Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Jewish State

There are over a hundred nations of Christian background, slightly less Muslim nations, and only one extremely small Jewish nation sitting on a narrow strip of land along the Mediterranean. While nobody seems to have a problem that the Queen of England, its head of state, is also the head of the Church of England, or that non-Muslims are forbidden from publicly worshipping in Saudi Arabia, the world nods in agreement that the idea of a Jewish state, a democratic, free state of Jews built on Jewish principles (hopefully), is something primitive, wrong or artificial. (As if a state of French people in France or Chinese in China is offensive!) Many believe it to be charitable for another leader or country to acknowledge Israel's right to exist, as if Israel's right to exist is suspended in mid-air until someone allows us to live. Nobody challenges the rights of Canada, Chad or Australia to exist but to the self-righteous liberals of the world, a Jewish state is intolerant and racist. One need not look far to hear calls for the dismantling of Israel, branding the state as illegitimate, born in sin. Such calls are not only dangerous, but they are plain anti-semitic, to deny Jews the right of self-determination which is extended to all peoples. It is also genocidal in nature because by marking the Jews in Israel as squatters, they give liscence to Arab excesses and murder in the attempt to "liberate" their land.

The Jewish people arose in the Land of Israel and since the time of the Conquest by Joshua, Jews have maintained a constant presence there. In 70 CE, the Roman armies of Titus and Hadrian marched through Judea, massacred its people, enslaved and exiled the remnants, razed Jerusalem and burnt the Holy Temple, rebuilt on its site a pagan city, and renamed the land Palastina. Millions of Jews, of Zionists, slaughtered, and the survivors were scattered to the four corners of the globe for two millenium. During these bitter years, the Jewish people suffered intense persecution, humilation, oppression, pogroms, Crusades, Inquistions, forced conversions and Holocausts. Thousands of Jews gave their lives in order to remain Jewish, as Muslim and Christian mobds demanded that they accept the truth of the revelations of Jesus or Muhammad. The Jews endured ridicule and ostracism, being a minority in hostile lands. It is little over 60 years ago when the Jews were taken from all over Europe (and the Jews of North Africa were only saved miraculously) and killed by the Nazis. The Jewish nation was weak, dispersed and defenseless. As the Jews suffocated and burned in Auschwitz, the world sat silently. The Pope turned a blind eye as all of the Jews of Rome were rounded up from beneath his very window. The message was painfully clear: never again to be a minority. We must be the masters in our own house.

From these ashes of the horrid destruction that engulfed the Jewish people 60 years ago, the nation regathered in its ancient homeland and reestablished itself. Jews had been living there since biblical times, and in the previous two centuries, settlements and aliyah flourished. Land that had been desolate and malaria-infested under the Arabs for hundreds of years suddenly bloomed when its rightful owners returned to reclaim it. Jerusalem, the ancient and eternal capital of Israel, which had been a backwater outpost in the Ottoman Empite, had a thriving Jewish population. In 1948, the state of Israel was declared and it quickly accepted 600 000 Holocaust surivors and close to a million Jews from Arab lands who were expelled from lands which they had lived in for millenium. The state grew and in 1967, following Arab threats and belligerence, Israel liberated Judea and Samaria, Sinai and the Golan and the Jews were finally reunited with their ancient and eternal capital Jerusalem, which was forbidden to Jews under Jordanian rule. The Israeli army ran towards the Kotel and towards the Temple Mount, which has been used as a garbage dump by the Arabs, and the tears of the soldiers poured over the holy stones. The Jewish people had come home.

Some people naively argue today that since most countries guarantee Jews equal rights for the moment, we should waltz right back into exile. Little do they know that anti-Semitic acts are quite common in Europe, Canada and even the United States as synagogues are firebombed, Jewish schools and cemetaries vandalized, and Jews beaten up regularly. Anti-semitism is far from gone and is on a frightening increase. Nonetheless, even without anti-semitism or Jew-hatred, Israel is essential. The Jews are entitled, as are the Swiss, the Italians and the Cambodians, to self-rule, to have a country of their own in which to practice their faith freely, to develop their culture and to shape their own destiny.

Israel has always been at the center of Jewish conscious. Jews pray three times a day that "our eyes behold Your return to Zion in mercy". We have ended every Passover seder with the words, "Next Year in Jerusalem!". The Land of Israel is the heart of the nation (Or Ne’erav 5:4). All of the Jewish pilgrimage festivals are based on the agricultural cycle of Israel. "See how dear the Land of Israel is before the Holy One Blessed Be He, that most of the commandments are determined there" (Batei Midrashot 1). Judaism in exile is unnatural, existing like a spirit without a body. Only in Israel is Judaism healthy, natural, complete and uncompartmentalized. The Jewish communities in the Diaspora are shrinking, plagued by a 50% assimilation and intermarriage rate. The American Jew is quickly vanishing, through assimilation, country clubs, pork chops, intermarriage and public schools. Israel is the only Jewish community that is thriving and flourishing because it is where Judaism belongs. "There is no Torah like the Torah of the Land of Israel And no wisdom like the wisdom of the Land of Israel." (Sifri, Ekev) Just as the Swede is connected to Sweden, so to is the Jew connected with his heart and soul in Israel. "The Land of Israel is our inheritance from our forefathers" (Baba Batra 119:B) It belongs to us by virtue of inheritance, by Divine promise, by our never ending love-affair with this land. It is in Israel that the Jew is meant to create a holy society, to be able to practice the mitzvot freely, which is impossible in exile. Our Jewish destiny is to become a "light unto the nations", to teach the world of the Truth of HaShem, that there is none but Him, which cannot be done living in the humilation and enslavement of exile.

G-d said: The Land is Mine, and the People of Israel is Mine. I will give My Land to My People (Tanchumah, Bamidbar 34). Who dares fight against the Master of the Universe?

Cross-posted to Goat's Barnyard and Jewish Vengeance


Yehudi said...

BK, you need to write a book. Your posts are extremely well-written with amazing content! I disagree however with the statement, "Just as the Swede is connected to Sweden, so to is the Jew connected with his heart and soul in Israel." The Swede has no connection to Sweden, other than maybe his ancestors happen to live there..you then said," "The Land of Israel is our inheritance from our forefathers" (Baba Batra 119:B) It belongs to us by virtue of inheritance, by Divine promise." And that sumarizes everything. It is ours. Eternally. Unapologetically. Kol Yisrael arevim zeh lazeh.

You've been putting out some amazing stuff lately, achi! Shkoyach!

Batya said...

excellent post

Brooke said...

What Yehudi said! I can scarcely believe how young you are vs the quality of your writing!

WomanHonorThyself said...

Your best piece ever!..makes me want to go to Israel now!..my last post is one I think u will appreciate as well..Tibet and Israel.......

Progressive Pinhead said...

We don't object to a majority Jewish state. We object to a Jewish state. There is a distinct diffrence. We support the idea of self-determination, just not the idea of secterian self-determination.

You talk about how essential Israel is becuase of anti-semetism, but then say that your case has nothing to do with anti-semetism.

Progressive Pinhead said...

This got buried behind your newest posts, but I would like to see your response.

"A common misperception is that all the Jews were forced into the Diaspora by the Romans after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E. and then, 1,800 years later, suddenly returned to Palestine demanding their country back. In reality, the Jewish people have maintained ties to their historic homeland for more than 3,700 years.

The Jewish people base their claim to the Land of Israel on at least four premises: 1) the Jewish people settled and developed the land; 2) the international community granted political sovereignty in Palestine to the Jewish people; 3) the territory was captured in defensive wars and 4) God promised the land to the patriarch Abraham.

Even after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and the beginning of the exile, Jewish life in the Land of Israel continued and often flourished. Large communities were reestablished in Jerusalem and Tiberias by the ninth century. In the 11th century, Jewish communities grew in Rafah, Gaza, Ashkelon, Jaffa and Caesarea.

The Crusaders massacred many Jews during the 12th century, but the community rebounded in the next two centuries as large numbers of rabbis and Jewish pilgrims immigrated to Jerusalem and the Galilee. Prominent rabbis established communities in Safed, Jerusalem and elsewhere during the next 300 years. By the early 19th century — years before the birth of the modern Zionist movement — more than 10,000 Jews lived throughout what is today Israel.1 The 78 years of nation-building, beginning in 1870, culminated in the reestablishment of the Jewish State.

Israel's international "birth certificate" was validated by the promise of the Bible; uninterrupted Jewish settlement from the time of Joshua onward; the Balfour Declaration of 1917; the League of Nations Mandate, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration; the United Nations partition resolution of 1947; Israel's admission to the UN in 1949; the recognition of Israel by most other states; and, most of all, the society created by Israel's people in decades of thriving, dynamic national existence.

But why should Israel require a recognition of its 'right to exist' from you or from anyone? Does anybody question the US's right to exist, or that of Sudan, Saudi Arabia or France?

“Nobody does Israel any service by proclaiming its 'right to exist.'

Israel's right to exist, like that of the United States, Saudi Arabia and 152 other states, is axiomatic and unreserved. Israel's legitimacy is not suspended in midair awaiting acknowledgement....

There is certainly no other state, big or small, young or old, that would consider mere recognition of its 'right to exist' a favor, or a negotiable concession.”

— Abba Eban

Jews are not simply a religious group like Christian or Muslims. There is no Christian nation. There is a Jewish nation as we are a religio-national group. Judaism is entirely based on the Land of Israel and many of the mitzvot are dependant on it. There is no Judaism without Israel. Here are some Torah quotes:

Living in the Land of Israel is equivalent to fulfilling all the commandments of the Torah (Nachmanides on Leviticus 18:25).

See how dear the Land of Israel is before the Holy One Blessed Be He, that most of the commandments are determined there (Batei Midrashot 1).

All troubles befall Israel because they do not seek the Land of Israel (Midrash Tehillim 17).

I don't see your point in claiming that anti-semitics supported a Jewish state. That is a historical fact. At the early stages of Nazi plans, when all Jewish organization were shut down, Zionist organization were still allowed. The Nazis wanted all of the Jews to go to Israel. And now the world wants us out of Israel. It seems to me that the world isn't happy wherever we go. I'm starting to think that they do no like us very much...

I do not think that you are an anti-semite, just extremely naive. Some of your statements are borderline anti-semitic like your 'ZioNazi' Holocaust references (ghettos), your demonization of Israel by comparing it to Apartheid or Chinese dictatorships or your portrayal of Israel as bloodthirsty and requiring Arab blood to satisfy itself. Of course, we also use Christian blood for matzot. But everybody should stop calling you an anti-semite."

I find it interesting that you say their are at least four premises, it makes it sound as if you are unsure of your own case. The four premises that you present are flawed. Settling and developing land gives you the right to be incorporated into the existing political establishment, it does not give you the right to sectarian self-determination. German immigrants to America, for example, had right to be incorporated into America, however they did not have a right to declare their own nation.

As you have said the international communitie's recognition of Israel has nothing to do with its right to exist (I should add here that I don't think that any nation has a right to exist as a sectarian state, but I do not contest Israel's right to exist). Furthermore, the international community had no right to give away other people's sovereignty.

You say that Israel captured it territory in defensive wars, but there is an inherent contradiction in this point. A nation cannot come into existence by defending its existence which has not been established yet.

Religious mandates have no validity in matters not concerning people of that religion.

My point in showing that Zionism had anti-Semitic support was in response to your rejection of Zionism as an imperialistic project because: "Whose flag were the Jews planting- the anti-semitic Czar's, or maybe that of Poland which they were fleeing"

You bring up the issue of Jews in Palestine before the advent of Zionism, but you fail to mention that most of these were anti-Zionists and many asked to be incorporated into the proposed Arab state at the time of Israel's independence. You also fail to mention indigenous Jewish communities in Iran and the Mahgreb which remain opposed to Zionism.

Israel's existence as a Jewish state is artificial and cannot legitimate itself.

You mention 154 nations that have axiomatic independence, does the independence of all the other nation's in the world hinge on some external factor?

If the Arab world has been so hostile to the Jewish people then why have they fled into the midst of Arab nations?

You say that without Israel their is no Judaism, are you suggesting that Judaism did not exist until 1948? At any rate, a commandment for the Jewish people to live in Israel does not bar them from sharing that land with other people of the region.

Anonymous said...

You also fail to mention indigenous Jewish communities in Iran and the Mahgreb which remain opposed to Zionism.

Among Iranian Jews it is a death sentence to be a Zionist, literally, and it is illegal for Jews to immigrate to Israel. If you speak to Iranian Jews you will find that to a man they abhor the Muslims and love having a Jewish state.

99% of Jews who lived in the Mugrehb left, almost all to Israel, if the remainder are anti-Zionist that only proves almost all of them are staunch Zionists.

Israel's existence as a Jewish state is artificial and cannot legitimate itself.

You made a declaration without bringing any proof of it, Israel without Judaism would be artificial, as it is a divine commandement to create a Jewish Land with specific Jewish laws. Anything else is indeed irrational.

If the Arab world has been so hostile to the Jewish people then why have they fled into the midst of Arab nations?

I am not really sure what you are referring to, there were Jews in Arab occupied lands because they were there before the Arabs conquered them.

You say that without Israel their is no Judaism, are you suggesting that Judaism did not exist until 1948? At any rate, a commandment for the Jewish people to live in Israel does not bar them from sharing that land with other people of the region.

The commandement is not only to settle but to conquer our land, we have lived under the "mercies" of other peoples for a long time its not something any Jew with a modicum of common sense would repeat. And as religious Jews we will not accept such a situation because of the Torah.

Anonymous said...

Israel can rely on itself, and that's about it. Every other ally they've ever had has dumped them when it became politically expedient to do so. Nice posting.

Progressive Pinhead said...

When was the last time you read something from an Iranian Jew? If they are as repressed as you say then there is no way that they would be able to tell you what they think.

A Jewish state is artificial because the Israeli government has a policy that encourages and finances Jewish immigration in order to maintain and expand a Jewish majority. I thought that some of Israel's most fervent advocates would have at least some understanding of that nation's governmental policies without me having to provide "evidence" of universally accepted facts. Look up Israel's immigration policy on the foreign ministry's website if you still don't believe me.

If in international policy each nation and religious group is going to be driven exclusively by a literal interpretation of their holy texts (and I do realize their are a large number of anti-Zionist Jews) then the world will be eternally at war.

Most of Algeria's 140,000 Jews went to France, so you cannot count those as Zionists, in Morocco the Sultan snubbed the Nazis and patronized the Jews during World War II and continues to retain a prominent Jewish advisor, the last wave of Jewish immigrants from Morocco went to North America and not Israel so you cannot claim those as Zionists, in fact the Jews who did emigrate to Israel from Morocco continue to maintain ties with their homeland, and in Tunisia were Jews have lived for the last 2,300 years half of those who have left traveled not to Israel, but to France. So to say that only 1% of Jews from the Mahgreb are anti-Zionists when Zionists clearly represented less then half of Jews from the Mahgreb is simply absurd. If you are not familiar enough with the facts you shouldn't be commenting.