Zion Without Judaism


Zion Without Judaism


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The Collapse of Israeliness?

by Steven Plaut, University of Haifa

While there is of course more than one way to look at the last two centuries of Jewish life on the planet, one instructive way to summarize them might be as a two-hundred year search for an alternative to traditional Orthodoxy. Beginning with the Haskala (Enlightenment) movement and the partial or - in some places - total emancipation of Jews from the constrictions of the ghetto, Jews faced the dilemma of how to deal with modernity and "rationality", including in such matters as technology, science, and higher education. The dilemma of how to adapt Judaism to the modern era and how to merge it with modernity was particularly sharp in Western Europe and North America, but played a role elsewhere as well.

The attempts to resolve the dilemma took five principal forms and they are:

* Assimilation

* Quasi-assimilation in the form of radical reformation of Judaism

* Diminution of Judaism while conscripting Jews for Non-Jewish political movements

* Secular Zionism

* Modern Orthodoxy.

Before taking them on one by one, let us note that not all Jews felt any dilemma at all nor attempted to resolve the conflict between Jewish traditional Orthodoxy and modernity. Large portions of the ultra-Orthodoxy or the haredim resolved the dilemma by defying modernity altogether or seeking to minimize its presence in their lives. Their attitude might best have been summed up by Rabbi Moses Sofer of Pressburg: "All that is new is prohibited by the Torah."

Their resolution of the dilemma took the form of refusal to adopt modern dress, life styles, and often even language. Yiddish-speaking haredim are still to be found everywhere from Brooklyn to Meah Shearim, often living in homes where there is no television or radio, with no internet connections, where no form of higher education or training besides yeshiva study is pursued, where Darwin and astronomy do not exist; in short - where an embargo on modernity in most of its forms takes place.

The pole diametrically opposite to the rejection of modernity by Orthrodox extremists is the secularist extremism of modern Jewish assimilationists. These resolve the dilemma by rejecting all forms of Jewish tradition and embracing modernity and "progress", not to mention consumerism, as its replacement.

In between the two extremes are those who have searched and attempted to develop and proffer various forms of blending of Jewish tradition with modernity. And all of these forms have failed in one way or another.

* * * * * * * * * *

Perhaps the most commonplace form of "blending" in the Diaspora is the adaptation of Jewish tradition to modernity through religious reform. This has taken many forms. In its earliest manifestations in Europe and especially Germany, this took the form of adopting outer symbols and signs of modernity while maintaining a total commitment to Rabbinic, i.e., halakhic, Judaism. In the vision of Moses Mendelsohn and others, Jews would maintain their traditions while dressing in modern fashion, speaking German or whatever was the language of their surroundings, learning modern trades and professions, making synagogues less "backward" looking, making Jewish prayer less boisterous and disorderly and "offensive" to gentile sensitivities, and so.

Such modest tampering however gave way within a generation to "reforms" so radical that the European reformers themselves often were indiscernible from the full assimilationists. Jews would move their sabbath to Sunday, would refrain from circumcision, would abandon all observance of kosher eating laws, would pray in the language of whichever country in which they happened to live, would cease to attend separate Jewish schools, and so on. Some of the radical reformers openly converted to Christianity altogether.

The radical reformers of tradition also were commonly members of the next in our list of movements to merge Jewish tradition in some form with modernity, namely, those seeking to conscript Jews into non-Jewish patriotic or political movements of one sort or another. These sought to gain acceptance for Jews through their being seen as joining the progressive, liberal (and occasionally conservative) and patriotic organizations and parties in their countries of residence.

Advocates of this solution to the modernity dilemma argued that such mobilization for "good causes" should be the primary expression of Jewish modernism. The specific causes selected varied from country to country. In Hungary it was Magyar patriotism. In Russia it was socialism and communism. In parts of Europe it was and is support for social democrats. In the United States it was and is political liberalism. While the American Reform movement has long abandoned the Christianization of its early European radicals, it has by and large attempted to resolve the dilemma in this manner. The American Conservative movement has been not far behind.

Such attempts to substitute fashionable political causes for Jewish identity have generally failed. They often resulted, not very surprisingly, in full assimilation. In the United States, for example, much of the Jewish community declared that political liberalism was its new form of modern "religion", where all of Jewish identity would be subordinated to the pursuit of "social justice" goals. Such "Political Liberalism as Religion" manifests itself in a general disregard for less fashionable forms of Jewish tradition, and generally restricts itself to a shallow appeal to "Tikkun Olam", suitably misinterpreted, and empty nostalgia for "the Ethics of the Prophets", as expressed in such trendy things as the struggle for affirmative action, gay marriage, and the environmentalist agenda. After two generations in which this new political "Orthodoxy" has dominated the non-Orthodox segments of the American Jewish community, intermarriage rates have passed the 50% mark, total assimilation is commonplace, and the non-Orthodox forms of Judaism in North America are in imminent danger of disappearing altogether within a generation or two.

* * * * * * * * * *

That leaves us with two other attempts to merge Judaism with modernity: secular Zionism and Modern Orthodoxy. Most of the rest of this article concerns the former. But before turning to it, a brief word is in order about Modern Orthodoxy. In an important sense, Modern Orthodoxy is the least unsuccessful of all the attempts to resolve the dilemma that concerns us. It is a thorough integration of traditional, that is, Halakhic, Judaism with modernity. Moreover, its practitioners are the least likely to assimilate and leave Jewish frameworks and institutions, and certainly the least likely to intermarry. The Modern Orthodox see no conflict between science, technology, pop music, and Judaism.

The "failure" of Modern Orthodoxy has been in not attracting larger numbers of Jews, especially those who have otherwise resolved the dilemma by abandoning Orthodoxy altogether. The Modern Orthodox in the United States are a small minority among Jews, and probably are a larger minority in Israel and in certain other Diaspora communities. There is of course always a stream of "hazara b'tshuva" or return to Orthodoxy among some Jewish secularists, although - significantly - this is more often than not to the haredi (Orthodox) and mystical/hasidic variants of Orthodoxy. Kabbala classes attract everyone from some Israeli teenie-boppers to Madonna and Mick Jagger. Modern Orthodoxy enjoys a less dramatic inflow, although it is still growing in no small part thanks to "natural increase", that is, a healthy birth rate.

But as an alternative that resolves the dilemma between modernity and tradition, for the bulk of modern Jews, Modern Orthodoxy has not been embraced and is unembraceable. People who do not believe in God or who cannot bring themselves to believe in traditional Jewish theological doctrines are unlikely to become Modern Orthodox Jews, although I suppose one should not automatically dismiss the possibility that some of their offspring might.

While there are many interesting case studies of the attempts to resolve the dilemma of modernity, I personally find that of Hungary one of the most instructive. In the first half of the nineteenth century, Hungarian Jews essentially embraced all of the above methods to resolve the dilemma, except secular Zionism, which came along two generations later. Most Hungarian Jews embraced radical Magyar nationalism. Indeed they participated in the Hungarian nationalist movement and in the army that attempted to fight a war of independence against Austria in numbers far exceeding their proportion in the population. They made enormous efforts to "Magyarize" themselves, and abandoned Yiddish and German for Hungarian. Indeed they even resented the immigration of non-Magyar Jews into Hungary and sometimes lobbied to prevent their admission.

Significantly, the excessive Magyar patriotism of Hungarian Jews brought down upon them unanticipated - but all too characteristic - consequences. It earned them the enmity of the Austrian rulers of the country and fanned Austrian anti-Semitism. The non-Magyar minority groups in Hungary resented the attempt by the Jews to enlist in the Magyar nationalist movement, and anti-Semitism was fanned among the Serbs, Croats, Rumanians, and other non-Magyar elements in Hungary. And it blinded them to the growth of Magyar anti-Semitism.

Meanwhile, much of the Hungarian Jewish Reform movement was so extreme as to endorse de facto adoption of Christianity as the religion of the Jews, and many leading Hungarian Reformed Jews did in fact convert. Other segments of the community embraced Orthrodox rejectionism of modernism. Hungarian Jews never did anything in moderation.

In any case, all the forms of adoption to the new reality - the staunch patriotism, the radical religious reform, the Orthrodox rejectionism - ended up in total failure. Indeed each, in its own way, prevented Hungarian Jews from migrating to safe havens before World War II, such as to the United States or Palestine. And in the end the super-patriotism and Magyarization did not prevent the Hungarian nationalists from joining the German Nazis in exterminating five out of every six Hungarian Jews in the Holocaust.

* * * * * * * * * *

One of the greatest ironies of Jewish history is that secular Zionism of the nineteenth century was formulated precisely for the purpose of offering an alternative to the assimilationism and "self-hatred" of the Diaspora. It arose as a response to both asismilationism and anti-Semitism. Who then could have dreamed that it would itself magnify anti-Semitism, giving birth to a particularly malignant form of Jewish anti-Semitism within the Jewish state itself, and lead to a bizarre form of Israeli "Post-Jewish" assimilationism in Zion?

Until very recently, it was widely presumed that the one unqualified success in resolving the dilemma between Jewishness and modernity was achieved in Israel. Secular Zionism represented a blending of modernity with Jewishness that involved neither the assimilationism of the radical reformers in the Diaspora nor Orthrodox rejectionism. It achieved this in the formation of Israeliness, which was a new phase of identity for Jews who lived in their own Jewish state (here) Israeliness was ever-so-modern, with high-tech industries cropping up everywhere like mushrooms, with European standards of living and lifestyles, with prestigious universities and scientific institutions, not to mention a military of legendary prowess. All this in a state whose raison d'etre was its Jewishness, its serving as a national home for Jews.

Certainly, Israeliness had its problems, not least of which was a dubious, if not outright hostile, attitude towards Jewish tradition. Israel's intellectual, journalistic, academic and artistic elites have long displayed a deep animosity to matters of religion and to religious people, an antipathy shared by parts of the broader secularist population. This was fanned in part by resentment at the powers of the politicized religious Establishment. Anti-Orthodox bigotry has long been the primary form of bigotry in the country, escalating after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by a religious law student.

Beyond hostility to religion and tradition, Israeliness also had other dubious roots. There was always a strong "Canaanite" trend present in Israeli society, especially among its intellectual elite, which insisted that Israelis were a new "post-Jewish" nationality and ethnic group altogether. (The "Canaanites" were a movement of Israelis in the 1950s and thereafter who attempted to detach Israeliness from Jewishness and create a new "non-denominational" Hebrew-speaking "nationality" of Israelis, one that could encompass the Arabs as well.) As such, these new "Israelis" had little in common with Diaspora Jews and even less with Diaspora history.

Many an Israeli Jew insisted that he had far more in common with the Druse and Bedouins of the country than with some Orthodox Jew in Brooklyn. One of the many forms of backlash against Diaspora Jewishness was a ferocious hostility to Yiddish. Another was a wave of demonization of Orthodox Jews in Israel and the emergence of single-issue political parties devoted to bashing the Orthodox.

In the first decades of its existence, the celebration of "Israeliness" in Israel took many forms, including those that downplayed the role of Jewishness in the state. The Israeli school curriculum at secular schools, where the majority of Israeli children attend, was largely stripped of Jewish content. Jewish history in the typical Israel school ended at Masada or with Bar-Kochba and then mysteriously rematerialized at the first Zionist Congress in Basel. Jewish religion, other than the Bible, was eliminated almost altogether from the curriculum, except in the religious schools. The result is that today many an Israeli teenager cannot complete the sentence that begins with the words "Shma Yisrael", and few can correctly explain what the Amida is.

The celebration of Israeliness was also widely believed to offer the ultimate path towards resolution of Arab-Jewish differences. After all, there was no reason why Arabs could not follow the example of the more "Canaanite" Jews and embrace with enthusiasm the new Israeliness, an Israeliness that would transcend religion and pre-Israeli ethnicity or religion.

National challenges and "Canaanitism" aside, until recently few would have questioned the basic conclusion that Secular Zionism had succeeded where all other attempts to bridge Judaism with modernity had failed. The state of Israel may have been filled with certain self-delusions and immense national problems, but Israelis were not assimilating into some alien gentile ethnicity or nationality like Diaspora Jews; they would always remain Jews, even if only Jews knowing little about Judaism. Hebrew was their everyday language of communications. Jewish holidays were the bank holidays. Jewish symbols were the symbols of state. Moreover the Secular Zionist merging of Judaism with modernity appeared to be stable for the very long run. It was not threatened by modernity even in its most extreme forms.

It is the contention here that the collapse of the Oslo "peace process" will produce a crisis of identity for Israeli Jews and perhaps for Jews outside Israel as well. In particular there are now questions about whether or not there was ever truly any "success" of Secular Zionism.

Certainly no such crisis in Israeli identity is as yet fully evident or widely recognized. Indeed, much of Israeli society and most of its media and "chattering classes" have yet to internalize fully the fact that the Oslo "peace process" is over, nor have they come to terms with the implications of its failure. But fail it has and it is only a matter of time before the hard underlying questions will arise and force their way onto the national agenda.

The most fundamental question for this new Post-Oslo era that will require clear answers is how Israel could have allowed itself to pursue the Oslo peace process in the first place. The answers are very likely to raise serious doubts about the nature of Secular Zionism itself and its "success" at resolving the modernity dilemma of the Jews.

The great mystery about the Oslo "peace process" is not why it failed but why anyone in Israel could have been persuaded in the first place that it might succeed. Secular Zionism was supposed to "normalize" the Jewish people. The simple fact of the matter is that no "normal" people under similar circumstances would have succumbed to such foolishness.

Here we had the leaders of Israel from the Labor Party, the Israeli Left and the Likud insisting that peaceful relations with the Arabs could be achieved through a long process of Jewish self-deprecation, self-denial and self-humiliation. They claimed that peace could be achieved through Israel agreeing to turn over its heartland to terrorists, that security could be achieved by the abandonment of security and Israel distancing itself from its own Jewish roots. They insisted for years that if only Israel would jettison its traditional defense policies and instead trust to the goodwill that would be generated by making concessions to the Palestinians, Jordanians, and the Syrians, peace would break out. They convinced themselves that military force was obsolete and played no further role, this in the most barbarous region of the planet.

In the early 1990s, Yassir Arafat and the PLO leadership were far off in Tunisia whither they had been banished as a result of the devastatingly victorious, if highly controversial, Israeli campaign in Lebanon in 1982. The world - or at least the United States - had made its peace with the Israeli position that the PLO was not an acceptable partner in any Arab-Israeli peace talks and that the most Palestinian Arabs could hope for would be a limited autonomy with no role for the PLO. The intifada violence that had begun in the late 1980s was essentially finished, with less and less incidents by the month and with terrorists so desperate for materiel they were concocting their own zip guns out of household materials, where Palestinian explosives were far more likely to kill the preparer than anyone else. True, Israeli troops were harassed by Palestinians throwing rocks, but this was a harassment that could have been ended at any time through a firmer response, albeit one with some fleeting public relations costs. The rock throwing generally threatened neither the soldiers nor the existence of the state of Israel.

But into this picture of near-pastoral tranquility came the Oslo "peace process" and snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory. It was based on the proposition that economic interests and consumerism had replaced military power as the determinants of international relations in the post-modern world. It sought to reduce tensions with the Palestinian Arabs who had just been defeated in their intifada by importing the PLO's leadership into the "occupied territories" and then allowing it to arm itself and build up an army in the suburbs of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The Israeli government provided many thousands of rifles to Palestinian terrorists sworn to destroying the country.

Seven years after the "peace process" had begun, Prime Minister Ehud Barak was negotiating handing over to the PLO the Old City of Jerusalem, including control over the Western Wall, in addition to slabs of pre-1967 Israeli territory in the Negev -- all this while the PLO murdered Jews every day. The PLO's response to this obsequiousness was to launch a war against Israel in the form of the "Al-Aqsa Intifada".

At this point, the army of tens of thousands of PLO soldiers possesses anti-aircraft missiles that threaten Israeli civilian and military air traffic. They possess anti-tank weapons and katyusha rockets. They have already shelled civilian areas inside pre-1967 Israel. The Gaza Strip is today a large mortar factory. The goodwill measures of Israel have produced a campaign of Nazi-like hatred led by the PLO, down to and including virulent Holocaust Denial accompanied by Holocaust justification (never mind the contradiction).

Every single prediction of the pro-Oslo camp has proved incorrect and every single warning by the opponents of Oslo has proved correct. The PLO was never interested in resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict but rather in establishing itself in the West Bank and Gaza in order to use those areas as staging grounds for attacks against Israel. These attacks are in the hope of drawing the Arab countries into a new full-scale Arab-Israeli war, possibly one involving weapons of mass destruction.

The complete debunking of the range of arguments expressed in favor of the "peace process" is by now unnecessary, as events themselves have proven more than sufficient in doing so. True, much of the Israeli intellectual elite and the "chattering classes" are still living in the dead past. They are still insisting that new formulas and new concessions be offered so that at long last a "permanent deal" can be signed with Arafat, but few others still suffer such blindness. In any case, the polls in Israel all show that even the pro-Oslo supporters do not believe for an instant that the PLO would abide by any such deal. The extent of the cognitive dissonance that characterizes Israelis at the beginning of the twenty-first century is best exhibited in the fact that the vast majority of those who support continuation of the "peace process" also insist they believe that Arafat will follow any deal signed with more terror and more attacks on Israel and that the PLO will violate any future deal it signs.

Future historians will find it a daunting challenge to explain how Jews, often stereotyped as the smartest humans on the planet and with more Nobel Prize winners than any other group, could have allowed themselves to be snookered into the Oslo accords. How could seemingly intelligent people place their faith in such absurdities? No "normal" people would voluntarily entrust its national security to a group of fascist terrorists and endanger its very existence because of a belief that internet services and consumerism had made defense and territory superfluous.

In fact, the entire Oslo episode of Jewish history is an indicator not only of the silliness and shallowness of Israeli politicians, but of something far deeper and far more ominous. Very simply stated, Oslo may very well indicate that Secular Zionism has failed.

The failure of Secular Zionism is one and the same with the crisis of "Israeliness". Oslo has shown how shallow and empty is the whole enterprise known as Israeliness. In its bid to replace traditional Jewish identity and consciousness with civic Israeliness, with Hebrew-speaking consumerism and post-Jewish civil patriotism, Secular Zionism has in fact created a bizarre new entity riddled with confusion regarding its own identity, exhibiting virulent self-hatred and self-debasement, willing to blame itself for all of the problems created by Arab aggression and fascism, and all too willing to sacrifice itself on pagan alters of political correctness. In the nineteenth century, much of the original opposition to Zionism by the religious leaders of Europe was based on their allegation that Secular Zionism was thinly-disguised assimilationism dressed up in nationalist symbolism. How ironic it will be if history books record that the last decade of the twentieth century and the first of the twenty-first proved them essentially correct.

The Oslo era was accompanied by a massive assault on Israel's pride and confidence by its own leaders. Israeli intellectuals lectured the country about its original sinfulness. Israel was flooded with "New Historians" and "Post-Zionists", rewriting history texts and school curriculum to promote the Arab "narrative" and the Arab version of history. Israeli politicians leapt forward, ready to strip the country of all of its Jewish national emblems, from the star on the flag to the words of the national anthem. And after 1300 years of discrimination against Jews by Arabs, Israeli politicians were implementing "reverse discrimination" programs, under which Arabs received preferences and Jews suffered quotas. One after the other, Israeli politicians mouthed the post-modernist gibberish of the anti-Israel choruses from overseas, about how Israelis needed to stop ruling over another "people", had to learn to understand the "other", had to commemorate the "tragedies" the Jews had imposed upon the Arabs and make restitution.

While assimilationism in the Diaspora has often been termed "self-hatred", the term is misleading. Diaspora assimilationists are simply indifferent to their Jewishness and want nothing to do with Judaism. They generally do not actively wish Jews harm. The Oslo era in Israel however saw the emergence, perhaps for the first time in history, of virulent and literal anti-Jewish bigotry among the intellectual, media and political elites of Israel. Israeli universities became petri dishes for Jewish anti-Zionists and anti-Semites, "Post-Jewish" leftist extremists, and people openly advocating the elimination of their own country and its merger into some sort of Palestinian state.

The Israeli public school system was conscripted to proliferate Arab ideology. Israeli politicians and leftist professors seriously proposed that Israel create a National "Naqba" Day in which it atone for the very fact of its creation and the "catastrophe" that this creation caused to Israeli Arabs. The Israeli media, operating under the nearly complete hegemony of the Far Left, served as daily bludgeons against the country, promoting Arab propaganda as editorial and Op-Ed opinion and often as news, blaming Israeli obstinacy and mistreatment of Arabs for all of the problems of the country.

This obsession with self-flagellation produced a situation whereby each and every atrocity committed by Arabs was greeted with calls from the Israeli chattering classes for MORE concessions and appeasements by Israel. Some, including the tenured extremists at the universities, went so far as to justify and celebrate Arab acts of terror as necessary to force Israelis to come to their senses and make peace. For seven years the Israeli elites lived in a make-pretend world in which Jews were to blame for everything and Arabs were merely expressing "frustrations" at being "mistreated" for so many years by Jews. The fact that no Arabs were launching intifadas in Arab countries, wherein their treatment by Arab regimes was infinitely worse than by Israel (even if all Arab accusations against Israel were accepted at face value), never seemed to matter to anyone.

The psychological war by Israel's elites against national pride, dignity and self-respect, indeed against national existence, was accompanied by a set of diplomatic policies expressing little more than self-loathing. Every atrocity by the Palestinians was greeted with new offers of concessions and goodwill gestures from Israel, which was pursuing a policy that no act of Arab violence could go unrewarded. Ehud Barak surrendered to Hizbollah terror and withdrew Israeli troops from Lebanon, and in so doing placed the Haifa Bay and its refineries within range of Hizbollah rockets. Israel rewarded decades of Syria's aggression, Holocaust Denial, harboring of German war criminals, and terrorism through its Hizbollah surrogates by offering to grant Syria not only the Golan Heights but also parts of pre-1967 Israel, with access to the waters of the Sea of Galilee.

The national policy of self-debasement was accepted with equanimity by much of the Israeli public, hoping against hope that the politicians promising light at the end of the Oslo tunnel would prove correct. The descendents of the same Jews who had enlisted en masse to fight to defend Hungary and express their Magyar patriotism in the nineteenth century were now standing by and allowing Israeli politicians to demean Jews and make a mockery out of Jewish patriotism in Zion. And all the while they were subsidizing the venomous anti-Zionist extremists at the Israeli universities and elsewhere.

For thirty years or so after Israel's creation, few would have challenged the idea that Secular Zionism had achieved an unqualified success in its begetting the new "Israeli". Israeli Jews were at last "normal" citizens of their own country, patriotic to the point of being intolerable, proud to the point of hubris, confident in themselves and in their military, sure of their moral justifiability. But just a few years later, these same Israelis were reduced to begging Yassir Arafat to allow his terrorist squad leaders to meet with Israeli army officers in order to maintain the facade of a "peace process" still operating. Israeli politicians were abandoning any pretense of conditioning further concessions to the Arabs on their abstaining from violence. Israeli leaders and intellectuals were endorsing the principle of Israel paying reparations and tribute to the Arabs who had attacked them and lost.

The 1990s were the era in which it became evident that a great many Israelis and most of the Israeli elite had lost their will to survive as a nation. After centuries in which Jews maintained the most militant sorts of pride and self-assurance even while being mistreated, despised and humiliated, here were the Israelis, possessing one of the great armies of the world, abandoning all pride and explicitly promoting self-humiliation. The same Israeli military that had rescued the Jewish hostages in Entebbe, Uganda, was suddenly incapable of rescuing a wounded IDF soldier bleeding to death in Joseph's Tomb in Nablus or protecting children under fire in Jerusalem neighborhoods. Here was an Israel unwilling to use force to prevent Palestinians from firing rifles and mortars into civilian homes, and instead asking to hold talks with those shooting, to work out differences and reach understandings.

An Israel less than two generations after the Holocaust was willing to hold "peace talks" with people who deny there ever was a Holocaust and insist that Jews use the blood of gentile children to make Passover matzos. The same Jews who fought against enormous odds and won in 1948 were acquiescing in a "peace process" that involved unilateral peace gestures from Israel in exchange for the Arabs continuing to make war against the Jews.

No "nation" on earth would tolerate such a thing. Why did Israelis? The only possible explanation is that the Israelis who pursued Oslo were not really a nation. They had never really developed a national consciousness, but had been merely play-acting all along.

Much of the problem can be traced to the bankrupt notion that some sort of Israeliness can exist separate from Jewishness. This is the "assimilationism" that has resulted from attempting to create a "Post-Jewish" Israel. Any Israeliness well-anchored in Jewishness could never have sanctioned a set of policies based on the proposition that violent anti-Semitism was somehow the fault of the Jews and the result of mistreatment of others by Jews. An Israeliness well-grounded in Jewishness would never have given rise to a struggle for acceptance based on the presumption that people hate Jews because of Jewish sins and shortcomings and misdeeds. Only people detached from and ignorant of Jewish history could have believed that violent anti-Semites can be bought off with promises of high-tech investments and five-star tourist hotels.

Now in the post-Oslo era, the charade has come to an end. Secular Zionist "Israeliness" has undercut the will to survive and very legitimacy of the State of Israel. It is what gave birth to the pathology of self-deception and self-loathing that produced the Oslo phenomenon. As a consequence of Oslo, it is becoming harder and harder to deny the idea that Secular Zionism has failed to resolve the Jewish dilemma with modernity.


from the September 2001 Edition of the Jewish Magazine




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