Lying About Zionism – An Analysis

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isfl[By Rabbi Yair Hoffman]

Many in the Yeshiva world are now faced with a halachic quandary. On the one hand, Yeshiva trained individuals are adamantly opposed to the Conservative and Reform movement making inroads in Eretz Yisroel. It is almost universally recognized among all religious elements that the agenda of the Reform and Conservative movements in Eretz Yisroel is destructive to the Jewish people. Similarly, most Bnei Torah are in favor of the Rabbanut’s strictness on Shabbos observance in Yerushalayim.

On the other hand, most members of the Yeshiva community are adamantly opposed to being labeled “Zionist.” The Yeshiva community, generally speaking, neither identifies with the Chardal (Chareidi Dati Leumi) community nor the Satmar community (strictly anti-Zionist). Their sentiments are mostly with an Agudah type platform which encompasses a large range of opinions as to how exactly to view the state of Israel. Many if not most look at the government of the State of Israel the same way we would look at a Jewish hospital in Manhattan that does not run according to halachah, but will offer a kosher kitchen and perhaps an electric Shabbos candelabra.

So what is the quandary? The World Zionist Congress elections end on April 30th. The WZC has a budget of close to half a billion dollars which is spent on a number of initiatiaves affecting the Jewish people. There is one party the Religious Zionists backed by the Orthodox Union, National Council of Young Israel, and the RCA.

The Reform and Conservative movements have spent significant funds on getting their constituents to vote, and if the Religious Zionist party does not win significantly, the State of Israel will be funding shlichim in America with a Reform and or Conservative agenda. Until now, most of the shlichim have been dati leumi. There are also a few other areas of significance that can be affected by the delegates that are chosen.

Reform has challenged everything we hold dear – Kashrus, Shabbos, the Kosel, conversion, marriage, and divorce. They have also challenged the office of the Chief Rabbinate. It is a battle that they are not giving up on.

The quandary is: Should those who affiliate with the Yeshiva community vote in the World Jewish Congress elections?

In a recent Mishpacha magazine article, Jonathan Rosenblum wrote that the issues are important enough to at least pose the question to one’s Rav or Posaik. This author had posed the question to two major Poskim affiliated with the Agudah movement. One, in fact, is a Rav of an Agudah Shul. Both Poskim stated unequivocally that people should register and vote for the religious Zionist platform, and that doing so does not make one a Zionist. Both requested anonymity, but allowed me to quote them in this forum. In addition, it is clear that Rav Ovadiah Yosef zt”l stated that one should register and vote as well.

I would also like to respectfully disagree with a statement in the Mishpacha that was made by Rabbi Pesach Lerner. He stated that the website makes one check off a box that some people may find objectionable. However, a careful reading of the required declaration reveals nothing objectionable. Indeed, Yasser Arafat yimach shmo and l’havdil the current Satmar Rebbe would both be able to sign it as well.

How so?

The declaration, as it is currently worded, is simply a statement of a series of nine facts. Most, if not all of the facts, are true. The declaration does not make one adhere to the principles of Zionism. The declaration will be reproduced below, however, we will first examine the nine series of facts in the declaration:

1] Zionism is the movement that brought about the establishment of the State of Israel. ANALYSIS: Most people would say that this is a factual statement. Palestinian Muslims mourn it, but agree that it is true. There is a Hashkafic caveat that, theologically, nothing happens without Hashem allowing it to happen and this statement does not address theological issues.

2] Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. ANALYSIS: It would be more correct to say that Zionism is “a” national liberation movement of the Jewish people rather than “the.” The term “the” would seem to preclude somewhat Moshiach’s national liberation movement – however, one can say that at this point this is the national liberation movement that exists in current times.

3] Zionism views a Jewish, Zionist, democratic and secure State of Israel to be the expression of the common responsibility of the Jewish people for its continuity and future. ANALYSIS: Yes, Zionism views this, but others may view things differently – namely that the future and continuity of the Jewish people is not dependent upon the State of Israel.

4-9] These are merely a recitation of what the foundation of Zionism is.

Thus, voting and checking the box for the required declaration is not lying about Zionism at all. It is this author’s opinion and that of two major Agudah affiliated Poskim that one should vote for the religious Zionist platform. The link to vote is here. Vote for the tenth party.

April 30th is upon us. This is a very serious issue that demands our attention.

https://www.myvoteourisrael.com/Home/Register

Required Declaration I declare that I accept the Jerusalem Program (below); I am Jewish; I will be at least 18 years of age by June 30, 2015; my permanent residence is in the United States; and I will not/did not vote in the March 2015 Israeli Knesset election.

By checking this box, you certifiy the above statement is true.

Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, brought about the establishment of the State of Israel, and views a Jewish, Zionist, democratic and secure State of Israel to be the expression of the common responsibility of the Jewish people for its continuity and future.

The foundations of Zionism are:

1. The unity of the Jewish people, its bond to its historic homeland Eretz Yisrael, and the centrality of the State of Israel and Jerusalem, its capital, in the life of the nation.

2. Aliyah to Israel from all countries and the effective integration of all immigrants into Israeli Society.

3. Strengthening Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state and shaping it as an exemplary society with a unique moral and spiritual character, marked by mutual respect for the multi-faceted Jewish people, rooted in the vision of the prophets, striving for peace and contributing to the betterment of the world.

4. Ensuring the future and the distinctiveness of the Jewish people by furthering Jewish, Hebrew and Zionist education, fostering spiritual and cultural values and teaching Hebrew as the national language.

5. Nurturing mutual Jewish responsibility, defending the rights of Jews as individuals and as a nation, representing the national Zionist interests of the Jewish people, and struggling against all manifestations of anti-Semitism.

6. Settling the country as an expression of practical Zionism.

The author may be reached at [email protected]

ARTICLE PUBLISHED BY 5TJT

13 COMMENTS

  1. The idea of zionism was to establish a Jewish homeland in Eretz Yisrael that was free from the yoke of Torah. Just read up on Herzl. They had two problems at the time. The Arabs weren’t about to get up and leave, as most of them had been their for a thousand or more years (compare how many Americans have roots in the North America for that length), and most of the Jews were disinclined to give up Torah (especially among the non-Ashkenazim, but most of the Ashkenazim who wanted to give up Torah wanted to live like goyim in a “western” country).

    A lot of frum Jews have been trying to steer the zionist movement towards Torah, but without success. The non-Arab population of Eretz Yisrael is overwhelmingly non-frum. Not to mention that by having started a war with the Muslim world (which was originally quite happy to support an expanded autonomous Jewish community – until the zionists tried to take over the government and treat the Arabs as a conquered people), the zionists put themselves in a non-win situation since for Israel to defeat the Islamic world would require a miracle.

    And yes, the Satmars are entitled to say “I told you so.”

  2. It makes no sense to me why somebody would not vote. Yes you may disagree with the religious zionist party on some issues, but they are a party guided by Torah and Halacha. By not voting you are just handing millions of dollars of funding to secular non-torah institutions. By the way Rav Ovadia did not just tell people to vote but he suggested they start their own party. There is a religious sephardi party as well.
    Not voting seems to me exactly like what Rav Shmuel Auerbach did by protesting the elections and not voting. By doing so he lost 4 seats for the chareidim.
    By being stubborn and not voting for a religious party, despite your small disagreements, you are hurting the torah world at large.

  3. I think it is best expressed by Moshe Feinstien z”l in Igros Moshe when asked about having an Israeli flag or not having an Israeli flag in a shul ( there was a maklokes).

    He answered that the flag is only a piece of material and the whole thing of making a fuss over such stupidity is in itself stupid.

    Zionism is basically not at all what it was 50 years ago and certainly does not resemble what it was in the time of Herzel. Satmar is living in the past as if it is relevant today; it is not.

    Let each person act as he feels at the time in regards to Zionism. Vote as a Jew who wants to bring HKbH into our lifes and world.

  4. luckshun kugel #6: Rav Moshe wrote in his teshuva on the permissibility of having an Israeli flag in a shul that it putting the flag in shul is Hevel and Shtus and it should be removed since the symbols of the State of Israel have no place in a shul since “those who made this flag and symbol of the State of Israel were רשעים”. But he said that people should not create a machlokes or break away from the shul because of it, since no aveira performed in a shul, even Znus, can take away the Kedusha of the shul.

  5. The author is confusing 2 separate issues and akuperma goes along with it, so that he can prove his satmar/neturei karta ideology.
    The analysis is faulty because even though the zionist state was premised upon ideas that are opposed to the Torah, the question of how should be ones approach in voting today in the state of Israel, is not connected. Its defacto existence, changes the halachic equation. And the reason for that, because halacha deals with whats relevant for the present situation. And in the current situation, every chareidi that we put into the kenesset is one less zionist, or even worse, an arab. Have the chareidim had an influence on the zionists? Most definitely, yes. The fact that the majority of the jews are still not frum does not prove the contrary. Most jews worldwide are not frum. Its not a zionist thing per se. The fact is that many non frum jews have become frum, and that is an accomplishment. This is not an all or nothing game here. One has to do as best as one can. I don’t see how this vindicates satmar position at all. On the contrary, satmar’s position is so full of inconsistencies and contradictions, that I would need a whole new column to explain the fallacy of their thinking.

  6. MitzvahMan613:
    Not quite.

    The “Religious Zionists” are guided by both Torah and, lihavdil, Nationalism/Zionism. As Rav Elchonon put it, “RZ” is religion mixed with idolatry.

    So, no, it is not a matter of some minor disagreements, even if they mean well and they think they’re right.

    Having stated that, the question of if/who to vote for is a different matter.

  7. i love how he shows hes clueless about jews or jewish living in eretz yisroel from how he rationalized his categorizations on jewish groups who thrive there!

  8. Regarding Rabbi Hoffman’s points:

    The comparison of the State of Israel to a hospital that doesn’t operate according to halacha is a nice catch-phrase for those who are religious and Zionist. But it is offensive to those who know better.

    Moreover, it is deceptive in that it implies that the main concern with the State of Israel is that it is not “run according to Halacha” whereas the greatest concern with the State of Israel is that not only is its very existence as a Jewish political entity against halacha but, on top of this, it unabashedly is a modern-day Antiochus (have people already forgotten the Agudah-led Tehillim gathering not that long ago in lower-Manhattan in response to Zionist shmad?). And the Zionists have been quite successful in doing so since even before 1948, R”L L”A.

    #2: Actually, Zionism is THE national liberation movement of the Zionists and NOT of the Jewish people, ch”V. To grant that it is even “A” national liberation movement of the Jewish people is a chilul Hashem. It’s somewhat like stating that Jews for J is a messianic movement of the Jewish people. No. Jews for J is an organization that fraudulently cloaks itself in the holy mantle of the Jewish people. Same with Zionism and the Zionists.

    So this second point is, liChaOra, a non-starter (and offensive to any maamin, as Rabbi Hoffman somewhat alluded to). It is, however, true that some Zionists are Jews and by extension one may try to claim that Zionism is, therefore, “Jewish”. But the same could be said for Jews for J or other clearly beyond-the-pale deviant movements. So, no, this liberation movement is Zionist and NOT Jewish.

  9. I’m also curious what happened to emuna and bitachon in Hashem, in this case. Why should Jews be encouraged to expose themselves to all this heresy for the sake of possibly influencing what kind of “shlichim” are sent by the State of Israel? Is it not bad enough that Jews in E”Y have to deal with this heresy? Must the frum Jews in America also be exposed to all this in the guise of frum-keit, as opposed to the usual from the media?

    And given our gedolim’s description of “RZ”, maybe it would be better if the Zionists would send reform/conservative/whatever rather than RZ so at least people will be clear that these are not “authentic” Jews (just as Zionism, too, is, of course not authentic Jewish), as opposed to RZ which has the term “Religious” in its name which fools people into thinking it is authentic Jewish – again, as well-meaning as they may be.