Israel versus Judaism



The Solution?

As Torah and the State are diametrically opposed extremes, Torah Judaism can never accept Zionism, nor grant "de jure" recognition to the State. On the other hand, Zionism and the State will never condone the existence of a Judaism that insists exclusively on the original identity and character of the Jewish People, for, were it to do so, it would destroy the ground on which it is built. This may be the subconscious reason for the brutality and violence sometimes experienced in the State, which has recently been labelled by a veteran Zionist as "Jewish antisemitism".

What then is the solution of this problem?

The answer to be given here, according to the humble view of this writer, will certainly disappoint many; yet, I would be dishonest if I were to offer any other answer. The answer is very simple: THERE IS NO HUMANLY FEASIBLE SOLUTION! if a radical and complete solution is expected. I can offer no push-button device to solve all problems and I do not believe that any other human being can. Nor is this the only problem, either in the world at large or in our Jewish world, for which no radical solution can be foreseen.

Throughout the years of Exile, when the leaders of the Jewish People were men of truth and integrity, the Jewish People never made any attempt to "solve the Jewish Problem", or, as far as that goes, any other universal problem. All Jewish political and communal activities of intercession ("shtadlanuth") throughout the many years of our exile, and those who conducted those activities were men of no less political maturity and breadth of outlook than present-day politicians, were never aimed at an "overall solution" of the "Jewish Problem". Their purpose was almost always immediate and locally to avert discriminatory laws or to protect certain rights etc. The true Jewish leaders realized that as they had not created the problems, they were unlikely to be able to find "solutions".

"Old-fashioned" and outdated as this approach may seem, it is a fact worth consideration now that our own modern world is beginning to realize its validity. More than perhaps at any other time, practically all the major problems of today's world are interwoven. A true and radical solution, say, of the Berlin problem would only be possible through a sincere global abatement of the East-West conflict. Even co-existence is not a solution, only a “modus vivendi”. Even a slight glance at the minutes of the U.N. throughout its existence will show how correlated and interdependent all problems of the world are, and how there can be no final and overall solution for any one problem outside the framework of a global solution, which, in turn, seems to be very distant for all practical purposes. It is hardly surprising then that no real overall solution can be offered.

It is, therefore, more for the sake of curiosity that we propose to mention some of the "radical solutions" that have in the past been suggested in relation to our problem.

Some 8-9 years ago, a German-language newspaper in Tel Aviv (“Neueste Nachrichten-Yediot Chadoshot“) that is close to but does not officially represent the Progressive Party, suggested that a large concentration-camp be established somewhere in the Negev, where all “Neturei Karto’niks” should be detained. This proposal has been subsequently repeated several times by the "Canaanites" (see above) and others.

Only quite recently, the Yiddish columnist Chaim Lieberman (who, incidentally, is considered religiously observant) proposed (in the "Jewish Daily Forward" of 19TH November 1958) "to cut off that cancer called 'Szatmar' from the body of the Jewish people." This proposal in plain language can mean only one thing, namely, that the "concentration camp" suggested by "Neueste Nachrichten" should be turned into an extermination camp, for the only way to cut off a cancer is by a surgeon's knife.

Yet, all these proposals, even if they are accepted one day, will not even bring about the beginning of a solution. Even if the projected concentration camp in the Negev should contain not only the people openly affiliated with "Neturei Karta" but all the 150,000 residents of Jerusalem, clashes would soon break out in Haifa, Bnei Brak, Pardes Hanna, Hadera and at other places nobody would suspect. For the people of Neturei Karta may be using more drastic means than others, but as has been said above, as far as the basic view is concerned, it is shared by so many Jews that they cannot so easily be placed in a concentration camp; "Neturei Karta" did not create antagonism between Torah and Zionism seeing that this antagonism is mutually inherent in the very nature of Torah and of Zionism respectively. At the other extreme, a proposal is sometimes voiced to enforce the decision to internationalize Jerusalem which was originally adopted by the UN General Assembly in its resolution of November 29, 1947 (which is, in terms of international politics, the raison d'être of the State of Israel) and was, at that time, officially and publicly accepted in Zionist quarters.* Those quarters that now support internationalization, hope that with the establishment of an international, UN-sponsored regime in Jerusalem, those orthodox Jews who so desire, would be able to retain a sort of international status, independent of the State of Israel. In addition to the fact that in practical terms this proposal has even less chances of being accepted than the former two proposals, it must be said that, even if it were accepted, it could, at most, perhaps bring about some alleviation of the condition of many Jews, but would not solve the problem as a whole. This writer does not believe that with the enforcement of that resolution, clashes would cease nor even that the Neturei Karto, let alone Jews outside Jerusalem and the State, would cease to protest. The basic antagonisms will thereby in no way be eliminated. A radical solution, therefore, DOES NOT EXIST.

All that can be achieved, and it can, with some good will, is a “modus vivendi”, an arrangement that forbids provocation, violence, brutality or actions considered criminal under any code of Law, such as the forcible estrangement of children from the faith of their parents, etc. The initiative must come from the Government, which should refrain from initiating laws directed only at undermining the Torah and order its police to behave humanely, etc., and if the intervention of “religious politicians” of every denomination could be discouraged, so much the better.

To be sure, this “modus vivendi” is not a solution, let alone an overall one. For, in the view of Torah, there is only one road open that leads to an “overall solution”. The road of “Teshuva”, of return to the faith and practices of the Torah. The task on which even the most Torah-true are concentrating too little and to which they should devote much more effort is that of spreading the belief and practice of Torah everywhere, in the State and abroad, individually, locally, etc., and of aiding and supporting the genuine efforts that are being made both in the State and abroad to strengthen Torah-Judaism morally and practically. The bearing of Teshuva upon the “overall solution” of problems may sound too metaphysical to many but our own generation is becoming more aware of the reality and tangibility of the metaphysical connection.

It may be of interest, in this context, to mention a fact that deserves to be more widely known. About a year ago, a symposium was held in New York with the participation of America's greatest experts in the major branches of the "exact" sciences, i.e. nuclear physics, medicine, genetics, space-travel, chemistry, etc. The topic under discussion was : "The Next Hundred Years"; and this writer happened to be present. The panel, as indicated, consisted only of "exact" scientists, i.e. men whose field is the laboratory, the telescope, etc. It did not include a single representative of the humane sciences, no philosopher, no poet, no linguist, no historian and certainly no theologian. The panel, thus, was anything but "metaphysically inclined". Yet, there was one point which all participants seemed to re-echo, though unrehearsed: that the future of mankind primarily depends upon its moral strength, that the real problem of today's world is basically a moral one, and that all its other aspects, political or scientific, are only results and not causes.

I have cited this example to show that even the non-Jewish world is already beginning to realize the direct bearing which ethical values have on the physical shape of things, or, in Jewish language, that the relationship between "Teshuva" and the practical, down-to-earth future of the world is not merely a metaphysical theory but a tangible reality.

Thus, "Teshuva" is the only road leading to a feasible and genuine "overall solution"; and for Torah Judaism there can be only ONE solution that is both “real” and “global” , and that will solve all the many problems of our history of Galuth : " . . . and when there arises a King from the House of David, who learns Torah and obeys the Divine Commandments as did his ancestor David, both according to the Written and the Oral Law, AND HE WILL FORCE ALL ISRAEL to walk along its paths and strengthen it, and will fight the battles of God, he may be believed to be the Messiah . . . . and he will reform the entire world to worship God in unison, as it says: " (Zephania 3, 9): For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve Him with one consent" (Maimonides, Hilchot Melachim 11)… and although he may tarry, I shall wait for him every day, for he will come . . .

Note that question marks or other strange characters in the text represent Hebrew characters which do not display on the web page.

* (Mr. Ben Zvi, now Israel's President, then even published a linguistic treatise as to the appropriate Hebrew name for the international enclave.)

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