Israel versus Judaism
TORAH-JUDAISM AND THE STATE OF ISRAELBY
The Reality of the State
We have until now dealt with all these problems from a theoretical angle. We have tried to explain that the negative attitude towards the State mainly emanates from ideological considerations to which all other arguments are only secondary. Although it is not our intention here, as outlined in the introduction, to enter into any polemic or political argument, yet this treatise would be left incomplete without a mention, however brief, of the practical part of the problem. After all, it is an existing reality which we are discussing and not only a theory.
Dr. Isaac Breuer, the Agudist thinker, once defined the aim of Zionism as "a national home for paganism, with a little room left for the Almighty". This definition is applicable also to the State of Israel. From the day of its inception, the rulers of the State have engaged in systematic and deliberate eradication of the Torah with all the means at their disposal, including persuasion, fraud, violence, terror, blackmail and, if necessary, even blood-shed.
It is not the intention of this writer in referring to all those well-substantiated facts, to draw up a list of anti-Torah acts whether committed through legislation, e.g. the Women's Conscription Act or the “Working Hours” Law (authorizing the Minister of Labour to "permit work on Sabbaths") etc., or, in everyday life, committed with violence for no purpose other than provocation, e.g. the Dancing Club in Meah Shearim, the Swimming Pool and, first and foremost, the brutal estrangement of hundreds of thousands of innocent Jews, mainly children, from their faith through every type of terror, a policy once described by a prominent Zionist leader and Israeli member of Cabinet (the late D. Pincus) as "genocide". All these tragic facts and many more are certainly among the things that ought to be compiled, well-documented and publicized, documentation exists and is available, but, again, that is outside the scope of this work. Mor
eover, even in the one field in which the State often likes to boast of its "Jewishness" i.e. the field of Rabbinical jurisdiction in matters of marital status, the truth is in diametrical opposition to the State's claims. Not only do the Rabbis in Israel (and I mean here the officially recognized Chief Rabbinate, let alone others) have at present fewer rights and less jurisdiction than used to be granted (and in some countries is still being granted) to Rabbis in most European countries until World War II, but they enjoy fewer rights nowadays than they used to enjoy under the Mandate. I would particularly call the attention of the reader in this respect to an interesting article written several years ago by Dr. Goitein, one of Israel's leading jurists and diplomats in the American "Bnei Brith Monthly" under the title "Is Israel Priest-ridden?", in which he proves that the rights of Rabbis had been confirmed by the State of Israel only in order to preserve the “status quo” of the Mandate, and that these rights are being diminished from year to year. Since the publication of that article, this policy has continued. The fact that the Rabbis are paid by the Government (as, incidentally, is the case also in some countries behind the Iron Curtain) is of no greater importance, as far as this principle goes, than the fact that their photos are often published in newspapers and magazines. The more the decorative side of the Rabbinate is emphasized, the fewer do their actual rights become.At this point, one further detail should be mentioned, that eloquently symbolises the state as a true expression of nationalism i.e. the very existence of a "Ministry of Religions". With the establishment of that Ministry, official confirmation was given to the fact that Zionism as embodied in the State of Israel considers Torah as one "religion" of many. This fact by itself, which should indeed have served as an eye opener to many, has not only failed to do so but, by some irony, there are still people who use this very same fact in order to prove how "religious" the State is . . .
This "Ministry of Religions" or, better still, under its French name (French being a semi-official language in Israel) “Ministère des Cultes” (sic!), deals with the other "cults" on a purely administrative level and in a routine manner as in similar government offices in other countries, but handles the Jewish "cult" in a manner which is, to put it very mildly, reckless indeed. It composes prayers, arranges "religious ceremonies" issues “regulations” as to when Hallel should be said and when selichot should be said in prayers, etc. The "headquarters" of this Ministry on Mount Zion, apart from attracting innocent Yankee tourists or equally innocent Yemenite newcomers, is gradually becoming the laughing stock of the entire country, regardless of affiliation.
Truly, the "religious" room in the huge building of paganism most eloquently testifies to the character of the entire building . . .
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As has been said, it is not our intention to enumerate here all such events and situations, nor to describe the "religious situation" in the State of Israel. Nobody will deny that it is very pitiable, and that there is deliberate anti-religious action. The question to be considered now is how to appraise this situation. A mistake quite frequently made is to see the root of the problem in the fact that the State of Israel has a “non-religious majority”, and that, if there were a "religious majority", the situation would be different. In the first place, this claim can be disproved even from the merely factual angle. Contrary to what many people think, the State of Israel of the present day has an overwhelming religious majority in terms of figures. One does not have to be an expert in statistics or mathematics to figure this out. It is simple arithmetics. When the Mandate was terminated, about half a million Jews lived in Palestine. The population of the State is now approaching the two million mark. Thus, over a million, to be exact, about a million and a half new immigrants have so far come to the country. Where did they all come from? To be sure, the first immigrants came from D.P. Camps in Europe and several other European countries. They too included a considerable percentage of observant Jews. However, the entire European immigration (including even the newest Roumanian arrivals) barely amounted to half a million. All the rest came from Oriental Countries, Yemen, Morocco, Iran, Iraq, etc. and those were practically all Torah observant. Thus, there is a "religious majority" in the State, and, if this is not noticeable in the political representation and leadership of the country, the reasons for that are matters of regime, of party-politics, economy, etc., which go beyond our topic. The fact that power in the State is held by those who now hold it, certainly adds bitterness to the problem, but does not constitute its root. It is certainly NOT THIS FACT WHICH DETERMINES THE ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE STATE.
What has been said earlier with regard to Zionism, holds good all the more with regard to the State. It is not because the power is held by the irreligious that the State is opposed to Torah, but the other way round. Because the entire concept of the State is contrary to Torah, only irreligious men could be its founders and leaders. The"religious" are only satellites (as we shall explain at greater length in our chapter on "Religious Zionism"). The very existence of a State with a Parliament authorized to decide matters of Torah and Divine commandments by a majority-vote, IS DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED TO TORAH, EVEN IF SUCH VOTE SHOULD ALWAYS BE "IN FAVOUR" OF TORAH!
In other words the argument so often heard "Why did not the 'religious' establish the State?" is absurd. As un-popular as it may sound nowadays, it still remains a fact (as has been explained above with regard to Zionism) that if Torah-true Jews had been the ones to decide, THEY WOULD NEVER HAVE FOUNDED A STATE! It is a fact, which many people like to conceal and are ashamed of, that the Torah authorities everywhere were explicitly opposed to the establishment of a Jewish State. As was mentioned above, a resolution in this direction had been adopted by the World Congress of Agudath Israel in Marienbad in 1937, though even then Agudath Israel did not constitute the most "extremist" wing of orthodoxy with regard to Zionism. Needless to say, the other Rabbinical leaders, standing to the "right" of Agudath Israel, subscribed even more emphatically to the same view.
For the State, as has been said, is nothing but an organic part of Zionism, its natural sequence. The State could never have grown on any ground but that of Zionism. The State constitutes a further step in the process of "normalization" or "transformation" of the Jewish People from "this People which I have created for Myself" into "a nation like all nations". It is the same "Jewish Nationalism" that regards the Jewish People as a "national entity" along the non-Jewish pattern, that regards Galuth only as a development of "historical events" and the State as the "solution of the Jewish Problem". Just as it is, from the Torah viewpoint, a falsification and worse to regard the Jewish People as a "nation like all nations", to consider L'shon Hakodesh its "national language" and Eretz Israel as its "national home", in the same manner, and even more so does it constitute a forgery of the worst kind to present the State as "the redemption" or, by way of compromise, as "the dawn of redemption". For the State is in truth only another link in the chain of metamorphosis of the precepts from Divine sanctity through un-Jewish secularization, into non-Jewish concepts. No wonder that only relatively few are aware of these tremendous differences which are mainly spiritual, and no wonder therefore that within many orthodox quarters a total and unprecedented confusion prevails.
It can be said in favour of the leaders and founders of the State that they have never concealed their true intention. Mr. Ben Gurion in his speeches incessantly emphasizes the aspiration of the State to build "a new nation" and that of the Israeli Army, whose main purpose it is, to serve as a "melting pot" for the "new nation".
This writer, incidentally, suggested already ten years ago that it is against this background that we could understand the true meaning behind the importation to Israel of Karaites, Samaritans, Sabbatheans and all the other sects that are not considered as Jews under the Law of the Torah, and, on the other hand, the almost forcible encouragement of Reform in Israel, an article for which there is neither the need nor the demand from any part of the population.
The recent controversy around the question of “Who is a Jew” should have demonstrated even to the blind the basic aspiration of the State to transform the identity of the Jewish People. For, from the Zionist view that regards the Jewish People as “a nation among nations”, the attitude maintained by Israelâ€™s rulers is entirely justified. This approach, similar to that of other nations, regards "nationality" as a matter independent of and more important then "religion". Why than should consideration be given to limitations imposed by "religion" on the definition of "national" identity? Is it not a fact, for example, that one of the greatest German writers happened to be a Frenchman by birth, Adalbert von Chamisso? The world of today no more believes in the "racial theory"; and "national affiliation", according to non-Jewish precepts, is mainly a question of cultural identity. Why then should the son of a Catholic mother not be considered as a good "Israeli" or even a good "Jew" even though his mother be a Catholic or he himself even belong to the Catholic Church. Without any attempt at participation in the party-political controversy around this question, it may be stated that this controversy itself, even the very fact of its emergence, symbolises and stresses the true character of the State as the implementing tool of Zionism.
It is also against this background that we should understand the emergence of the group of so-called "Canaanites". To be sure, they constitute a negligeable minority as an organization. Spiritually, however, theirs is the basic trend of large sections, if not the majority of the Sabrah "intelligentsia". The ideology of the "Canaaites" can be briefly summarized as follows: The Jewish population of Israel constitutes a separate national entity. It has only cultural ties with World Jewry. It should try to be integrated culturally and politically among the neighbouring nations. In other words, they openly advocate secession from the Jewish people. These young people, indeed, are like the child in the famous tale who shouted that the King was naked. Their theory is in fact, logically derived from Zionist theory. One basic fact which they admit, and which Zionism does not is that Judaism is identical with Torah; and since they have been brought up to abandon and detest Torah, they feel the logical need to get rid of all that is reminiscent of Judaism. There is a direct line that connects early Zionist leaders, like Berdichevski, with these "Canaanites", the "jeunesse dorée" of the contemporary State of Israel. It is evident that ideologically speaking the attitude of Torah Judaism towards the State cannot differ from its attitude towards Zionism. The difference as far as it does exist is that the negative attitude towards the State has become more outspoken and determined, since the State has raised practical questions as opposed to the largely theoretical issues raised by Zionist ideas. It is likewise obvious that all recent efforts to eradicate religion through persecution are not causes but logical results of the very nature of the State. If one tries to make a man wear a garment too small for his measurements, it is only natural that the garment bursts wherever the man may turn, at the back, at the sleeves, at the front and the shoulders. This does not mean that the tailor had taken the wrong measurements but that the entire garment does not fit at all as it had not been made for that person in the first place. Similarly, the pattern of "a nation among nations" is entirely foreign to the Jewish people. When forcibly compelled to wear that "coat", it must burst at the seams, whether the seams consist of the conscription of women or of the alienation of children from their faith, etc.
One might here again quote Rabbi M. B. Weissmandl who once very eloquently defined the situation in the course of a conversation with a certain Zionist leader. The conversation was held in German; and Rabbi Weissmandl, with his typically dry humour remarked: “Ihr habt eine Weltreligion fur ein Paraguay eingetauscht“.(You have exchanged a universal religion for a Paraguay). Yet, the Torah does not allow itself to be squeezed into the frame of a "Paraguay", hence it is the cause of permanent friction. Neither the “non-religious majority” nor any particular person or persons should be held responsible personally or collectively for this friction. All may be guilty of having embittered the atmosphere of the argument, and I certainly do not intend here to minimize that guilt. Yet, the principal culprit is not any particular person. The root of the trouble lies in the absolute character of the antithesis between Torah and Zionism or, as one must put it nowadays, between Torah and the State of Israel.
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