web analytics
March 5, 2015 / 14 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Must a Jewish State Be Zionist?

Many Israeli intellectuals seem still caught up in an outdated debate about their identity caused both by their secularism and their left-wing ideology.
flag ponchos

What does the term “Zionism” add to a Judaism that wishes to express itself within a Jewish state? Is it anything more that Jewish Nationalism? Before Zionism was created in the nineteenth century what was the nature of Judaism‘s relationship to the land? Was it not simply the wish to live within a community of practicing Jews on its historical territory? Did that require a political movement? There was no political movement when thousands of Jews moved to Safed under the Ottomans in the sixteenth century. So why add this controversial notion of Zionism to Jewish proactive dynamism? And why not recognize secular Jews in the way, once upon a time, both Jewish commonwealths did, by including everyone, religious or not?

Zionism is a product of its limited time. Judaism has been around for thousands of years. Trying to conflate a nineteenth century nationalist ideology with a millennial religious tradition just cannot work. It’s like trying to fit a fat man into a thin man’s diving suit.

This is why many Israeli politicians now realize that if Israel is to be a Jewish state as opposed to a state for Jews, it must define itself as a Jewish state and support Jewish identity within its mission. The Palestinians should indeed also have a Palestinian state of their own which will define itself in any way it sees fit. Palestinian Israelis and Jewish Israelis, be they secular or religious, should be free to choose which state they want to live in and make whatever adjustments or compromises will be required. This is the fair solution. In theory. Sadly, we know it’s not that simple.

Given the unlikelihood of reaching an agreed solution with the Palestinians for two states, a single state looks a possibility. Under the Ottomans, a government bureaucracy ran the country, and each religion, millet, ran its own affairs. That would be the ideal solution if only the external threat was removed. But it won’t be as long as militant Islam exists and so long a militant Judaism wants to defend itself with maximal demands. Or as long as both sides have political leaders with limited imagination and no stomach for risk taking.

Therefore sadly I see no solution. There is only an unsatisfactory status quo, both externally and internally. That being so we have an obligation to make it as livable, as fair, and as ethical as we possibly can. But ask politicians to achieve that (anywhere) and you’re dreaming!!!!

About the Author: Jeremy Rosen is an Orthodox rabbi, author, and lecturer, and the congregational rabbi of the Persian Jewish Center of New York. He is best known for advocating an approach to Jewish life that is open to the benefits of modernity and tolerant of individual variations while remaining committed to halacha (Jewish law). His articles and weekly column appear in publications in several countries, including the Jewish Telegraph and the London Jewish News, and he often comments on religious issues on the BBC.


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.

7 Responses to “Must a Jewish State Be Zionist?”

  1. David Martin says:

    totally dislike…. maybe two hundred years ago we didn't have the term "Zionism" but the desire and the inheritance of the land was EXACTLY the same… come on! you are writing to intelligent people, what a disappointment.

  2. David Martin says:

    totally dislike…. maybe two hundred years ago we didn't have the term "Zionism" but the desire and the inheritance of the land was EXACTLY the same… come on! you are writing to intelligent people, what a disappointment.

  3. David Martin says:

    totally dislike…. maybe two hundred years ago we didn't have the term "Zionism" but the desire and the inheritance of the land was EXACTLY the same… come on! you are writing to intelligent people, what a disappointment.

  4. This is one of the best articles I have read here in a long time – if a One-State Solution could be made, it would solve all of Israel's problems, including the alienation of those of us who are not Zionists. This is an intelligent and even-handed approach. It is not only a problem of secular Jews, but Jews of all types of religious practice and belief, both to the right and to the left of the Chief Rabbinate, who are alienated by the current ways.

  5. This is one of the best articles I have read here in a long time – if a One-State Solution could be made, it would solve all of Israel's problems, including the alienation of those of us who are not Zionists. This is an intelligent and even-handed approach. It is not only a problem of secular Jews, but Jews of all types of religious practice and belief, both to the right and to the left of the Chief Rabbinate, who are alienated by the current ways.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: With a smile like that, he couldn't possibly want to annihilate Israel, right?
Call It A Purim Miracle: Reports Say Ayatollah Khamenei In Critical Condition
Latest Indepth Stories
Ballots for elections "made in Samaria."

Any Jew who ties his fate to Israel should be able to vote in Israel’s elections-even before aliyah

A young Moshe Meir Weiss introduces his mother, Mrs. Agnes Weiss Goldman, to Rav Moshe in 1979.

There were no airs about him. Rav Moshe was affectionately known as the Gaon of Normalcy.

Keeping-Jerusalem

Israel’s full sovereignty over a united Jerusalem is the only path for true peace in the region.

Mordechai on the King's horse, being led by Haman

Just like Moses and Aaron, Mordechai decides to ruin the party…

The president has made clear – I can’t state this more firmly – the policy is Iran will not get a nuclear weapon.

Obama has an apparent inability to understand Islam in particular and Mid-East culture in general

Pesach is a Torah-based holiday whose fundamental observances are rooted in Torah law; Purim is a rabbinic holiday whose laws and customs are grounded in the rabbinic tradition.

In honor of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s successful speech before Congress.

Mr. Spock conveys a message with painfully stark relevance to our world today, especially in the context of PM Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.

Obama created the “partisan politics” by asking Dem. party members to avoid Bibi and his address

Enough is enough. The Jewish community has a big tent, but the NIF should have no place in it.

I vote for the right and get left-wing policy. Every. Frigging. Time.

The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.

UN inspectors were flabbergasted when Iran allowed them full unfettered access to All nuclear sites

More Articles from Jeremy Rosen
putin napoleon

Obama’s incompetence, the way his naive worldview and credulity have made a fool of him, are equally frightening

Rashid Khalidi

The Ramaz School was wrong to refuse to allow Rashid Khalidi, the Palestinian apologist, to speak to its senior students.

Imagine you take your family somewhere where there is no such thing as a day off.

Pascal’s famous wager was that it makes sense to bet on God.

The Talmud (Eiruvin 96a) mentions that Michal, the daughter of King Saul, wore Tefilin and no one objected.

We’ve known that you can define neither Jews nor Judaism in a way that will satisfy all its various elements.

The religious world needs to fight back constructively.

There is a dichotomy between personal, private prayer and public communal prayer.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/must-a-jewish-state-be-zionist/2013/07/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: