Photo: Reuters
'For Religious Zionism, the territory tops all the national assets, values and symbols'
Photo: Reuters
Shaul Arieli

Bennett's great settlement bluff will be exposed

Op-ed: The Israeli settlement enterprise is overwhelmingly based on economic considerations. The Bayit Yehudi party represents a loud handful of people with messianic beliefs who are harming the State of Israel's vital interests.

Naftali Bennett's attempt to coin a punchline in a recent speech by saying something like "leaving Israeli communities under Palestinian sovereignty is a U-turn for Zionism" emphasized at once the deep gap which the Israeli public is unfamiliar with between Religious Zionism from the house of study of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, and Zionism founded by Herzl, Weizmann, Jabotinsky and Ben-Gurion.



This is not just historic ignorance. After all, the Zionist Movement led by David Ben-Gurion adopted the Partition Plan on November 29, 1947, which aimed to leave 33 Jewish communities with 10,000 people within the boundaries of the Arab state. The Bayit Yehudi party run in the elections with the delusional plan which sought to annex all Area C to Israel. This is a completely different perception of Zionism and its goals.


The secular Zionism which founded the State of Israel saw it first and foremost as a safe shelter for the Jewish people in which it will be able to take its place in the family of nations to live and shape its fate. The Proclamation of Independence stressed the democratic and liberal values of this state. Zionism's leaders saw the territory, after recognizing the initial affiliation to the State of Israel, as a means for satisfying defined needs originating in culture, society and politics.


The scope of the territory will be the result of values, interests, benefits and needs, which are constantly examined and change under the circumstances. The attempt to divide the land since the Peel Commission in 1937, through the Partition Plan, the ceasefire agreements and the peace agreements, was the result of an understanding that the goal of Zionism would only remain as long as we reduce the territory on which we establish the State.


Fulfillment of a divine promise

The Religious Zionism of "Atchalta De'Geulah" ("the beginning of the redemption") sees the territory, even if it is the fruit of arbitrary colonial decisions, as a factor shaping the nation's identity. According to this approach, the territory tops all the national assets, values and symbols. The land's status overpowers the State's status, as the connection to the land is accomplished according to a divine promise, while the State is a passing creation of man, and any challenging of the "borders of the homeland" is perceived as blasphemy.


As opposed to the secular Zionist approach, which seeks to see Israel as a democratic state protecting its residents' rights regardless of religion and race, the people of Gush Emunim throughout the generations see the fulfillment of the divine promise attached to the acts of Joshua. As Menachem Felix said in the Elon Moreh High Court petition, "We settled because we were ordered to inherit the land God gave our forefathers."


Bennett's statement also points to a great fear that the truth will be exposed in all its ugliness. The Israeli settlement enterprise is based overwhelmingly on different economic considerations which have led the haredim to make up 40% of all Israelis beyond the Green Line. Tens of other percentage points are immigrants from the former Soviet Union and people who are not from the high socioeconomic class.


Uri Ariel and his friends from the Bayit Yehudi know very well that without the State of Israel's unusual and beneficent allotment of resources to the isolated settlements, only a tiny and insignificant number of Israelis will seek to remain under Palestinian sovereignty.


The big bluff will be exposed. The public will find out that the "Jewish Home" only represents a loud handful of people with messianic beliefs who are harming the State of Israel's vital interests.


In light of its insignificant contribution to the internal discourse in Israel on the relationship between religion and state, it's possible that there will be no justification left for its existence in the Israeli political system.


Colonel (res.) Shaul Arieli is a member of the Council for Peace and Security and one of the Geneva Initiative negotiators


פרסום ראשון: 02.14.14, 00:12
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