Photo: Gabi Menashe
Efrat Shapira-Rosenberg
Photo: Gabi Menashe

Stop the occupation

Religious Zionists' attempt to take over Israeli democracy presents clear and present danger to society

The story of the Likud primaries is also the story of Benjamin Netanyahu's (failed) battle against Moshe Feiglin and his buddies who sought – as Netanyahu claimed – to carry out a hostile takeover of the party. Although Moshe Feiglin has been a Likud member much longer than some of the party's Knesset members, he is still being perceived as a foreign element trying to "conquer" the party.


Between us, the Likud and "the good of the party" are the last thing on my mind these days. But to be honest, Netanyahu is right. He has recognized a phenomenon that Feiglin is only one of its representatives, a phenomenon that has been rapidly growing in recent years – that of "the conquerors."


If we go back a few decades, we'll see that the members of religious Zionism were raised on the principle of "integration." Most of us, who grew up in mixed cities, in religious high schools and in the Bnei Akiva youth movement, were brought up to study a profession and assimilate into the state's institutions: The army, the legal system, academia, various commercial companies, etc. To integrate out of a desire to be part of the Zionist project called the State of Israel.


We were not sent on a jihadist mission to make a point to someone or to spread a message. But simply to fit in, to be equal-right partners, to build something together and to bring to this "togetherness" our own special ingredients.


But in recent years, and more so since the disengagement, integration has turned into "occupation." And I'm not talking about those parts of the religious public that have emotionally and ideologically disengaged from the state. These are the people we saw and heard in Hebron last week, and who inflicted damages we will be forced to deal with in the very near future.


I'm talking about a relatively large group of people who seemingly look the same, sound the same and continue to act the same. They conduct themselves in a familiar manner – study a profession, start working in the army, the legal system, academia or a commercial company. But heir purpose is very different – not to integrate, but rather to take over and conquer.


And this is very different. For them, all non-religious people are either "captured infants" or utter villains, and they therefore seek to "show them how things are really done."


Clear and present danger

Those people look down from their high throne of complete and total righteousness at those billions of misguided people, mark their target and get to work. they can be clean-shaved, wear modern looking ties, speak eloquently and even befriend the seculars at the office, but behind all this there is but one purpose – to conquer: We’ll show them; we'll change; we'll replace the government and instate a Torah state (a term used instead of the term 'Halacha state," which is apparently perceived as more intimidating to seculars, who allegedly know nothing about semantics…)


But please don't be mistaken – this isn't just semantics but a whole different outlook on the state, its institutions and even Israeli society. True, they are not violent, they do not incite or pour acid on IDF soldiers (not to say that they do not look at those who use violence with some satisfaction.)


They won't violently overthrow the government. But the danger they represent to the State of Israel and to the very delicate balance between its Jewish and democratic traits – is clear and immediate. And it trickles down to parts of the education system and finds its way to the younger generation.


And believe me that as a fresh citizenship studies teacher I know what I'm talking about when I say that for the young generation of religious Zionism basic democratic principles are no longer taken for granted. They prefer to chant slogans such as "the state should be run by Torah laws, not gentile laws."


For the common secular eye, this program might seem ridiculously naïve, and unrealistic in the foreseeable future. But for those of us inside who listen to this public, there is room for concern. In the words of our leftists fellows – "the occupation corrupts." This has never been more relevant, and Netanyahu knows this better than anyone.


פרסום ראשון: 12.09.08, 18:02
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