Zionism: An Integral Part of Judaism
When I first heard of the canard that Zionism is a 19th-century movement, I was shocked. Time has passed since then, but to hear Jewish nationalism framed as a “White Colonial Settler Movement”, and more seriously, that Jewish nationalism as a whole had no existence before the 19th century, still shakes my nerves, and it is only my knowledge of humanity’s inclination toward evil thoughts that fills me with the understanding of how people can believe such an egregious lie, an understanding without which I would probably have joined the Human Extinction Movement long ago, out of sheer despair of humanity.
That is because one does not have to be a religious, Orthodox Jew, or even with a thorough Biblical education, in order to be utterly dumbstruck by the idea that Jewish nationalism dates from the 19th century and no earlier. There is not a single Jewish child in Israel, even from the most anti-religious family, who has not imbibed the historical connection of the Jews to the Land of Israel together with its mother’s milk. Secular Zionist historiography de-emphasized the 2,000 years of exile, but regarding even that, it never denied the yearning of Jews throughout that entire period, in prayer and song, for returning to the Land of Israel—Jewish nationalism. I, like all my friends, both from the past and now, knew that the Jewish nation had its nationalism, its well-developed and canonized nationalism, back when the ancestors of both the Ishmaelite imperialists and the British boycott-proposers were still bands of loosely-related tribesmen. To hear now that Jewish nationalism is recent, a stepping on the 19th-century bandwagon, and that at least half of the Jews in Israel have no connection to the land, and to top it all the denial of the centrality of Jerusalem (Zion) in Judaism! Diabolical.
For 2,000 years that Jews were absent from the Land of Israel, the land did not cease to form an integral part of their day-to-day, religion-dictated lives.
A Jew would wake up in his morning and don the tephillin (phylacteries). Immediately after putting them on, he would read Exodus 13:1–16, which deals with HaShem’s commands to the Israelites to be carried out once they have entered the Land of Israel. That is Zionism. “The land of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, which He swore unto thy fathers to give thee”, it is written there (verse 5)—giving the Israelites land currently inhabited by other nations. I guess the left-wingers are now going to call for hauling God to the International Court at The Hague…
Each day, he would say the Sh’ma in the morning prayer, in the evening prayer and before going to sleep. In the Sh’ma, Deuteronomy 11:13–21 brings the message that doing HaShem’s word is necessary if the Israelites are to say on the Land of Israel. Numbers 15:37–41 speaks of the deliverance of the Jews from the land of Egypt. Stressing the historical Jewish connection to the Land of Israel—that is Zionism.
The heart of each daily prayer (morning, afternoon and evening) is the Sh’moneh Esreh (Hebrew for “eighteen”; it contains 19 blessings, because one was added during days of hardship under the Romans). Just before it, the Jew says the portion, “Ga’al Yisrael”, meaning “Savior of Israel”, where God is praised for bringing our forefathers out of Egypt and into the Land of Israel. That is Zionism.
In the Sh’moneh Esreh itself, here is one of the blessings:
Blow a great shofar to our liberty, and raise a banner to assemble our exiles, and assemble us speedily from the four corners of the earth to our land.
For 2,000 years, Jews have prayed for being assembled back to the Land of Israel. Most of the time they did not believe it was a call to action, but never did they abandon the view that the Land of Israel is the Jews’ only homeland! That is Jewish nationalism.
Here is another blessing from the Sh’moneh Esreh:
And to Jerusalem Your city may You return speedily, and may You dwell in it as You have spoken; and build it soon in our days an eternal building, and prepare the throne of David Your servant speedily in it.
2,000 years of praying to return to Jerusalem as our capital, and for rebuilding the Temple in it, no matter what any other people had built on top of its ruins in order to cover its Jewish history. Jerusalem is Zion. That is Zionism.
Neither were mundane activities free of Jewish nationalism. After eating a meal, a Jew would say Birkat Ha-Mazon, the Blessing of the Nourishment, one of whose passages is the following:
We thank You, HaShem our God, that You have given to our fathers as inheritance a pleasured, good and large land, and that You have brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of slaves.
Given the Land of Israel as inheritance. Brought out of Egypt to it. Jewish nationalistic ideas dating to the time of the Babylonian Talmud, when the Roman Empire was still at its height.
Another passage from Birkat Ha-Mazon:
The Merciful—He will break the yoke from over our necks and He will lead us upstanding to our land.
Yes, long before the “Spring of Nations” in Europe in 1848, this indisputable expression of nationalism had been recited daily by Jews everywhere.
There is more from the prayer-book than I can list here. There is the Passover Haggadah with its famous “Next Year in Jerusalem!” (famous, therefore all the sharper a condemnation of those who deny the antiquity of Jewish nationalism), and the recurrent comparisons, made during the Jewish marriage ceremony, of marriage to the re-inhabitation of the Land of Israel and the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
The Jew is commanded to study the Torah. The Written Torah itself is full to brimming with the connection of the Israelites to the Land of Israel, and has many mitzvot that cannot be carried out on any other land (but don’t expect the world to show consideration for that; only those who are ready to blow things up in a temper tantrum get their wishes aplenty, such as a foot-washing basin in every Western university). The Oral Torah and the rabbinical commentaries are not lacking either:
The Holy One, Blessed Is He, will in future assemble all of Israel from the four corners of the earth; like that gardener who plants from bed to bed, so will the Holy One, Blessed Is He, plant them from an impure land to a pure land. (Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer, 19; 1st century CE)
Again the idea that all the Jews will one day return to the Land of Israel. Zionism.
And here is a commentary explaining why the king Omri, otherwise remembered as a bad king in Jewish tradition, was given the favor of ruling the Kingdom of Israel:
For what did Omri win the kingdom? For his adding one town in the Land of Israel, as it is said: “And he bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver; and he built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, after the name of Shemer, the owner of the hill, Samaria”. (Sanhedrin, 102, p. 2)
For building a new Israelite town! For acting to make the Land of Israel more inhabited with Israelites! That king was more Zionist than the crop of weak, world-praise-craving and Jewish-settlement-destroying “leaders” the state of Israel has now.
From the day-to-day life of rabbis in the Land of Israel at the end of the 2nd century CE:
Rabbi Hiyya the Great and Rabbi Shimon ben Halafta were walking in the valley of Arbel and saw the light of dawnbreak. Said Rabbi Hiyya the Great to Rabbi Shimon: “Such is the deliverance of Israel: at first it is little by little, but the more it goes the more it gets stronger”. (Yerushalmi, Brachot, 81, Halachah 1)
A foreshadowing of the Zionist movement that came to be in the 19th century: starting with a trickle, then ending up as a magnificent edifice. And the anti-Zionists dare to imply that Zionism arose in the 19th century from scratch.
And finally, lest you think Jewish nationalism is all confined to the realm of prayers and blessings and dreams, here is a halachah (Jewish religious edict, meaning that it is a requirement for Jews to go by) regarding Jews who reside in the Land of Israel:
It is prohibited to go out from the Land of Israel to outside the land, ever, except for studying Torah or marrying a woman or saving from the Gentiles; and he [who goes out for those reasons] must return to the land [after that]. And so too [if] he goes out for trade, he must return [afterward]. But to go out of the land and reside abroad is prohibited. (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Chazon Ish’s addendum of Laws Dependent on the Land of Israel, 42).
The background here is fascinating: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch is an abridged form of the Shulchan Aruch, the comprehensive codex of Jewish law compiled by Rabbi Yosef Karo in the 16th century CE. Because the Kitzur is an abridged form, this halachah does not appear in the original, the version by Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried from the 19th century. It, along with all the injunctions pertaining to the Land of Israel, was added by the Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Avraham Yeshaiah Karelitz (1878–1953; also known as the Chazon Ish), when he saw the number of Jews residing in the Land of Israel had become considerable.
It is fascinating for two reasons: first and obvious is that the Shulchan Aruch predates the modern Zionist movement by three centuries; second is that Rabbi Karelitz was an Ultra-Orthodox rabbi at a time when the Zionist movement and traditional Judaism were in a great clash, and the Ultra-Orthodox universally considered them irreconcilable (still the view held by Neturei Karta; it is a testimony of our times that the NK’s are now pariahs in the Jewish world. Blessed is this nation that can overcome internal strife). And yet, if you were to read this halachah before someone who didn’t know, without giving him that background, he would think it a piece of Zionist legislation. Again, the inherent, integral Zionism of Judaism is demonstrated.
This survey was brief, very brief; you could spend long months cataloging all the Jewish nationalist rules and sentiments in the traditional, orthodox sources of Judaism. With such a great amount of material, even a Jew of secular upbringing gets the idea that Jewish nationalism is ancient. Now you now why I—why most Jews—find it shocking to hear that we are “colonialists” on the Land of Israel, and that there is another nation that deserves to be called its “indigenous people”.
What is our enemies’ answer to such a mountainous corpus of evidence? The Muslims usually turn to accuse us of what they specialize in: forgery, fabrication and revisionism. They, believers in the wildest of conspiracy theories, are beyond reason; there is no choice—not just for us but for all non-Muslims—but to fight them, for they know no other language. Their sympathizers in the West, mainly the Marxists, are sometimes a little better—at least they couch their Zionism Denial with intellectually-sounding arguments.
Some of them try to play God, saying we’re not worthy of returning to the land of our forefathers (strange, then, that HaShem let the modern Zionist movement pass through all the hurdles, not least of which was the war with five Arab armies in 1948–9). Others try to invoke the Torah against us, usually plagiarizing the Neturei Karta, and always arguing that “Thou shalt not steal” means the whole setting up of the Jewish state on expense of “the indigenous Palestinians” was a violation of the Torah. They conveniently overlook the many parts in the Torah where God tells the Israelites to take the land from the Canaanites, and by force at that. One wonders if they’d act as advocates for Esau in his case against Jacob, who “stole” his birthright.
But the argument from the Left I have encountered with increasing frequency over the last few years is the argument that Jews of European origin are not ancestral Jews at all—our old friend the Khazaria Hypothesis. Those ever-moral people, ostensibly so intent on making racism history, think Jewishness is a racial matter, a genetic matter, something dependent on DNA. Do they not know that that argument still leaves millions of Israeli Jews who are (according to their twisted, profoundly racist view) eligible to “Semitic inheritance”? I think they probably do, but they maintain that argument nevertheless, because it supports their entire house of cards: Ashkenazis are not real Jews but converted Khazars; Zionism in the 19th century was started by Ashkenazi Jews; therefore Zionism is a European, non-white, non-Semitic colonialist movement, on a par with the French colonization of Algeria. The enthusiasm which Leftists take to show how non-white Jews suffer discrimination in the state of Israel (something that’s been history for about 30 years now) lends support to my theory. The idyllic portrayal of past Jewish–Muslim relations is another lynchpin here, implying that Zionism was foisted upon unwilling Jews in all the Muslim countries.
The quotes above, when presented before an anti-Zionist, can serve as litmus test, to check if he holds his position out of mere ignorance—which is no sin per se, only the refusal to educate oneself is—or out of a vested interest. Those who keep their Post-Colonial hypothesis, of Zionism being a 19th-century white colonial settler movement, even after being presented those quotes, are the latter. Here is the difference between those who are “pro-Palestinian but also pro-Israel” and those who are anti-Israel.
Sentimentally, it is possible to be both pro-Israel and pro-“Palestinian” at the same time; in practice, it is not. What I mean is: when people say, “I’m both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine”, they are usually telling the truth, their sincere stance. But what they do not know is that they have been duped—that there is no concept of a “Palestinian nation” apart from the plan to destroy the Jewish state (God forbid).
You saw that sampling of quotes of above. Now try compiling a similar sampling for the much-touted “Palestinian nation”. I’ve seen attempts at that, and they go like this: the love of the “Palestinians” for olive trees; the Arabic script; the Al Aqsa mosque; a few cartoon characters like Handala; the kefiyyeh; and resistance, resistance and more resistance. No list of “Palestinian” kings. No scriptural quotations about the significance of this land, except some damning passages in the Koran saying Allah has given this land to the Jews (one day, HaShem willing, this will be Ishmael’s way off his high horse, and on to repentance), and Jerusalem is not mentioned even once in that book. Not a single demonstration of how, before the 20th century, the Arabs of the Land of Israel differed markedly from those of Syria, for example, or how they could be considered a group of any cohesion at all. My brief collection of quotes from Jewish sources has made it patently clear that there is no other homeland for the Jews than the Land of Israel; the “Palestinians”, in contrast, have failed to even begin making such a case. And if “Palestinians” are strangers in other Arab lands, this is for the same reason that Iraqi refugees today are shunned in Syria: Arab society is a hypertribal one, to the point of insane xenophobia toward anyone outside one’s own tribe.
And if, God forbid, the “Palestinian” dream were to come true, with the demise of the hated Zionist entity, what would be of the “Palestinian nation”? It would be absorbed into the larger body, that of the Arab nation or (more likely today, now that pan-Arabism has fallen out of fashion) the Islamic collective, the ummah, like water dropped out of a bucket into the sea. The fact is, the idea of the “Palestinian nation”, from the early 20th century onward, has been maintained only for its usefulness as a tool against the Jews returning to their land. As a tool for contesting the historical connection of the Jews to the Land of Israel. And how well it has worked. So well that even good-intentioned people have quaffed the Kool-Aid cup.
I have coined the term, “Zionism Denial”. If more Jews had eyes to see the present, instead of being stuck in past paradigms, they would lessen their obsession with the Holocaust, Holocaust Denial and imprisoning Holocaust Deniers, and wake up to the far more dangerous fact of Zionism Denial, this denial of the connection of the Jews to the Land of Israel, this twisted idea that the Jews are colonial invaders while the “Palestinians” are the indigenous people of the land. Oh, I do not disagree that Holocaust Denial is malicious, offensive, preposterous and a sin against truth; but, unlike Zionism Denial, it is not life-threatening. Remember: Jew-hatred is dangerous only when it is in a form acceptable in polite, cultured society. Holocaust Deniers are condemned universally, even on far-Left, anti-Zionist sites like CounterPunch. Zionism Denial, on the other hand, is all but acceptable—acceptable, moral, progressive, enlightened.
Zionism Denial is, whether intentionally or not, incitement to murder of Jews (God forbid). By construing the Jews of present-day Israel as colonials, the “Palestinians” are given the moral right to murder Jews, be it even tacitly. Tom Paulin’s statement, that the “Brooklyn-born Jewish settlers” (again the angle of, “white colonial invader robbing the indigenous brown people”) in Judea, Samaria and Gaza “should be shot dead” (God forbid), because “they are Nazis, racists”, is an instance of saying out aloud what a lot of people who have bought into the “Palestinian nation” narrative think in their hearts. And even Paulin was being reserved, because today this sentiment is no longer confined to the 1967 territories.
Forget David Irving. Forget Ernst Zundel. Leave them all, they’re just distractions. Turn your eyes onto Desmond Tutu, onto Jimmy Carter, onto Bill and Kate Christison, and onto all the rest of those who not only adhere to, but also preach to the world, the Big Lie of Zionism Denial, the fiction, fakery, fraud, forgery and fabrication of the “Palestinian nation”, and its accompanying false narrative of Zionism as “a 19th-century European, White colonial settler Blut und Boden nationalism”.
The Holocaust is applicable today in one thing: it has taught us that such a horror can happen. It has taught us, then, that we must never, ever take threats lightly. How many of us would have given everything to go back in time and make all effort to forestall the Holocaust that was? That isn’t possible, but it is possible to act now, against a gathering of clouds that looks mighty similar. Consider the Muslims who call for a full application of “The Right of Return” (70 percent of all the “Palestinians”, according to Ali Abunimah’s latest screed) as Nazis, and the non-Muslims who support that as Nazi-sympathizers. Treat the callers for boycotts of Israel as equivalents of Tom Paulin in support for the murder of Jews (God forbid). And, more and more as the means become more plentiful, do everything to silence the opposition to Zionism. Maimonides described the Messianic Age as one that differs from all others in only one thing: the absence of subjugation, meaning the Jews are totally free to lead the Jewish life. The goal, then, implied by the deeply Zionist Maimonides himself (one need only read his writings regarding the future sovereignty of the Jews on the Land of Israel—an example of Jewish nationalism dating from the 13th century), is that there be no contest to the idea that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews, by divine right and ancient historical connection, and that their laws are the only acceptable laws for the land to be governed by.
Since the source and powerhouse of all opposition to this claim and idea and goal comes from the “Palestinian nation” narrative, it is clear that the great Jewish war of this age is the war against Zionism Denial. It is the war of minds for the Jewish moral right to the Land of Israel (even by force if need be, as it was in the case of the Canaanites) and against the Fakestinian Fraud. The first historical recording of the name of Israel by another nation is Pharaoh Merneptah’s Stele, saying, “Israel has been wiped out, its seed is no more”; it encapsulates the reality that all the various kinds of anti-Jewish theories, whether the Protocols or Zionism Denial, never had a chance against the truth, which is protected by a mountain of evidence, but were there only for that purpose, expressed in the words of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh and a modern Muslim Iranian president, that Israel be wiped out, God forbid. Our ancient nationalism cannot be compromised even just a little, for the purpose behind the present assault on it is nothing less than total.