Nothing New Under the Sun: ‘Slaves of the Revolution’ Revisited
The other day, my wife finally got me to go through some old cartons in our storage room that I had managed to not disturb for more than a decade and a half. While sifting through the boxes I found copies of old articles I had written and published back in the 1980’s. One column in particular struck me that was originally published in The Jerusalem Post on January 27, 1985, entitled “Slaves of the Revolution.” After reading it again after more than a quarter of a century, I realized, sadly, that I could have written the same article today with very few changes and minor updates. For your edification I reproduce said article below.
“Slaves of the Revolution”
“We are still faced with the task of training our youth to rebel against ‘servility within the revolution’ in all its forms – beginning with those Jews who were so much the slaves of the Russian Revolution that they even distributed proclamations calling for pogroms in the name of the revolution, and including the Palestine Communist Party (Jews) of our day, which is acting in alliance with the pogromists (Arabs) of Hebron and Tzefat.”
( Berl Katzenelson: Revolution and Tradition, 1934)
Berl Katzenelson was one of the central figures of Socialist Zionism of the group that spawned the likes of David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. One wonders how he would react were he alive today – in light of above stated views – to Peace Now demonstrators in the center of Hebron demonstrating against the Jews there and for today’s pogromists? How would he react to hearing major leaders of his own Labor Party declare that the fault of a Jew brutally murdered in Hebron lies, not with the Arab pogromists, but with the Jewish victim for having the chutzpa to “provoke” the descendants of the Arab pogromists of 1929 by being in Hebron in the first place?
One wonders how he would perceive the actions of a Jewish Defense Minister who orders Jewish soldiers to prevent, physically if necessary, the public lighting of a Chanukah menorah (Chanukia) on the site of ancient Jewish Shechem in order to avoid the possibility of Arab sensibilities being disturbed – Jewish sensitivities be damned? And what would Berl Katzenelson do today were he to see and hear members of his own Labor Party denounce a lone Jew for maintaining a vigil against the idea of Jews being summarily stoned on the roadways of Eretz Yisrael becoming an acceptable concept?
Were Katzenelson alive today, he would, at the very least, write an editorial different from what one finds today in the newspaper he founded, Davar. He would no doubt write: “Whither Hast Thou Gone, O Labor Party of My Youth?” and end with a plea for a return of Jewish priorities in the Land of Israel. Certainly he would bristle at the idea that “settlement” has become a dirty word.
He would question the statement that Jewish settlement should be restricted solely to those areas that have no large Arab population, asking, “what about when we established the tiny Jewish settlement Tel Aviv alongside the huge Arab populated town of Jaffa?” He would rail against the blatant materialism of the Histadrut, the trade union he worked so hard for all his life. He would wonder, perhaps, why if the labor federation owns half of the countries industries, a bit of the equity cannot be shared with the poor members who are being forced out of work by economic circumstances – and the biggest of the “cruel bosses” is none other than the Histadrut itself.
Today, loving one’s country is considered old fashioned; love of one’s nation, the Jewish people, as a first priority, to be immoral. An entire generation of Israeli youth has been educated in an apparent vacuum devoid of traditional Zionist values. The inheritors established a social-political class structure that has succeeded in alienating countless potential olim and caused serious divisions among the Jews in the Land. The inheritors have built their own Galut (exile), complete with a Galut mentality – only here they are the goyim.
Those Jews who persist in believing in Jewish priorities, in Jewish values, settlement, the dignity of Jewish labor, sacrifice for one’s nation and land, patriotism and tradition, are scoffed at, looked upon with derision. Relics of bygone times. But it is in fact these newborn relics that yet wave the banner of Berl Katzenelson’s Jewish revolution in the Land of Israel. Perhaps not the socialist aspect, but certainly the Zionist one. For today, Berl Katzenelson would not recognize his own inheritors; because they have become the “slaves of the revolution.”
To the above reproduced article, I might add: Berl Katzenelson would no doubt be flabbergasted by not only his inheritors, but some of Jabotinsky’s inheritors, recognizing a newly invented nationality, the (Arab) Palestinians, then accepting their false claims to the Jewish Homeland at the expense of their fellow Jews, even to the point of willing to divide and deliver part of the Jewish People’s holy and eternal capital city, Jerusalem, to our generation’s pogromists. Clearly, nothing is new under the sun.
This article was originally published by The Times of Israel.