web analytics
January 30, 2015 / 10 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


The Promised Land Of Paradox

Front-Page-121313

Shavit writes rapturously about Ein Harod. “It is imprinted on every Israeli’s psyche. In a sense it is our Source, our point of departure.” The pioneers of Ein Harod became, in the words of a visiting Zionist luminary, “the heroes of the new generation…. You are taking us back to the source.” But there was a moral cost to be exacted: “The Arabs of the Harod Valley,” writes Shavit, “stand in the way of the Jewish liberation movement that needs to remove them from this valley.” Eventually the fire of Jewish independence “will blaze out of control. It will burn the valley’s Palestinians and it will consume itself, too.”

Shavit’s euphoria over kibbutzim becomes a cry of lamentation once the struggle for independence engages the armies of five Arab nations and marauding local Arabs attempting to annihilate the nascent Zionist state and its Jewish inhabitants. The miracle of Jewish statehood, he writes, is based on “denial”: “The nation I am born into has erased Palestine from the face of the earth.” As his chapter on the expulsion of thousands of Palestinians from Lydda in 1948 (previously excerpted in The New Yorker) is intended to demonstrate, Israel’s “unhealed wound” of moral corrosion began at the very moment of its birth.

Villages were destroyed, land was confiscated, Arabs fled from their homes to become displaced refugees beyond the borders of the fledgling Jewish state. But, as Shavit writes, “There is no time and no place for guilt or compassion.” Israel, after all, would absorb more refugees from Arab states than the number of Palestinians it expelled, while “the vast Arab nation doesn’t lift a finger to help its Palestinian brothers and sisters.”

Once Shavit’s focus shifts to the new wave of Zionist settlers after 1967 his moral indignation boils over. “For upper-middle-class secular Ashkenazi Israelis like me, peace was not only a political idea…. Peace was our religion.” But Jewish settlements were “a calamity in the making.” The Left, his Left, “realized that occupation was a moral, demographic, and political disaster.” Precisely why the return of Jews to their biblical homeland in Judea and Samaria was a moral calamity, rather than an extension of the earlier kibbutz imperative to settle the land of Israel, he does not say.

Shavit’s demographic argument is equally fallacious: the ratio of Jewish settlers to West Bank Palestinians (now 1:4) is considerably higher than the ratio of Zionists to Palestinians during the golden era of Ein Harod in the 1920s. Politically, the Jewish state is lacerated internationally for its settlements. But one way or another, long before 1967, European Christians and Middle Eastern Muslims had found ways to humiliate, persecute, and eventually exterminate Jews. The current international delegitimization of Israel for its settlements updates millennia of anti-Semitism.

As Ein Harod was Shavit’s model of Zionist morality, and Lydda became its shameful price for statehood, Ofra – the first religious Zionist community established in Samaria after the Yom Kippur War – epitomizes the “futile, anachronistic, colonialist” disaster of settlement. Shavit cannot contain his rage and rhetoric. Gush Emunim settlers “challenged secular Zionism and democratic Israel and demanded to establish in Samaria its own Ein Harod.” But “settling occupied territory was illegal and immoral and irrational,” he writes – at least when done by religious nationalists. So the return of Jews to Judea and Samaria became “the foundation of the last colonial project of the twentieth century.”

Ofra ”taints” Israel – and taunts Shavit – with its emulation of Ein Harod, the pride and joy of socialist Zionism. As in Ein Harod, Ofra founders understood, but disregarded, “the inherent contradiction” between their settlement and the surrounding Palestinian population. “We did what our forefathers did in…Ein Harod,” an Ofra founder reminds Shavit: “We followed Labor’s ethos and used Labor’s methods.” Ofra, Shavit concedes, “is Ein Harod’s grandchild” – but also “a grotesque reincarnation of it.”

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.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Promised Land Of Paradox”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Photo of Al Qaeda founder and former leader, Osama Bin Laden, seen above a Palestinian Authority flag.
Shin Bet Sting Nabs Israeli Arabs Joining Al Qaeda, ISIS
Latest Indepth Stories
Israeli-flag

At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel

Rabbi Berel Wein

“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”

Rabbi Sholom Klass

Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning

Sheldon Silver

Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

To defeat parasites-the hosts of terrorists-we need to deny them new people, potential terrorists

Combating Amalek doesn’t mean all who disagree with you is evil-rather whom to follow and to oppose

Desperate people take what they can, seizing opportunity to advance their main goal; the Arabs don’t

There was a glaring void in the President’s State of the Union speech: Israel.

More Articles from Jerold S. Auerbach
Knesset

For nearly sixty-five years national self-definition has been the skeleton in the closet of Israeli politics and culture.

Front-Page-081514

Times reporter Anne Barnard reported (7/15) that Israel was to blame (so her Palestinian sources asserted) for its continued “occupation” of Gaza – which, Barnard failed to note, ended nearly a decade ago.

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.

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.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-promised-land-of-paradox/2013/12/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: