As any other Jew does, I look to the land of Israel as my homeland and birthright. Unlike most Jews, I don’t necessarily see a secular nation-state as a necessary measure to justify a strong, vibrant Jewish presence in the Land of Israel.
To me, modern political Zionism is merely a response to the failure of Jewish integration into nineteenth century European society by the formation of a modern, secular nation-state made up of a Jewish ethnic majority. The Zionism of Herzl’s Die Altneuland is quite different from the the desire to live in the land of Israel in order to follow the commanded precepts (Miswoth) of the Tora as recorded in Miqra (Jewish scripture), and Rabbinic Literature.
It is woefully reactionary, overtly defensive, sometimes Messiainic in tone, and fashioned in a manner to appeal to populism by attempting to make Israel a second America. Granted, many international organizations like UNRWA and the UN Security Council have consistently applied double standards to Israel, which should highlight the rampant corruption and lies hiding behind a facade of “neutral” agencies.
“Zionism” has unjustly become a term synonymous with racism, apartheid, and genocide in many circles, despite its plain meaning as the desire for the Jewish people to live in the Land of Israel. The actions of the Israeli army, particularly operations enacted in self-defense, have widespread implications for Jewish communities around the world, evoking acts of hatred towards Jews from those claiming to only fight against “Zionism”.
However, there are many unfortunate issues that Israeli society hasn’t addressed: racism, hatred, and ethnic unrest. The mistreatment of Sephardi and Mizrahi (Arab) Jews by the Israeli Mapai government: particularly the stolen Yemenite Children are swept under the rug in many pro-Israel circles.
While the typical Legislative power in Jewish nationhood has been that of the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of the Tora system, the secular Israeli government has granted power to the Ultra-Orthodox Chief Rabbinate over “religious matters”, such as marriage, burial, and conversion, as well as Kashruth certification. The system is headed by two Chief Rabbis, one “Ashkenazi” and the other “Sephardi.” Both hold major sway in the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) circles as wielders of social and political clout, although Jewish law doesn’t technically yield them any power beyond consultation in a non-Tora-based society.
The Chief Rabbinate has lead the Israeli state to enact vicious and draconian Marriage and Conversion laws, sometimes deporting halakhically converted Jews who no longer lived up to the astronomical standards of the Rabbinate (a practice not supported in previous Rabbinical compilations of Jewish Law such as the Mishne Tora and the Shulhan ‘Arukh). This extra-stringent practice of Jewish law spits in the face of those who cannot afford the excessive prices of food authorized by “official” Rabbinic organizations, replacing the active involvement of local Jewish communities in preserving the Law.
While the Israeli government does sometimes enact measures preventing certain numbers of Palestinian Muslims from praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, it has followed a uniform ban on Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, where the Dome of the Rock currently resides. The Chief Rabbinate has corroborated the policies, which some have called “Apartheid against Jews,” by declaring all Jewish presence on the site forbidden. How ironic that we scramble to pray at the Western Wall, the equivalent of an ancient parking structure, which has become the pilgrimage site of Jews today instead of the site where the Temple once stood. Jews are harassed and occasionally physically assaulted for daring to venture on top of the Temple Mount, while current Israeli restrictions forbid any sort of prayer or spiritual activities near the Dome of the Rock complex, for fear of angering the Jordanian Waqf and Palestinian Muslims.
In my past experiences as someone supportive of the “pro-Israel” movement, I found that American aid policies are one of the many policies endorsed by groups like AIPAC that I just can’t agree with. My main gripe is that they create dependency by the Israeli people on US tax-payer money, and makes Israel a constrained consumer on the US arms industry. Politicians inside and outside Israel, such as Moshe Feiglin and Rand Paul, have supported ending the current arms-subsidy deals, which hamper an improved American-Israeli relationship based on common values and free trade instead of colonialism.
The policies inside the State of Israel make Israeli Jews a far cry from “a free people in our land.” High amounts of taxation have inflated the prices of goods and services, particularly food and motor vehicles. There is a vast amount of power held by the Police, who are basically off-duty soldiers who have no scruples searching someone without reasonable suspicion. Drug Prohibition and prohibitions against owning firearms both constrain the private lives of all Israeli citizens, while the Medical Marijuana ploy is fashioned as a last-resort after multiple ineffective treatments. The laws preventing Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs against free movement in both Israel proper as well as Judea and Samara (Known colloquially as the “West Bank”) clearly conflict with my beliefs as a Classical Liberal-Libertarian. The surveillance state used in Israel has been radically expanded in the past 10 years, and has not been successful in preventing major terrorist attacks (such as the murder of Jews in a Har Nof synagogue over a year ago) in the past few years.
National defense is another problem that ensnares the Libertarian/Classical Liberal interested in Middle Eastern affairs. While many of us may agree that individuals have the right to defend themselves, as well as freely associate with others who share a common goal and purpose, when do you cross the line into forming an army for the state? The answer ranges from the Classical Liberal idea of a national army providing defense as a public good for all, or the Minarchist/LP idea of an army based on the Swiss Canton model, while Anarcho-Capitalists might suggest a collective militia that is formed to protect a group of individuals. The compelled army service, seen as a holy duty by the civil religion of Atheist Zionism and “Religious-Zionist” state worship, doesn’t ensure the same quality of a privatized army.
The problematic attitudes voiced by Western Libertarians can be summed up by the intellectual dishonesty and lies by omission in Stefan Molyneux’s video “The ‘Truth’ about Israel and Palestine.”
Mr. Molyneux’s recent video is also problematic for a few reasons: He details the Jewish communal experience as a “rabbinic dictatorship” in which all Jews were subjected to the authority of rabbis is not true of most Jewish communities. According to him, these communities prevented intellectual growth and saw all Jews as a “holy, chosen master race.”
This is a blatantly biased understanding of [Rabbinic] Judaism, which fails to note the intellectual openness and influence of Jews in Spanish society before the Expulsion in 1492, as well as the tolerant attitudes of the Sephardic-Jewish communities towards less observant members in the Mediterranean countries. He even fails to note the intellectual openness and secular education that influenced many great Hakhamim and Tora scholars such as Maimonides, Leon De Modena, Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, Yisrael Moshe Hazzan, Yihyah Qafih, José Faur, Jonathan Sacks and many others, who combated the insidious influence of Lurianic Kabbalah, which sought to replace classical Jewish religious humanism with magical Gnostic mystery doctrine with a “Jewish” veneer. The notions of “improved” Jewish souls and the ideas of a Rebbe being a container of “a holy essence,” popularized by radical Hasidic revivalist movements have come to subvert the traditional message of Judaism, aimed to replace superstition and fear-mongering with devotion to the Creator and a voluntarily accepted Law, passed on to our children and those who choose to join our nation in perpetuity.
This view is based off a mainly Euro-centric outsiders view of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism which used the state as an agent to either bully non-believers, or as a source of political protection for the community. Molyneux’s “Rabbi” is a typical Pharisee-like caricature, and he even invokes Karl Marx as a boogeyman to make Judaism look medieval, old-fashioned, and coercive.
Funny how Stefan Molyneux fails to mention the Pan-Arab nationalism in the pre-state society of Mandatory Palestine. While he mentions Deir Yassin, he doesn’t mention the 1929 massacre of Jews in Hebron, before the existence of the “Zionist Rabbinical Mafia State.”
This is a typical example of Pseudo-Libertarian Doublethink (ignoring blatant contradictions in one’s thinking to avoid cognitive dissonance), blaming the Jews in a collectivist fashion while exonerating the Palestinians as innocent and stateless. While Israel has many problems and is far from a perfect society, its proximity in policy to free markets and individual liberties compared to the rest of the Middle East, should earn it some support from those concerned with the erosion of freedom.
This is a guest post by YehudiHofshi.