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The Israeli "national Camp" Is Pure Fiction

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  • : 31/07/2009. 16k. .
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    Why does the Israeli "national camp" follow the path laid down by the "left"? The answer is very simple. It"s just that there isn"t any "national camp" in Israel today. There is merely the hope that there will be one at some point in the future. The sooner we recognize this, the sooner we will begin to work on forming such a "camp". (Remarks from diary notes made during the last elections. The events that took place after the elections are additional proof of how relevant these remarks were.)

  • The Israeli "National Camp" Is Pure Fiction
    The closer the Israeli elections, the more intense the conversations about the need to unite the national front. What prevents this "camp" from becoming united? Why do these kinds of debates go on non-stop year in, year out, and the "camp" does not become any more united?
    I do not believe that this "national camp" has the slightest chance to unite. The reason for it is that the "national camp" fails to understand the very concept of the nation, to say nothing of the basic distinction between the nation and the community.
    In fact, who does the "national camp" represent?
    For one reason or another, our "national camp" includes the Israeli Orthodox. This strikes me as somewhat of a paradox, considering that Ahudat Israelis the party of the European Orthodox Jewry - does not recognize this "godless" state at all. Because of that, this party"s representatives demonstratively refuse to become ministers in the cabinet. Truth be told, their tactics is just an example of false tricks. How come they gladly agree to get the position of Deputy ministers? The reason for that is simple and obvious: they want to govern this "godless state" and get money from it. As for the position of the Chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, this is just the biggest prize. No wonder! It is so nice to decide how to divide state money!
    In other words, what we see is typical galut hypocrisy: kosher words and stinky actions.
    As for the Shas Party, i.e. the party of Sephardic Orthodox Jews, it recognizes the state. More than that, Shas Party representatives are overjoyed when they manage to climb up the ladder of success and become heads of different ministries. They thrive on such success! But the Party"s ideology is based on the values and Jewish knowledge which are good only for the traditional community. That is why Shas Party members do not qualify for statesmanship.
    The fact that the Shas Orthodox recognize the state of Israel actually does not make it any different from the rejection of the Jewish state by the Ahudat Orthodoxy. Both religious parties cultivate the absolute authority of their spiritual leaders, limitations on women"s rights, a negative attitude to science and productive labor, to observing state-introduced laws and not those imposed by spiritual leaders, and much , much else that they refer to as the "sacred" Jewish tradition. The problem is that all this so-called "sacred" tradition is incompatible with the state.
    Religious Zionists continue to be considered the cornerstones of the "national camp". (They are known in Israel as "knitted kippahs".) At first glance it seems that placing them at the top of the political hierarchy is quite justified. The "knitted kippahs" have succeeded in combining tradition with present-day life. They work, study and serve in the Israeli army just as any other Israeli citizens. At the same time, they all observe the laws and regulations encapsulated in the Jewish tradition. They also cultivate their people"s traditional wisdom.
    But that is not all. They would like us to believe that everything they discovered has provided them with some sort of patent which elevates them to the position of the nation"s vanguard. In a show of modesty, they have proclaimed themselves to be the most advanced segment of Israeli society.
    Such smug conceit is founded on a specific ideology that is based on ideas put forward by Rabbi Cook. Years ago, when Jews in large numbers parted with their ancestral tradition, severed their ties with the Jewish community and even began rebuilding the Jewish state without waiting for the coming of the Messiah, Rabbi Cook displayed something characteristic only of truly great men - he trusted his people. After all, it was not just any people - Jews were Witnesses of Revelation! If the nation felt the need to step outside the tradition that took shape in the galut, it must mean that there are sparks of holiness beyond this tradition which a Jew who is serving G-d is obligated to sanctify.
    It goes without saying that the Temple remains the most vivid symbol which illustrates Rabbi Cook's idea: the Temple was built by ordinary people, and they treaded upon this Holiest of Holy places. But after they were through with their work, only the High Priest was allowed to stand at this holy site, and that only once a year. Extrapolating this situation to the present, it is fair to say that the state is being rebuilt by ordinary people; however, they are doing it with the understanding that those Jews who are serving G-d will sanctify the state after they complete their work.
    The Religious Zionists fancied themselves to be those very Jews who are serving G-d. They condescendingly "permitted" the godless Socialists to work it to the bone building the foundations of the state, so that they could come, neat as a pin, righteous and pure, and sanctify that state.
    How they understood the notion of "sanctifying" the state, I heard from some of them personally on more than one occasion. I can therefore assert that their approach not only dooms them to failure but also distorts the ideas of Rabbi Cook.
    First, the Religious Zionists failed to understand that rebuilding the modern state of Israel qualitatively changes what it means to serve G-d. Something of fundamental significance had to have happened for the Jews to return to the Promised Land after centuries which they spent reading the texts about their return. This "something" became self-sufficient and no longer required the realization of the sacred texts.
    The "knitted kippahs" do precisely the opposite: they rely on the selfsame culture of reading texts from original sources, and they try to prove that nothing has changed and that we, Jews, had everything required to build a modern state from the very outset, i.e. fundamental ideas, political doctrines and scientific knowledge. All other nations, they claim, have learned these things from us and read about them from our sacred texts.
    The natural conclusion drawn from this is as follows: emancipated Jews made a terrible mistake when they severed their ties with our ancestral tradition. All that was needed was simply to have a more profound understanding of this tradition. And only the "godless" Zionists knew how to do that, which is why they had the last word.
    When I happened to be present during these verbal escapades (I used to frequent their gatherings but I don"t do that any more), I would always ask one and the same question: "If the Europeans had borrowed the state idea from us, Jews, why did we have to wait for centuries until they implemented it into practice?" Nobody ever tried to answer this question, not even once.
    Meanwhile, the Europeans rectified the mistake which the Jews had made during the time of the Prophet Samuel. They asked for a king to be chosen from among humans. Our sources clearly indicate that the Jews chose to obey man instead of obeying G-d. The modern state came into being only when the very development of civilization brought the European ideologists to understand that it is wrong to obey man who uses G-d as an instrument for imposing one man"s power over another. Thus, they separated state and religion... in the Name of G-d"s Power. It is obvious that European statesmen reviewed our sources very thoroughly. As deeply religious people, they studied the Scriptures most diligently.
    Getting rid of the religious authorities is the core precondition for political development. By eliminating religious authorities, Europeans created the opportunity to unite on the ground of common ideas. The ambitions of all these spiritual leaders, on the contrary, resulted in fragmentation and collapse. The only way to prevent these processes from taking place is to establish a dictatorship.
    So what have the Religious Zionists done? The first thing they did was to restore spiritual authorities, i.e. they took the state back to the times of the Prophet Samuel. By doing this, they put an end to the state because each separate group now has its own spiritual authority. The results are disastrous: the Religious Zionists cannot even dream about political unity. They passionately talk about the nation but, truth be told, their interests are focused on "their own kind". This is reflected in every area of life. They become more and more fragmented and create new alliances, proving that they never stopped being people of the shtetl. They were never able to understand the essence of the state.
    Second, Religious Zionists doomed themselves to playing second fiddle. They will never be able to be in the vanguard because of their false interpretation of Rabbi Cook"s ideas. Rabbi Cook has opened the door for them into the world, a world totally unknown to the Orthodox Jews. But the Religious Zionists are afraid to enter this world because that would require studying the Torah according to the realities of life. That"s what our sages did in the past. Now, these Religious Zionists study the Torah in yeshivas. In other words, they have turned the Living Torah into a scholastic teaching. Incidentally, such an approach contradicts our main spiritual sources. What else can one expect from them if they are simply not interested in what is going on in real life because they are so confident in their abilities to squeeze all the modern phenomena of life into the Procrustean bed of their quotations.
    It is not that hard to see the consequences: the "knitted kippas" constantly have to imitate the "godless sinners" and to react belatedly to their "godless initiatives", such as the Supreme Court activity, the Oslo Accords, and so forth. It appears that the "godless" people are the ones who promote ideas because both in the past and in the present they have always tried to understand the realities of life. Probably they do not always get it right but that is already a totally different story. In fact, it is the "godless" people who offer initiative.
    The Israeli people are insightful enough to see the situation the way it is, and they think of Religious Zionists accordingly. They perceive Religious Zionists as pure plagiarists not as leaders who are capable of leading the nation forward. These "knitted kippas" produce an impression as if they were doing the same things the founding fathers did: they populate the Promised Land with new settlers, they work in agriculture, and they are also patriots and soldiers. However, when the "godless" Socialists were taking care of business, the Israeli people viewed their actions as something of nationwide significance. Now the Israeli people view exactly the same actions when they are performed by the Religious Zionists as something purely sectoral and required by a small group.
    Obviously, the Religious Zionists are absolutely incapable of uniting the nation around their vision. No wonder, they cannot become united on the basis of these ideas alone.
    There is a third large group in our "national camp". Basically, it consists of Jews of non-European descent who mostly come from Muslim countries. These folks in large numbers form our main national Party Likud.
    The Sephardim came to big politics mainly thanks to Menachem Begin who used the unavoidable antagonism between the leftist Europeans and the Sephardi traditionalists. His message was: "Welcome aboard, brothers". The "leftists" look down upon you, while we, the "right wing", greatly respect you."
    But who is talking here about respect? This is all about the mentality of the European Jewry. Thanks to their mentality, they proved to be the only ones capable of rebuilding the Jewish state. In order to obtain this kind of mentality, several generations of European Jews had to go through a torturous chain of events: they had to sever their ties with the traditional community, expose themselves to the hostile world around them, attempt to accommodate with the civilized Europeans, and even betray their own selfhood. Since all these attempts to adjust to the Europeans were basically futile, the price they paid was heavy: the Jews developed enormous inferiority complexes. The tragic end of the European Jewry is well known: millions perished in the Holocaust. But they also gained something: they learned to think and act at the level of abstract ideas. No wonder, all the greatest Jews of the last centuries were solely of Ashkenazi descent, which resulted in the shift of elites.
    Nothing can be done about this until the nation invents its own patent, which will allow members of the traditional society to change their way of thinking. The state makes it possible to achieve this in the least traumatic way in the natural environment of the galut. But it is unwise to pretend that there is no problem. Unfortunately, there is a problem, which becomes absolutely clear from the following episode which happened at the end of the first term of Benjamin Netanyahu"s service as Prime Minister when the deserters from his party organized another party under the name of "The Third Way".
    I still remember those debates on television. The participants were Benjamin Netanyahu and his former party fellow, a Sephardic Jew and a decorated general.
    "What are you planning to do?" Netanyahu asked, meaning what would be the new party"s ideology. The response barely had anything to do with the question asked: "We have gathered a very solid team". This is an example of a totally different way of thinking. Such people think that any problem can be solved through the opinions expressed by the council of respected elders.
    But the modern state expects a different way of thinking. At least, it is expected from the elite. People should be united by ideas not by their physical contacts with each other. That is the essence of the problem, since the traditional society is build on these contacts, on personal relations. Thus, the traditional society shapes the way people think, which is equally true in respect to the elite. For that reason the traditional society settles its problems with all these "sulkhas" and "hudnas", just the way the Arab people do it.
    In this sense, our Sephardic Jews are no different from the Arabs, regardless of their personal credentials, natural intelligence, heroism and even education. The things they do not possess belong to a totally different realm. What we are talking about is called cultural historic experience. Unfortunately, the Sephardic Jews just do not have it.
    This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the descendants of the European Jews who used to unite around Jabotinsky and who comprise the bulk of his party, have been losing this experience most drastically. Likud is viewed as the heir of these people, the party of Jabotinsky. But what is left there is just Jabotinsky"s portrait, under which the Likud leaders sit.
    So, what does unite such different characters in one, supposedly, "national camp"? Not much - the same set of quotations they use, and, regretfully, the same shtetl mentality, which doom them to narrow-mindedness and stagnation of political thought.
    That is why our "national camp" is not a camp at all.
    First of all, it has become a dump of various groups that lack any cohesive system of ideas. It seems that they have zero chances to develop such a system. Secondly, this so-called "national camp" is totally unable to generate these kinds of ideas. Given these two reasons, the "national camp" is just not strong enough to resist the "leftist" cosmopolitans. Indeed, the relations between the "leftists" and the "national camp" remind me of those between a man and his little donkey. The man leads his donkey showing the animal where to go. Most likely the donkey does not want to obey his master and go there. The donkey is stubborn, and he shows his character. But deep in his heart he knows that he is powerless, and sooner or later he will have to obey the orders of his master, who shows the way, even if the way leads to an abyss.
    Similarly, our "national camp" follows the path outlined by "godless" people because this camp cannot suggest any alternatives. The "national camp" never had and will never have any.
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