כ"ה אלול התשע"ו
28/09/2016

Herzl and Post-Zionism: Background Text: Address by Avraham Burg at Mt.Herzl, for the Ceremonial Opening of the Zionist General Council, 17th June 1996

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Author: Avraham Burg
Address by Avraham Burg, as Chairman of the Zionist Executive and the Jewish Agency for Israel. 
 
1. The Zionist movement has reached a crossroads: its critics await the opportunity to pronounce its eulogy, while its supporters observe an awkward silence.
 
2. We are caught in the very trap of our success: the good, old-fashioned brand of Zionism has played its part, has carried its victory over all its opponents and enemies... Look around you. A nation sovereign in its own land, a steadfast state, a dwindling Diaspora and Hebrew revived as the cultural bridge among members of this generation and between this generation and those of the past.
 
3. Today, we witness the completion of our efforts to rescue Jewish lives. From across the former Soviet Union, from behind the veil of Islam and other states of peril, we pray for the last Jews to emerge from imprisonment to freedom. So be so crestfallen, why the scepticism?
 
4. Is not the next spiritual challenge already taking shape, in the form of the struggle against assimilation? For the Jewish people is disappearing: will we be the major force in the battle line-up?
 
5. How are we to contend with this adversary, this harbinger of spiritual annihilation?
 
6. Former policy lines, founded on ideologically correct positions for the objectives of yesteryear are powerless to fill the breach. It is our obligation to enter this battle - here and now, together, for the sake of our people, for the sake of continued Jewish existence. It is our duty to make a commitment: we will go into battle against the spiritual threat which menaces us with total destruction.
 
7. The supreme challenge for the morrow of a Zionism for rescuing distressed Jews was defined by the Zionist visionary himself; here, by his tomb, let us remember his words:
"I believe that even when we will have achieved a land of our own, Zionism will not cease to be an ideal. For in Zionism, as I perceive it, incorporates not only the aspiration to a secured plot of land for our wretched people, but also the desire for moral and spiritual fulfillment."
 
8. The people is no longer wretched, but the aspiration to spiritual and ethical integrity has not yet been realized.
 
9. The Zionist dream appears to us in serial form: 

a. The first chapter was the vision. 
b. Next, came fulfilment - the translation of the vision into a reality of strength and prosperity. 
c. The third chapter will hold the value-related substance of our lives - building a community, the struggle for the status of the Jewish woman, social tolerance, religious pluralism, sensitivity to the stranger and the citizen in our land. So many tasks, so many challenges, so much hope.
 
10. The new Zionism of today has yet to pronounce itself: 
We shall be delighted to act as this bridge from the past into the future.
We shall be delighted to be the ideological progenitors of the next generation; it is our duty to build a world for them, and to enable them to live there.
 
11. A Zionist movement without young people at its center is doomed to extinction.
To center on young people is not a matter of paying lip service, but to induce genuine transformation in representation, allocate resources, create programs of action and transfer responsibility.
 
* Because it is impossible to speak of education and ignore our young people. 

* Because it is impossible to speak of identification and ignore our young people. 

* Because it is impossible to speak of assimilation and ignore our young people. 

* Because it is impossible to speak of aliyah and ignore our young people.

 
12. Our objective is the person; the Jewish person, the Zionist, the young person.
 
13. Today, people no longer meet on youth movement premises - they are out and about, where things are happening: on campuses, in synagogues, in summer camps and schools.
 
14. Our partners to this human and ideological bridge are universal:
- the religiously observant and the religiously innovative;
- the traditional and the rehabilitators;
- equal women and men.
 
15. How is this to be realized?
How can one transpose organizational activity into a social model?
 
16. I envision the creation of a non-party grass-roots movement, the movement of the people.
The movement of all those from the House of Israel who care about, and sense the distress of the solitary Jew.
 
17. A movement of the people with an efficient, modern structure, unfettered by outside interests, which will faithfully serve the five fundamental aims of the Jewish people:
 
1. Tzedakah [Charitableness] and Deeds of Loving-kindness - the sensitivity and generosity of those who have on behalf of those who do not.
2. The political objective - all those tasks which the people can assume where the reach of the state falls short.
3. The promotion of aliyah from the West - the involvement of Israel in Diaspora life.
4. Building the country - the involvement of the Diaspora in Israeli life.
5. Finally, mutual involvement - Jewish education in the sense of "the value of learning Torah is above all".
 
18. A very great charge has been placed upon us within Israeli society here and within Jewish society per se - that of creating peace and harmony within the fold.
 
We have no soul save that extra one which is capable of bridging our differences:
between Orthodox and Reform,
between traditional-Conservative and secularists,
between rehabilitators of religion and its fanatics;
between factions and streams;
between ideas and ethnic groups.
 
19. Nearby, in this same section where lies the tomb of the visionary of the state, are two more tombs. One is that of the late Betar leader whose reburial in Israel marks the zenith of the culture of debate; the other is the resting place of the late Prime Minister, felled by bullets which epitomize the depths of adversarial dissociation and alienation.
 
20. It is therefore significant that from here that we shall send out a message of strength and spirit to the eternal people. United, no-one shall put us asunder; united, no goal is unattainable.
May we go from strength to strength.

 

 
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