Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Reactions to Zionism

Since the beginning of the Jewish Exile, trickles of Jews have settled in the Holy Land after emigrating from the Diaspora. The Land of Israel has always been a safe haven for Jews during times of persecution and great tragedy. After the massacring of Jewish communities in Europe during the First Crusade, the expulsion of Jews from France (1391), Austria (1421) and Spain (1492), and the pogroms of Russia (1880), many Jews sought security in the Turkish-ruled Palestine of the Ottoman Empire. Even before the establishment of conventional Zionism, the Biluim and Chovevei Zion movements supported settling the Promised Land. The Netziv, Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin (1817-1893, Rosh Yeshiva in Volozhin), whose son was the namesake of Bar Ilan University in Israel, and Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer (1795-1874) were early supporters of Pre-Zionism, before Zionism was formally established as a movement. There are conflicting reports as to what the Chofetz Chayim, Rabbi Yisroel Meir HaCohen Kagan (1838-1933), felt about Zionism. Tzion is a reference to the Biblical name for an area in Jerusalem. Zionism is credited with infusing a democratic, scientifically sophisticated, secular culture into a part of the world that for centuries had been despotic, technically backward, and obsessed with religion. Nonetheless, some might argue that that is typical of any colonization.

In 1896, as a response to the anti-Semitism exhibited by the world media during the Dreyfus Affair, Austrian journalist Binyamin Zev “Theodore” Herzl (1860-1904) published his pamphlet Der Judenstaat ("The Jewish State"). Through this work, Herzl, a secular Jew, became the founder of modern political Zionism. Since Zionism at that time was purely secular in nature, it only preached a geographically separated region to be inhabited by Jews; there was not yet any connection to the land of Israel/Palestine. Consequently, the original plans for a Jewish homeland centered equally on Argentina, Uganda (in an area presently part of Kenya), and Palestine. (According to a statement by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Zionists should have established their Jewish homeland in Alaska.) Indeed, the British Colonial Secretary, Joseph Chamberlain, proposed the idea of a Jewish homeland in Uganda to Theodore Herzl, and later to a Zionist Congress meeting at Basel, Switzerland in 1903. The idea was eventually rejected (yet remained alive through The Jewish Territorialist Organization), but its proposal reveals the true nature of the Zionist movement, which only sought to protect Jews from European anti-Semitism by moving them elsewhere, and not, as many would assume, to return the Jewish nation back to their God-given homeland. In 1905, Religious Zionist leader Rabbi Meir Berlin / Bar-Ilan (1880-1949), the son of the Netziv, passionately fought against the idea of a Jewish homeland in Uganda. While many people became General Zionists, not affiliating with any specific variety of Zionism, other Jews developed various sorts of Zionism and various reactions to Zionism.

After it was decided that the Jews should establish their homeland in Palestine, a revolutionary group of freedom fighter militant Zionists infiltrated the Holy Land to wrest it from British hands. The ardently anti-religious leader of the Haganah (a pre-Independence Jewish militia in Palestine), Ze'ev "Vladimir" Jabotinsky (1880-1940) abrogated the Torah by proclaiming that the settlement of the land is the only law. He declared, "There are no justice, no law, and no God in heaven, only a single law which decides and supersedes all—[Jewish] settlement [of the land]." A more radical, yet religious, version of his militant position was espoused by former MK, Rabbi Meir Dovid Kahane (1932-1990). At the same time as Jabotinsky preached Revisionist Zionism, the Munkatcher Rebbe, Grand Rabbi Chaim Elazar Shapiro (1871-1937) vehemently opposed Zionism and even criticized Agudas Yisroel, then a non-Zionist organization, for cooperating with Zionists in rebuilding the Land of Israel. The Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld (1849-1932) even appealed to King Hussein of Trans-Jordan to differentiate between the Zionist Jews who were seen as usurpers of Arab land in Palestine, and the Jews were not Zionistic. A third approach to the subject of Zionism, dubbed “Religious Zionism”, was chiefly based on the teachings of Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Kook (1864-1935), the first official “Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of the British Mandate of Palestine.”

Labor Zionism, the type of Zionism that the inaugural prime minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion believed in, dominated Israeli and Palestinian politics in the early 20th century. This leftist brand of Zionism was initially rejected by The Bund (General Jewish Labour Union of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia), but after the start of World War II, many Bundists became important Labor Zionists who helped establish the State of Israel. It is a purely secular sort of Zionism, which believed that a Jewish state could only be created as part of the on-going class struggle. Labour Zionists felt that only the construction of socialist kibbutzim in the countryside and an influx of Jewish proletariat in the cities could properly create a Jewish state. They advocated a settling of the Jewish working class in Palestine, without any Messianic or religious implications. Their military arm was called the Haganah was the predecessor to the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces). This type of Zionism is sometimes referred to Utopian Zionism and very much resembles moderate Communism. They yearn for an Israel devoid of any Torah identity, yet rich in Yiddish, Jewish, or ”Israeli” culture. They are represented in contemporary Israeli politics by the Labour party.

A more right-wing faction within the general movement of Zionism is Revisionist Zionism. The patriarch of this faction was Zev Jabotinsky who sought the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine through diplomatic means. He wanted the British to agree to his plans for a Jewish state, and through British world influence, he would be able to garner international support for his cause. Some leaders of the Revisionist Zionist movement leaned toward Italian-style Fascism because it was so opposed to Communism. They felt that Socialism and Communism were "too civilized" as ideologies, while Fascism, like Zionism, was a return to the roots of the national culture and the historical past. Eventually, this branch of Zionism split into two distinct entities: The first was Centrist Revisionist Zionism—whose militant leg, Irgun, eventually joined the Haganah and later, the IDF—which became the forerunner to the modern day Likud Party. The latter, founded by Avrohom “Yair” Stern (1907-1942), was known as Lechi. They adopted a non-Socialist platform of Anti-Imperialist ideology, and thus viewed the British occupation of Palestine as wrong. Lechi, therefore, attempted to use bellicose forces to force the British out of Palestine; Stern was assassinated by the British in 1942. This type of Revisionist Zionism is manifested through the right-wing Israeli party, Herut: The National Movement.

A self-proclaimed successor to Jabotinsky, Rabbi Meir Kahane, founded two controversial movements: the Jewish Defense League (JDL) in the United States and Kach, an Israeli political party. His magnum opus, Ohr HaRa’ayon, published posthumously, explained many of the positions of Kahanism. The goal of Kahane replaced the British of Revisionist Zionism with the Palestinian Arabs, and he advocated forcibly removing all Arabs from Israel. He was assassinated by Arab activists in 1990. Kahanism Zionism is seen as a type of radical Zionism, which advocated a theocratic Israel. He believed that the Torah should be the law of the land of Israel and citizenship should only be offered to halachik Jews. His critics called his views racist and he has been accused of arousing worldwide anti-Semitism through his revolutionary views, an effect contrary to the original goals of Zionism as created by Herzl. However many say that he respected the Arabs and did not insult their intelligence like the other Zionists who attempted to “bribe” them with college scholarships, paved roads, and more land. His political party, Kach, was outlawed in Israel, and his organization was branded terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department. A follower of Kahane, Dr. Baruch Kappel Goldstein (1956-1994), famously massacred Arabs visiting the Cave of the Patriarchs in Chevron (Hebron). Following Kahane's assassination, various groups sprung up to represent his ideologies: Kach, Kahane Chai, The Kahane Movement, and the New Kach Movement. Two advocates of Kahanism and leaders of these groups include Rabbi Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane (1966-2000), who was murdered with his wife Talya by Palestinian Arab terrorists, and Baruch Marzel, a candidate for a seat on the Israeli Knesset under the Cherut party.

Although most leaders of traditional Judaism opposed Zionism since its infancy, a faction of Religious Zionism— sometimes called the Mizrachi movement— does exist. They are currently represented in Israeli politics by the National Religious Party (NRP, Dati Le’umi). This faction reconciled some of the supposed inherent problems of secular Zionism and Orthodox Judaism with some Torah-based teachings.
Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Kook, arguably the most influential thinker in Religious Zionism, encouraged religious Jews to participate in the secular Zionist movements. Religious Zionists participate in national Israeli elections, in the Israeli army (especially in hesder Yeshivas which combine Yeshiva-style Torah study and army service), and accept the government-appointed Chief Rabbinate as a legitimate means of deciding halakha. Out of this sect has developed the Chareidi Dati leumi sector, known as chardal, who combine ideas from the Chareidi movement. The non-Messianic Religious Zionists believe that the State of Israel does not necessarily signal the dawn of the redemption. They do feel that the existence of a Jewish state after the Holocaust, where all the national holidays are the Jewish holidays, where they have their own army, government, courts in their own homeland is definitely a positive development that should be encouraged, especially after the Holocaust wiped out one-third of world Jewry, including many Gedolim. However, many Religious Zionists consider the creation of the State of Israel as a manifestation of the beginning of the Redemption, and they even say so in their weekly prayers.

A son of Rabbi Kook, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook (1891-1982) added the Messianic element to the Jewish settlement of Israel. He said that the Secular Zionists unwittingly brought about the beginning of the "messianic age" by establishing their colonization of Israel. A result of his teachings was the various settlements in the Gush Emunim bloc. The Messianic Religious Zionists believe that the modern State of Israel is the beginning of the redemption and actually speeds the arrival of the Moshiach; while, the non-Messianic Religious Zionists believe that the establishment of Israel is definitely a positive development, but neither hinders nor helps the Messianic redemption. Messianic Zionists believe that Jews are already experiencing the beginning of the Redemption, for the Gemara (Megillah 17b) says, "The beginning of the Redemption is war." This attitude of Messianic fervor caused the Gush Katiff controversy
[1] in which Messianic Religious Zionist Rabbis urged settlers to disobey the government’s orders of disengagement. However, other Rabbis disagreed with some of Kooks’ assumptions. The issue of Zionism has caused dispute in the religious world both within the Chassidic communities (e.g. between the anti-Zionist Satmar Rebbe and the Zionist Boyaner Rebbe) and the Lithuanian (“Litvish” or “Yeshivish”) communities (e.g. between the Zionist American brothers Rabbis Aharon Soloveitchik (1917-2001) and Joseph Ber Soloveitchik (1903-1993) and their anti-Zionist uncle in Israel).

Until the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the majority of World Jewry was opposed to the ideals exhibited in the Zionist movement. The Bundists originally viewed Zionism as a racist movement (because Jabotinsky advocated a Jewish evacuation of Europe as a means of solving anti-Semitism), but after the Holocaust (1939-1945), they fully integrated themselves into Socialist (Labor) Zionism. The Orthodox Jews initially
[2] rejected Zionism for the various reasons as stated by the Satmar Rebbe, Grand Rabbi Joel (Yoel) “Yoelish” Teitelbaum (1887-1979), who famously wrote VaYoel Moshe on this subject. An overwhelming majority of Chareidim (Ultra-Orthodox Jews) in Israel are considered anti-Zionist, although they are but a minority of Israeli Jewry. They disliked the fact that the main players in the Zionist movement were irreligious secular Jews, which made the Zionist movement itself appear secular in nature; the Zionists even advocated the creation of an irreligious government. Furthermore, the Zionists were considered by some as Ovdei Avodah Zarah (idol worshippers) because they did not destroy the Christian churches in Israel and thus contributed to the continuation of idolatry in the Holy Land. Anti-Zionists believe that until the coming of the Messiah, Jews should not have any sovereignty over Eretz Yisroel. The most extreme of Anti-Zionists, Neteuri Karta (Guardians of the City), call for the dismantlement of the State of Israel and cooperate with Israel's avowed enemies. The Satmar Rav understood based on the Talmud[3] that it is forbidden for any Jew to attempt to hasten the final Redemption on his own terms. Although Zionist apologetics have long since dismissed this argument, the simple reading of the Talmudic passage seems to imply forbidding the creation of the State of Israel.

Critics of the Satmar Rebbe say that the State of Israel was not in violation of the third oath
[4] because it was not founded by military conquest, but by Jews settling mostly barren and empty land and using diplomacy. They argue that the surrounding Arab countries attacked the newborn State of Israel in 1948, so the military conquests of Israel were only acts of self-defense; this should not have been considered a military conquest, but a defensive war. The Jews did not necessarily rebel against the nations by declaring the State of Israel in 1948 because it was already accepted by the U.N. in November of 1947, six months before David Ben-Gurion officially declared it. However, for whatever International Law is worth, the U.N. branded Israel’s territorial gains during the Six Day War of 1967 were illegal, so even following this reasoning, the halachik decision of the Satmar Rebbe regarding the prohibition of visiting the Western Wall (which was captured along with Eastern Jerusalem during that war) should still stand. The Zionist apologetics explained that because the nations of the world broke their part of the oaths by committing the atrocities of the Holocaust, then the Jews could break their part of the oath and establish a Jewish state. However, this logic is also flawed because it implies that if one person does not keep his word, it justifies another not keeping his word (“two wrongs make a right”). Furthermore, not all nations of the world participated in the carnage of the Holocaust; some even opposed them. In addition, many anti-Zionists say that some of the mayhem during the Holocaust was caused by Zionists (some of whom supposedly paid Nazis to kill Jews so that more Jews would be open to the idea of a Jewish nation-state after the war). In addition to blaming the Zionists for the Holocaust, some anti-Zionists argue that the butchery of the Holocaust was not necessarily enough of destruction for the nations of the world to have been considered violating their oath.

Although the Satmarer Rebbe was opposed to the state of Israel, that did not deter him and his students from living in the Holy Land. The Satmar Rav helped established the Eida HaChareidis, a Rabbinical Court for the old settlement (“the old yishuv”) of Jerusalem, which still refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Israeli government and her Rabbinate. Another prominent anti-Zionist was the Brisker Rev, Rabbi Yitzchok Zev “Velvol” Soloveithchik (1886-1959), who established a Yeshiva in Jerusalem. To this day, the highly prominent Yeshivas Brisk refuses to recognize the authority of the State of Israel and continues to decline government aid for their Yeshiva. Even though the Satmer Rebbe rejected the State of Israel, he still refused to meet with Arab Palestinian liberation activist Yasser Arafat (1929-2004) because the latter was a murderer. A splinter group, both shunned and excommunicated by the Satmar Rebbe himself, yet claiming to represent Satmar’s position, Neturei Karta, actively and diametrically opposes the state of Israel. They organize demonstrations all over the world to protest the State of Israel. In addition to being anti-Zionist, Neturei Karta, which was originally led by Hungarian Rabbi Amram Blau and Lithuanian Rabbi Aharon Katzenellbogen, supports Islamic and Arab causes, which call for the destruction of the State of Israel and spew anti-Semitic propaganda. Save for Neturei Karta, most anti-Zionists do not call of the destruction of the State of Israel because doing so would likely cause more bad than good.

The non-Zionists, or A-Zionists, also disagree with the State of Israel in theory, but they also feel "what's done is done" in practice. They are not so concerned whether or not there is a State of Israel. Had the State of Israel not been established (or theoretically did not exist tomorrow), they would "live with it", and since the State of Israel has been established, they are still "living with it". They do not see any inherent holiness in the State of Israel, but certainly support the Jews living in it and attribute political significance to the State of Israel. Even anti-Zionists agree that there is inherent holiness in the Land of Israel, but feel that in the State of Israel there is no intrinsic sanctity. Non-Zionist vote in Israeli elections (usually for Chareidi parties like Degel HaTorah, Agudas Yisrael, and Shas), visit the Western Wall, but they do not serve in the Israeli army
[5]. Azionists rationalize their collaboration with secular Zionists by citing the Hazon Ish who said that because non-religious Jews in the current era were not raised and educated in a traditional Orthodox environment they have the status of tinokos she-nishbu (lit. kidnapped children [and were brought up without any knowledge of Authentic Judaism]), which makes their sins accidental. However, one can argue that the Chazon Ish’s ruling no longer applies because of the vast availability of Torah sources to Secular (Chiloni) Jews with the advent of kiruv work in the Holy Land in the last half century.

A compromised version of Zionism, sometimes referred to as “Hopeful Zionism” is a combination of AZionism and Messianic Religious Zionism. Followers of this abstract movement feel that the State of Israel cannot be a satanic ploy because it supports great Torah learning; yet, because of its problems (including the government’s anti-religious sentiment), it cannot be viewed upon as an ushering in of the Messianic Era. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (1895-1986) espoused this view by changing the text of the above-cited prayer recited by religious Zionists to exhibit a skeptical approach of the potential trueness of Messianic Zionism, without implying its absolute certainty. Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler (1892-1952) writes that he is hesitant to brand the establishment of the State of Israel and its ensuing military victories as “the beginning of the Redemption”; however, he still considered it a possibility, which is a Hopeful Zionist position. He also had harsh words for anyone who refuses to see G-d's miraculous intervention in the creation of the State of Israel, considering them heretics who reject Divine Providence.

While anti-Zionism and A-Zionism are usually associated with the right wing, Post-Zionism is a left-wing liberal movement. Post-Zionists claim to be the heirs to the original Zionists, whose goal has already been achieved. Post-Zionists advocate the evolution of the State of Israel into a non-ideological, secular, liberal, democratic state, which is neither officially Jewish nor Arab. It also calls for a semi-dismantling of the Jewish State. Hillel Kook (1915-2001), a nephew of Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Kook, felt that Israel should lose its Jewish identity and become a general neutral state. This goal seems to contradict mainstream Zionism, not succeed it, because mainstream Zionism is defined as “Jewish nationalism”, while Post-Zionism completely removes the “Jewish.” (Even the leftist Labour Zionism still promotes an “Israeli” culture of Secular Judaism, which may or may not be an oxymoron.) Many supporters of Post-Zionism believe in a bi-national or bi-state solution to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Critics say that post-Zionism is a seditious anti-ideology, claiming that the mission of Zionism to build an independent Jewish country and unify all Jews within her borders, has reached its zenith, and is now on the decline. They claim that Post-Zionism implies that the Zionist project is over, when in fact, it should not be. In response to Post-Zionism, the organization Kumah Inc. sponsored an aliyah revolution, which spawned the Neo-Zionism movement. Neo-Zionists actively support and encourage the act of immigrating to the Holy Land as a means of helping develop the State of Israel.

Reform and other forms of Progressive Judaism have their own auxiliary branches of Zionism known as Reform Zionism or Progressive Zionism. Progressive Jews, who are generally liberal, traditionally shun Zionism because they prefer Jews to be patriotic of their respective home nations (i.e. American Jews should feel American, German Jews should feel German, etc…), without aspiring for a Jewish nation. However, following the establishment of the State of Israel many Progressive Jews felt an attachment to their brethren in Israel so they developed a unique type of Zionism. According to Reform Judaism’s ideology, the Messianic Redemption occurs through acts of Tikkun Olam (“fixing the world”). This belief entails acting toward others in an overly kind, loving, and peaceful nature (similar to Christianity’s “turn the other cheek” philosophy). Therefore, perfectionist Reform Jews strive to improve the world as much as they could to hasten the coming of the Messiah. As a result, they are of the strongest proponents of international intervention in the Darfur racial killings. In a similar vein, they strive to make Israel a Perfect state in terms of harmony. For this reason, Reform Zionists are not a political entity in Israel, but rather they are a group of social activists mainly under the umbrella Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism.

On November 10, 1975, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 3379, which branded Zionism a form of racism. Although this Soviet- and Arab-sponsored resolution was rescinded by Resolution 4686 in 1991, its premise is often referenced in other debates of Zionism and racism. Chaim Herzog (1918-1997), at that time the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, symbolically tore up this resolution and stated, "For us, the Jewish people, this resolution based on hatred, falsehood, and arrogance, is devoid of any moral or legal value." A Representative in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Rep. Mark B. Cohen (Democrat), eloquently answered the U.N.’s initial claims by saying, "Racism claims superiority, while Zionism merely claims difference. Racism seeks the persecution of long powerless groups, while Zionism seeks to protect the members of a group long persecuted. Racism seeks to degrade its victims, while Zionism seeks to protect those who have been victims. The U.N. was right to repeal its discredited resolution." The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) categorized the U.N. proclamation as “anti-Semitic;” however, this description is not necessarily accurate because Judaism and Zionism have distinct identities, for some Jews are not Zionists (e.g. anti-Zionists, a-Zionists) and some Zionists are not Jews (e.g. Christian Zionists and the waning American liberal Zionists). It is unclear exactly which flavor of Zionism was referenced in the United Nations’ referendum because of the vagueness of the United Nations’ condemnation of Zionism and the multitude of differing diverse Jewish views on Zionism.
[1] In the summer of 2005
[2] Some, like Rabbi Yissaschar Shlomo Teichtal (who was martyred by Nazis in 1945) began to believe in Zionism because of the Holocaust. Rabbi Teichtal wrote a book, Eim HaBanim Smeicha, defending Zionism while experiencing the harsh conditions of the Budapest ghetto.
[3] Kesubos 111a
[4] of Kesubos 111a
[5] Especially the girls, as the Chazon Ish, Rabbi Avrohom Yeshayahu Karelitz (1878-1953), said that girls should rather allow themselves to be killed that to join the Israeli army.


Irina Tsukerman said...

Thank you for this valuable post! Although I've studied the history of Zionist, I did not about the multitude of various modern forms, movements, and propinent figures. Although my own views are made up on the subject, it's definitely important to know about all the various points of views concerning Israel.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

Thank you once again for your praise. Now I know that at least one person reads my blog.

Rep. Mark B. Cohen said...

At least one other person reads your blog. I am glad my rebuttal to the U.N. canard that Zionism is a form of racism was useful to your excellent in-depth essay on the forms of Zionism. I would love to be a member of the U.S. Congress from Pennsylvania, but in fact I am instead a Pennsylvania state legislator and one of the Democratic state legislative leaders in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Keep up the good work on your blog.
Erudite discussions of Judaism, Zionism, and the state of Israel certainly belong on the Internet, where they can influence public opinion for the better.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

Thank you for pointing out my error. I misunderstood the language of a Wikipedia article. I have edited this essay to reflect your proper position.

Thank you also for your praise about my blog.

Ezzie said...

R' Chaim, you are right. This was very neutral, very well-presented, and very well written.

A couple small quibbles, if I may...

An overwhelming majority of Chareidim (Ultra-Orthodox Jews) in Israel are considered anti-Zionist, although they are but a minority of Israeli Jewry.

That's not quite true. They are far more of the azionist bent, and do very much care about what goes on in the State. They do not view it as reishit tzmichat geulateinu, but they're not anti-Zionist. Most are perfectly willing to accept money from the government for schooling, and are proponents of Degel Hatorah and Gimel and the like which are obviously part of the government.

As an aside, my charedi cousin, who is a Rosh Yeshiva of a small place in the Bucharim [off Geulah] laughed when I said something about his not being a tzioni. He responded, "Of course I'm tzioni - I'm a huge tzioni. Just not the way you understand it." He also got very upset once when one son suggested [half-joking] that it was okay to take from the State, basically saying he was making up his own Torah to be a thief.

Ezzie said...

Oh, and not bad - a state legislator... :)

holy hyrax said...

However, the Six Day War of 1967 was surely an offensive war, so even following this reasoning, the halachik decision of the Satmar Rebbe regarding the prohibition of visiting the Western Wall (which was captured along with Eastern Jerusalem during that war) should still stand.

Even if you want to say that the war on Egypt was an offensive war, the front on Jordan was surely defensive since they were the ones that attacked Israel on June 5, not the other way around.

Chaim B. said...

Yo note the rift >>>between the Zionist American brothers Rabbis Aharon Soloveitchik (1917-2001) and Joseph Ber Soloveitchik (1903-1993) and their anti-Zionist uncle in Israel<<<
That is a very simplisitc characterization. See R' Soloveicthik's eulogy in memory of his Uncle entitled Mah Dodeich m'Dod where he explains the position of the Brisker Rav in contrast to his own. The Brisker Rav was, in the opinion of R' Soloveitchik, not an anti-zionist. Rather, the state had no meaning for him because in terms of halachic brisker categories the concept of a state has not meaning.

Soccer Dad said...

I think that Yoram Hazony's "The End of Zionism" makes an excellent companion to your article. It focused more on the secular ideologies of Zionism though.

Ilan Mordechai Nefesh said...

Where are my weasels? I have been very patient and now it's time to give me, your reading public what we want. Supply and demand bub, and I demand midsized furry vermin! I'll have Basya chew you out if you don't, and you know you'r scared of her.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

You named your dog after your wife's name? That's sick.

I'll post it IY"H in the comments section to the "Songs of Ascent" post.

Ilan Mordechai Nefesh said...

You named your dog after your wife's name? That's sick.

No, I named my dog after you, I figure you both have worms, drink for the toliet bowl and mess up my carpet, so you too are just alike.

Just for that though, Im going to have Basya beat you up this shabbos. Now, you might say it's not shmer negiah, her being a woman, but hen again, so are you.

See you tonight at services.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

ok IMN, chill out.

Jack's Shack said...

I enjoyed this.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...


David Guttmann said...

>There are conflicting reports as to what the Chofetz Chayim, Rabbi Yisroel Meir HaCohen Kagan (1838-1933), felt about Zionism.

I thought that it was quite clear that he discouraged alyah. See R.Elchonon's ranting against Zionism. I knew R.Simcha Wasserman well and he made understand the CC was sharply anti- z.

Good post though.

Rachack said...

for example of the controversy over the CC's opinion, please see

Ilan Mordechai Nefesh said...

Ah you know I love ya, you rascal. Although rereading my comment, it loooks pretty nasty unless people know we are friends so to the general world, Reb Chaim is a wonderful human being and he is a pride to our shul (and to all the ladies out there, he's still single.)

michael chenkin said...

"However, the Six Day War of 1967 was surely an offensive war, "

This quote is entirely inaccurate. Specifically in regards to Yehuda and Shomron, the gov't of Israel urged Jordan not to join with Egypt and Syria in their war against Israel.

In spite of the Israeli pleas Jordan attacked Israel and Israel responded, winning control of Yehuda and Shomron as a result.

I note that I am the second person to correct you on this point. Plse amend your blog.

michael chenkin said...

"(some of whom supposedly paid Nazis to kill Jews so that more Jews would be open to the idea of a Jewish nation-state after the war)"

As this is an extremely anti-semitic statement why isn't clearly indicated as being made by anti-zionists and anti-semites and why haven't you stated that this claim is based on absolutely no evidence.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

I've been researching Zionism for many years already, both from Torah points-of-view and from secular POVs. What I wrote in that essay is a summation of years of reading and learning about the Zionism issue. discusses some of the things which Chaim Weizmann and Stephen S. Wise and others did in order to cause the Holocaust to further the Zionist movement. I am NOT branding all the Zionists as Nazi collaborators, some were, some weren't. The facts are avaible, you just have to search. The right-wing sometimes hides certain facts and the leftists are too stupid to think and they just make up facts of their own. Those Jewish Nazi collaborators who tried to supress the efforts of R' Reuvain Grozovsky, R' Michel Ber Weissmandel and other Rabbis were definitely Zionist. Regarding your comment about my line about the Six Day War, that line has been edited and in the final copy of this essay is changed. I've made many changes to alot of the essays over the past few months, but they are usually not re-posted on the site, simply because I do not have the time to do so. However, I am compling a book based on my essays and the newest versions of each essay will appear in that book, when it will G-d willingly be published. This Zionism essay is a very sensitive issue, yet I have tried very much to remain neutral not revealing my own personal beleifs (which I dare you to try and figure out based on my essay, because I'm sure you can't).

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

From: Consulting []
Sent: Tuesday, July 25, 2006 10:24 PM
To: Reb Chaim HaQoton
Subject: RE: Reactions to Zionism

1. Because your blog appears so authoritative it is important that you correct the 1967 misstatement in the blog itself.

2. I cannot see going to a site called jewsagainstzionism to obtain information on the assertion that jews paid nazis to kill jews. why not direct me to david duke's site (he probably has the same claim). there was early in the thirties a scheme where germany received some form of economic compensation for letting jews migrate to palestine. this idea was probably not the smartest one at the time and with hindsight is downrightly horrible. however, this was the early thirties when german jews were thinking more in terms of economic and social deprivations not of a holocaust. any suggestion that stephen wise paid the nazis to kill jews is a thousand times over idiocy on its face and you should know this. for him to have given any material aid to the germans during the war for any reason would have got him shot. [I imagine the same principle applies to Weizmann] I am no fan of wise's. his failure to help the jews dying in europe, if not his outright suppression of these efforts, was criminal. however this is not paying nazis to kill jews, nor were his motives to help the zionist cause. Wise was manipulated by roosevelt to quash the holocaust protest and roosevelt was motivated by oil [this is the polite intrepetation of wise and roosevelt, other may see darker and self-serving reasons for the decisions they made].

You should note that the NY Times, which was (is still?) clearly anti-Zionist, went to shocking lengths to suppress the news of the holocaust during the war. The Times and Wise probably had the same overall motives: appeasing the roosevelt administration, dual loyalty issues, fear that protesting the holocaust in America would unleash widespread anti-semitism in America and perhaps most sadly, embarrassment.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

From: R. Chaim HaQoton []
Sent: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 1:41 AM
To: 'Consulting'
Subject: RE: Reactions to Zionism

As far as I have read, Wise was telling Roosevelt not to help the Jews, not vice versa. I'm actually sickened that there is a Jewish Temple in Los Angeles named after Wise. The Jewsagainstzionism site does very well in portraying the "Torah True" attitude towards Zionism, but I'm not so sure about their secular coverage of the issue. It is one of the most volatile issues that can be discussed, and personally, I didn't even want to write an essay about it, but some many people asked me to do so. I'm just going to stick with what I know best. A new essay should be coming out this week.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

From: Consulting []
Sent: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 9:38 AM
To: R. Chaim HaQoton
Subject: RE: Reactions to Zionism

We know from a righteous gentile working in the Roosevelt administration at the time that Roosevelt was telling Wise and others he was doing all he could for the Jews of Europe when in fact he was doing less than nothing. Wise to put it very politely was focused on his perception of the welfare of American Jewry and did not want to "judiaze" the war effort by calling attention to the Holocaust. So when Roosevelt lied to Wise, Wise was quite happy to go along with these lies.

But the above discussion is really on a different issue, what American Jewry did and did not do to oppose the Holocaust. The allegation we are discussing is that Wise paid the Nazis to kill Jews. This is absurd on its face, as I mentioned below. Saying that Wise and others did a terrible job of opposing the Holocaust is entirely different from saying they supported the Nazis. In fact, their justification for their inaction, the fears of the consequences of giving WW2 a Jewish aspect, itself cuts both ways. Just as they wouldn't promote anti-Holocaust activity, they certainly wouldn't engage in the horrible crime of paying the Nazis.

I don't specifically know of Wise's point of view on Zionism, but he was one of the leading figures of the comfortable liberal Reform/assimilated Jews in America. That whole group was discomforted by Zionism for fears of dual loyalty questions. I wouldn't say they were anti-Zionist, but probably would have been most comfortable if the Zionist question quietly faded away.

I am discomforted by having this discussion. Why don't we debate whether Wise was an axe-murderer. There is equally no evidence to support the axe-murderer charge as to support the paying the Nazis charge, and it is equally absurd [leaving out any discussion of his personal ethics] that someone in Wise's position would be able to or would be an axe-murderer or a financer of the Nazis.

In raising the issue of the payments to the Nazis you are crossing a very signficant line. It is one thing to have a discussion of the different viewpoints on Zionism and how various individuals and organizations participated in this debate. Saying that Jews paid Nazis to kill Jews to advance the cause of Zionism is about as anti-semitic a statement as you can make. It equates Jews with Nazis. It portrays Jews as loathsome and evil, willingly having their brethren killed for their own advantage. And it undermines the establishment of the State of Israel. Before you can open the door to a claim like this even the smallest crack, you must be willing to stake your life on its truthfullness. You must be buried under a mound of primary documentary evidence. Of course such evidence doesn't exist. If you are an ethical Jew this whole issue must immediately be expunged from your blog.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

From: R. Chaim HaQoton []
Sent: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 3:18 PM
To: 'Consulting'
Subject: RE: Reactions to Zionism

Your first three paragrpahs were just going on about how there is no credible proof that any Zionists (especially Wise) paid Nazis to kill Jews. I am going to quote to you what was written in my essay, "In addition, many anti-Zionists say that some of the mayhem during the Holocaust was caused by Zionists (some of whom supposedly paid Nazis to kill Jews so that more Jews would be open to the idea of a Jewish nation-state after the war). In addition to blaming the Zionists for the Holocaust, some anti-Zionists argue that the butchery of the Holocaust was not necessarily enough of destruction for the nations of the world to have been considered violating their oath." Nowhere in the essay did I ever assume as a fact that Zionists paid Nazis to kill Jews, I wrote that many anti-Zionists say that Zionists caused them mayhem of the Holocaust. I am merely explaining one side of the argument, I did not say anything about its veracity. You happen to disagree with it, good for you, but that doesn't change the fact that people still make this claim. There are statements that I attritbute to Zionist movements which other people would disagree with, yet I still wrote those statements that Zionist make, because I am merely explaining the Zionist and anti-Zionist opinions and their arguments. I did not say who is true and who is not. In your last paragraph you wrongly accused me of accusing Zionists of paying of Nazis; I never said that. Even if it was true that some Zionists paid Nazis to kill Jews, that does not equate Jews with Nazis and is not an anti-semetic statement. It would perhaps put the evil of Zionism on the same plane as Nazism if it were true. Your last sentence is a very good way of persuading people of doing things, you tell them that if they don't do it, they are unethical. That doesn't work with me. I have updated my Zionism essay, not because you told me that it is the ethical thing to do (what makes it ethical? how do you define ethics? You must be a liberal), but because that's what I felt like doing.

Good Day,

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

From: Consulting []
Sent: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 1:30 PM
To: R. Chaim HaQoton
Subject: RE: Reactions to Zionism

1. In your blog you had included a parenthetical remark within the context of saying what anti-Zionists say. This confuses who is making the claim.
2. Ethical standards. Simple, not speaking/writing Loschen Hora (excuse my phonetics). The charge against Wise and Weitzmann is an evil one. It would be the epitome of loschen hora to say these men knowingly supported the mass murder of Jews to advance their own interests. Even using the more diffuse "some Zionists" doesn't escape loschen hora, you are just libelling more people. Would you think it acceptable to say something like "Ukranians claim that anti-Semitism is the fault of the Jews (some of whom supposedly used the blood of Christian children to bake Passover matzohs.)"

Please consider this sentence:

In his extensive essay on Zionism, R. Chaim HaQuoton repeats allegations that Zionists "paid Nazis to kill Jews so that more Jews would be open the idea of a Jewish nation-state after the war."

The above sentence is true. It may not be what you meant to say, but it is true. It spreads the loschen hora and it is a true sentence. Included in an anti-Semitic article with a footnote referencing your blog or essay it would cause great harm. Even if someone read your blog and were not confused as I was as to whether it is the anti-Zionists or yourself saying "some of whom supposedly......" the harm is done as the question is now raised in people's minds. I have been corresponding with you because of the overall quality of your work. Any reasonably intelligent reader would be impressed with your piece and take it seriously. Whether you understand/accept it or not, this imposes an obligation upon you. The sentence I fabricated is an example of how words can be twisted and the truth be used to lie. And further, while the fabricated sentence might be used just to discredit Zionism, it is even more likely to be used in an overall anti-Jewish piece.

I urge you that given the quality of your overall essay you see how important it is for you to recognize how your words can be twisted in a manner that causes great harm.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

From: R. Chaim HaQoton []
Sent: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 4:39 PM
To: 'Consulting'
Subject: RE: Reactions to Zionism

Why should I worry about people twisting my words around? Anyone can twist words and create false conclusions, whether or not I try to counter such people. After re-reading the selection I quoted in my last letter to you, I have concluded that you are probably correct that someone can misinterpret my sentence. If you can propse an alternate way of phrasing my point, it would be very welcome. Thank you.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

From: Consulting []
Sent: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 7:55 PM
To: R. Chaim HaQoton
Subject: RE: Reactions to Zionism

The simplest answer is to drop the phrase that's in the parens. After all, your next sentence "In addition to blaming the Zionists for the Holocaust, ...." is quite strong and certainly would give an indication of the thinking of the anti-Zionists on this issue.

Another alternative is to rewrite the paren words as: "(and they go so far as to allege some Zionists cooperated with the Nazis so that more Jews would be open to the idea of a Jewish nation-state after the war)". This makes clear who is making the claim. It also avoids putting into words the claim of paying money to kill Jews.

I agree that anyone can twist words and create false conclusions, and a writer who worried about this to its logical conclusion wouldn't be able to write anything at all. A realistic approach I believe is to avoid giving this people highly exploitable openings. Yes, even with the above suggested revisions your words can be twisted, but it will be harder and will have less impact.

Thanks for all the consideration you have given to my concerns.

UltraCrepidarian said...

What continues to amaze me about all of human history, as this is a good example, is the variety of human opinion, and the counter-point against counter-point of various values, ideas, and goals. In short, it seems, that every possible position has a group of people to represent it. It is almost as if you could take a container of rice, shake it, and spill the grains of rice onto the ground, and with meticulous and perfect accuracy, be assured that all possible orientations and combinations will be found in that scatter plot. And yet, it is human will, logic, emotions, and deeply held convictions that in the end lead to these deadlocked and complementary views.

History is fascinating that way. I can see almost everybody's point of view as having some connection with reality. You have done well in presenting in a neutral P.O.V., a dizzyingly complex issue.


Rabbi Ariel Sokolovsky said...

This soundsa like CNN or Reuters:
"A self-proclaimed successor to Jabotinsky, Rabbi Meir Kahane, founded two controversial movements: the Jewish Defense League (JDL) in the United States and Kach, an Israeli political party. His magnum opus, Ohr HaRa’ayon, published posthumously, explained many of the positions of Kahanism. The goal of Kahane replaced the British of Revisionist Zionism with the Palestinian Arabs, and he advocated forcibly removing all Arabs from Israel. He was assassinated by Arab activists in 1990. "
You should change activists to terrorists.

Izgad said...

Jews were kicked out of France in 1394 and the pogroms in Russia started after the assassination of Czar Alexander II in 1881.

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