Jewish national existence and its enemies
by Jonathan Rosenblum
May 20, 2005
Israel's newspapers were filled last week with editorials celebrating our achievements over the past 56 years. That was as it should be, and a welcome antidote to the usual litany of depressing and even frightening.
By any standard, Israel's achievements would be remarkable for any country, and particularly for one that has never known a moment of peace from the day of its birth. Per capita the Israeli hi-tech sector is by far the most creative in the world. Israel is a world leader in pharmaceuticals and medical research.
Yet something is rotten in the state of Israel. And that rottenness was on full display recently in a May 6 editorial by Ha'aretz publisher Amos Schocken. Schocken's ostensible topic was the proposed extension of the family unification ban. The ban marks Israel, in Schocken's words, as an "apartheid state" and sends a message to our Arab neighbors that Israel does not want peace.
Schocken acknowledges that Holland and Denmark have recently enacted strict laws to prevent naturalization or permanent residency to anyone, including spouses of citizens, not steeped in Dutch or Danish national culture. And he does not question those countries democratic bona fides. But Israel is different; Israel has a mission: peace between peoples.
That is, to put it mildly, completely backwards. Holland and Denmark, which live without enemies on their borders, may keep out Muslims to avoid cultural suicide. Israel, which lives under constant external threat, must grant full citizenship to any resident of the territories who can find a spouse among our increasingly irredentist Arab population. Under Schocken's dispensation, Zakariya Zubeidi, would have every incentive to propose immediately to Tali Fahima.
The reality of Israel's situation is meaningless to Schocken. Palestinians are raised from birth to view the existence of Israel as a national calamity and fed a daily diet of hatred of Jews and Israel. The Palestinian media and educational system celebrates those who kill Jews. The Palestinians’ rallying cry is for a "right of return" so that Israel's Jews will be drowned in a Palestinian sea. And Schocken would lend them a hand, and grant citizenship to the products of this education.
Schocken lives in a utopian fantasy world of thousands of Arab students studying in Israeli universities and thousands of Israelis studying in Arab universities. Reality be damned.
But the purpose of Israel is not, as Schocken writes, peace. Peace is a desideratum for Israel, as for all countries. But the purpose of Israel is the creation of a Jewish homeland.
A Jewish homeland, of course, presupposes that there is some purpose to Jewish national existence, some reason why Jews should continue to exist as a people. Perhaps that represents the great failure of Zionism. Having jettisoned the traditional Jewish vision of an Am Kadosh (a Holy Nation), Zionism was never quite clear about what to put in its place.
And so now we have the post-Zionists, who find no purpose in Jewish national existence in any form. Schocken himself is quite explicit on this point. Nothing stirs his heart like the visions of "marriages between young Israelis, both Jewish and Arab, and young people from neighboring countries and from Palestine." "What greater peace can there be?" he asks.
The celebration of intermarriage is, of course, the denial of any purpose to Jewish national survival. For if the Jewish people do not have any mission, what sense is there in preserving Jewish national identity through endogamy?
Schocken’s disdain for Jewish national existence is one widely shared by his staff and readers. Ha’aretz is the journal of Israel’s elites, the only Hebrew daily that is not a tawdry tabloid. Maariv may have a far more diverse and interesting op-ed page, but Ha’aretz gives voice to Israel’s elites.
And the increasing disdain of those elites for Jewish national existence poses one of the greatest threats to Israel toady. Anyone who attempts to make a case for Israel as something other than a colonialist, apartheid state will inevitably find himself confronted with a slew of quotations from Ha’aretz writers Amira Hass and Gideon Levy. On university campuses throughout the United States it is often ex-patriate Israelis who are Israel’s most vocal critics. Even the recent boycott of Israel’s universities by British university lecturers received support from both Israeli academics like Ilan Pappe and Israelis teaching in England.
The refusal of post-Zionists to acknowledge either the demographic or other security threats to Israel makes peace less, not more, likely. For when Palestinians read Schocken tacitly supporting the Palestinian right of return, they are reinforced in their view that the future belongs to them because the Jews have lost the will to defend themselves.
Control of the Israeli media is far more concentrated than in virtually any other democracy. As the post-Zionist disdain for Jewish national existence spreads among the media elites, and filters down from them to the general population, the entire Zionist enterprise is threatened.
For if the Jewish people have no particular mission, why should our hi-tech superstars and researchers remain here when they can command far more money elsewhere, and without any of the demands imposed by living in Israel?
Related Topics: Israeli Society
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