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In Defending Jewish Identity, Sharansky Falls Short

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For instance, in The Jewish State, Herzl said synagogues “will be visible from long distances, for it is only our ancient faith that has kept us together.” He wrote that every group of immigrants to Israel would have its own rabbi as “we feel our historic affinity only through the faith of our fathers . . . .”

Additionally, while Sharansky criticizes Ben-Gurion for attempting to replace Jewish culture with a new Israeli one, Sharansky himself, at least in a passing comment, invites Arabs to “become integrated into the culture and history of the developing Israeli state.” This implies that Israel will have a new culture and history apart from Jewish culture and significantly influenced by non-Jews.

Sharansky says he need not choose between his Jewish identity and Zionist activism on the one hand and his identity as a citizen of the world and his human rights activism on the other. But his desire to simultaneously be an advocate for the rights of all and the specific rights of the Jewish people causes him to falter.

When it comes to the two most important contemporary issues for the Jewish people – the role of Judaism in Israel and the creation of a Palestinian state – Sharansky never goes beyond platitudes to which everyone can agree. But in the Hobbesian war for survival in which Israel is engaged, not everyone or every identity can come out a winner.

About the Author: Daniel Tauber is a frequent contributor to various prominent publications, including the Jewish Press, Arutz Sheva, Americanthinker.com, the Jerusalem Post and Ha’aretz. Daniel is also an attorney admitted to practice law in Israel and New York and received his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law. You can follow him on facebook and twitter.

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