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Why no Israeli government will ever impose mandatory IDF service on the ultra-Orthodox

Compulsory military service for yeshiva students is a popular issue for secular politicians. But Shas and other Orthodox parties will continue to get their way on this issue, partly because of Israel’s fragmented electoral system, but also largely because Zionism depends on the haredim for its raison d’être.

By Steven A. Cook

Washington – Last week the Israeli media reported that Shas spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, suffered a minor stroke. Although his doctors were mum on what might have caused the episode, sources close to Yosef indicated that a contributing factor was the rabbi’s fear of a renewed push among secular Israelis for yeshiva students to be drafted into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) after the January 22 election.  Yosef is so consumed with this issue that five days before he was hospitalized, the rabbi suggested that Haredim youth emigrate rather than serve in the military.  It seems that Rabbi Yosef’s concerns are real and quite clearly run deep, but he should not worry so much.  It is unlikely that Israel’s budding Talmudic scholars will be picking up Galil rifles anytime soon.

Although compulsory military service for yeshiva students is popular among Israelis and thus a good issue for secular politicians, Shas and other Orthodox parties will continue to get their way on conscription and a variety of other issues. That is the way it has been and likely the way it will continue to be.  A good part of the explanation for this has to do with Israel’s electoral system, which can best be described as “disproportionate representation,” but there is something else going on that is at the heart of the Zionist project that gives the Haredim and other prominent religious voices far more sway than most Israelis prefer.  Setting aside the gauzy images of secular sabras tilling fields, Paul Newman in Exodus, and more contemporary high-tech entrepreneurs who got their start in Unit 8200, the army’s intelligence unit, Israel is dependent on the Haredim.  Not financially, of course, but without the likes of Yosef, other ultra-Orthodox rabbis and their followers, secular Israelis have no better claim to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea than the Palestinians do.

In January 1994 when Yitzhak Rabin addressed the Knesset in the wake of Baruch Goldstein’s massacre of Palestinians in Hebron, he told Israeli lawmakers that the Bible was an “antiquated land registry.” Rabin was not only sharply rebuking the warped religious fervor of Goldstein and his ilk, but he was also stating clearly that the modern Jewish state could not and should not be based on the contours of the ancient one.  The Jerusalem-born Rabin, who was Israel’s first sabra prime minister and a war hero, had his Zionism wrong, however.  It is true as political scientist Shlomo Avineri explains in his volume The Making of Modern Zionism that early Zionist intellectuals “substituted a secular self-identity of the Jews as a nation for the traditional and Orthodox self-identity in religious terms.”  Yet even as successful as Zionism was in this transformation — Avineri calls it a “revolution in Jewish life” — the fact remains that this success was based on an historic link to the Land of Israel.  Even if there are important ethnic, nationalist, and cultural factors that bind Jews to the area, that connection is intrinsically a religious one.

Much of the Jewish population that made its way from Europe to Palestine may have been secular in outlook and regarded Zionism as a movement of national liberation, but bound up in their search for identity was their religion and literally the land from which it emerged.  The “ingathering of exiles” could not have happened on the Mau Plateau as the British government proposed in 1903 because it would have meant that, despite the establishment of Israel in what was part of British Uganda, Jews would have remained in exile.  Members of the World Zionist Congress at the time voted down the proposal for precisely this reason.  They understood that the success of Zionism hinged on a Biblical connection to the land of their Jewish forefathers.

Against this backdrop, the official patronage that allows vast numbers of young men to do nothing but study Torah serves a critically important purpose.  If the IDF, with its large numbers of tanks, fighter planes, and undeclared nuclear forces is the obvious manifestation of Israel’s national defense so too is the army of yeshiva students who — by the very act of studying Torah in the Land of Israel — reaffirm the specifically Jewish connection to the area, which includes the West Bank and, in particular, the areas of Jerusalem that Palestinians claim to be their own.  Armed with centuries of rabbinic commentary and history that establishes Israel as the cradle of Judaism allows Zionists to incorporate biblical stories of exile and redemption into a modern nationalist narrative.  To paraphrase the late Yitzhak Shamir, “It’s our land, why should we give any of it up?” That sense of ownership is not only a fact of modern Israel’s existence and its occupation of the West Bank, but also Jewish history.

Conventional commentary on Zionism often refers to a tension between the secular and religious in the pursuit of national liberation, yet tension suggests an inherent conflict when in fact the pursuit of Zionist goals fundamentally needs Judaism and religious Jews for the legitimacy of the entire project. Why else would successive Israeli governments — of left and right — permit the establishment of yeshivot Palestinian parts of Jerusalem or establish settlements in the West Bank? And, how are these acts justified? Biblically. Zionism depends on the Bible to act as a land register.

Under these circumstances, the shift in Israeli politics is not all that surprising.  Over time, the exigency of ensuring that the existence of Israel is based firmly on religious grounds and establishing—beyond a shadow of a doubt—the Jewish connection to the land has made it possible for a new political elite to emerge.  These politicians, army officers, judges, and senior bureaucrats may not come from the Haredim (many of whom are not Zionists) and the ultra-Orthodox community, but the fact that the state has been solicitous toward the ultra-Orthodox has helped them advance an uncompromising agenda on the major policy issue confronting Israel: the disposition of the West Bank.  It is true that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has at times signaled his willingness—in qualified terms—to consider an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, but Yosef’s position at any given moment is not as important as the overall religious symbolism of the Tomb of Joseph (Nablus) or the Cave of Machpelah (Hebron) or the many other Jewish holy sites that dot the landscape in areas that Palestinians call home. There may be good strategic reasons not to withdraw from the West Bank, but those security problems exist in the realm of the practical in which one can at least imagine a resolution.  The real issue is metaphysical: An Israeli government cannot forfeit these places if Israel’s reason to exist is a homeland for Jews in the land of their forefathers.  What, after all, does Tel Aviv have to do with Judaism?

Annexation of the West Bank is not new in Israeli discourse, but it has now crept into the mainstream thanks to parties like Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home) and Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home). These are not Haredi parties, but the state’s patronage of the ultra-Orthodox so that it can establish a superior claim to the land than Palestinians provide opportunity for political entrepreneurs like Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett to advance their aims of normalizing Israel’s presence in the West Bank. This election is unlikely to accomplish this goal, but the trajectory of Israeli politics is abundantly clear.  The central irony is, of course, that to politicians like Bennett and Lieberman, the final achievement of the Zionist project — annexation of Judea and Samaria — will only be possible with the religious cover of the Haredim and ultra-Orthodox.

Steven A. Cook is Hasib J. Sabbagh senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. The Trespasser

      >Annexation of the West Bank is not new in Israeli discourse, but it has now crept into the mainstream thanks to parties like Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home)

      Totally made up, like most of the text.

      Does this people really have no idea on the subject or they just don’t care what to write?

      30 shekels, huh?

      Reply to Comment
    2. ruth

      Good article.
      If Trespasser – that usually provides biased if not racist comments – writes that it is totally made up it means that the author touched the right arguments. Yashar koakh

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        Nah. What it means is both you and author of this article have not even remote idea of what you are talking about.

        “Therefore, any peace proposal must be a symmetrical arrangement that ensures long term stability, as opposed to one that only perpetuates the conflict. Everywhere in the world there is conflict where two peoples, who believe in different faiths and speak different languages. The Caucasus region in Russia, the Balkans, and even Belgium and Canada are examples of this. Therefore, any solution must include maximal separation between the two nations.”

        http://www.beytenu.org/national-security/

        Israel Beiteinu openly and loudly claims that it is for “two states for two people” solution – approach supported by most Israeli Jews and fiercely rejected by Israel Arabs.

        What is the English word for saying something which is known to be not truth?

        Reply to Comment
        • ‘Maximal separation between the two peoples’ doesn’t necessarily translate into the two-state solution. It could mean any one of a number of unpleasant things. I think you know that. When I read the passage you quoted, that catchy jingle from Aryeh Eldad’s campaign video popped into mind: “If you believe in two states for two peoples, and one of them is Jordan…”

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >It could mean any one of a number of unpleasant things.

            Full-scale permanent apartheid? Too expensive.

            Transfer of Palestinian and Israeli Arabs to other countries? Unrealistic.

            Total extermination of entire “Palestinian Nation” by a biological weapon? Quite problematic.

            In present conditions only “two states for two nations” could, not necessarily tho, work.

            Reply to Comment
          • Your assessment of the meaning behind that rather ominous phrase would only make sense if we accepted Yisrael Beitenu to be both realistic and financially pragmatic. I’ve seen nothing to suggest that. They prize militant nationalist ideology above everything else.

            P.S. Check your email. Someone from a refugee welfare organisation got back to me about the lady you told me about and asked me to call, but I’m obviously no use as I haven’t seen the woman myself. I’ve sent you the phone number.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >if we accepted Yisrael Beitenu to be both realistic and financially pragmatic

            You did not ever checked what they state on their website, did you?

            They are addressing the root causes of many problems, which is not so easily accepted by people used to treating symptoms.

            >I’ve seen nothing to suggest that.

            Apparently, you were shown only what some wanted you to see.

            >They prize militant nationalist ideology above everything else.

            True, to a certain extent. But what makes you think that “militant nationalist” ideology isn’t the most realistic and pragmatic?

            Palestinian struggle is not about setting up a Palestinian state.

            Palestinians want entire Palestine liberated, right? I don’t have to explain what it means, do I?

            Reply to Comment
        • Philos

          “What is the English word for saying something which is known to be not truth? “Well, Trespasser, there are many words. One need not necessarily be lying to say something which is known to be incorrect or “not the truth” rather than “untruthful.”
          .
          For example: mistaken, wrong, erroneous, misinformed, unfounded, faulty, amiss, awry, misguided, and many, many more.
          .
          So Steven Cook is MISTAKEN that Haradim would be given Galil rifles because they are not in service anymore, and Mr. Cook is MISINFORMED that Yisrael-Beyteinu calls for a single state solution but rather favors a very maximal separation of population via the deportation of Israeli Palestinians into the West Bank and Gaza.
          .
          I suggest you get your GED before continuing to read any further political commentary Mr. Trespasser. Your vocabulary and reading comprehension is very poor. You get a D- though for effort.

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Steven Cook is mistaken about at least half of his claims.

            Haredim will be conscripted – unless of course Shas would make it to coalition.

            Yisrael-Beyteinu NEVER called for a 1SS neither it ever called to deport anyone.

            I dare you to prove me wrong.

            >Zionism depends on the Bible to act as a land register.

            Statements like this one are not mistakes, but blatant lies.

            1 – Zionism is not inherently religious movement.
            2 – There is enough archeological proof that Jews inhabited the area for thousands of years
            3 – UN proclaimed Jerusalem a Holy City. By the Bible. Why Zionists can’t use same reasoning as UN ?

            Reply to Comment
    3. ish yehudi

      nicely written– and points to the deep truth that it seems so many palestinians refuse to hear- Israel is the Jewish peoples state.. Articles like this should be translated to arabic. because it seems a big step towards lessening the hatred around here would be for Israel/ Zionism to be accepted as the movement of the Jewish people home.
      I also get tired of seeing this ideological point heralded by Bibi and everyone else- but at the end of the day, if Palestinians don’t see us as being ALSO from here- we aren’t going to get very far together.
      Can we work towards that while occupation is the norm? Can you ask a people whos national story of resistance is based against an oppressor to come to terms with that oppressors presence in some way? All those who call Israel a colonial entity or describe this as South Africa are not helping with this one. So can it be done? is that not just normalization par excelence? i don’t know. But many israelis seem to not trust any concessions without seeing some change in Palestinian acceptance of us.

      Reply to Comment
      • It is one thing to ask people to come to terms with presence, and another to ask them to accept domination.

        The trouble is that many supporters of the occupation honestly seem to conflate the two.

        Reply to Comment
        • ish yehudi

          i don’t mean to intend accept domination. At all. BUT the part of the process about coming to terms with who the Israelis actually are. Not that it will magically change anything- except for seriously challenge the parts of Palestinian narrative that don’t have any space for concession. Which is what both sides need to be preparing for.
          And I didn’t mean to write “Palestinians refuse to hear.” It’s rather, “don’t hear”.
          I write this after conversation upon conversation and reading blog post upon news report where it’s clear that the Palestinian curriculum designers/ media outlets/ activists want to make a clear distinction that Israel is not connected to Judaism.
          Try calling the Jewish people a people– you get attacked for purporting history (like what’s his name in his book).
          My point is just, that wihtout some serious coming to terms with each of our respective other sides– there’s not much room to move. And that’s the greatest victim of anti-normalization. LIke I wrote above- I dont’ know how either can change at the same time. But if theres’ not a basic understanding of who our enemy is in their own eyes— they’re never going to stop being anything but enemies– and in that case, we’re stuck voting out of fear of/ desire for war

          Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            My reply, Ish, would be that the situation as it exists is asymmetrical, uneven. Why, therefore, do you call for the disadvantaged side, from whom so much has been taken, to be the first to give up even more?

            Why shouldn’t it be the place of the Israelis to be first to accept that the Palestinians are a people who belong to the land?

            Reply to Comment
          • ish yehudi

            because i think the vast majority of Israelis accept Palestinians being here as our neighbors with a state. And almost every israeli recognizes the palestinian connection and story on this land. Those two poins of perspective are of course mitigated by the affects of war, disillusionment with chance for peace/ fear of making concessions etc. But as far as making the step of recognizing Palestinians- israelis have come a long way.
            so- i think the israeli’s have accepted the Palestinians as here with a claim to the land. We clearly need work in our textbooks and all– and there are many organizations trying to push that. but i don’t want to get into the assymetry– i really posed it as a question/ prayer- of what to do in the face of this. The israeli emboldening of the right is totally parallel to the palestinian emboldening of unilateral moving. Anti-normalizaiton, not sitting to negotiatins without world-enforced conditions, UN moves. And the Israeli right step in step. “I lift my eyes to the mountain”

            Reply to Comment
          • Learning who Israelis actually are is an important thing. But it’s not easy. There are two stories I’ve often related here, one from Hebron and one from Dheisheh camp. A school principal in Hebron once invited an Israeli couple to visit because she wanted her students to meet Jews who weren’t soldiers. During the discussion, one little girl interrupted with, “But you aren’t real Israelis! Where are your Israeli clothes?” She meant IDF uniform. To her, that is what Israelis are, and where would she have learned any different? David Grossman had a similar experience in Dheisheh, which he recounts in ‘The Yellow Wind’. He asked a four-year-old girl if she knew who Jews were, and got, “The army,” by way of a reply.

            Even when people are able to see past their friendly local army outpost and realise at least theoretically that Israelis do come in colours other than olive green, it’s still tough to separate Israeli and Jewish identities from military rule. When you’ve spent hours being yelled at and demeaned and even physically abused in checkpoints, with the Magen David fluttering over your head, when the menorah is incorporated into army insignia – how do you learn to see these as religious and cultural symbols of huge importance to other people? When Palestinians argue against a connection between Israel and Judaism, it’s not necessarily because they want to discredit the significance of the land in your religious thought or the reality of Jewish peoplehood. In many cases they’re actually trying to show respect to Judaism by making a clean break between the religion and the Israeli state, which they’ve never experienced as anything but repressive. I know my own colleagues try very hard to do this, not because they want to negate what’s important to you, but because they’re honestly trying to respect your faith. You may not like their method, but do you see their reasoning?

            Personally I’m not a nationalist and I don’t believe that acknowledgement of the land’s religious significance to Jews should have to require acceptance of an ethnic-nationalist state. (I don’t even support Palestinian nationalism; I support Palestinian liberation. There is a difference.) This is one reason why I’m so uneasy with talk about what the ‘two sides’ need to do or not do, because that makes it sound as though there are only two stories to hear and two perspectives to have. When we think like that we end up trapped in binaries that make it impossible to breathe, such as the idea that ‘Palestinian’ and ‘Jew’ are essentially opposites, and that ‘secular = good, religious = bad’, ‘leftist = peacemaker, rightist = warmonger’, and so on. Letting go of the ‘two sides’ idea and accepting a plurality of perspectives and stories is perhaps one way to ensure that people start to look at each other’s faces more. It means you can no longer assume anything about people, you listen a bit, and you get a richer understanding of community.

            “i really posed it as a question/ prayer- of what to do in the face of this.”

            That’s a beautiful thing to do and I think just asking the question/making the prayer is important in itself. If you don’t mind me asking, what do you think you should do about it, personally?

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            She could have learned differently from her schooling or from her media. She didn’t apparently. You ask ridiculous questions and expect to get away with it.

            When you see symbols, how do you know what they mean outside of their immediate context? Again, education and media.

            This is precisely the issue. You are arguing from the position of this being some kind of natural and inevitable thing that the Palestinians have absolutely no exposure to any information about Jews as a people and about the significance of Israel to them. It isn’t. It is a conscious choice by their leadership and cultural authorities to deny any significance to the symbols used by the Jews and the IDF and to leave their people in a state of ignorance about who the other side is and why they are on the land.

            Palestinians don’t just argue against the connection between Judaism and the state of Israel. They consistently (including their highest leadership) argue against the connection between Judaism and Jerusalem and Judaism and the land of Israel. No, I do not see their reasoning.

            Also, the significance between Palestinian liberation and Palestinian nationalism is only relevant to you. It has no structural significance when you support Palestinian nationalism in practice.

            Reply to Comment
          • The child’s principal invited the Israeli couple into class, so quite clearly her school was making an effort to show the students that Israelis exist outside of uniform. Secondly, the girl was about seven years old at the time. Even supposing she had got beyond first or second grade and was precociously reading the daily newspaper, how could a textbook or a TV program counterbalance the much more visceral lessons that she gets from her daily life? You underestimate those. Given that in the past you have explicitly conflated Israeli presence with Israeli power (arguing that home demolitions and forced displacement are essential to the welfare of Israel, for example), it’s a bit rich of you to criticise that girl’s teachers or indeed anyone else for not trying hard enough to liberate your symbols on your behalf from the very associations that your own politics reinforce.

            As for your last sentence, that’s a perfect example of the type of binary thinking I was talking about. The distinction between nationalism and liberation has huge implications structurally, as it allows us to focus on rights rather than on states – and not just the rights of a community as a whole, but on rights within that community (e.g. women, disabled people, etc). This is a pretty common approach in feminist peace work worldwide, and it has a clear and obvious advantage: it invites connection with the same groups in Israeli society. Nationalist discourse typically presents the two communities as sharp distinct parallel lines that don’t ever meet, while this approach has them looking more like concentric circles. This creates a pretty effective basis for intercultural and interfaith education (which I do agree is very important) as it adequately reflects the fact that there are multiple different experiences and histories within any given community.

            Reply to Comment
          • ish yehudi

            first- thanks to all on the thread for writing…
            @Aristeides- when you or I call the situation assymetrical- keep in mind that that is an objective assesment from the outside– this is directly related to what my comment is about- understanding the others narrative. You say its asymmetrical? Israelis live with the feeling of “we’re under fire.” Palestinians live with the feeling “we’re under fire.” Whether one is more objectively true has not impact on how the other feels. We are both expert victims here.
            @Vicki– First- K9 wrote a line that is absolutely true and to the gist of what i’m ranting about:
            “It is a conscious choice by their leadership and cultural authorities to deny any significance to the symbols used by the Jews and the IDF and to leave their people in a state of ignorance about who the other side is and why they are on the land. ”
            I’ve heard this directly from people in the appropriate PA Ministries. That there was a strategic decision to change their discourse from being “anti-Jewish” to “anti-Zionist” because there was many Jews who were potential supporters of the Palestinian national cause that were alienated by the anti-Jewish rhetoric.
            SO they changed the approach in schools/ media etc to detach Zionism from Judaism.
            I appreciate the religious sensitivity you describe amongst colleagues in protecting Judaism from the evils of the Zionist enterprise. I’d rather you call on us to live out or redefineour highest Jewish values.
            To substant what i wrote above about the decision to detach Israel from the Jews- I heard this from the mouth of someone “in the system” in a candid discussion (part of what I’m doing about it- listen and sharing). But this is the aggravating problem i’m talking about. I don’t want to belabor the point-like i said, i’m asking the question about what to do with it, practically in the face of anti-normalization. But where is the talk here on 972 of peace education for both sides? Where are the articles where the voices on these sites use their power as media outlets to raise the question on “resistance education?”
            The path to those multi-dimensions you wrote about where lie our real places of closeness (e.g. religious life vs western values) at this moment walks squarely through the gates of nationalism. Thats the language most of us here are still playing- as idiotic as it seems to those who came from the identity politic world. I’d say that for a healthy most of Jewish Israelis- state sovereignty as a Jewish state is not something we’re going to get over just because its 2013 already. And that’s before the religious zionists…
            And on the Palestinian side, it seems all those who have something to gain by it (politrixians/ business), or have swallowed the liberation doctrines of the past 60 years (intellectual elites and activists) are firm in the nationalist paradigm. I wish it wasn’t so– but thats where any political conversation goes.
            as far as what am i doing with my prayer…
            praying. and trying to talk with people- listen and share why a Jew has no other place in the world to come HOME to… and here how a Palestinian has no place like HOME. And what can we do to make life better that doesn’t involve negating ourself, people or history- nor betray the blood thats been spilled…

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            The political narrative of the Palestinian movement is one that rejects a connection between Jews and the land of Israel. This is the stumbling block to that 2nd grader’s ignorance. It is the premeditated ignorance of Jews forced upon her by her political leadership in order to sustain the ‘hate’ towards Israel. A single visit by an Israeli couple, though commendable, isn’t going to override the overwhelming rejection of any legitimacy of a connection between Jews and Israel, except potentially as some footnote to the common Arab/Muslim narrative of the vague ‘tolerance’ of minorities.

            I am also going to point out that putting the blame for the bad perception of Jews on Jews is not exactly a new pattern. The whole idea that a perception shift is expected to come from outside the internal Palestinian narrative is very sad and only suggests that you perceive the Palestinians as being incapable of actually acting on their own behalf.

            Note that the reason why the Palestinians have made no changes to their internal narrative is because accepting the Jewish connection to Israel forces them to accept partition as a legitimate solution (not a phase) and works towards remove the future threat of a return to hate-driven terrorism which they rely on as a strategy. To go back to the beginning of my point, this is the fundamental reason why the Palestinian leadership sticks to the narrative that rejects the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the land of Israel and why that second grader has no understanding of Jewish symbols or the importance of the land of Israel to Jews.

            As for Palestinian liberation vs Palestinian nationalism. If 99% of the population believes and acts out of Palestinian nationalism and drives both strategy and means and 1% participate in the exact same acts but do so out of a belief in Palestinian liberation, what precisely is the practical impact of their beliefs? This is especially so where the ‘rights’ discourse has been hijacked by the Palestinian nationalist movement and is being used as a tool to push for their own nationalist objectives.

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            What you see – I do not.

            Reply to Comment
    4. rsgengland

      Good article.
      In time though Israel is going to have to address the issue in some way.
      The issue is as much economic as military.
      It is impossible to have a country where a large proportion of the adult populace are not economically
      active.
      The role of the Religious, as you say, binds the Jews of the ‘LAND Of Israel’ to this little, mineral and ore free, piece of land.
      But at some point, sooner rather than later, the Religious community must become economically engaged.
      Militarily, voluntary/civil service,must become the alternative route to follow.
      NO MILITARY/CIVIL service equals NO FINANCIAL or other State Handouts.
      No legal sanction, only financial (withholding financial assistance)is required

      Reply to Comment
    5. A One State outcome seems likely to generate increasing tension both in the Bank and Israel proper. The only “solution” to this seems to be a religious ideology, which would approve the apartheid and religious exemption/study. Apartheid might then be seen as another manefestation of a repressive social ideology within Israel itself. Because apartheid will be defined as essential for national security, I would expect dissent within Israel to be increasing pressed down as destabalizing to security. The religous bond being foraged politically will ultimately mandate conforming speech and politics. Occupation of 1.7 million will dictate compliance at home. Because I don’t believe a supra-majority of Israelis will accept this (which is what you need to pretend free speech), I see no easy way out at all.

      As I’ve advocated on this Site, uncritical acceptance of vanguard Torah Ideology settlements, with blanket IDF protection, effectively attaches this ideology to the State. What the State allows becomes normal, expected, demanded. Justice Louis Brandeis of the US once said that the State is the great exemplar. By nurturing the vanguard settlements, the State as accepted them into mainstream political discourse.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        The supramajority accepts and has always accepted the security argument. The status quo isn’t going to break because Israelis accept the argument that their security should be undermined in favor of an agreement with people that reject the idea of security for Israelis a priori.

        Reply to Comment
    6. Nikki

      great article and quite on point

      Reply to Comment
    7. Michael

      Well the writer makes it clear that he opposes the very existence of Israel. Look how horrified he is at the idea that Israel would be about the return of the Jewish people to their homeland.

      Muslims have 40 states is something he understands and agrees with. Jews having one is a danger.

      Its so easy to see Jew hatred when the writer makes it so clear.

      Reply to Comment
    8. michael livingston

      I think this theme is developed by Ze’ev Sternhell in The Founding Myths of Zionism. But it doesn’t have to end that way. A Haredi, not to mention an Arab, population that was fully “on board” with the state would do more to legitimize it than the current arrangement.

      Reply to Comment
    9. sh

      “And, how are these acts justified? Biblically. Zionism depends on the Bible to act as a land register.”

      ..”The real issue is metaphysical: An Israeli government cannot forfeit these places if Israel’s reason to exist is a homeland for Jews in the land of their forefathers.”

      Sorry for the stupid question, but if the bible is a land register, someone must have collated an itemised list of lands registered in the name of Jews or the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Can anyone point me to it?

      I’m really puzzled also by the question of full-time study for yeshiva students on the scale it has assumed in Israel. In the diaspora the vast majority of haredim work and only study in their spare time. Full-time study, financed by philanthropists, used to be for prodigies only.

      Reply to Comment
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