Monday, February 19th | 4 Adar 5778


Be in the know!

Get our exclusive daily news briefing.

May 1, 2015 10:28 am

Alienation Inside and Outside of Israel

avatar by Jeremy Rosen

Email a copy of "Alienation Inside and Outside of Israel" to a friend

The Temple Mount. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Every year when Israel’s Independence Day comes round, I always experience delight, pride, and sadness.

Delight and pride because after two thousand years of exile, of suffering under the oppression, hatred, and prejudice of so many countries, civilizations, and religions, at last and miraculously, we have been able to reestablish ourselves in our historical homeland. We have contributed so much to humanity that we deserve the right to be treated equally and to be as autonomous as everyone else.

That includes the right to be able to make ones own mistakes in ones country as much as anyone else. Of course we should recognize the right of others to be autonomous, too, and in our specific case to try our best to reach a fair accommodation with the Palestinians.

However, let us make no mistake, the desire of so many to see Israel disappear will remain a challenge and there is no alternative but to face it. That is a sad reflection on others.

But the sadness that I am talking about is our own. On both sides of the spectrum I see fellow Jews with who I have little in common.

Let me start with those closest to me on the religious side. I can understand the mindset of opponents of secular Zionism. Secular Zionism was born out of an anti-religious secular, and mainly Marxist, worldview that saw religion as restricting, medieval and responsible for everything that was negative in the Jewish condition.

Its declared aims were to establish a state where religious values were excluded or at least marginalized. The early years of Zionism saw a profound sense of alienation between the Old Yishuv and the New. The Old were Jews living in the Holy Land out of religious conviction; a constant feature of exile, whenever conditions allowed. The New Yishuv were the secular pioneers who came to create a new state through the work of their own hands.

This antagonism has continued, but over time it has softened, largely due to the euphoria after the Six Day War and the personality of Menachem Begin who brought changes that brought both Sephardi and other traditional Jews into the body politic and into the workforce hitherto dominated by the secular unions.

Of course there is still a kulturkampf going in Israel, as is there is in many free societies, between religion and secularism. It is right that this struggle plays itself out in the democratic process and is accommodated, if not settled by it.

However, the situation today in Israel is very different than my first experience when I arrived in Haifa in 1958 and was spat at for wearing a kippa. Nowadays the spit seems to be flying mainly in the other direction. In my days the violent anti-Zionism was confined to a handful of lunatics called the Neturei Karta (“The Protectors of the City”, as if they protected anyone) who were even ostracized by the ideologue of anti-Zionism, the late Satmar Rebbe Yoel Teitelbaum.

The anti-Zionists have every right to oppose the Zionist state. That is democracy. But isn’t it ironic that the Israel they abhor gives more support to Torah than any state ever has in history. And its social welfare system enables ultra Orthodox families to live a life of study and in many cases indolence. Their inability to be grateful is one thing. But to attack those Charedi Jews who choose to serve in the Israeli army and to destroy their property, brothers who actually defend and protect them, is simply criminal and I hope they are put in prison.

They claim to be religious, as I do, and claim to follow Jewish Law, as I do. Yet with such people I wish to have nothing to do whatsoever. I could not bring myself to be civil to such mutations of Judaism. They typify everything I despise about extreme, irrational religion.

I am an unreserved admirer of the late Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, who believed that anyone helping build a Jewish state or helping the Jewish people survive was worthy of respect, admiration, and gratitude for that alone, regardless of whatever other shortcomings they were guilty of.

Now let me switch to the other extreme. I have every respect for those who wish to support the establishment of a Palestinian state that would live at peace with Israel and recognize its right to exist as a democratic state. I have enormous respect for those who stand up against abuses of law, humanity, and civil rights, whether within Israel itself or on the West Bank, and who highlight the mistakes and tragedies that have been made.

But I have no time for those Israelis who oppose the existence of a Jewish state and accuse Israel of genocide or apartheid and who show no sense of equivalence whatsoever.

As for “settlers”, however one defines them, fair and just resolution will be one in which Muslims and Christians live equally and peacefully in a Jewish state alongside the Jews, and Jews and Christians will live in a Palestinian state in safety and at peace alongside its Palestinian Arab population. That is why I support those who would be happy to live in a Judea and Samaria under Palestinian rule, just as I oppose those settlers who believe that Palestinians should never have a state of their own and those Palestinians who want it to be Jew-less.

Finally in this list of those I have nothing in common with I include those Jews who out of lack of education or any substantively Jewish experience feel no interest or commitment to a Jewish state. I am simply not in the same space.

I am one of those middle-of-the-road committed Jews who want the best of both worlds. As with everything, it is the extremist who gets the attention. But I know there are far more moderates like me than most people seem to realize. We are not silent. We express our views and propagate them. We just do not make as much noise as the zealots on both sides. But that doesn’t mean we will not win the argument in the long run.

Now let me switch to the Muslim world. It is indeed awash with anti-Semitism and dominated by extremists who call for the death of Jews and Christians and who will kill them given a chance. We are accorded Dhimmi status by the Koran. This is not a status that can be morally acceptable in this modern world. It is redolent of primitive fundamentalism and no more to be tolerated than discriminating against homosexuals, blacks, or other minorities in any civilized society.

But I know full well that there are many Muslims who do not accept this and are in exactly the same position in relation to their world as I am in relation to mine. We do not approve of fanaticism. We can and we do talk to each other. Not enough, of course, but there can never be enough reconciliation and moderation.

Now if I can claim that the Neturei Karta and those Jews who deny Israel legitimacy are alien deviations and distortions of Judaism, so moderate Muslims can say the same about their extremes. I often hear people ask, “Where is the moderate Muslim?” Just as I often hear people ask, “Where is the moderate Orthodox Jew?” We are there and not “hiding behind stones and trees.”

In conclusion, we are like a dysfunctional married couple. Professional counselors might help, outsiders might help, family might help, and common sense might help. Above all, one should keep on trying. But in the end each one of us has to the best to survive.

I am happy to be alive. I am sad that some people don’t want me to be. But I won’t let it stop me trying to make the world a better place for everyone.

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter Email This Article

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner
  • I liked the article until 2/3 through

    I liked the article until 2/3 through what we have to remember is that we can change the political spectrum it is nowhere close to the 3rd Temple being build, all of the Exiles to Return and Ha Shlema to be rebuilt with a strong hand and outstretched arm that translates into a strong and prideful Hebrew Israel with all of the tribes led by the 13th tribe.

    What is the point of speaking for ishmael, amalek or esau, let them speak for themselves.

  • In 1947 CE, British Palestine was divided in 2 parts:

    Eastern Palestine (78%) became the Arab state of Jordan.
    Western Palestine (22%) became the Jewish state of Israel.

    The Palestinians already have a state: It is called Jordan.

    The goal of creating [another] Palestinian state is not to help the Palestinians; the goal is to make Israel indefensible, so it can be wiped off the map by Muslims.

    All Palestinians should be transferred to Jordan,

    Jews cannot live in Jordan [selling land to Jews is
    a death penalty felony in Jordan]. So why should
    Palestinians be permitted to live in Israel?

    “ISIS, also known simply as the Islamic State, has released a map of its view a future Arab world. There is no Israel on the map, needless to say. What is shocking is that there is no Palestine. Palestine, the central element in Arab nationalism, would be forgotten once Arabs conquered all the land that they had once owned. Palestine has remained an issue simply to be a way of opposing Israel’s existence. Refugees have remained in camps for over 60 years in order to make them suffer so that the world would blame Israel.”
    SOURCE: Is Palestine Dead?
    by Professor George Jochnowitzy 2014/7/30

    • Jeremy Rosen

      You may well be right Mr Cohen.
      Your problem is getting the rest of the world to agree with you!

  • Julian Clovelley

    I’m not so sure that the writer of this article really understands “secular”. Secularism is not a party in a struggle that can play itself out in the democratic process. To the secular, secularism is about restoring the Intellect and the reason – and through them to rescue and restore the spirit itself. It recognises far more clearly than any other worldview the sickness divisiveness and loneliness that religion has placed in men’s souls. That is why it generally tries to be gentle in the process of casting aside delusion and of healing.

    One of the problems Jewish people to my mind face, is their deliberately created and cultivated yearning for a homeland their true ancestors were, for a large part, never in – any more than everyone else’s ancestors were.

    In terms of the feeling of belonging, accurate history is very important – but religious mythology is counter productive. Mythology leads us to seek where there is nothing to be found. That leaves a vacuum in the soul that all the religious laws, practices, rituals and festivals can never fill

    No man can serve two masters. History and Mythology are not the same – and all the efforts to change that reality by creating a “Jewish History” are doomed to failure.

    It may well be that in “Jewish” people their culture “calls” them to seek their “ancestral home”

    But for a vast number that was never Israel. We recognise the world entire as our home or we curse ourselves with a wholly inaccurate emotion charged nationalism that tries to fit us for places we never in fact were.

    In the end it is that nationalism that separates us from our fellows – divides us – forces us into conflict. Nationalism has all the power of a destructive psychosis. It is one of the tasks of secularism to rid us of the delusions that make destructive nationalism possible

    To me that is the most sacred of tasks. It is part of the real search for origins and home.

    Yesterday This Day’s Madness did prepare;
    To-morrow’s Silence, Triumph, or Despair:
    Drink! for you know not whence you came, nor why:
    Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where.

    (Omar Khayyam)






  • To JEREMY ROSEN: Hello Jeremy, as an 80-year old retired farmer who, with his married 55-years wife, loves Israel and prays “for the peace of Jerusalem” every day, – I have just now enjoyed reading your excellent article – -and thank you for the effort to compose same. As I was reading about the endless tragic conflicts, I was wishing I could know your thoughts regarding the “One New Man” described by that remarkable Jew, Saul of Tarsus, who wrote, – If you would care to share with friends, we would love to know your thoughts about the “one new man” he here speaks of. Cheers, Kevin Thomas, in Western Australia.

    • Jeremy Rosen

      Thank you Kevin and may you stay strong and healthy!
      But my “new man” was called Hillel

  • When Mr.Rosen supports a palestinian state his ignorance as a Jew is disgusting because of his lack of Israeli history(namely Biblical);palestine was a derogatory name created by a roman emperor for Israel which makes palestinians of equally rootless origin!These arab,artifically created refugees were placed by the surrounding muslim countries to attack Israel’s sovereignty because without this evil plan the rich oil nations could and still easily support them financially.However large corporations get western governments to give taxpayers billions to the palestinian authority(pa)whose crooked leaders have wonderful offshore bank accounts!

  • Forgetting something

    Ah, but you are forgetting that a moderate Jew will just get shouted out, or spat upon for speaking out. A moderate Muslim can get arrested and possibly killed by the Hamas and Fatah terrorists for speaking out.

  • bissel essen

    Thank you Jeremy Rosen. You are a beautiful man.

    • Jeremy Rosen

      Thank you Bissel and by the way whats the derivation of your handle, “A little snack”?

  • When Mr.Rosen supports a palestinian state the ignorance that he accuses so many of his compatriots falls much more on his lack of Israeli history(Biblical) that Israel belongs to the Jews and palestine(a derogatory name by a roman emperor for Israel)and palestinians( by a slimy embezzler of western funds,arafat, for the arab poor,which by the way should not exist if the super oil rich muslim countries helped them instead of using them as tennis balls against Israel)an unknown,rootless origin!