Thursday, January 29, 2015

Will Israel’s elections redefine Zionism?

In 1890, Zionism meant only one thing: returning to land from which we had been expelled by non-Jews. Zionism had nothing to do with social justice, democracy or equality.

It was about Jews. It was about Israel. It was about ‘return’.

To borrow a modern phrase, its focus was ‘a Jewish settlement enterprise’. It dreamed to return to and resettle our Jewish-national-ancestral-Biblical homeland.

In 1890, there was no formal Zionist Party. There was no formal religious Zionist Party. There were only ‘Zionists’.

That’s no longer true. Today, there are all kinds of Zionists. Today, even anti-Zionists call themselves Zionists.

If we’re not careful, anti-Zionists could win the upcoming elections--in the name of ‘Zionism’. Look at the anti-Zionist Labor-Hatnua unity Party. It calls itself ‘The Zionist Camp’. It leads the supposedly (on paper) Zionist Likud in pre-election polls (“Poll: Labor Still Strong as Jewish Home Weakens”, Arutz Sheva, January 27, 2015).

If we’re not careful, these anti-Zionists could un-Zion us. If they win, they could end the ‘settlement enterprise’. They could take Jewish ancestral-Biblical homeland away from us.  They could destroy Jewish Israel. 

Look at Likud. Likud is Israel’s largest, most powerful political party—at least as of January 2015. Likud is Israel’s largest Zionist Party. We know it’s ‘Zionist’ because—somewhere on its Homepage—it asserts that its goal is “to strengthen and promote the values of Zionism in Israel”. 

But then, look at party head (and current Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu. He says he promotes the ‘settlement enterprise’. But he maintains a de facto settlement freeze. He says he believes in Israel. But he negotiates to give away ancestral Judea-Samaria. 

Likud abandons the Zionist dream.

Israel’s Dati Leumi (Religious Zionist) parties also have a problem. Religious Zionists believe that Zionism has a Divine origin. They link G-d to Israel.

After all, we didn’t return to Israel because the UN needed a place to send displaced Jews after the Holocaust—and chose Israel for us to go to. We returned because of G-d, Torah and heritage.

Nevertheless, Religious Zionists don’t talk about G-d in public. They abandon G-d.

Some say that Naftali Bennet, leader of the Jewish Home Party is, by virtue of the seats he controls in Israel’s Knesset, Israel’s most prominent Religious Zionist leader. How many times has he spoken of G-d and Israel in public?  How many of his decisions, public statements and votes support a universally-accepted definition of religious Zionism?

Zionism—both secular and religious—drifts. It has no definition. It no longer inspires us.

We had better re-kindle that inspiration because if we don’t, the Left will do it for us. It will appropriate what is naturally ours and use it to take the leadership of Israel away from us.

In fact, the Left has already begun to do just that. If ‘Zionists’ have walked away from Zionism, the Left has taken over the empty shell.

The Left redefines ‘Zionism’ as the Leftist message (Yair Rosenberg, “Watch the Knesset Speech That Shows How Israel’s Left Can Win”, The Tablet Magazine, January 26, 2015). It undercuts the Zionist enterprise. It rejects any Divine link to Zion. It takes our hollowed-out Zionism and dumps ‘democracy and social justice’ into the hollow (“Labor-Hatnua defends its Zionist cred from Likud, Bayit Yehudi attacks”, Jerusalem Post, January 22, 2015).

Right now, only the Left talks about Zionism. Only the Left uses Zionism to inspire. It may have even found its ‘Zionist’ stump-speech’ to inspire voter attention (Tablet, ibid). It’s a speech some feel could break the political Right (ibid).

It’s a very simple speech. It redefines ‘Zionism’.

For this speech, ‘Zionism’ has nothing to do with settling Israel. It has nothing to do with making a Jewish Israel strong. It has nothing to do with maintaining the integrity of the Jewish national homeland. It has nothing to do with G-d or the Divine Promises of the 3,300+ year-old Tanach.

For this Leftist speech, ‘Zionism’ is all about social justice for Israelis, wealth redistribution and stamping out the corruption of the political Right (ibid). As articulated in a brief, 3-minute speech in the Knesset last week by Leftist Labor MK Sava Shaffir, this new ‘Zionism’ is the “true Zionism”.

“True Zionism”, Shaffir said, means “to distribute the budget equally among all citizens. “True Zionism” is to be concerned for the weak. “True Zionism” is about fixing relationships between people. It’s about peace. It’s about equal rights and equal portions for all Israelis (ibid).

This so-called “true Zionism” is, in other words, the Leftist agenda repackaged for your vote. It redefines ‘Zionism’ to its own agenda.

Secular and Religious Zionists are going to have to talk about Zionism. They’re going to have to explain that Zionism is about Jews. It’s about homeland. It’s about G-d. It’s about settling ancient Jewish Biblical land. It’s about protecting Israel’s Jewish character. If the real Zionists of Israel fail to do that, Israel’s voters could elect a Leftist “Zionism” that will destroy Jewish Israel.

For this election, Israel has the chance to re-ignite the Zionist dream as the way we prepare the land for Redemption. But Israel also has the chance in this election to redefine Zionism—and thereby destroy Jewish Israel.

What will you vote for?

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