web analytics
April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Jewish State, Zionist Conflict

Front-Page-021012

Share Button

Tel Aviv became the fulfillment of Herzl’s dream in Altneuland: the secular, liberal repository of contemporary Israeli culture. It has always appealed to Israelis with little patience for divine command, historical claims, or spiritual yearning. The splendid beachfront, enticing café culture, and throbbing nightlife display its cosmopolitan and hedonistic aspirations.

Jerusalem, perched on Mt. Zion at the end of the road from Tel Aviv, remained isolated and insular. With the Jewish Quarter destroyed and the Old City inaccessible after 1948, it became a provincial town stripped of the holy places that symbolized its spiritual heart and soul. Its shtetl neighborhoods, pre-modern and enclosed, with their narrow lanes and shuks and religious customs, were not hospitable to outsiders. In its more elegant western European enclaves, life was refined, sedate and introverted.

But not twenty years after independence, following its swift and sweeping victory in the Six-Day War, Israel was transformed. As Moshe Dayan proclaimed, “We have returned to all that is holy in our land. We have returned never to be parted from it again.” Even soldiers from kibbutzim, the ideological stronghold of secular Zionism, could imagine that “we were inscribing a new chapter in the Bible, a chapter of miracles, wonders and greatness…. The whole of the Promised Land is ours.”

After June 1967 Israelis by the thousands and tens of thousands could finally roam across the biblical landscape. Their itinerary took them from Jerusalem to Rachel’s Tomb, outside Bethlehem, and to Ma’arat HaMachpelah in Hebron, the burial place of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs where no Jew had been permitted to pray for seven centuries. They visited ancient Jericho, biblical Shechem, and the hill country where the Maccabees fought for freedom from foreign rule.

The Old City was finally restored to the Jewish people. The Western Wall, the repository of Jewish sacred history and for so long the symbol of the timeless Jewish yearning to return, now became the site of its miraculous fulfillment. Despite its more garish recent sacrifices to modernity – the new entrance to the city, high-rise apartment buildings and luxury hotels, and a shopping mall – the contrast with Tel Aviv remains as sharp as ever. To some, Jerusalem can still seem too Jewish for a secular Zionist state.

Within a year an intrepid group of pioneering Israelis, who became known as “settlers,” seized the opportunity to restore Jewish life in the biblical homeland of the Jewish people. Using the classic Zionist strategy of settling the land “dunam by dunam,” they began to rebuild destroyed Jewish communities and, eventually, to build new ones.

First came Kfar Etzion, the cluster of kibbutzim just south of Jerusalem that Arabs had demolished on the eve of the Independence War. Then, after a decade in the new settlement of Kiryat Arba, Jews returned to Hebron, whose Jewish community had been viciously destroyed during the Arab pogrom in 1929.

* * * * *

The sudden, unexpected and, to these religious Zionists, miraculous convergence of Zionism and Judaism was profoundly disturbing to secular Israelis committed to Western liberal values. For the young writer Amos Oz the Six-Day War brought tragedy, not triumph. The modern “marriage” of “the Jewish heritage and the European humanist experience” that previously defined Zionism would, he feared, be shattered by religious zeal.

The settlement movement eventually transcended its ideological origins in religious nationalism. Secular Israelis who could not afford Tel Aviv real estate prices moved to affordable new communities across the Green Line, within an easy commute to jobs and cultural pleasures. Inner city ultra-Orthodox Jews with rapidly expanding families, traditionally aloof from Zionism, relocated to settlements just outside Jerusalem.

But most Israelis, like most Diaspora Jews, do not seem eager to belong to a distinctive people that dwells alone. In recent years the venerable Zionist contrast between Israel and galut has receded. Israel’s cultural intermarriage with the United States is no less problematic than the 50 percent Jewish intermarriage rate in the American promised land.

Indeed, yeridah has replaced aliyah: there are more Israelis living in the United States than Americans in the Jewish state. They prefer the Silicon Valley and Los Angeles to Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean. That dismaying inversion of Zionist expectations is an ominous portent for the future.

Israel’s cultural intermarriage with the United States has the potential to undermine Jewish distinctiveness in the Jewish state. The price of normalization, for which Herzl and his secular Zionist disciples yearned, could yet become exorbitant.

After sixty-five years of wars and intifadas, and the encircling threat posed by militant Islam, it is entirely understandable that many – perhaps most – Israelis would yearn for peace now, peace in our time, peace at almost any price. That might be possible if only Israel were like other nations. But Jewish history, ancient and modern, suggests otherwise.

Share Button

About the Author: Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of “Jewish State/Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy,” to be published next month by Quid Pro Books.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Jewish State, Zionist Conflict”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Abbas and Hanieyh on poster, next to a picture of Arafat.
Kerry’s Talks Achieve Peace Between Hamas and Fatah
Latest Indepth Stories
Al-Aksa Mosque was claimed to be the site from which Mohammed ascended to Heaven, but it was built nearly 50 years after Mohammed died.

Jerusalem only seems important in the Islamic world when non-Muslims control or capture the city.

Israeli police enter the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City to disperse stone-throwing Palestinian protesters.

Jordan’s king is adding fuel to the fire on the Temple Mount, blaming Israel for violence by Muslim Arab rioters.

Imam Suhail Webb who boasted his Muslim community persuaded Brandeis President Fred Lawrence to withdraw an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

At Brandeis, much of what counts as Western civilization got cold feet and won’t stand with Hirsi Ali.

Text of anti-Semitic flyer distributed to Jews in Donetsk, Ukraine on Passover 2014.

But the lesson from this meditation is that hidden behind the anti-semitic act is the greatest light.

As support of their messianic dream, Halevi and Antepli approve dishonoring Hirsi Ali as a ‘renegade.’

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

More Articles from Jerold S. Auerbach
Jerold S. Auerbach

During much of the 20th century, elite American colleges and universities carefully policed their admission gates to restrict the entry of Jews. Like its Big Brothers – Harvard, Yale and Princeton – Wellesley College, where I taught history between 1971 and 2010, designed admission policy to perpetuate a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite.

Front-Page-121313

Yossi Klein Halevi’s Like Dreamers (Harper) explores the lives of seven Israeli paratroopers in the Six-Day War who, his subtitle suggests, “Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation.” It offers a fascinating variation on the theme of Israel at a fateful crossroads, in search of itself, following the wondrously unifying moment at the Western Wall in June 1967 when Jewish national sovereignty in Jerusalem was restored for the first time in nineteen centuries.

In death as in life, Menachem Begin remained who he had always been: a proud yet humble Jew.

Eighty years ago, in January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. Barely a month later Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated president of the United States. For the next twelve years, until their deaths eighteen days apart in April 1945, they personified the horrors of dictatorship and the blessings of democracy.

One of my searing early memories from Israel is a visit nearly four decades ago to the Ghetto Fighters Museum in the Beit Lohamei Hagetaot kibbutz. The world’s first Holocaust museum, it was built soon after the Independence War by survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Nearly sixty-five years ago Israel declared its independence and won the war that secured a Jewish state. But its narrow and permeable postwar armistice lines permitted incessant cross-border terrorist raids. For Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the mere existence of a Jewish state remained an unbearable intrusion into the Arab Middle East. As Egyptian President Nasser declared, “The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel.”

For anyone with historical memory the expulsion of Jews – by the Romans, English, French, Spaniards, Nazis, and Muslims – instantly evokes tragic episodes in Jewish history. Now the state of Israel expels Jews from their homes. Something is amiss in Zion.

Near the end of the nineteenth century, Theodor Herzl, the Viennese journalist who would wrestle with the plight of Jews amid the enticements and dangers of modernity, felt trapped. For his son’s sake he considered conversion to Christianity; to solve the vexing “Jewish Question” he even fantasized the mass conversion of Jews.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/jewish-state-zionist-conflict/2012/02/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: