In the first part, Rabbi Grossman quoted extensively from a recent
book written by Dr. Yossi Beilin, currently the Justice Minister,
about his vision of the nature and future of world Jewry. Though Dr.
Beilin represents only a small (though powerful) minority in Israel,
his views are similar to those of much of Jewry in the U.S. and some
Dr. Beilin considers Jewry nothing more than a social club that
he happens to have been born into. He believes it is worth preserving,
but largely defines it only negatively when he is pushed into comparing
himself to one of the other "religious clubs" such as Islam
or Christianity. He suspects that if we were not surrounded by enthusiastic
members of other religious clubs, we would not bother to develop our
Beilin believes that we can solve all the problems facing the
survival of our little club by merely lowering its conditions of membership.
Marriage would involve nothing more than signing a marriage registry
and divorce just canceling that registration. "Near Jews"
could join the Jewish nation merely on the recommendation of two full
Jews. It is, in his opinion, as simple as that.
But the truth is that to understand the psychological
and ideological background of Dr. Beilin, it is worthwhile to glance
at additional segments of his book. In these segments we can sense
his (and that of his compatriots who devotedly believe in Zionism)
silent sobbing when they realize how the prophecy of Herzl and Max
Nordau (a German Zionist leader and author, 1849-1923) did not endure
the test of time.
The entire objective of Zionism centered in offering a secure shelter
for the oppressed Jewish Nation. Dr. Beilin writes that Herzl's only
basis for establishing a Jewish country was negative. Everything,
for him, starts and ends in antisemitism: On one hand he was condescending
to other Jews and internalized antisemitic elements, but on the other
hand he was simply terrified of antisemitism.
"Someone who reads Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) first
published on February 14, 1896, can easily understand that the Zionist
ideal of the Zionist Movement's leader had only one rationale guiding
it: the antisemitic threat. He was extremely pragmatic, very cynical.
He was not moved by Jewish history, and it is difficult to say that
he exchanged the German nationalism he encountered in university with
Jewish nationalism. He confronted antisemitism and decided not only
to describe the problem as a newspaper reporter, not only to cry about
it as a Jew, but also to solve it as a leader of a nation which currently
has no leader."
Beilin points out that throughout, Herzl acted because of his fear
of antisemitism. In his books, the Zionist "prophet" who advocated
founding a Jewish state writes: "Perhaps we would succeed in completely
assimilating among the nations around us, if they would allow us at
least two generations. But they will not let us . . . only the [existing]
pressure attaches us to Hashem, only the environment's hatred towards
us again makes us foreigners."
Beilin's conclusion is that Herzl envisioned the Jewish State as being
the only possibility that could succeed. As far as he was concerned,
Uganda or Argentina were equally satisfactory. "[The necessity
to found a Jewish state] is a result of the Jew's failure to integrate
in the world, and not because of the Jew's desire, for more than two
thousand years, to return to their home with singing and joy."
Antisemitism is the only motivation for the Zionist Movement and one
it found sufficient: "Indeed no special need was required to inflame
the movement," writes Herzl in Der Judenstaat. "Antisemitism
has already taken care of that. All they need to do is to act as they
have done until now and the craving for mass immigration will be aroused
where it does not exist and will escalate where it already exists
. . .."
But in the long run, the solution that Herzl and his
colleagues of the Zionist Movement suggested did not help at all.
Antisemitism has remained as it was before, and in the State of Israel
too, many Jews have died as victims of the new Middle East form of
hatred for Jews.
Beilin indicates that Zionism was terribly mistaken in incorrectly
diagnosing the Arab problem. He writes that at the time of the Balfour
Declaration in 1917 it seemed that the world powers were ready to
allow the Jewish State to be founded, and the only question left was
how to establish an economical basis in Eretz Yisroel for mass immigration
from Europe. However, by 1936 it was clear that the main problem was
the conflict between Jews and Arabs and the British were afraid of
the Arabs' demands.
Then in 1947, two years after the Holocaust, the Zionist Movement
wanted to believe that the world would award her the desired country.
However, it soon became obvious that to acquire this country they
could expect a war with Arab countries, and it was difficult to predict
if Israel would emerge victorious or not. "The two assumptions,
that the Jewish Nation arrived in an almost empty land, and that the
small Arab population would be pleased with the economic improvements
and assimilate among the Jewish immigrants, were proven to be naive
at best and mistaken at worst. The Holocaust survivors who arrived
in the land to receive arms and to fall within a few days at Kastel
battles, was only one picture of many showing how mistaken the idealistic
thought of a haven of rest in the Altneuland (Old-new land)
was. The War of Independence in 1948, the Sinai Campaign in 1956,
Lebanon in 1982, and the Gulf War in 1991 in which Israel participated
as being only a victim [also showed this clearly].
"The direct price was loss of human life. Some twenty thousand
soldiers were killed in Israel's wars. Thirty percent of them were
killed in the War of Independence which was the worst of them all.
This was an extremely large group in the generation of 5708 (1948)
and their loss was very significant in the dawn of the State.
"If we add to this the tens of thousands who became invalids for
life because of the wars and acts of hostility, it is obvious that
there is almost no family in Israel without a direct connection to
bereavement or injury. This was the most terrible Israeli ordeal.
It was not part of the plan. Even during their worst nightmares Zionist
leaders did not imagine this. Who knows if they would have clung to
their Zionist prophecy had they known that Israel of the 21st century
is the only place in the world where Jewish lives are endangered only
because they are Jews. Did they dream that in Tel Aviv, the capital
of the `home front,' dozens of missiles will fall and destroy homes
of peaceful citizens? That citizens will stand on line for gas masks
fifty years after Jews of the previous generation were destroyed in
"Israel has failed -- until now -- to win legitimacy and
exist within the Moslem World. Consequently it is the only country
in the world of which political heads of other states, such as the
Iranian leaders, talk about its being destroyed. In a period in which
atomic, chemical, and biological weapons of mass destruction serve
in regional disputes, the danger of Israel's inability to survive
becomes even greater. The massive security achievements of Israel,
such as building the most efficient army in the Middle East or conquering
territories, becomes secondary when compared with the increased threats
"Since the dream of the collapse of the U.S.S.R. materialized
and East Europe became a democratic area under the influence of NATO,
it seems the world is not bipolar. Israel does not any more occupy
a central position as an ally to the U.S.A. in the Middle East, and
the supervision of weapons of mass destruction is almost impossible.
It is an extremely difficult world for Israel.
"Israeli leaders constantly reiterate that Israel intends to prevent
a second Holocaust and the walking of Jews to their death as sheep
to the slaughter. In the world of weapons of mass destruction invented
after World War II, this maxim becomes more and more pretentious.
The Scuds that fell on Tel Aviv during the Gulf War were only the
smallest reminder that in such a small world it is very difficult
to ensure immunity. There never was so great a concentration of Jews
in such a small space [and this is a big problem] when we realize
the existence of advanced means of destruction."
Beilin summarizes in short but piercing sentences: "We cannot
deny that precisely in the twenty-first century it is more dangerous
to be a Jew in Israel than in any other place in the world. As long
as this condition does not change, this is the paradox of Zionism
and its worst failure."
A Jew who believes in Hashem, who sees in all that
happens in the creation -- and especially what happens to Am
Yisroel -- a decree from Heaven, knows that such a miserable
failure demands reaching conclusions in the spiritual sphere. Someone
who lives the parshios of "If you harken diligently"
(Devorim 11:13) and "If you walk in My statutes" (Vayikra
22:3) knows that the material existence of the Jewish Nation is dependant
on their spiritual condition, their clinging to Torah and emunah.
The Torah-true were therefore never tempted into seeking earthly solutions
intended to prevent hatred of Jews through external means. The attempts
to assimilate among the nations, Emancipation, Enlightenment, and
Zionism, did not stop the hatred of Jews that caused millions of Jewish
deaths. Someone who lives with a tangible belief in the Torah and
the nevi'im sees in this the fulfillment of the terrible rebuke:
"That which comes into your mind shall never come about, that
you say, `We will be like the nations, like the families of the countries,
to serve wood and stone.' As I live says Hashem Elokim surely
with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, and with anger poured
out, will I be king over you" (Yechezkel 20:32-33).
Beilin and his colleagues refuse to internalize the
historical lessons taught to Jews, and are like people who bang their
heads against the wall and continue in their failed ways. They live
in self-deception, thinking that all their previous failures were
because they were not enough like non-Jews, and they must therefore
invent a more creative and progressive way of being like non-Jews.
At the end of his book, in a chapter bearing the title, "What
Should Be Done?" Beilin writes that as far as he is concerned
the desirable solution for the Jew's oppression, the distressing security
condition, and the assimilation in the Diaspora, is in two main areas
on which we must focus: a political solution to the conflict between
Israel and its neighbors, and annulling the religious matrimonial
laws. "These two changes, completing the peace process with the
Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese; and religious pluralism together
with rescinding our coercion by religious matrimonial laws, must be
Israel's contribution to the new image of the Jewish Nation in the
Beilin writes that he is aware that these two matters will be difficult
to execute. But, in his opinion, "The campaign for these two changes
cannot wait another fifty years. We cannot allow this to happen to
us, and we cannot continue alienating such a great part of the Jewish
Nation. This double campaign will need the full aid of the enlightened
powers in the Jewish World. They cannot stand idle and satisfy themselves
with encouraging us, and surely not by judging neutrally. This is
clearly their battle too. Israel is becoming more Orthodox, more closed,
is denounced by the whole world, and is a nightmare for the Jewish
It is astounding to see how Beilin, who does not try to hide the failure
of the Zionist Movement, continues to cling to this delusive heresy
that wants to sever am Yisroel from its Torah and emunah.
This reminds us of what the Malbim writes on the posuk: "As
the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Yisroel
ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and
their prophets, saying to a stock of wood, `You are my father'; and
to a stone, `You have brought me forth,' for they have turned their
back on Me, and not their face; but in the time of their trouble they
will say, `Arise and save us.' " (Yirmiyahu 2:26-27).
The robber who is caught, writes the Malbim, is not ashamed of the
immoral act that he has committed. What bothers him is that he was
caught, that his plan was nullified and his wickedness uncovered.
"And if Yisroel would worship avoda zorah only because
of the benefit and value they hoped to attain from it according to
their delusions, they would later regret what they had done when they
saw how much they suffered from it. However, since their sin was based
in their own will and not accidental, they were like the `thief is
ashamed' whose embarrassment was not because of the theft itself but
only because he was caught and punished. Since his sin was done intentionally
and not accidentally, it was only like `the thief is ashamed,' he
who is not ashamed of his wicked way but only about the retribution
it brings. `So is the house of Yisroel ashamed; they, their kings,
their princes' -- they all are not ashamed of their evil way but
because of the punishment they received because of it."
This leftist leader sees clearly the Zionist failure but continues
to cling to heresy and tries as much as he can to uproot the Torah
and the halocho. He raises the banner of abandoning the ways
of our fathers as being an ideology -- it is not done accidentally,
and therefore even if they have had numerous failures along the way
they only regret the disappointing results, "as the thief is ashamed
when he is found," but that is not enough for them to change their
Beilin and his colleagues continue to delude themselves into believing
they can find a solution to the security hardship and jeopardy to
the Jewish Nation's continued existence. Their "solutions"
however are liable to cause great dangers, may Hashem guard us. If
he would open Megillas Eichah perhaps he would find the true
explanation why Jews are hated. "How does the city sit solitary"
(Eichah 1:1). "Rovo said in the name of R' Yochonon: HaKodosh
Boruch Hu said I said, `Yisroel then shall dwell in safety alone,
the fountain of Yaakov' (Devorim 33:28) -- but now they
will dwell alone" (Sanhedrin 104a).
"HaKodosh Boruch Hu wants Yisroel to be alone and not to
mix with the nations of the world. Now that they do not act properly,
have changed their character, and mix among the non-Jews, they have
become `alone' in another way -- that the nations separate from
them, and that is `How does the city sit solitary'" (Ha'ameik
Dovor, Devorim 33:28)."