Now that Zionism has existed in its modern conception for a hundred years, the time has come to test its relevancy on two planes: The first as a basic analysis of Jewish existence, and the second, as a solution which can act as a guideline for the present and for building the future.
Hess, Pinsker, Herzl and Borochov, each in his own way, all reached similar conclusions, both in their diagnosis of the situation of Jewry, and with respect to the recommended solution. With their help it is possible to arrive at the typology, as it were, of Jewish survival along the following lines:
1) Jews as a permanent minority among the peoples of the world, inevitably create tensions which culminate in hatred and a threat to Jewish survival.
2) Hatred in the various forms it assumes, brings about the Jew's constant alienation from his environment.
3) The painful ordeal involved in survival and constant distress are a permanent adjunct of Jewish existence. The pressure and distress assume physical, economic and spiritual forms.
4) Assimilation is indeed a solution applicable to individuals, but Jewry as a whole is unwilling to throw off its unique characteristics. No attempts at halfway measures-partial repudiation and partial participation are effective compromises with the non-Jewish environment, which maintains its traditional demand that the Jew disappear completely, either by entirely assimilating into his surroundings or by leaving them altogether.
5) Moreover: Against the background of changes that took place in national ideologies during the 19th century, it no longer appeared possible for the Jew to fuse completely with his non-Jewish surroundings. As opposed to the hopes of Christian theology with its expectation of the absorption and disappearance of the Jews within the church, the ideology of nationalism tended to pluck the Jews out of the bosom of the nation and isolate them.
Zionism Negation of Galut
Zionism completely negated the Galut. Its prime motivating force was survival. Zionism was free of the dualism involved in the naive idea that human experience can be divided between realities of a "Jewish experience" and the realities of being a human being. This Lutheran dualism uprooted from its original historical context and transplanted into the concept of Jewry, caused a schizophrenia which at the end of the last century aggravated the sense of crisis within Jewry. Zionism as a movement for the national liberation of the Jew, was designed to liberate him from the discomfort of his split personality in the sphere in which he belonged. The return to the homeland was understood not only in terms of a one-time political act, but also as a psychological, cultural intellectual and spiritual process. Zionism's rejection of the galut was an integral one, and the solution it proposed was an integral one.
Rejection of Zionism is the rejection of Israel
When we come to eva luate Zionism's significance after a century of practical application, and its import for the generation of the Seventies, we should assess not only the weight of its ideological precepts, but also how it stood up to its own fulfillment. Its many opponents, both within and without the Jewry, usually laid stress on the fact that Zionism's claim that it would rehabilitate the country and the people was impossible of realization.
The tasks that Zionism took upon itself seemed so remote from reality that they aroused negative and extreme criticism, and many considered it a romantic, irrational vision. Zionism was exposed to criticism from the left wing of Jewish assimilationism for its alleged fallacious view of the course of human history.
In the view of these critics, the Zionist prognosis was a negative one for the development of human society. While Zionism saw the nation as part of an enduring and continuous historic process, those critics saw it as breaking down into separate classes which in the impending battle of forces would bring about the building of the future society, supranational and classless.
In the era of the disappearance of the state as a framework for the nation, the aspiration to establish a Jewish state appeared to them reactionary and ineffectual for the preservation of a Jewish society, the purpose of which was in any case destined to become superfluous.
In the post-holocaust generation, the generation that saw the revival of Jewish sovereignty in a Jewish state, these arguments were no longer valid. Today anyone opposing Zionism is in fact asking for the elimination, the physical destruction, of the sovereign Jewish community in Israel. Zionism is no longer an abstract liberation movement nourished by a few programs and some Congress decisions. Its most important aspect, the political and social reality of the Jewish state, can be countered only by the destruction and annihilation of that state.
Changes in the World and in Jewry
When we come to clarify the question of whether Zionism continues to have the same validity in the last half of the 20th century as it had at the end of the 19th, we must first of all answer the question of whether a revolutionary change has taken place in the trend of Jewish existence, to such a point where the fundamental elements that brought about its crystallization into a movement are nullified. Two world wars irrevocably swept away earlier political structures, dismantled empires and undermined social frameworks. In most areas of human life, scientific principles and new forces rose to the forefront. Jewish society also underwent tumultuous changes. Waves of Jews migrated en mass from country to country, from continent to continent. The Jewish small town and all it represented, disappeared. The central axis of Jewry was transferred from the east to the west, and in addition to the fact that the state of Israel existed, a number of new demo-political Jewish facts came into being. A sector of European Jewry was caught up in the processes of the communist revolution and another sector took up residence in countries of North and South America.
The largest part of the Jewish population in the East was impoverished, but in the West the majority found a place in the burgeoning economies and learned to respond to the challenges of change and they prospered. Most of the Jews anchored themselves in the educated middle class. Close to a million Jewish youth are today studying in hundreds of universities throughout the world.
On the surface these manifestations might appear to indicate the disappearance of the fundamental factors that brought Zionism into being: distress, pressures, poverty and fear. However, despite all these changes which looked as if they had wiped out Galut experience the holocaust came and reminded Jewry of the full physical and spiritual significance of the fearful destruction which has persistently dogged the Jewish fate in the galut.
The Holocaust- a Dimension That Dare Not be Concealed
Just as the essence of the state of Israel is undeniably an integral part of Zionist phenomenology, so is the holocaust an integral part of Jewish phenomenology. There are many reasons for the intentional or subconscious tendency which began in the second decade to forget the holocaust and its permanent place in any assessment of Jewish history. It contained something of the healthy reluctance on the part of the living to contemplate the purpose of survival as against total destruction which menaces from the recesses of nonexistence; there was also an element of the simple human blindness that does not permit an eva luation of the whole as against the part, in everybody behavior.
Apart from all these, it also contains a reaffirmation of the power of the galut as a force of inertia which has become deeply embedded in Jewish history over so a long period, an inertia that cannot be uprooted in a matter of a generation or two; it will require a protracted struggle for generations to come, throughout all spheres of human life: economic, spiritual, cultural, intellectual, political and social. Just as Zionism was total rejection of the galut, so its aim should be to call for perpetual alertness to guard against the main product of the galut- destruction.
The enemies of Zionism, primarily those of the Left in all its shades, take the easy way out in this issue of principle. They reject the significance of the holocaust as a manifestation of the tragedy of Jewish existence, and interpret it as just another of the many upheavals in human society as it struggles to improve the social order. Other opponents of Zionism, whose motivation is not socio-ideological, and who are imbued with the optimistic 19th-century faith that humanity is advancing in a progressive direction, attempt to divest the holocaust of meaning by arguing that it was merely a temporary aberration. Indication after the war that anti-Semitism was weakening, and the severe shock to the conscience of humanity immediately after the holocaust, supported many in their belief that the era of hatred, alienation and threat of destruction was over, and that the mutual relationships between Jewry and its surroundings had finally been suit3Jbly balanced. But Zionism, although its dynamism is in no small measure derived from the intensity of Jewish suffering, dare not ignore the manifestation of this distress which reached its peak with the Holocaust in our generation. In conclusion, one may say that we have no right to succumb to the temptation to eradicate the conscious and subconscious scars left on us by the holocaust in debating the validity of Zionist ideology.
Young Jews Taking New Stands
The young generation of Jews which is obliged to reformulate according to its own lights its identity and the path it must take in its struggles, is free of the strong sense of galut that pervaded the lives of its predecessors. Those characteristics which previously distinguished the galut have in part disappeared and in part become weaker. Some have even undergone a process of adaptation and camouflage, to the point where they seem to have dissolved completely. Most of the traditional poverty has practically vanished. The spiritual stature of the Jewish individual has increased. The fears and terrors that clustered around the spiritual roots of the Jews became social neuroses that can be explained in over-all human existentialist terms. The frustrations of typical ghetto situations such as limitations of areas of economic and professional, political and intellectual activities, are virtually eliminated.
The young Jew may be justifiably proud of the achievements of his forebears and of himself. His attitude to his surroundings is no longer inspired by the complex of gratitude for being given shelter and the right to exist. Justifiably, he sees his prerogatives not in the terms which inspired the generation of the Emancipation, but in terms of the fundamental rights of the individual in an progressive human society. Although a relative tranquility has set in the mutual relations of Jews and their environment, and the signs of Galut are not visible on the surface, can this be taken to indicate that the Galut condition no longer prevails? Zionism owes the youth in their twenties an answer to this question.
Those who question the validity of contemporary Zionism, start off on a note of principle: has the era of nationalism ended, and has something greater, more all-encompassing, replaced it, a society where nationalities are blending and evolving into one overall human society?
Every utopia conceived by human beings is an exalted expression of the elementary aspiration dwelling in all of mankind to enhance the rule of heaven on earth. Every utopia sees in the eschatological vision of the post-messianic days, the realization of the dream of a united human society purged of all conflict, where men live in brotherly love and true happiness.
Zionism is attacked by its critics who believe nationalism to be corrupt.
Western-Europe nationalism had moments of exaltation when it found lofty expression in man's readiness to perform superb deeds, but simultaneously it generated manifestations of enmity, hatred and baseness. Nationalism, by virtue of having at a given time represented the most powerful tide of human life itself, absorbed into itself all the currents comprising man's being. The good and the bad were included in it, just as they were in every other aspect of society. Protestations, against the existence of the nation cannot be swept away in a single stroke, nor can it be refuted by metaphysical reasoning, positive or negative. To the extent that we want to prove the vitality and necessity of Zionist nationalism, we must examine three basic problems: 1) Does the nation as a whole still represent a positive human dynamic and creative frame of life, balancing the weight of the individual within society? 2) Is the position of the Jewish nation vis-a-vis itself, its strength, and its ability to endure and maintain historical continuity, a legitimate one? 3) What is the specific dynamic which invites Jewish distress and transforms it into galut, and maintains its existence in Jewish life wherever Jews live, thereby imposing the need for a movement that will free the nation from that distress?
Nation and Nationalism After a Hundred Years
On the whole, the historic balance-sheet of nationalism is positive. As a result of the striving to define the intrinsic essence of the nation, a number of processes took place that led to progress in the society of man. In many cases a nation that had been divided removed boundary lines that had separated the parts; in other cases empires disintegrated into national-political units. If our criterion is the increased liberation of nations, it can not easily be denied that nationalism as a 19th century political movement fulfilled its function well. Its most important achievement was ex tending the range of human freedom. Nationalism brought about an increase in the pace of education and created a deeper foundation for cultural ramification; it liberated tremendous creative energies, strove to revitalize values of the past, expanded the spheres wherein people felt a sense of belonging, and it increased cooperation among them, and it also lashed out against obsolete customs and behavior patterns that had outlived their time. In many cases nationalism enhanced the status of inarticulate sectors of the people, of oppressed and humiliated human groups; it set a target for collective endeavors and crystallized more desirable prerogatives particularly for the amorphous masses. The sum total on the credit side is significant, rich and varied.
On the other hand, a number of negative aspects can be pointed out on the debit side. Hatred of nations, religious and human groups did not originate with nationalism, but nationalism strengthened it to the point where mankind's existence was endangered. It exacerbated the conflicts and reinforced the sense of group selfishness and raised abstract objectives to the level of gods, gods who demanded countless victims. Has the strength of nationalism reached the saturation point, has it been plumbed to the utmost? Is it possible to say that now that its circle of achievement has been closed that is, nations have been liberated and national states consolidated its validity is exhausted and it is about to resign its place to a supra-national stateless society, a kind of all-human nationality? A dangerous trap awaits anyone considering this problem the trap of the man-made utopian dream that resides in everyone of us. It is the nature of utopia to depict the future as the fusing of all nations, races, languages and religions into one vast family of man, and this is to ,be achieved by canceling out whatever separates, and strengthening whatever unifies. This pictures of the future no longer has room for the nation as such, 'because it is a dividing rather than unifying factor.
It may indeed be that the future of humanity lies in the realization of this utopia. The very fact that utopia so stubbornly resides in our imaginations, indicates a healthy human intuition that the survival of mankind depends much more on increased unity than on fostering that which separates people and engenders fear also a part of our intrinsic being. However, the problem under discussion here is the place of the nation both within present reality and in the vision of the future. Today's political reality is spread before us, and as one looks at it in all parts of the world one becomes aware of the extent to which the power of nationalism has neither flagged nor weakened. Every nation and every ethnic group possessing a certain number of things in common, is in a revolutionary situation to the extent that it has not yet succeeded in giving definitive political expression to its common identity. There is ferment in the United States and Canada, on the Asian and African continents, in Communist Europe and even in certain parts of Western Europe. It is quite understandable that those established nations that have on the whole solved their problems by means of compromise, are unable to identify with the drastic nature of the rebellion of peoples who are struggling for their right to self-determination and national expression. This, however, does not cancel the validity of the contemporary picture. A man's right to freedom cannot be reconciled with the abolition of his right to national self-determination, his own language, the political expression of his identity.
The human imagination is unable to free itself of the utopian picture of the future, but its roots must never be severed from the reality in which it is anchored and to which it belongs. This reality is com pounded of many elements, with the national element dominant. One need not feel that there is a contradiction between reality and the utopia the question is to what extent it is possible to make the utopia reality, not how the reality can be changed into utopia.
Does Diversity Separate or Unite?
The fundamental problem of human life is how to achieve an order in which the most freedom and the least conflict will prevail, where there will be no wars, blood-shed or danger to man's existence on this earth. Is the solution in one gigantic supra-state or is it perhaps basically a federative solution that includes agreement in advance that the prerogatives of a minority are not jeopardized by its quantitative inferiority?
In many spheres reality shows us that any single all-encompassing totalitarian solution will limit and suppress freedom and increase subjugation and distress. The right to diversity is one of the elementary rights of the democratic order.
Psychology teaches that it is incumbent upon us to be at one and the same time like others and different from them; modern man suffers from his insignificance and he gets lost in the anonymous crowd, never in his life bringing to fruition what is uniquely and irreproducibly himself. The greatest enemy of the universal is not diversity, but singleness of forms.
In the industrial society which has acquired global dimensions, in the nameless technological mass of humanity, in the urban units where the individual is lost and powerless, the problem is to find the proper balance between the unrestrained tendency toward the increase of constricting forms and frameworks, and the desire and efforts of the individual to be himself and at the same time belong to the general stream.
In this situation, can nationality not offer an appropriate solution? The nation is an organic unit, imbued with the content of the past and the mores and aspirations of both the present and the future, there is an element in it of the mythical fusing with the rational, the romantic with the practical. No real alternative has yet been established that is likely to replace the nation as the basic unit for social change. Within the nation there is a constant and desirable balance of the universal the aspiration to unity with the individual aspiring to his own unique expression. These two combined form a realistic basis on which the human utopia can be realized.
The naive striving for a return to ancient tribalism, to anarchistic-individualism, or the attempt to force humanity into the strafication of a global-totalitarian body, empty the utopian ideal of its realistic dimension, remove it from rational consideration, and endanger the measure of fundamental freedom that has been achieved in the constant struggle between rational, intelligent behavior and egocentricity.
Jewish Nationalism in the Twentieth Century
We have already stated that two major events took place in the second half of this century that must be considered in any attempt to understand or 'eva luate the situation of Jewry: the holocaust and the establishment of the Jewish State in Israel. The one was an extreme expression of processes of destruction and annihilation, and the second of the striving toward survival and life. The holocaust was the harshest manifestation of the essence of galut, of its helplessness, its vulnerability, its fragility during periods of unrest among nations, and of the abject misery of a non-sovereign Jewish existence that affords no tangible base for self-defense.
As against this, the establishment of the state, and the total Jewish solidarity that focused around it, proved the existence of constructive forces, of political decisiveness and talent, of power and intelligence in the struggle for survival and for life. This was absolute, definitive confirmation, that the Jewish people as a whole had given sovereign approval to its continued unique and independent existence. Marginal forces from the right and the left, despite the noise they made, did not succeed in nullifying the impact of the holocaust and were altogether incapable of preventing the establishment of the state. Since its foundation, there have been a number of occasions for the Jewish people to reaffirm the stand they took vis-a-vis the state in 1947. The nation as a whole has never abandoned the state and this was demonstrated during the War of Liberation, in the course of ever-threatening dangers, in steady aliya, in the elimination of many ga1ut centers, in the increasing current of identification with the state, in maintenance of the partnership in building and financing the heavy costs of the country, in political struggles and in controversies with peoples and governments.
In the days of 1967, when it again seemed that holocaust and destruction were threatening but this time the Jewish State, expression was given to the highest peak of the identification of the Jewish people with its State. The result of the tremendous expression of the will of the whole Jewish people unreservedly affirming a determination to preserve the state is still felt and will be felt for a long time to come.
The Centralized State and the Right to be Different
In contrast to the centralized Communist states where the motivation behind pressures exerted on the Jews is ideological-revolutionary, in a centralized bourgeois state, the motivation is nationalist-conservative. The principle concept of this type of political ideology is that the homeland-state is indivisible and recognizes only one type of loyalty. This centralized state cannot tolerate anything different, or anything that is less than whole, and the entire make-up of its cultural and educational activity is directed to one purpose to enhance the process of complete fusion and eliminate any vestiges of variation of particularity in culture or language within minorities.
From the beginning of the French Revolution, the Jews of France were involved in a bitter conflict that more than once shook their very being, between the desire to belong with undivided loyalty to the French state and society, and the desire for self-perpetuation and the maintenance of a measure of expression of their Judaism. Ever since the great French Revolution, the Jewish public has been under pressure of the anticipated culmination of Jewry's full assimilation into the bosom of French society.
This is at times accompanied by overt pressure, such as during Napoleon's reign; the Dreyfus trial; when De Gaulle raised his authoritative voice against Israel and Jewry and when the Jews of France expressed their solidarity with Israel.
The Jewish-Arab conflict aggravated these processes. The problem of dual loyalty has been mentioned more than once in this connection. At times of political crisis, when every country is suspicious, impatient and intolerant, there is increased watchfulness and pressures are exerted on minorities implicated in the dispute, and generally the rights of those among the citizens who are suspected of not identifying themselves to the fullest with the country's politics, are curtailed. During the World war even democratic and tolerant Britain operated emergency laws against German citizens, even when those people were victims of the Nazi regime. The state, as an expression of power and dominance, is a hard and cruel machine, when its 'brakes do not hold.
The contemporary Jew is no longer prepared to adapt to the ideology of a centralized state. This requires him to sacrifice much more than he is willing to for the sake of the ordinary prerogatives of citizenship. His education, his democratic instinct, his right to freedom, his self-images as a Jew and a citizen, are no longer accompanied by gratitude for advantages gained for he does not consider them an act of charity, but rather as elementary rights to which he is entitled. Above all else, is his attachment to Israel. Whether he declares it or denies it, the identity of the contemporary Jew is compounded of overall Jewish solidarity, and particularly solidarity with Israel. The extent of his identification with Israel has no set measure. When the country is hard-pressed, his identification with it increases, and when his own perplexity as a Jew grows, he turns to Israel both for spiritual support and for actual haven.
Wherever they are, the fundamental demand of Jews in our time is that they be granted the right to be different even if in their status as citizens this difference is considered by the rulers as detrimental to the state as a whole. In states with a centralistic ideological base, the desire to be different is construed as aloofness and divided loyalty: such a state is unwilling to compromise with this.
The conflict between modern man and his state involves more complex manifestations when the man is a Jew. In that case, the conflict is between the Jew's obligation to be loyal to the state in which he lives, and his sense of 'belonging to the Jewish people. He identifies with the state of Israel, but sets political and ideological conditions before it. One of the ways out for such a divided soul is to turn to the ostensibly universalistic solutions of the various leftist groups.
Within the Affluent Society
In any discussion of the nature of Jewish history, and particularly in the protracted internal controversy with respect to the purpose and objectives of Zionism, Jewry of the United States holds a very special place. The crux of the controversy can be sharply expressed as follows: In terms with both its status and its conditions, Jewry of' the United States has attempted to crystallize a new sense of Jewish awareness by replacing the concept of Galut with the concept of "dispersion". This Jewry has argued its case with Zionism from well-fortified and strongly defended positions. The achievements of a society built on meritocratic values have strengthened its confidence in itself and in its surroundings. American democracy, built on rationalistic foundations and the recognition of pluralistic ways of life, stand in contrast to the Zionist prognosis negating galut in all its forms, and has haven birth to a new ideology conferring a special status or Zionism in the United States.
Jewry of the United States saw their Zionism as fulfillment of a moral and political obligation to assist Jews in distress, to secure a haven for them in the land of Israel, and to help Jewry as a whole to build a national home. They frequently argued on the question of Aliya with their Zionist colleagues and pressed has given birth to a new ideology conferring a special status on Zionism in the United States.
The Zionist movement's constant need for the strength, influence and financial assistance of the Jewry of the United States in all aspects of its work, contributed to the consolidation of American Jewry's special ideology. Since the establishment of the state, this process has acquired profound and far-reaching dimensions due to the permanent emergency hovering over Israel 'and the constant need to mobilize the American Jewry for political support, financial aid, rallying of public opinion, etc. Zionism agreed, if not explicitly, then in actual practice, to confer the special status of a "dispersion" on the Jews of the United States, as against the concept "galut."
From the point of view of Zionism values, what is the difference between dispersion and galut?
Dispersion is not a temporary situation. In the terms of reference of American ethnic sociology, this concept is obviously based on a certain imitation of the other ethnic groups comprising the fabric of American society. To the extent that those other groups too had their origins in the "old country", the Jews are like them. This reinforced, as it were, the Jewish sense of being authentically American. Dispersion is a legitimate phenomenon which facilitates, and even demands, an even deeper affiliation with the surrounding society, while consciousness of 'being in galut is based on ex post facto alienation, voluntary aloofness and impermanence. The philosophy of Jewry in the United States represented an attempt to acquire total identity with the environment: whatever is necessary for the Gentiles in the way of achievement and of happiness and is confirmation of their rectitude, is necessary for the Jews as well.
With the establishment of the state of Israel, the paradox became greater. The more Jewry in the United States identified itself with the struggle for Israel's survival in all spheres, the greater the weakness and ineffectualness of the Zionist movement there. Its prestige and ideological stature declined primarily in the eyes of the young generation. An ideology that loses its power to attract youth is doomed. Throughout its existence, Zionism in America had been sustained by the spontaneous emotions of Jews newly arrived in the country, and fortified by sources of Jewish solidarity. But now is steadily declining and becoming submerged in the achievement-centered culture of abundance. It were as if, in return for American Jewry's aid and assistance to the state of Israel in all spheres, the Zionist movement had agreed to maintain a moratorium on ideologic debate with its American colleagues, but the shock was not long in coming.
Because Jewry had sunk deep roots in American society and 'began to derive sustenance from the values of that society, its own Jewish authenticity was enfeebled, it became more and more sensitive to its internal stratification, and more and more sensitive to the deep and hidden stratification of the American society. This is a very complex paradox. As long as a Jew preserves his uniqueness in a foreign society, lives in accordance with his own values and maintains his individuality and the sense of temporariness and isolation from his surroundings, it is not difficult for him to remain aloof from the spiritual and cultural crises of the environment. However, the deeper his involvement in the society around him, the more exposed he is to everything that impinges upon that society and upsets its values.
The young Jewish generation in the free countries is at a very perplexing crossroad. Its fathers tried to deepen their own American roots through adopting the social and philosophical scale of values of those among whom they lived. The young generation tries to do this to but in the opposite way: it joins all the other young Americans in their rebellion against society.
However, in throwing his lot in with those protesting against the accepted American set of values and ways of life, the young Jew in effect severs his own main roots of affiliation and undermines the foundations on which American Jewry's success was built, endangering its progress, influence, and special position both in the United States and in the Jewish world.
Thus a conflicting stand is crystallizing, one that in undermining the ideology behind "dispersion".
In the eyes of a young Jew in the United States, the concept of galut is no longer disqualified, from the viewpoint of his spiritual security and wholeness. Just the opposite: a whole Jewish individual can no longer deny his sense of alienation and estrangement within a torn and shaken civilization, a civilization based on fundamental systems that are drawn from entirely non- Jewish sources.
The polarization is conspicuous and dramatic: on the one hand young Jews join radical leftist groups, and on the other, an extremely intensive return to Judaism is becoming apparent which at this point' assumes the form of a profound search for original Jewish values. As usual in such moments of perplexity, there is no uni-directional, consolidated ideology for Jewish life.
However, for the first time now several options have opened up at once for Jewish youth. They are conflicting and varied, as against the previous generation's quiet acquiescence to Jewish-American life and its emphatic rejection of the particular implications of galut and a deepening and ever-increasing involvement in the new American homeland.
The opportunity again opening up for Zionism in the United States lies first of all in sincere comprehension of the stand of the youth, and its interpretation in concepts "relevant" to the young indigenous Jews, and not based on an approach applicable to the son of an East-European small town bent on the pursuit of happiness and acquisition of wealth in the new continent. The approach must be relevant to the profound crisis experienced by the Jew living in the lap of the American-Christian civilization, wherein happiness and wealth have not passed the authentic Jewish test of human success.
Canaan or a Jewish State
One of the interesting and intricate paradoxes that have generated Zionism's success in the normalization of situation of the Jews, is the sharpening of the existential conflicts between the part of the nation that has sovereign status in its own country, and the rest of dispersed Jewry.
The beginning of this paradox, inherited by Zionism from the Enlightenment culture, is the controversy fruitful from the cultural point of view between the desire to be like all the other nations, and the wish to obey historic intuition which senses that the entire purpose of the Jewish people's existence lies in its different and special nature. The controversy has moved from the stage of theory to application in life and in the essential forms by which life is lived. Zionism's objective to achieve the normalization of the nation had its source a body of values and symbols which when implemented expressed the ,full implication of severance from galut and the will to reconstruct the sovereign past 'as some what romantically conceived by those who founded the idea and those who put it into practice.
The prime element was man's attachment to his land. In this almost irrational attachment, the thirst for complete rootedness in a permanent, tangible, and almost primordial base, found fullest expression. Any method other than that used for building the country, from the establishment of Mikve Yisrael till our own times, was altogether inconceivable. For a long time the return to the land and agriculture was the main artery nourishing renewed Jewish settlement in Eretz Israel and it was a tremendous source of inspiration for the entire Zionist movement. With settlement on the lands imbued with symbolism, longing, hope and expectation, the frustration caused by separation of the Jews from the land was abolished both in the eyes of the Jews and in the eyes of the Gentiles. During a period when attention was again focused on the value and importance of the man of the soil, Zion ism too drew its special affinity for a life of agriculture from those sources. The land represented the normal, the enduring, and the positive: it was the opposite of Galut.
A second set of values focused around the concept of defense and sovereign power. From the very beginning of new settlement in Eretz Israel, the settlers became aware of the fundamental and natural enmity their arrival fanned in the hearts of the people living in the region. This enmity was not always apparent, but occasionally made itself felt in painful fashion.
The values of the "Hagana" transcended the physical brute aspects of self-defense. The mithos of rebirth penetrated deeply into the roots of the national movement and brought about the existential conception of life and death that in their essence were very different from anything that had preceded them, as if a full cycle of national being had drawn to a close. The act of self-defense and the exercise of independent power, demonstratively expressed the complete change from that which had prevailed in the galut during times of emergency.
A third series of values: the revitalization of national culture on a secular basis, and primarily rebirth of the language, literature, press, and the establishment of a network of cultural foundations on which national Jewish settlement could rest. The motivation behind developments in language and culture was the flight from the abstract, from all that was detached from reality. This further demonstrated the severance from the Galut and the turn to a new, tangible and realistic direction.
And the fourth element the naive, almost pantheistic intoxication with nature. This phenomenon too demonstrated the need to take hold of what was real, solid, material the need to live in reality and discard the purely speculative. The sharp turn to nature that was in part a response to an inner drive and in part derived from the popular movements in Europe, was among the main signs that the man of the small-town ghetto had burst through to the cosmic expanse, to the Zionist movement and freedom.
These values were woven into educational precepts and were meant to bring forth the new muscular Jew, the man of nature redolent of the sweat of labor and the main of nature redolent of the sweat of labor and figure, anti-galut, anti-ghetto, anti-alienated, in short: a man who embodied the antithesis of the accepted Jewish archetype.
This self-image preva lent during the early years of our century, already contained within itself the features of the new archetype. In the years of the Thirties, an entire new generation arose, the generation of the Sabras, Normalization had reached its peak. Although ideologically the Jewish people as a whole had a very important place in this Sabra's upbringing, his education was directed toward the problematical aspect of Jewry in the galut, as against the obvious reality of the Jewish community in Eretz Israel.
This duality manifested itself as a polarization pointing up the different values of the Galut and Eretz Israel. It was the Jew of Israel and the Jew from "over there", and the abyss separating them crew ever wider. Spanning the abyss was the heroic rescue European Jewry.
The holocaust and the establishment of the state deepened and intensified the dualistic image in the consciousness of the Sabra generation. When the days of their youth were over, after the War of Liberation, after the immeasurably tragic destruction, after the wonderful and courageous action undertaken to rescue Jewry with their own hands, after manning and bringing in the boatloads of illegal immigrants, after the British were expelled and the Arabs defeated, and after the new Jewish individual had fully materialized, came the questions, and with them, the drastic break with the galut. This separation was most tragic, some thing like a revolt of the sons against the world of values of their fathers. Thus the distance between the substantial, realistic Israeli from "here" and the insubstantial, abstract Jew from "there", began to grow and the gap 'between sovereign Israel and the galut widened steadily. This increasing gap has caused a crisis of Jewish identity within the generation of sabras and in their culture. The question that very slowly filtered into the depths of their being pervaded all their experiences, and created a real sense of crisis were: "Was there really no way of avoiding the war? Is not the right of the Arabs etched as deeply into the landscape of the country as our right? The great and terrible sacrifice was the original uprooting from this land really necessary? And the landscape of the country itself has it not changed? Is there really an essential identity between the Israeli and the Jew from "there"? Does not the very war and endless struggle enfold a tragic delusion? Is there not a terrible disparity between the sacrifice and the historic redress?
Questions of this kind had already confronted the generation of the War of Liberation, Israeli society which is almost an ideocratic one- they became a society of skeptics, deeply involved in a crisis of self-identification. Between the Sinai Campaign and the Six Day War, the crisis ripened, and was primarily focused on the process of eliminating the dominance of Zionism from the collective Israeli personality, in order to normalize cultural and political experience and to free the Israeli of his dependence on the galut.
This crisis strove to find a point of balance between the Gentile world and the increasing alienation from the Jewish world. The Zionist paradox had reached its climax: The more the Jew in Israel became normal in his own eyes, the more nearly he approached the family of nations, and was liberated from the spiritual and cultural goals of his previous personality the more complete his fusion with the biblical archetype the greater was his alienation from the real Jew who lives in galut. This alienation extended even to the young Jewish generation outside of Israel that is also growing up with an experience of life entirely different from that of its parent generation.
The post holocaust Jewish generation in Galut, too, expected normalization, and almost achieved it. The "normal" Israeli and the "normal" Jew each for his own reasons and from the different motivating forces in his life rejected the need for coexistence between Israel and the dispersion. Their mutual dependence seemed to them thraldom, and it was important, as the sense of liberation and autonomy intensified, to eliminate that dependency.
The Six Day War was the beginning of a great about-face. The major dynamic involved here was the result of the profound shock that accompanied the war. The Israeli discovered the awful meaning of the isolation inherent in Jewish destiny. At a time of emergency and crisis, he discovered the shakiness of his "normalization". He became aware with the shock of an internal earthquake, that his 'being an Israeli is not an absolute guarantee that holocaust and destruction would never reach him. He became aware that his one complete and wholehearted ally is his young Jewish counterpart and the generation of older Jews abroad those for whom the establishment of the state had been the one absolute value in their lives. The Israeli began to ponder over the constant state of war and understood that his struggle for survival has reason and meaning to the extent that it contains a dimension of national-Jewish justice, and that it is meaningless to the extent that its only dimensions are the superficial ones of territory and sovereignty. He understood that his Israeli personality in 'effect loses its identity and its true relationship with this land, if the point of contact is not the Jewish historic dimension on the one hand, and the actual practical Jewish need on the other.
Zionism, for a whole decade forced into quotation marks as a static concept with nothing to say, returned to the living arena of vital thought when it was freed from the confines of inverted commas.
Thus the paradox inherent in Zionism that we dealt with above was eliminated, "normalization" moved on to a higher and more significant level in the evolution of a multi-dimensional Israeli personality, as against one-dimensional Israeli-ism. The young Jew in the Golah and the young Israeli resemble one another. As they see it, neither is a mythical creature, an ideological figure, an abstract concept; they are people of Jewish extraction who seek their identity and personalities in the depths of Jewish culture and in the tangible significance of their destiny. Zionism represents the expression of their existential destiny, and bears within it as well the message of redemption and liberation.
In this review we have not considered the differing manifestations of Jewish distress, but the unequivocal sameness and singleness of Jewry's fate. The older generation attempted in many ways to escape from the meaning of galut. Some sought their way out through acquiring a similarity with their environs, through fully identifying themselves with the political goals of their surroundings; others sought it in intensifying their isolation and in profound religious separatism. Some turned to the left and others to the center. In every way, along every path they tried to follow, there was a point at which they met the point of Jewish survival. Certain groups of course managed to fall away completely and resigned from the Jewish fate. But this has been a permanent accompaniment to Jewish history, and in no way affected Jewry qualitatively.
A contemporary Jewish youth, on the whole well-educated, university-trained, who is alert and aware and throws all his weight into modern cultural struggles; who generally speaking enjoys the fruits of civil emancipation, whose achievements transcend the finest hopes and expectations of the older generation, in his own terms and with his own set of criteria, this youth is discovering its problems as Jews and the Jew as a problem.
Again the Left offers many solutions, but they contain nothing new. First and foremost, they demand that he forfeit his individuality and national identity. However, the main crisis this youth confronts is that of his identity. And it is here that Zionism becomes relevant to him personally, as an act of individual retrievement of a whole personality.
The same applies to the Israeli - his personal crisis, the crisis of his identity, stems from the one-dimensional political nature of his personality; the Israeli who rebels in the desire to base all his individuality on the fact of his being a free citizen of a state, almost lost that individuality.
Zionism gives the dimension of freedom and liberation back to the young Jew in the Golah.
Zionism gives the dimension of Judaism and the purpose for which he is liberated, back to the Israeli.
And both are rediscovering Zionism as the major ideology for Jewry in our time. The source of their relationship to Zionism is not in loyalty to their fathers, but the relevance of Zionism for the sons.