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Only Belief Can Save Israel

For much of its limited existence the State of Israel faced a struggle between two competing ideologies embodied in Israel's two major political parties, Labor and Likud, Socialist Zionism vs Revisionist Zionism.

Socialist Zionism saw Socialism as the only possible system for mankind. Socialist Zionists broke with most Socialist and Communist Jews who believed that Jews had to assimilate and participate in building socialism in their individual countries, realizing that Jews could never be full partners in building socialism in someone else's country. Having seen the anti-semitism on the left, they instead chose to build a Jewish nation to serve as a Jewish socialist homeland.

Socialist Zionism did not and does not see Jews or Israel as unique. Israel for them was only a means for Jews to participate in a larger growing union of socialist nations and peoples. That kind of thinking still motives men like Shimon Peres today. It is why Labor is so willing to make concessions under European pressure and why it considers the domestic right more of a threat than Arab socialists like Fatah.

Revisionist Zionism by contrast believed in a unique Jewish national identity, a strong army and the reclamation of all of Israel. Yet time and time again, Revisionist Zionism shrunk from direct confrontation with Socialist Zionism, which was able to bully and throw its weight around. Revisionists who were prepared to fight Arabs but not fellow Jews faced Socialist Zionists who were prepared to fight fellow Jews but not Arabs. That same situation is repeated today as the Olmert-Peres government is unwilling to fight the Arabs but all too willing to fight the Jews who would fight the Arabs.

Time and time again, Revisionist Zionism placed its faith in winning the hearts and minds of the people. And indeed with Begin's victory, the Likud has reliably held onto power. Until it was destroyed from within by Ariel Sharon, who had come out of Socialist Zionism and the children of old line Revisionist Zionists like Ehud Olmert and Tzahi Hanegbi who care nothing for their parent's beliefs and happily sold out their party.

Today both Likud and Labor have been destroyed ideologically and politically. Both parties are in ruins and their beliefs have been shredded. Kadima, the unclean birth of both parties, represented the end of ideology, the loss of faith and the rise of opportunism.

Opportunism reigns in Israel. For Israel to survive, Israel must have leadership. As the Sharon era has demonstrated, leadership does not mean strongmen. It has to mean ideology and belief. It has to mean more than another political party but a political identity. Revisionist Zionism and Socialist Zionism were more than political parties, they were worldviews and identities. They determined how you saw the world and what you were willing to fight for and sacrifice for.

Right now the National Religious Camp is the best hope for the birth of such a force an an identity, shaped by the political struggle against Disengagement and settlement expulsions. But the National Religious Camp will likely not extend far enough. The hope of Israel lies in creating a successor to Revisionist Zionism, an ideology that embraces both the secular and the religious, that respects Jewish tradition and seeks to defend a strong Nation of Israel for the Jewish people.


  1. Anonymous6/9/07

    Sultan, interesting idea, but who is there to create such an ideology and who is there to lead the believers?

  2. And are there really any men in Israel? Could a man eating lion enter Israel and starve to death? (dasturdly grin)

    I seriously have no confidence in any of the parties. I vote for the only way out is for Hashem to finally send Moshiach and rescue our sorry hides. It's the only way I see anything good happening.

  3. K - The ideas are there, a lot of it just needs to be picked up again. For example R. Kahane picked up a lot of what Jabotinsky had been saying. Leadership is a trickier problem but when enough people gather together, historically leaders emerge.

    Y - Hopefully Hashem will send Moshiach but barring that people need to act too

  4. Anonymous6/9/07

    All well and good and Rabbi Kahane zt'l was succesful in creating a ideology to live by, but there is no one who is half the man the Rav was, and we see what the powers that be did when he became a threat to their rule.

  5. Anonymous6/9/07

    "but there is no one who is half the man the Rav was"

    What malarkey.

  6. Anonymous7/9/07

    Then name one person who has the abilities of the Rav?

  7. Anonymous7/9/07

    Powerful. Yes, we need Jewish Zionism. I do think that there are to many people who will not vote for Torah Zionism out of fear of creating a theocracy. The trick is designing a Right wing party that nonreligious but leaning towards tradition values can vote for. Until such a party comes into being Israel will continue to be cursed with the Left. who win by apathy. This style was embodied by Rabbi Kahana. And we know how the Left used the legal system to stop him. The same for Rabbi Dyre the previous head of Shas. So whatever party is formed better learn how to circumvent the system and be a legally clean as a newborn baby. PS one can be favorable inclined towards a belief and not be religious. Such as the son who is a Tam.

  8. Anonymous7/9/07

    Anybody else Kahana, anyone else.

  9. Anonymous7/9/07

    I knew and once supported Kahane. My only issue with him was that he built a personality cult and not a true movement that could survive his murder.

  10. I don't think R. Kahane intended to build a personality cult, he simply lacked people to work with

    too much of his organizations got filled up with unstable people, you can see it in all the bickering and the splintered groups

    R. Kahane's beginning in activism in america precluded a lot of that but once he did move to israel though, he needed to work more on building a real movement before diving into politics, the way feiglin has tried to

    still hindsight is 20/20

    betar was to some extent a personality cult but in a controlled limited way and it harnessed the energy of a lot of brilliant and committed people, in part i think it's because jabotinsky or even begin led from the sidelines and often put the actual leadership in other people's hands... R. Kahane tried to do too much himself and so there was no one to take his place

  11. I guess I am number 10 to comment lol. I would have sooner but all the phrases and splinters of Zionist groups can be very confusing. I've always thought of the term as an umbrella category encompassing all Israelis.

    The impression I had of Zionism was that before Israel became a state in 1948 (Sigh. My only source of reference growing up being that tv movie starring Judy Davis. What can I say? I was kid and Israeli politics and history wasn't taught in public schools.)

    Anyway...my impression of Zionism was that all Israelis were Zionists. They were one and the same. Both committed to establishing a Jewish state post WW II after 6 million were slaughtered and as the world let the survivors float around in boats with no where to dock.

    So, Israel was a safe haven as well as the land promised by G-d. Religious Jews can view it in one way, secular the other. But both united in their determination that the survival of the Jewish people made an Israeli state essential.

    Iran wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. There is something deeply disturbing about the Jewish population in Israel currently at around 7 million. Israel and Israelis really do need to get into survival mode.

    Unlike WW II where early intervention could have saved Jewish lives, with a nuclear attack it would be a one shot attack. Here today, gone tomorrow. Literally.

    Sorry. That is a gloomy thought but one that does go through my mind often.

    (What about Women in Green as a possible political party starting at the grassroots level?)

  12. Anonymous7/9/07

    Politics is not the answer to Israel's problems which are spiritual in nature.
    Until there is a rather large change of heart in Israel among the people, until there is a return to the values that made Yaakov "become" Israel, nothing will change no matter who is in power.

  13. well history tends to be somewhat dumbed down

    zionism broke down into different factions, just as the revolutionary factions in american independence did

    (who remembers for example that ethan allen and the green mountain boys originally were conducting a conflict with new york)

    not that many know just how vicious the split got between federalists and anti-federalists and supporters and opponents of world revolution... and how that carries on in american politics today between republicans and democrats

    zionism like american independence was not a political belief held by everyone, israel had its share of 'tories' and on the zionist side, you had a whole spectrum too

    unfortunately quite a few of the 'tories' became the labor party

  14. Anonymous7/9/07

    Sorry, after rereading your comments I have to disagree with part of your opinion. "Today both Likud and Labor have been destroyed ideologically and politically. Both parties are in ruins and their beliefs have been shredded. Kadima, the unclean birth of both parties, represented the end of ideology, the loss of faith and the rise of opportunism."

    While true for much of Likud it is not true for the dieheat Laborite. Originally the masses (the people) where behind the Left-wing parties. Now the Laborites are the same, or worse, while the masses have moved toward the Right. But, the leadership is ideologically intact. They remain opposed to pro-traditional Jews more then Arabs. Unfortunately, the Left tightly controls the bureaucracy; including the media, Judiciary, etc.

    So it is only Likud that is damaged. This is so telling when you consider that the people would rally around Likud if it had some ideology.

    I agree that the world-views socialism of Labor is willing to work with a socialistic group like Fatah/Abbas, even though Fatah is as much a terrorist bunch as Hamas. Nevertheless, Labor loves all forms of socialism more then self preservation itself. Hamas is viewed as no better then the traditional Right. This is the only reason why Labor is opposed to Hamas. Killing of Jews would otherwise be OK.

    The goal of the current leadership is to bring about world socialism, perhaps of several flavors. Their hope is not a two State situation, but an Israeli minority swallowed up in an Arab ocean. For Labor it is ideology and money while for Kadima it is money and neo-ideology.

    An interesting question that I have not seen discussed is why is the world Left is so focused on Israel. My theory is that much of the monotheistic religions depends on Biblical interpretations of "end-times" events. Since absolute socialism is anti-G-d, they view undermining Israel a fast track to destroying Religion. This is not problematic for Islam since they only consider the Quran as real.

    One might ask how the Left can work with dedicated Muslims? In the long run they are destined to battle it out, but for now they can share in each others benefits.


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