Gadi Taub
Photo: Inbal Zafrani

2 types of Zionism

Settlers, mainstream Zionists heading towards head-on clash

Based on recent reports, it appears that the IDF is preparing to enforce the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria as if it was dealing with a strike against Iran’s nuclear sites.


On the face of it, the preparations appear to be greatly exaggerated. The security establishment is treating the zealous rhetoric of the settlers as though we are dealing with a 300,000-member enemy army. However, the rhetoric is far from reality. The settlers will not attempt to defeat us with arms. They are used to being pampered by the State and they seem to think that their “price tag” policy will deter us.


While we are not dealing with an enemy army, what we are seeing is a fundamental clash between two types of Zionism that are incommensurate with each other, and hence we should not underestimate the shock we will experience before we are able to partition this land.


The settlers’ Zionism is a “Zionism of land,” while most of us endorse a “Zionism of state.” These two types of Zionism are easy to confuse. After all, the Zionism of Herzl, Ben-Gurion, Weizmann and Jabotinsky is also closely linked to the Land of Israel, while the settlers’ Zionism cherishes the State of Israel and is willing to sacrifice much for its sake. It is no coincidence that the settlers volunteer for combat units en masse, and that the spirit of sacrifice on behalf of the general public is a major part of their education.


Yet despite the above, the difference is meaningful and significant, and the rift has been growing since the 1970s. As Aviezer Ravitzky noted in his book, the followers of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook praise the ideal state, while undermining the actual state we have.


The ideal state is one that sanctifies the settlement enterprise, and when the real government limits the settlements it loses its legitimacy. This is what stands behind the settlers’ readiness to hinder construction inspectors, demonstrate at an IDF pledge-of-allegiance ceremony, and teach students at hesder yeshivas that they are subject to authority that supersedes their commanders.


No need to panic 

Hanan Porat described the difference between the two types of Zionism well when he said that “the mitzvah of settling the land includes several aspects, including Jewish sovereignty over the whole of the Land of Israel.” Yet in the view of the mainstream the opposite is true: Jewish sovereignty has several aspects, one of them being settling the land.


What we are dealing with here is the difference between means and ends. In the settlers’ view, the State is a means for realizing “our obligation to the Land of Israel through Aliyah and settlement work” (as noted in the founding document of the Gush Emunim settlement movement.) Yet in the view of mainstream Zionism, the settlement enterprise is a means for reinforcing the State’s sovereignty.


As time passes, it turns out that this difference is in fact an abyss. Two worldviews will be facing off for a head-on clash. After all, it is clear to any reasonable observer that Israel faces a choice between a large state with an Arab majority and a smaller state with a Jewish majority. Loyalty to the Land of Israel has become the most tangible threat to the essence of political Zionism: A Jewish and democratic state.


There is no need to panic. The Gaza disengagement demonstrated that at the end of the day, the “Zionism of land” will bow to the “Zionism of state,” as long as the State is sufficiently determined. The settlers do not have enough resources or ideological confidence in order to detach themselves from the State, let alone declare war against it.


While the security establishment’s thorough preparations may indeed appear exaggerated, in fact it has done well by seriously preparing ahead of future developments: Israel must make it clear to the settlers that Zionism will not tolerate any attempt to place the land above the state we established on this land.


פרסום ראשון: 12.24.09, 01:00
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