Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

26 Tishrei 5760 - October 6, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
The End of Ideology

More than 50 years ago, David Ben Gurion, one of the most prominent of the early founders of the State of Israel, often referred to the Biblical roots of the Jewish people and their claim to the Land of Israel. Ben Gurion himself, although markedly anti-religious, was an avid Bible student, though he studied it using rules of his own making.

President Truman, who gave recognition and support at early stages, did not respond to the issues of the founding of the State of Israel solely in terms of the short-term interests of the United States. He was at least in part influenced by his perception of the historic position and role of the Jewish People.

The support that the Jewish People and the Jewish State enjoyed in those days had a strong element of ideology. Companies defied the Arab boycott only when they were buttressed by the moral power of the fight against injustice. Institutions bought Israeli bonds and gave political support because they were inspired by the cause and/or driven by a sense of guilt.

All that is gone.

Two very large American companies were recently threatened with Arab pressure. The Israeli owner of the Burger King franchise opened a branch in Maale Adumim. Though that town is built on territory that was once under exclusive Arab control, as a small town of almost 30,000 inhabitants that was established some 25 years ago, it can hardly be said to be at the cutting edge of current controversy. Yet the American headquarters of the international fast food chain reacted very quickly when Arabs threatened a worldwide boycott. They declared that they fervently wanted to stay out of political controversies and just wanted to be left alone to make money.

Another American consumer-oriented giant company reacted almost the same way. At its very popular Disney World park in Florida, the company recently opened a special 15 month exhibit including pavilions from 26 nations including Israel, Morocco and Saudi Arabia, were partially funded by the countries themselves. The Israeli exhibit includes references to Jerusalem but, when Arab groups threatened action, Disney quickly removed any references to Jerusalem as capital of the State of Israel.

A Disney World spokesman explained, "We're an entertainment company, and we have never tried to enter into a political debate or take sides. We just want our guests to have a good time." And, last but certainly not least, Disney wants to make a lot of money worldwide, and to leave ideology out.

The situation is no better with regard to the statesmen and politicians involved. The current American leader, it seems, whatever his weaknesses and strengths, cannot look at anything unfiltered by the prism of his own personal interests. Israeli leaders are much better versed in Western literature than in Jewish literature.

In fact, the Israeli elite, as is clear in its most prominent self-appointed representative, the High Court, is suppressing and weakening its links to Jewish tradition at every opportunity.

We know that this is a course that leads to disaster, and certainly hope that it will be corrected before it is too late.

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