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Monday, July 5, 2010

Judaism and Zionism

I could not care less or more for Israel. It does not interest me. Israel has never been an interest for me. What happens to Israel and the Middle-East interests me just as much as what happens in Ghana. It is not on my interest list. This does not mean to say that I am negative towards Israel, I am neutral, I have nothing positive to say about it either. I have no problem with Israel existing in the Middle-East. But at the same time I hate the Jewish (perhaps "Zionist" instead of "Jewish") attitude that Israel is innocent. Israel is not innocent and neither are the Arab neighbors, but just do not pretend Israel is always the good guy.

What has surprised me about Judaism and Israel is the negative correlation between one's religious observance and Zionism. It is counter-intuitive. One would imagine that the biggest Israel supporters are the most religious Jews, but this is exactly the opposite position. The more religious Jews get the more they are anti-Israel. The biggest supporters of Israel and the proud Zionists turn out being secular Jews. I guess I am an exception to the rule of being pro-Israel as a secular Jew, though this position has really to do with not giving an interest. Some Jews, like Rabbi Weiss, part of the Ultra-Orthodox movement, want Israel to be abolished.

I wanted to ask is where exactly does this negative correlation come from? Why are the most religious Jews anti-Israel while the secular Jews pro-Israel?


  1. I do not agree with the facts you stated.

    There are small, marginal, ultra-orthodox groups that are against Israel, and some even smaller, more marginal ultra-orthodox goups believe in abolishing Israel and cooperating with Iran, Hamas and other declared enemies of Israel.

    (this said, those groups had some success in establishing contact to syrian jews in Syria and other groups that were isolated because of their state's hostility towards Israel).

    As far as I can see, the overwhelming majority of orthodox judaism has moved from anti-Israel at the creation of the State (because the founders of the state did not want to make it religious enough) to an extreme-right-wing-nationalist attitude.

    I used to read the chareidi newspaper of my town, where I found statements like "Why did Israeli army not yet kill any arab?" (right at the start of the lebanon-War in 2006). It is heavily anti-withdrawal from the occupied territories.

    What I see in my town resembles a bell-curve,

    Not-frum: pro Israel, left wing
    modern orthodox: pro Israel, right wing
    dati-leumi & Chareidi: pro Israel, extreme right wing
    (then there is of course the chareidi agenda against Israeli institutions like the supreme court)
    small Chassidic groups of "Eida Chareidit": frum & neutral in Israeli politics
    Neturei karta: anti-Israel, friends with achmadinejad

  2. I've actually been meaning to post about Zionism for a while so I'm glad you brought it up.

    Firstly your "negative correlation" thing is not really true. There are tons of secular Jews who hate Israel and tons of Chareidim who love it.

    Many secular Jews advocate Zionism in order to stress their Jewish identity without religion.

    Also Zionism isn't a homogeneous movement. There are many types of Zionism:

    There is Cultural Zionism,

    there is Political Zionism which advocates Israel for purely pragmatic reason,

    there is the Religious Kabbalistic Zionism of Rav Kook,

    There is (not as much anymore) the Communist/Socialist Zionism of the Labor movements.

    Cultural Zionism isn't just loving a particular country, it's about loving the Jewish cultural tradition irrespective of the Jewish religion and about perpetuating the "Jewish spirit" through a Jewish cultural center i.e. Israel. That's at least cultural Zionism as espoused by Achad Ha'am (who I would seriously recommend reading because he grew up in a heavy Chassidic family but then gave up most of Jewish religion and became the father of cultural Zionism)

    Basically: It's not so simple

  3. Hang out with Chabad and tell me about the lack of Zionism among religious Jews.