Beyond the Cusp

April 24, 2018

Religious Zionism is Alive and Flourishing

 

Religious Zionism was claimed to be on its death bed according to Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz. His article is somewhat disingenuous as he makes it sound like he was born and still resides in Eretz Yisroel with his being younger man living in Efrat and having joined his brothers and sisters to create a human chain stretching from Jerusalem to Gaza. It is not until late in the article he mentions that he has left Eretz Yisroel and now is an Open Orthodox Rabbi living in the United States. His claims about the problems with the Religious Zionists in Eretz Yisroel are actually easily understood by any Olim who resided in the United States and because of their intense Zionism came to Eretz Yisroel to live. He has adapted to his new home and this has caused him to have clouded vision. Please allow us to explain using our experiences after having come here to our little nest in Eretz Yisroel. It is a story about having gone in the opposite direction from Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz.

 

The first confession we need to explain is that despite being Zionist, we had little connection to Judaism despite having been born into a Jewish home. This home went from Orthodox to Reform Judaism before we had reached Bar Mitzvah age. Our connection to Judaism was restarted due to a death in the family. Still, our return was to a Conservative Synagogue as that Synagogue’s Rabbi was a better fit from the Reform Synagogue. The odd thing is the Conservative Synagogue services were very similar to the Reform we knew in our teens. It was coming to Eretz Yisroel where we were actually introduced to Orthodox, a Traditional Sephardi Orthodox Synagogue. This Synagogue has a mix of every form of Judaism in the congregants from Ashkenazim to Sephardim to Jews from India and throughout the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and North America with the main numbers from Romania. Needless to say, we found a flourishing and very colorful mix of Judaism and Jews and we are all friends and as a family. We still have much to learn about Judaism and Torah and the other major writings from the Rabbis over the ages. This experience has strengthened our Zionism and we have joined a political party which supports religious Zionism and every form of Zionism is practiced by the party members, again a mixture of every kind of Jew from every corner of the globe. For one of us it feels so much like home as their mother was an Iraqi Jew raised in Bombay, India and father was a British Jew from London, England with Ukrainian and Prussian ancestry. Yes, we have a rich mixture there as well.

 

May the Temple be Rebuilt Speedily in Our Days

May the Temple be Rebuilt Speedily in Our Days

 

Where our making Aliyah was due solely to Zionism, the religious part of our beliefs has truly begun since arriving in Eretz Yisroel. Can we yet claim to be Religious Zionists, well, probably not yet. Are we working in that direction, yes. But Rabbi Yanklowitz makes complaints with which we are very familiar. His complaints are purely leftist American centric complaints. His complaints center around the central tenets of the far left of the Democrat Party. This is to be expected from one who practices Open Orthodoxy which is actually another way of saying Reform Judaism, as their beliefs are very much similar. These Jews follow the socialist wealth redistribution and the minority rights over everybody else’s rights. They believe that borders are not real lines between nations and sacred as they want anybody crossing any border to have full rights in their new nation. This was exemplified by his problem with Israel’s desire to deport the illegal immigrants from Africa who only came to Israel for economic reasons. But as Israel is a wealthy nation, Rabbi Yanklowitz believes that anyone who arrives from a poor nation has an economic right to the better life in the wealthier country no matter the problems and threats to their presumed new nation they may pose. The only thing we would like to tell the good Rabbi is, if you desire the leftist utopia which you envision and likely find the United States currently lacking with President Trump, perhaps you would be best to live in a real socialist utopia like Cuba, Venezuela or North Korea.

 

But you probably are too attached to your wealthy life in the United States where you can criticize Israel of not being that socialist utopia you envision will ultimately save the world. We know the crime Israel has committed is choosing to move from its socialist roots to a capitalist economic model and make it work. Let us set your mind at rest on one subject, the people of Israel give more to the needy than can be measured as most of this assistance is given by one Israeli to another without any need for the government to enact welfare and other forced charity. The charity in Israel is beyond measure because there is no need for the government to take from one Israeli and give to another because the Israelis are perfectly capable of performing this deed on their own. Until you decide to leave your comfortable palaces in the United States, and we realize here in Israel our homes are necessarily smaller and we adapted, and return to Eretz Yisroel, then work to make the United States that perfect land as you have stated that the Diaspora should be the great place for the Jewish People. We disagree and we further promise not to tell the United States how to run their business and you can promise not to attempt to foist your politics upon us. And what we realize from your other writings is that you do not view the Temple as a positive thing while we see the building of the Third Temple as probably the greatest event we have yet to undertake. As our text translates in our morning prayers, “May it be the will before you, Hashem, our G0d and the G0d of our forefathers, that rebuilt shall the Holy Temple be speedily in our days.” We would like to thankyou for your impatience.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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August 19, 2012

Confessions by a Zionist

There is a trend that has been on the rise again to equate Zionism with Racism. Some might remember that the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 3379 on November 10, 1975, by a vote of 72 to 35 with 32 countries abstaining which declared that Zionism was a form of Racism. This was a low-point for the reputation of Zionism that remained unchallenged until recently. Fortunately, on December 16, 1991, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 46/86 which revoked Resolution 3379 which had declared Zionism was equal to racism by a vote of 111 to 25, with 13 countries abstaining. Zionism has once again fallen into such disrepute that some groups, agencies, charities and other groups are choosing to omit any reference to Zionism in their fund-raising materials and descriptions. Well, this will not be a problem for this editorialist. I am a Zionist and am proud of my Zionism and am perfectly willing not only to admit to my Zionism but am fully ready to defend Zionism and Zionists. With that declaration in mind, let us now continue.

One of the claims made against Zionism is that Israel is a racist state because it allows and facilitates Zionism and the Right of Return for all Jews to come home. This is an erroneous assumption as Israel is more multicultural in its population than numerous other countries, some of which might surprise you. The following countries have stricter qualifications for attaining citizenship for anybody not native born than does Israel; Mexico, Libya, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait (which disallows Palestinians from citizenship since 1991), Switzerland, Denmark, Syria, Turkey, China, United Arab Emirates, Argentine, Brazil and numerous others. Then there are some countries who refuse people whose families have lived within their borders for decades from being integrated into the society, denied them citizenship, refused to allow them to hold many employment positions above menial work, and disallowed them the right to own land, a home and even an apartment or other residence which might encourage permanence. These are the countries containing Palestinian refugee camps. The countries who have such policies despite the fact that the Palestinians have the same culture, speak the same language, and often have close relatives living within the country, are Syria, Lebanon and Jordan (which has a predominantly Palestinian population approaching 80% and was established out of the British Mandate Lands with the understanding that it was to be the Palestinian Arab nation with the remainder of the Mandate Land west of the Jordan River reserved for the Jewish State). So, Zionism does not contribute to any exclusivity for citizenship within Israel and Israel has a large Arab population with the majority of those are Muslims who freely practice their religion without any limitations or restrictions. Israel has had a minority population consisting of Arabs, Bedouins, Druze and Christians all of whom enjoy full citizenship and equal rights as any Jew enjoys within Israel.

Zionism is mischaracterized as being a method to purify Israel of any non-Jewish citizens. This is an outright lie as Israel has never had nor will it have any dispossession of the rights of anybody holding Israeli citizenship. Israel holds so tightly to the importance of respect for all its citizens that they have minority citizens serving in every branch of their government, in every government agency and within units of the IDF, their military. The main difference in treatment between Jewish citizens and non-Jewish citizens in Israel is that the Jewish citizens are required to serve either in the IDF, the military, or in some form of national service, all others do not have this obligation as of the writing of this article. It is being discussed whether it would be desirable to compel at the minimum that all citizens upon reaching military age be required to perform national service including serving in the IDF but not required to serve in the military. The reasoning is to allow for every citizen to have equal obligation to the betterment of the country and to instill a feeling of inclusivity through such service. Currently, the Druze population within Israel also expects their children to serve in the IDF and have made it a social requirement for their community. Such is to be lauded and held as an example of great dedication.

Another misconception is that Zionism is a completely new concept. Modern Zionism which was relatively secular in its nature dates back to the mid to late 1800s with much of the credit given to Theodor Herzl. Another name closely attributed with modern Zionism is Ze’ev Jabotinsky who tried to convince Polish Jews during the 1930s to make Aliyah as something horrible was coming to Europe and to destroy their communities. He was mostly ignored as the Jews of the day were well assimilated within Polish society as well as into the rest of European society and could not foresee anything which would threaten such. The European powers and the League of Nations after World War I had responded to the Zionist desires to return to the ancient Jewish homeland in Jerusalem and Eretz Yisroel and had set aside the British Mandate Lands for the exclusive formation of the Jewish State. Within a few years the British, responding to Arab pressures, reallocated the Mandate Lands east of the Jordan River for a state for the Arab population of the area of Palestine. This was accomplished with the approval of the Jewish Zionists with the proviso that the remaining lands west of the Jordan River were to be reserved solely for the Jewish State. This resulted in the formation of Transjordan, modern Jordan, which was formed with a population of Arabs from the British Mandate, the Palestinian Arabs, and placed under the recently outcast Hashemite Family from Mecca and Medina as the ruling monarchs.

But even before the onset of modern secular Zionism there existed a more traditional form of Zionism which was religiously driven. This Zionism has been a part of Jewish desires and dreams from Abraham on through Moses and continues throughout all of recorded history. Jews have formed a steady inflow into Eretz Yisroel and particularly into Jerusalem whenever the Jewish people had been taken from the land. This was true after the Babylonian exile and continued to be true during rule under the Persians, the Greeks, and especially the Romans after the Romans enacted a decree to exile the Jews from their homelands and fling them across the length and breadth of their empire in order to assure that the Jews were never to be heard from again throughout all time. The Romans also changed the name of their province which was originally named for the name the Jews had for their area, Judea, and instead named it after the Jews historically greatest enemies, the Philistines, and incorporated into the Roman provinces of Syria, thus Syria Palaestina. This is the source of the name used since and adopted by Yasser Arafat for propaganda purposes, Palestine and Palestinian.

But even immediately after the Roman dispersion, later referred to as the Diaspora, there were Jews who immediately began to make their way back to Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. During the centuries of battle between the Christian Europeans and the Muslims over who would possess the Holy Lands and Jerusalem in particular, the number of Jews living in Jerusalem was difficult to quantify as most censuses were only concerned with the numbers of Muslims and Christians. Since the middle of the nineteenth century when more accurate censuses were finally attainable, the Jews have held a plurality if not an outright majority within the Old City of Jerusalem until after 1948. It seems unbelievable that once the country of Israel was officially born that the Old City of Jerusalem would lose its Jewish majority. This was the result of the armistice which left the entire Old City and Temple Mount in Jordanian hands. The Jordanian government immediately forced every Jew out of their homes, properties, businesses, Yeshivas, Synagogues and the entirety old city. The Jordanians also set to and destroyed every single synagogue and Yeshiva within the Old City. It was not until 1967 that the Jews regained the Old city of Jerusalem but they have still not reclaimed all their properties as the Arabs who took their homes and businesses refuse to remit them back to their owners from before 1948.

Modern day Zionism is a mix of traditional religious Zionism and the modern secular Zionism. The miracle which is taking place almost silently within the borders of Israel is that no matter the driving impetus behind the returning Zionists, within a few years or generations at most the new returned Jews begin to readopt their ancient faith with a religious zeal. The rebirth of Israel will likely bring about a rebirth of religious Judaism and a return to the Scriptures and the Mosaic Laws. This is the true miracle of modern Israel after the Jewish people came so close to extinction in the last few centuries as the numbers of Jews had been dropping while the world had doubled and redoubled in population. As an example, here are some numbers of Jewish populations in 1900 compared to in 1970 and 2010.

Region                          1900                 1970                2010

Europe:                    8,977,581;        3,228,000;       1,455,900

Asia:*                          274,340;           358,000;          327,700

Africa:                          372,659;           195,000;           76,200

Americas:                 1,553,656;        6,200,000;      6,039,600

Oceania:                         16,840;             70,000;          115,100

Israel:                             78,000;        2,582,000;      5,413,800

*Excluding Israel

What the numbers above make absolutely obvious is that Israel is the future of the Jewish people. This is why Zionism is so vital and important to the Jews and the continuation of their religion and culture. This truth may also be behind the fanatical pursuit of the destruction of Israel, the final achievement of the Roman decree of splintering and breaking the Jewish society to the far reaches of the empire in order to end the existence of this troublesome people. Israel is the hope and future that such a world will never come into existence. And it is to add to that future which is part of my desire to return home as it is often referred to. So, as we Jews say in so many services at their completion each year, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

Beyond the Cusp

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