Turning Their Backs on a Jewish Israel
Eleven years ago, Israeli-born Meyrav Wurmser, then-executive director of the distinguished Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), wrote an article titled “Can Israel Survive Post-Zionism?”
Israel, she said, was “in the midst of a cultural civil war in which one side would like to see their country continue to exist as a Jewish state and the other believes that Zionism, the founding idea of the state, has reached its end.” The latter group’s “stated goal,” she said, is nothing less than “the destruction of the Zionist idea on which the State of Israel is founded. Their intention is wholly negative; not to improve Zionism but to destroy it.”1
Today Dr. Wurmser’s observations seem prophetic. Post-Zionism is attracting a growing number of Jewish people both inside and outside Israel who see themselves as “enlightened,” believe Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state, and want its distinctive symbols expunged from Israeli life. They want Israel to convert from a Jewish state to a so-called state of all citizens.
Birthed in the halls of left-wing academia, post-Zionism first reared its head in university classrooms, research journals, and coffee shops. Later Haaretz, a liberal, Israeli English-language newspaper became a conduit for the message. So far post-Zionists are a minority; but like a dripping faucet that can eventually overfill a sink, the message of post-Zionism can one day spill into mainstream Israeli thought and obscure the truth.
What They Want
Unlike the pioneers who gave their lives building Israel, post-Zionists perceive no longing in the Jewish heart for Zion and no need for a Jewish homeland to which their persecuted brethren can flee. In fact, wrote Dr. Wurmser, many have embraced “post-Judaism”: the rejection of one’s Jewish identity:
Post-Judaism characterizes an Israeli elite that, out of its own sense of discomfort with itself, tries to replace the national-Zionist Jew with a universal man. It wishes to replace Jewish particularism which it views as unfashionable, dark, and narrow-minded, with a universal Western man who is similar to the “enlightened” European intellectual. This “enlightened” Jew views the Jewish state as a destructive, objectionable, and very outdated phenomenon.2
Like some of the Jews of pre-World War II Europe who thought assimilation would protect them from Adolf Hitler, these people believe removing Israel’s Jewishness will protect them from terrorism and bring peace to the region. They would like to abolish:
- The Law Of Return. Passed in 1950, the Law of Return provides dual citizenship for every Jewish person. For Jews fleeing anti-Semitism in other places, it cuts through what used to be decades of red tape and provides immediate refuge in Israel. Recently thousands of persecuted French and Argentine Jews have made aliyah and become Israeli citizens under the Law of Return. For others, it enables them to realize their dream of living in a Jewish state in the land of their forefathers.
- The Distinctly Jewish Flag. The Israeli flag is a white rectangle with two horizontal, parallel blue stripes that serve as a reminder of the Jewish talit (prayer shawl). Between those stripes, as an identification of Jewish pride, is the Star of David—the very symbol anti-Semites have used for centuries to disgrace and humiliate the Jewish people.
- The Menorah. The menorah became the face of the Jewish state when adopted as Israel’s national emblem on February 10, 1949. Its design was lifted straight from the Torah and is believed to look exactly like the seven-branched candelabra of the Jewish Tabernacle in the wilderness and the Jewish Temples, the first of which stood in Jerusalem for 373 years (959 B.C.–586 B.C.)3 and the second of which stood there for 585 years (515 B.C –A.D. 70).4
- The Hebrew Language. Essential to Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, Hebrew is the language of the Jewish Scriptures and of its ancient prayer and worship, as well as the language of the Jewish forefathers. A Zionist who took the name Ben Yehuda was instrumental in creating modern Hebrew.
- The Sabbath And Dietary Laws. Orthodox Jewish laws govern the State of Israel. All government offices, shops, and businesses are closed Friday evening and Saturday because of the Sabbath, and most restaurants are required to keep kosher.
Post-Zionists argue that all these Jewish symbols block the hope of peace in the region. Remove Israel’s Jewish distinctive, they claim, and violence will cease.
To persuade the populace to their way of thinking, post-Zionists deconstruct the historiography of the Jewish people and their link to the land of Israel, replacing it with a concept more in line with global thinking. Simply put, they want to turn Israel into just another country, “devoid,” as Yoav Gelber put it, “of any Jewish identity, secular or religious.”5
Gelber, a professor at the University of Haifa in Israel, said post-Zionists want to “dismantle Israeli collective memory, and present it as a Zionist meta-narrative that usurped Jewish history and Israeli identity.”6 They want Israel to abolish its Law of Return, neuter its national symbols, and “sterilize” its language “by removing words, terms, images and stereotypes that carry a Zionist charge.”7 The term aliyah, for example, would become immigration; the Israeli War of Independence would become the War of 1948.
Post-Zionism is much like postmodernism, accepting the approach that all historiography is politics. And most post-Zionists accept the Palestinian version of history rather than the Jewish one. A complicit Web site is the World Antizionist Congress (WAC), which is heavily involved on the Facebook social-networking site. Its symbol is a Star of David with a swastika in the center; and it states as its purpose, “to develop an effective strategy to combat Zionist-Imperialist aggression.”8 However, it is impossible to tell if most supporters are Jewish or Muslim.
Like the Palestinians, post-Zionists claim Judaism is a religion, and religion does not need a national home. They see Zionism as colonialism, taking away land from the indigenous population. Evidently they do not consider the Jewish people indigenous, even though Jews have had a continual presence in the land for more than 3,000 years, since the days of Joshua.
In fact, much of the land incorporated into Israel in 1948 was purchased by Jewish people at exorbitant prices from absentee Arab landlords who sold it willingly because they considered it worthless. And many today who claim to be Palestinians actually descended from Balkans, Greeks, Syrians, Latins, Egyptians, Turks, Armenians, Persians, Kurds, Germans, Afghans, and a host of others whom the British illegally allowed to immigrate to Palestine when they controlled the area from 1921 to 1948.9
There is a staggering difference of worldviews between Zionists and post-Zionists. They agree on virtually nothing except, perhaps, that Israel should be a democracy. What would be the consequences of a non-Jewish Israel?
By removing the Law of Return, Israel would no longer attract highly educated, highly skilled, and highly trained Jews from around the world. The incentive for Jewish people to go to a Jewish country would not exist. Jewish people facing persecution would have no country of refuge. In fact, a reverse exodus would likely take place; many Jewish people living in Israel would no longer feel safe and would emigrate.
Israel’s enemies hate Israel simply because it is Jewish. With a huge Islamic population encircling the nation, and without a Jewish government looking out for their interests, Jews would be driven out of the country—which is the Islamist goal. A Jewish, democratic Israel would be gone; and a Muslim, Sharia Israel would take its place.
Thank God for His promises: “Then they [the Jewish people] shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob,…and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever. I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Ezek. 37:25, 27).
- Meyrav Wurmser, “Can Israel Survive Post-Zionism?” Middle East Quarterly, March 1999 <meforum.org/469/can-israel-survive-post-zionism>.
- Charles C. Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible (NASB), expanded ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), 523.
- Ibid., 721.
- Yoav Gelber, “The Disease of ‘Post Zionism,’” Zionist Conspiracy, July 8, 2007 <zioncon.blogspot.com/2007/07/yoav-gelber-disease-of-post-zionism.html>.
- World Antizionist Congress <worldantizionistcongress.blogspot.com/2010/01/world-antizionist-congress.html>.
- Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine (Chicago: JKAP Publications, 1984), 155–156.