Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Reply to Avirama Golan

I was so infuriated by Avirama Golan's article that I dashed off a reply to Haaretz on Line. The reply was actually published (both on the web and in the English insert to the International Herald Tribune):

Non-messianic objections Regarding "The Jews versus the Israelis" by Avirama Golan, Oct. 25

Avirama Golan's article is an ingenious Midrashic interpretation of a political slogan. Ms. Golan, like many of her leftist colleagues and ideologues, uses the Haskalah vision of Judaism and Jews as primitives in order to explain the objection to the uprooting of communities. It has nothing, she claims, to do with humanity. It has everything to do with messianism. Ms. Golan has it wrong on both counts. First, the resort to the "Jewish" argument is a resort to the collective memory that is the remaining link that binds Israeli Jewish society together. It is the memory of expulsions and evictions that is in play here. It is the invocation of the past that Zionism was supposed to cure that is in play here. That has absolutely nothing to do with the great secular bugaboo, messianism.

Second, it is true that a portion (not the overwhelming majority, by any account) of the religious Zionist community are followers of the messianic Zionism of the Rabbis Kook. However, opposition to the prime minister's disengagement plan needs not be based upon messianic concerns. Is Rav Ovadia Yosef a messianist? Rav Elyashiv? Uzi Landau? Many religious, university-trained residents of Yesha object to the Sharon plan per se because it gives Israel nothing in return. It demonizes other Jews. It starts a run amok back to the 1948 Armistice lines. These considerations have nothing to do with messianism or primitive thinking. Ms. Golan would serve her country better if she learned the lesson of nine years ago, and stopped demonizing, and distorting, other Jews.

Dr. Jeffrey R. Woolf Bar-Ilan University

1 comment:

Yam Erez said...

Dr. Woolf, you don't need an overwhelming majority of any group to subscribe to a particular ideology for that ideology to infect the society. "A portion" is enough. The Bolsheviks began as the Mensheviks; suicide bombers make up a tiny percentage of Muslims, but it only takes one to cause untold heartbreak. So I'm going with Golan on this one.