I’ve lived in Israel for nearly a full three years now. In that time, my political and religious perspectives have shifted from Right to Left a number of times, the roulette wheel most frequently getting bounced like a pendulum between political post-Zionism and religious anti-Zionism.
From a religious perspective, these days I think that even if you want to hold by the wholly legitimate belief that “the goyim dealing too harshly with us” invalidated the restriction against pursuing sovereignty in the land of Israel, to live here in anything other than utter righteousness, with the ultimate kavanah (intention) to sanctify this holy place with our words and deeds, is a grave offense in the eyes of G-d. The arms industry, sex trafficking, worker exploitation, police and government corruption, the occupation, Shoah survivors living below the poverty line, the prominence of rape and battery against women, etc. — these are just the major examples of desecrations of our covenant and defilements of the land.
In that, I think that Jewish sovereignty in Israel continues to be halakhically illegitimate because we are here without a righteous kavanah. We are not here to sanctify the land, we are not here to be in relationship with G-d; rather we are here to assert our so-called right to nationhood and to thumb our noses at the goyim. Further, the only halakhic option for Israel that would allow the non-religious Jewish majority to continue living here without offending G-d, is to forgo sovereign Jewish statehood, embrace post-Zionism and allow Israel to become a democratic state of all its citizens. We are not obligated to be unrealistically righteous if we are not alone the ruling power.
Post-Zionism, obviously, has it own merits from a secular perspective as well. It is the only remaining political perspective relating to Israel that transpires in a framework of human rights and international law that is considerate of Jewish rights and needs. Post-Zionism triumphs over ethnocentrism while nonetheless seeking that which is best for the survival and security of the Jewish people. It is a perspective that acknowledges that the present course leads to nowhere but further strife, and that we are best off, in the long run, elevating standards of human and civil rights, than we are in joining other nations in trampling those rights for the sake of our own ascendancy.
Nonetheless, I find myself somewhat sympathetic towards the neo-Zionists these days — the Kumah crowd, et al. Whereas I once simply trounced them for what I perceived of as a positively absurd position that ran counter to the political will of the nation of Israel, I have come to recognize that my perspective is in all likelihood no less absurd, and runs counter to the political will of the nation of Israel as well. But even more so, I have also come to recognize over time, that at least me and a couple of Kumah folks agree more than we disagree.
Or perhaps I should say, we agree on major principles, but completely disagree on what they look like in practical application. For example: I agree that Jews have the right to live in Judea and Samaria. As far as I’m concerned, Jews have a right to live wherever it is on earth they choose to settle. However, as citizens of a sovereign Jewish state, I don’t think they ought to settle in Judea and Samaria so long as a) Israel denies Palestinians the right to live wherever they’d like, b) Israel and/or Israeli citizens use(s) force of arms to seize land, c) settlers consciously or unconsciously operate in tandem with the IDF in order to advance the goal of displacing and dispossessing Palestinians, d) the act of settlement deprives Palestinians of land and water resources they would otherwise have access to, and/or e) that settlement interferes in the contiguity of a sovereign Palestinian state.
In that, the neo-Zionists and I share the perspective that what we have now sucks, that it’s a desecration of G-d’s name and the land he gave us, that it’s jeopardizing our survival, and that it needs to be replaced with something better. The conversation about what that something better looks like is one still needing to be had and one which the fiery invective of right versus left, religious versus secular, messianist versus rationalist, impedes (to say the very least).
So I’m pleased to see that Kumah has decided to relaunch their weblog, and that they want to have this conversation, specifically with us over here at Jewschool, noting:
If a certain super-lefty mega-blog is the only other voice clearly opposing the Partition Wall – we will join forces with them, even as they happily cheer the death of Zionism – because the passion of the leftist Jewish radical is so much closer to the Biblical revolutionary than the comfortable moderate who supported Oslo, Wye, Oslo II, the Disengagement (or maybe he opposed, but felt that ‘a government decision simply must be respected’) and is filled with hope by Bibi’s second coming.
So long as we can “duke it out with words, while managing not to hate each other and get nasty,” I think it’s a conversation worth having. We’re all radical Jews here looking to bring about a grand vision of redemption and revelation. We can only grow closer to this realization by sharing notes, as it were, and exploring this pathway together, even if our directions are divergent. Better we should engage one another and in doing so, strengthen each other’s hands, than continue to deride one another and further drive wedges between the most passionate members of the Jewish community.
Welcome to the table. Let’s hear what you have to say.