Sunday, March 05, 2006

Religious Zionism: Redux

During the first three Wednesdays in February, as part of an Edah/JCC series, I had the opportunity to discuss the crisis affecting Religious Zionism, especially after Gush Qatif and Amonah. There are so many issues upon which it touches that I found the effort dizzying. There is the ongoing kulturkampf against the Torah, the self-evident fatigue of secular Zionism (aka Post-Zionism/Post-Judaism), the millenial disappointment engendered in Religious Zionist circles (of the Rav Kook variety) by the so-called ‘Disengagement,’ the smug self-satisfaction of the religious community that refuses to take responsibility for its own religious and moral short-comings, the cognitive egocentrism that inheres to Israeli evaluations of the rise of Hamas, the loss of faith in our security forces created by the bloodlust of the police (and the interim PM) at Amonah…The list just keeps on going.

My basic point was, and remains, that we have to recast our thinking about Zionism and the religious significance of the State of Israel. To begin with, as Samuel Butler put it, ‘Extremes are alone logical, but they are always absurd.' So, I think we have to summarily reject both the Leibowitzan denial of any religious significance to the State and the messianism of Rav Kook, père and fils. The former borders on religious fascism and the latter, well, we all know what it does….

What’s left? That will come, אי"ה, in the next post.

4 comments:

Nachum said...

No, what does it do? In any event, how does it add up?

Jeffrey said...

See next post on the subject...

Out of Step in Kfar Saba said...

Waiting eagerly. Covenant based? Mutual responsibility? Getting rid of the socialist ethos that Rav S. was so against?

Ben-David said...

Sorry - I've lived here almost 20 years, and I don't see much of a crisis. There are difficult times - but I see no need for any major rethinking of the tenets of religious Zionism.

The secular majority is undergoing the same pattern of assimilation and return that has marked all post-Enlightenment attempts to fashion substitutes for covenantal Torah Judaism.

The religious Zionists are doing a great job of outreach - even as they themselves are just one generation in the mainstream.

I have attended shiva calls for the parents of my 40-something friends - and heard the back-story we all forget: the religious Zionist camp was not always as successful as now, in previous times the socialists shut them out of industry, and RZ education was rather threadbare.

My generation is really the first to have broken out of that, gotten an education, forged the Hesder program in the Army, and built a solid base of middle-class communities, and substanital presence in the professions.

The notion that "we should have done more" to educate our secular brethren assumes the past was just like the present - it forgets that the religious community was immature and powerlesss just a generation ago - and it also ignores the heavy anti-religious cultural and political milieu of the time.

So: a new generation of religious Zionists knows why they are here, and has the sense of entitlement to assume leadership - just as a new generation of secular Jews emerges that is open to exploration of its Jewish roots, and has become used to the presence of cultured, modern Orthodox Jews in the public sphere.

All that's necessary is to stay the course, and not let the shriveling secular elite incite a civil rift.