Sunday, April 22, 2007

Black is Black: An Historic Turnabout

In their still classic, though historically flawed, book O Jerusalem, the authors open with a description of the celebrations in tel Aviv and Jerusalem to the results of the Partition Vote, on November 29, 1947 (in Israel, it was already November 30). Spontaneous dancing took place in both cities, and nowhere with such gusto as in downtown Tel Aviv (around the Sheinkin area). The only exception was in a small corner of Me'ah She'arim, where the virulently anti-Zionist Neturei Karta were busy mourning the establishment of the new Jewish State. Dressed in black and sack-cloth, they beseeched God to undo the evil of the wicked Zionists.

Flash forward almost sixty years. Today, as we face the fifty-ninth anniversary of Israel's independence, the Haredi world has pretty much washed its hands of the Neturei Karta. Part of that disavowal is because of their nefarious, ignominious visit to Teheran, earlier this year. More generally, though, the Haredi community has undergone a serious process of Israelization and is far less militantly anti-Zionist than it ever was. (The prominent exception is the Lithuanian Yeshiva leadership. There is, however, serious doubt as to just how effective and representative they are on political issues.)

On the other hand, another group, also fashionably dressed in black, is busy mourning the establishment of the State. They refuse to fly the flag. They refuse to serve in the army. They are convinced that Israel is the root of all evil, whose birth was sinful. As opposed to the Neturei Karta, they have access to all of the mass media and the lecturns of the Israeli academy. They use these to spew their message in every direction. Where do they sit? In the area of the same Sheinkin Street that once leaped and danced for joy that the Jewish people would, once again, have a country to call its own in its ancestral home.

Please God, their fate will be the same as that of the Neturei Karta. Absolute, total, irrelevance.


Ben Bayit said...

The Hassicic community always supported a State. When the Aguda voted in 1938 as to how to respond to the Peel Commission, they (narrowly) supported a State. The admorim from Poland and Galicia all supported it. It was the Litvaks and the German-Orthodox that were historically against a State. In 1948 the hassidic factions signed the declaration of independence as did the Yekke Poalei folks. It's ironic that modern orthodoxy looks to the German-Orthodox Rabbonim from Hildeseimer as father figures, when they were so wrong on this issue (Zionism) - which became a banner for modern orthdoxy. I guess that critical history, bible studies and academic talmud come up trumps.

BTW, there are still remnants of german modern orthodox anti-zionism about. Mostly in London, though some in the USA and the fella running Haaretz is a good example of their product.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

so then what philosophical background did the neturei karta get it from?

Jeffrey said...

The Neturei Karta philosophy is deeply embedded in a mystically based dualism. The Leftists are based in a secular, self-loathing dualism. The extremes, you see, often meet in the middle.

Ari Kinsberg said...

"he Haredi community has undergone a serious process of Israelization and is far less militantly anti-Zionist than it ever was."

perhaps because deep down they recognize how much they have benefited from the state?