Avatar Anon asked Staff ago

I am a secular person who is not really close to religion, yet I will ask a question which might appear to side with the religious in this country. Our small country was approved by the UN for one very simple and very racist, but very justified, reason — the Jewish nation was, through the years, persecuted by people of other religions, and even those who tried to assimilate into non-Jewish society found themselves the injured party, with the worst instance being World War II.

My question: Do you think that a state founded for a very specific purpose, defending Jews, and in which live people who identify themselves as Jews (whether you like it or not) need not maintain its Jewish character, if only to safeguard the welfare of those Jews for whom it was founded in the first place? Also, if the State of Israel is not a Jewish state, what right of existence does it have?

I am hopeful that you will decide to answer this question, because it has been my experience that whenever I have sent in a really thorny question you have chosen to ignore it.



Ziv

3 Answers
Avataradmin Staff answered 13 years ago

Dear Ziv,



Since you titled your question “The Jewish State,” like the title of Theodor Herzl’s book, I will quote a sentence from the introduction to that book, in which you will find an answer to your question. “The Jewish state represents their shining hope for honor, liberty, and happiness.” The desire to create a state for the Jews is not for purposes of preserving the “Jewish character,” which the Jews had managed to preserve with greater success in the Diaspora, but to provide Jews with “honor, liberty, and happiness.” On what basis was “the Jewish state” founded? Herzl answers: “On a modern constitution”! What will be the fate of the Jewish religion and religious people in the Jewish state? Herzl’s answer: “We will not allow the theocratic impulses of our religious people to raise their heads at all. We will know how to keep them in their synagogues.”



To understand where your error lays you must understand that the definition of “Judaism” is not what you seem to think it so obviously is: religious Judaism. Judaism is divided into different streams; it is sufficient to recall the secular, Conservative, Reform, traditional, Orthodox Zionists, and Orthodox anti-Zionists. If you accept the fact that the term “Jews” represent a wide variety of people with a wide variety of beliefs, you will understand knowledge and truth.



See also our answer to The Jewish nation refuses to accept enlightenment.

As to your question about our right to exist, see the answer to Israeli Independence Day and the theft of Israeli lands.



Sincerely,



Daat Emet

Avataradmin Staff answered 13 years ago

Dear Joseph,



The definitions of nationality and nations are fluid, as is usual for definitions of large groups of people. It is difficult to define a single person — his identity, his affiliation, his religion… It is that much more difficult to define groups which contain many people. As a rule, nationality is a relatively new concept, started in the 18th century following the collapse of feudalism, secularization on one hand and the decreasing power of religion as a political force on the other, and the revolutions in education and science. Most important was that G-d was removed from the center and man was placed there instead. The first glimpse of nationalism was revealed in the French Revolution, whose principles contradicted each other — on one hand the banner of universalism and cosmopolitanism and on the other a strengthening of the French nation; in the name of universalism they nurtured French nationalism. Internal contradictions are common in man’s behavior, based in the soul and not in reason. Thus, too, did the French Jews behave, influenced by the French Revolution. They supported universalism and were educated in a universal outlook, but in practice focused only on the Jewish population. (I refer to the Alliance Israelite Universelle, an organization which taught cosmopolitanism but called itself “Israelite” and not merely “Universelle.”) Man’s desire for affiliation and group solidarity — nationality — and his desire for universalism are by their nature conflicting desires. People, always changeable, head in different directions as the times dictate. Thus, too, the Jews in the land of Israel, whose souls yearn for freedom, respect, and happiness, expressing these longings in their special language and culture within the state of Israel, find themselves with conflicting desires — Jewish solidarity and universalism — and the times dictate which force will be more attractive.

But one thing is clear and unambiguous — groups of Jews determined that their state would be based on the United Nations charter, calling for full equality for all who live in the state of Israel, despite the desire for a independent Jewish state.



Sincerely,



Daat Emet

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