Israel versus Judaism



The State Becomes a Reality

It is not surprising that, in view of the desparate situation of Jewish DP's in the various camps on the one side, and in view of the extensive propaganda carried on in the camps by a swarm of Zionist emissaries of every denomination on the other, often accompanied by threats, the news about the approval of the Jewish State should have evoked a tide of joy in very many Jewish quarters. It is likewise obvious that the most vociferous joy was experienced by those for whom the State entailed no obligations, save a few (income tax deductible) dollars i.e. American Zionists. It is equally true that with the establishment of the State the liquidation of DP camps was expedited and that many of the immigrants experienced, at least temporarily, a marked feeling of relief as a result of their migration. Yet, the Torah view towards the State could not change from what it always had been with regard to Zionism. The State is nothing but a logical sequence of Zionism, is its entire raison d'être. Zionism struggled for the State in order to "solve the Jewish Problem", as part of the program of "normalization of the Jewish People". Through the establishment of the State, this goal was finally reached.

As we have tried to explain in the beginning of this work, the State of Israel is not one of those States which had in ancient times been founded as kingdoms, and continued to survive with one regime or another attaining power in successive stages. The State of Israel belongs to the category of states which are identical with their regime. It is the regime that makes the State and it is the State that makes the regime. Thus, Israel is not a State governed by Zionists or Zionism, but the State of Israel is Zionism in practice. Until May 14, 1948, the Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency held the power of organizations or parties, and since the l4th of May, 1948, the Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency have together acquired the status and the power of a sovereign State. This, of course, has changed their measure of strength and reinforced their ability to enforce their authority but it has not changed the nature and identity of the movement. A red-haired man, for instance, who wins the Irish Sweepstake and grows rich overnight, will most probably experience, through this sudden wealth, a change in his pattern of every-day life. On account of his riches, he may perhaps be more careful in his manners or more careless than when he had been poor, but, whatever the case, he remains the same red-haired man he had been before, for his identity has not been changed by his good fortune.

It is obvious that the existence of the State brought about a new objective situation involving new problems, and simultaneously, the need for new ways of reaction. The main difference between the Zionist Organizationand the State lies in the fact that the former is an organization built on membership and voluntary affiliation. Those who do not want to do so, can refuse to join its ranks. Even when, during the Mandatory era, Zionism was granted authority over the officially recognized Jewish "Religious Community" of which every Jewish resident of the Mandated Territory of Palestine automatically became a member on his 18th birthday, the British authorities finally, after an appeal to the League of Nations, recognized the right of every person to renounce such automatic membership by filing an appropriate statement. One cannot however quit a State unless one leaves its boundaries, and in any event, this is not as easy a matter as quitting or non-affiliation with a congregation or organization. The question of what Torah-true Jewry, particularly those living in Israel, should do in practice in view of the reality of the State is therefore neither easy nor simple. The State is not merely a point of view but a reality. It is composed, after all, of Jews, and with regard to Jewish individuals, no matter who or what they are, the duty of common responsibility always exists. In this connection, it may be typical to point out that it is just the group known as "Neturei Karta" which is accused more frequently than any other religious group of separatism, isolation, etc. that is usually the first to protest, sometimes most fiercely, against violations of the Sabbath, etc. a protest based solely and entirely on this feeling of the mutual responsibility of all Jews for one another, while the more moderate quarters that profess extreme loyalty to the very same slogan of brotherhood and mutual responsibility, are more apathetic with regard to such desacrations of Torah laws. In other words, those accused of isolation who might consequently be expected not to care for anybody but themselves, are very much concerned with the conduct of others, and vice versa. Accordingly, even those who openly abrogate any allegiance to the State even to the extent of refusing “de facto” recognition (see later), feel themselves strongly bound (stronger perhaps than others) by the feeling of “arevus” (mutual responsibility) towards the other inhabitants of the State.

Moreover, the State is located on the soil of the Holy Land, which remains holy, “the palace of the King” regardless of who its temporary ruler may be. Every desecration of the Torah on the holy soil of Eretz Israel hurts and shocks to a greater extent than similar acts committed anywhere else, hence, the duty of protesting also becomes more compelling. Thus, in addition to the negative attitude that has to be adopted towards the State as a materialization of Zionism, there is, on the other hand, the positive duty of protest deriving from the holiness of the Land on the one side and the mutual responsibility of all Jews on the other.

How and what should this protest be? What steps should Torah true Jews take, both inside the country and abroad, in view of the existing reality? It is around these questions that opinions differ, and no wonder. “As their faces are different so are their views different”, the Talmud teaches us with regard to human nature in general. The situation is complicated enough. The problems sometimes touch on most delicate and subtle matters; and it is therefore only natural that there should be different approaches and proposals concerning the practical steps to be taken. Yet with regard to the principle underlying the negative attitude, THERE ARE NOT AND THERE CANNOT BE DIVERGENT VIEWS WITHIN THAT PART OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE THAT REGARDS AND RECOGNIZES THE TORAH AS ITS ONLY AND EXCLUSIVE BASIS. At this point, we shall have to touch upon one additional subject;

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