Posts Tagged ‘zionism’
Many Israelis recently celebrated Yom Yerushalayim, (“Jerusalem Day”), singing and dancing as they commemorated the recapture of Eastern Jerusalem, forty-seven years ago.
We all know what happened during those fateful moments towards the end of the Six Day War. Before the tears of joy had even dried on our cheeks, before the cries of “The Temple Mount is in our hands” abated, and before the soldiers and their officers had their photographs taken at the Wailing Wall, behind the scenes ready hands were stirring up an agreement that would transfer sovereignty over the Temple Mount to the Islamic Waqf.
The state officials could cope with the Wailing Wall―in fact it seemed that they wanted it very much―but the Temple site felt to them like a hot potato, to be tossed as quickly as possible into someone else’s hands. We have lived with the results for forty-seven years: we have a mountain, but no Temple. We have an external wall, but we do not have the power to pass through it―at least, not as Jews, with tefillin on our heads and a siddur in our hands.
Let’s meditate on this picture for a moment: we have sovereignty over the external side of the mountain, but at the very same time, we have abandoned its inner essence. We own the outside, but we’ve disowned the inside. This picture can serve as a parable for Zionism in general, and provide us with a hint how to progress forward.
The Secret of Kingdom
The goal of Zionism was to put Judaism back on the railroad track of political history. Jews had fostered individual lives, family, and congregation in an exemplary fashion, but we have forgotten how to function as a nation with a sovereign state. Zionism wanted a kingdom so to speak, and was determined to mobilize all the nation’s material and spiritual resources in order to acquire it. Yet, whether because they were distant from the path of Jewish tradition, or because they wished to rebel against it, the Zionist pioneers did not use tools that had been cast in a Jewish mold, but from the spirit of the non-Jewish model of a “nation state.”
According to the Torah’s inner dimension, the idea of the Jewish sovereignty is portrayed by one of the Kabbalistic sefirot – specifically, the final sefirah, referred to as malchut or “kingdom.”
Kabbalah describes the rectified sefirah of kingdom—which manifests in the figure of a monarch or more generally speaking a rectified leader—as being “proud on the outside and lowly on the inside.” In Hebrew, the psychological terms “pride” (גֵאוּת) and “lowliness” (שֶׁפֶל) are identical to the terms for “high tide” and “low tide”, suggesting that pride and lowliness are finely balanced; one is not possible without the other.
Similarly, the rectified leader must combine an external appearance of pride and self-importance, while balancing it with an inner lowliness of spirit. He should know how to demonstrate majesty and authority, but these attributes must be like external clothing (as the verse states, “God has reigned; He has dressed Himself with majesty”). On the inside, he must be infused with precisely the opposite experience, sensing profound lowliness, as if he were God’s slave, not a king. This is the combination that secures his success.
Filling the Empty Space
When we look at the birth of Zionism, we can describe it as a rebellion against a Judaism that rectified only the inner dimension of ‘kingdom’, in favor of the opposite extreme—an “Israelism” that only works on the exterior dimension of kingdom. Judaism in the Diaspora was infused with a great deal of lowliness and humility, bowing its head to God and patiently awaited the arrival of Mashiach. Zionism rejected that, shaking off the attribute of lowliness and exchanging it for a vision of national pride, taking our fate into our own hands and founding a strong, stable, but secular state.
Zionism, a polemical issue, still causes fiery debate amidst Israeli and international politics and is seen by some as a movement, culture and mentality that is no longer viable in the current Israel. Whatever the case may be, how can one understand the viability of an ideology, without first understanding the history of its design?
Jassy might only be a small piece amidst the long and complex battle of Zionism for the Jewish people in the 19th and 20th centuries, but it can help to show how to facilitate the organization of a people surrounded by adversity. In better words the formation of a strong collective- something that not only helped to make Israel a reality, but continues to keep it one today.
Once a great centre of Jewish culture, Jassy seems to have disappeared from the view of Jewish historians, let alone the general public. In fact, few know that it was the place where the famous Naphtali Imber wrote Hatikvah, the poem which gave Israel it’s national anthem. Or the fact that it was once the home of the first Yiddish theatre of Eastern Europe founded by Abraham Goldfaden.
The great bulk of Jassy’s Jews, which at one point amalgamated to 45 thousand, could trace their roots to Poland where thousands of Jews facing persecution at the hands of the Cossacks migrated southward across into Rumania. Although the majority of the population was consisted of Ashkenaz descendents, there were very small remnants of Shepherds that escaped Spain in the 15th century.
The history of Jassy’s Jews is as comprehensive and as complex as most communities that once inhabited Eastern Europe. Yet Rumania, called by Hannah Arendt as the most anti-semitic country prior to the rise of National Socialism in Germany was not very welcoming to its Jewish populations. In fact, Jassy’s Jews although got along with the national and local government, was in constant turmoil with the severely xenophobic Moldavian populations.
It was of no surprise that even before Zionist organization became a viable reality in Europe, and as some sources claim even before Hibbat Zion, Jassy’s Jews began organizing groups based on proto-Zionist ideas. The first among these was Doroshei Zion which sought after the creation of literary framework by building libraries.
The reformation of Jewish and Hebrew culture became the most important goal, as was the trend with most Zionist oriented groups in the 19th century. Perhaps the best example of this being the foundation of the Ohalei Shem foundation in 1878 that had its main goal to educate the Jewish masses in Hebrew and Jewish studies.
This cultural rebirth played an important role in creating a mentality of secularization among Jassy’s Jewish population amidst religious tradition and convention. Something which in itself would become the vanguard goal of Herzelian Zionist groups which sought at the creation not just of a Jewish state, but a Jewish culture devoid of religion..
The most important Zionist organization to have ever existed in Jassy was the Yishuv Eretz Israel founded by Lippe Karpel in 1880 as a responce to the incessant anti-semitism that Romanian Jews faced across the nation. The group helped facilitate the transport of numerous Jews from Romania to Palestine between 1882 to 1890. Although Karpel was opposed to the creation of a Jewish state he still encouraged the formation of Jewish culture in Palestine in order to escape persecution in Europe.
Karpel famously gave the opening speech at The First Zionist Congress in 1897 advocating for the purchase of land in Palestine, but also representing Romanian and Jassy Jewry. Immediately after the congress the Jewish community of Jassy began to be far more organized in the creation of Zionist organizations. About nine of them had formed, until they all conjoined into one in 1919 under the name of the Romanian Zionist Movement. The first meeting took place in 1920 in Jassy.
American Jews are facing nothing less than a demographic catastrophe, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman asserted on Tuesday in a speech at the Jerusalem meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.
He quoted recent surveys that show that there are 6.1 million Jews in Israel and slightly less than 5.5 million in the United States, not including those who claim affiliation or identity with Judaism.
Lieberman emphasized that no Jew – whether in the Diaspora or in Israel and whether Reform Conservative or Orthodox – “is illegitimate and should be placed outside of the tent,” but he added. “There is a significant rise in those who have little or no Jewish content in their lives, marry outside the faith and are not raising their children Jewish.”
He pointed out, “The intermarriage rate has reached a high of 58% for all Jews, and 71% for non-Orthodox Jews, a huge change from before 1970 when only 17% of Jews intermarried.”
Attachment to Israel is markedly higher among older Jews, with only 32% of respondents under the age of 30 sharing the idea that “caring about Israel as an essential part of what being Jewish means to them.”
Lieberman then put the cards on the table and categorically stated they are stacked against the Diaspora.
“For many years, Israeli officials have called on our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, like many of you gathered here tonight, to donate your time, energies and funds to Israel,” he said. “However, I turn to you today and say that, while we are enormously and forever grateful for your assistance, we believe it is now time to concentrate on the challenges facing your own communities, especially those emanating from the dangerous trends in the Jewish community demonstrated in the recent survey.”
Lieberman was being kind. He could just as easily have said, “You American Jews sit as armchair generals for Israel, undermine our government’s struggle by deciding how we should deal with the Palestinian Authority and the Arab world while you don’t see that the ground in the Diaspora is crumbling under your feet.”
In more diplomatic language, he said, “Above all discussions on Iran and the Palestinians, your discussions with the Israeli Government and the Jewish Agency should be focused on saving future generations.”
Lieberman stated that education is the key to fighting “assimilation, intermarriage and disengagement” but that “Jewish children are being kept from the Jewish classrooms because of the exorbitant and prohibitive costs of Jewish education in the United States.”
“On my last visit to New York, I met with a Russian Jewish family in Brooklyn,” Lieberman told his audience. “They told me that for their three children to attend good Jewish schools it would cost them around $100,000. They simply could not endure such costs. They are not alone. This situation is being replicated across the Jewish world, whether in the United States, Russia, France, Argentina, or elsewhere. If this situation persists, we will lose another six million Jews in a generation or two.”
He said that most Israeli diplomats abroad shun local Jewish schools and instead send their children to learn at international schools because the standard is higher.
“Sadly this is also reflective of the general Jewish population in places like the United States, where only around 12% of Jewish children attend Jewish schools, and when the Orthodox children are removed from the equation; it drops down to no more than a few per cent,” he added.
Lieberman proposed the creation of a global network of Jewish schools with a superior standard, and he committed the Israeli government to budget $365 million a year in matching funds for the project.
He also is looking forward to massive aliyah “The creation of an international network of Jewish schools is only the first part of my vision,” Lieberman declared. “In addition, my goal is to bring an additional 3.5 million Jews from the Diaspora in the next ten years so that the Jewish population in Israel will exceed 10 million.”
Jews are undoubtedly a major influence in American life, but the number of Jews who are Jewish “in name only” spells a dismal future for the Diaspora.
One of the most self-serving ways to deny the future is to accept the definition of a Jew as anyone who considers himself Jewish. That kind of identity is temporary, at best.
Jewish institutions and organizations maybe boasting larger numbers, but the meaning of Jewish is becoming emptier.
What Lieberman essentially told the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem Tuesday was, “Wake up. It’s later than you think.”
Only 2,680 Jews moved to Israel from the United States this past year, an 11 percent decrease from the 3.070 who “made aliyah” in 2012, according to information provided by the Jewish Agency and Ministry for Absorption and immigration.
The number of new olim from Canada was virtually unchanged, with 321 moving to Israeli in 2013, two more than in 2012.
The decline of American olim continues the reversal of an upwards trend in Aliyah that peaked in 2008 and raises questions about the future of American Zionism, if it is defined as packing up and leaving “home” to go home. In 2008, 3,300 Jews moved from the United States and Canada to Israel. The number declined slightly to 3,260 in 2009 and then dropped sharply the following two years to 2,801 and 2,575.
No figures were supplied concerning the breakdown of affiliation, but Jews who identify with Orthodoxy have consistently been the largest group, usually between half and two-thirds of new olim.
Aliyah from other countries this past year generally increased, with the most dramatic rise in France, with the arrival of 3,120 immigrants this year, compared to 1,916 in 2012.
The biggest decrease was registered in Ethiopia, which was expected because of the conclusion of Operation Dove’s Wings
“Every immigrant who arrives in order to make his or her home in Israel fills me with joy and I hope Aliyah continues to increase, “said Immigration Minister Sofa Minister Landver.
Chairman Sharansky: “That 19,200 Jews have chosen to establish their lives in Israel is a concrete expression of Israel’s
According to an analysis of the data, Israel experience programs for French Jewish youth and Aliyah encouragement efforts
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky stated, “Israel is the beating heart of the Jewish people. That 19,200 Jews have chosen to establish their lives in Israel is a concrete expression of Israel’s centrality to Jewish life and to Jews around the world. This is an era of Aliyah by choice, rather than Aliyah of rescue.”
Given the assimilation rate of approximately 70 percent in the United States, that statement could easily be argued.
The University of Haifa’s Executive Committee said it decided not to grant an honorary doctorate to Professor Robert Aumann, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in economics in 2005, because his political beliefs do not fall in line with the university’s values.
The university was concerned about several Zionist positions espoused by Aumann, including a remark that “the most sensible solution” to the Israeli-Arab conflict is “a Jewish state and an Arab state, where the Jewish state is settled by Jews and the Arab state is settled by Arabs,” as well as a statement that Jerusalem “needs to remain Jewish.”
“Judging someone based on his political positions is extreme and extraordinary and should not be done in an academic institution,” Member of Knesset Shimon Ohayon (Likud Beiteinu) said regarding the university’s decision.
The University of Haifa said in a statement, “The process of choosing candidates to receive the honorary doctorate is a several-phased process. Only at its end are the recipients announced and reasons offered. The process is not over yet. Deliberations are internal and not meant for publication.”
Ra’ad Salah, head of the radical Islamic Moveent’s northern branch, incited Arabs with Israeli citizenship on Friday, telling them in no uncertain terms that Israel was behind the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi last month.
In a speech marking the 44th anniversary of a crazed, Christian Australian’s attempt to burn down the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in 1969, Salah blamed Israel for the attack and for the coup in Egypt.
“The Israeli occupation stood behind the burning of the Al Aqsa mosque and it stands behind the destruction in Egypt,” he said in Kfar Kara, located less than 10 miles from the Mediterranean Coast, between Haifa and Tel Aviv.
The attack on the Temple Mount was carried out by Denis Michael Rohan, who set fire to the Al Aqsa mosque. He was arrested immediately, and the court sent him to a mental institution after declaring him insane. Israel deported him to Australia in 1974, and he died in 1995 while under psychiatric care. He had claimed he tried to destroy he mosque because he was the “Lord’s emissary” to destroy the mosque in order to allow Jews to rebuild the Temple Mount and speed the Second Coming of Jesus.
No sane person believe Israel was involved or behind the attack, but Israel insists on giving Salah the freedom of speech to incite hate and violence in Israel, ignoring the principle once established by the U.S. Supreme Court that freedom of speech stops at “yelling fire in a crowded theatre.”
The theatre is Israel and Salah, much more than Mahmoud Abbas, is leading the incitement as a Fifth Column within Israel.
Salah is from Um el-Fahm, an Arab Israeli city where he was elected mayor three times and where he has established his Islamic Northern Branch headquarters in the north. Jews don’t dare venture into the city unless they have pre-arranged business. It is one of the country’s fiercest anti-Israel hotbeds of incitement, hatred and terror.
Salah has a long record of crime and anti-Israel activity that could have kept him behind bars for years. He was arrested in 2003 and was convicted of funding Hamas and having been in contact with an Iranian intelligence agent, for which he was sentenced to prison for a grand total of two and a half years.
He has frequently whipped up violent riots in Jerusalem, where he has been banned several times from entering.
In 2009, he stated in Um el-Fahm, “In spirit and blood we will earn Al-Aqsa. We will be martyrs for Allah and Jerusalem. We will bless holy death in the name of Allah in the courtyards of the blessed Al-Aqsa.”
His open incitement against Israel is enough to put him in jail time and time again, but Salah keeps coming back and Israel insists on ignoring him, as if he will fade away.
Instead, Salah wins more followers every day. He has reached incitement against Israel to Bedouin in the Negev, where Jews already are a tiny minority outside of Be’er Sheva.
The London Guardian’s Mick Dumper noted as far back as 2009 that Salah’s “initial convention in Um el-Fahm has now evolved into an annual rally, drawing around 50,000 supporters and inspiring similar solidarity events across the Arab and Islamic world, from Lebanon to South Africa.
“This is extended by subsidized trips to al-Aqsa for Palestinians in Israel, with more than 2 million visits to the site since 2001….
“By its use of different media, the Islamic Movement has positioned itself as a key agent in both the struggle on the ground and the regional and international debates over al-Aqsa and the status of Jerusalem. Some senior PA officials now recognize that Salah’s public speeches and activities within Jerusalem have an impact upon their scope for negotiation and will undoubtedly influence future policy.
“In the words of one such official, ‘This self-appointed sheikh of al-Aqsa has built his own kingdom within Jerusalem. He is seeking to capture the hearts and minds of Jerusalemites as victory in Jerusalem offers him the greatest platform to Islamic victory in the Arab world.’”
Salah was on the Mavi Mamara, the lead ship in the May 2019 flotilla to Gaza that was organized by the Turkish-based IHH “charity” foundation, whose Turkey branch been defined by Germany as in illegal terrorist organization.