was at the forefront of the struggle against this process – and ran away from the confrontation – bears major responsibility for today’s sorry situation.
Is the State of Israel really the forerunner of our redemption? I believe that it is. The historic events of the last 60 years cannot be ignored or dismissed. To do so would be to defy logic, and to stifle the firm belief in redemption planted in our hearts. But on the other hand, we must understand that what we are experiencing is the path to redemption – not the redemption itself.
Our situation can be compared to that of a prisoner who discovers a secret tunnel leading outside the prison walls. The moment he enters the tunnel, he has entered the path leading to redemption. The farther he proceeds through the tunnel, the more he distances himself from his previous state and the closer he comes to freedom. But suddenly he discovers that the exit from the tunnel is sealed off and its ceiling is about to collapse. Is the tunnel still the path to his redemption? Yes, but only if he manages to overcome the obstacles and exit the tunnel.
We need the maturity to understand that overcoming our present obstacles depends on us. We can no longer stand at the blocked exit of the tunnel and cry, as we did at Gush Katif. We must take responsibility and, with God’s help, open the exit of the tunnel for the entire nation. Exaggerated celebrations and flag waving at the blocked exit point not to extreme faith, but to a lack of connection to reality.
I said the Hallel prayer on Independence Day. But I did it quietly. As for the Israeli flag, they defiled the flag at Gush Katif. But we will purify it.
To learn more about Moshe Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership), and their plan for Israel’s future, visit http://www.jewishisrael.org/.