The Israel of Today Is a Testament to Zionism’s Success

Aug. 19 2020

With the left growing ever more hostile toward Israel, some left-leaning Jews have looked to forgotten strains of Zionist thought that advocated a binational state in Mandatory Palestine, or transforming the Land of Israel into a “Jewish national home” without an actual state. Yet, Donna Robinson Divine argues, these alternatives—measuring by their own standards—only show that the creation of Israel has been an incomparable success.

How credible is it to give new life to the Zionism that had, for one reason or another, reservations about struggling for an actual state? Cultural Zionists cautioned against placing too much emphasis on a “Jewish state, rather than on the state of Jews and of Judaism” in the words of their most eloquent exponent, Ahad Ha’Am, who died in 1927 in a Palestine ruled by Great Britain.

Would a cultural Zionism propose dismantling the state that gave Hebrew the resources to become not only a modern literary language, but also the vocabulary for daily life? A reverential esteem for Ahad Ha’Am’s Zionism certainly did not deter Chaim Weizmann from securing global backing for a national home as a predicate for establishing a Jewish state. The very propositions underlying cultural Zionism contributed to the success of establishing the new Jewish state.

Reviving the Hebrew language was an instrument to transform a people once defined by their religious traditions and law into a nation bound together by shared, albeit often newly invented, mores. The creation of a culture whose literature and ideas were expressed in Hebrew, and whose ancient laws and rituals could be translated into national traditions, was the groundwork for a state offering Jews something Zionists believed could be found nowhere else—the opportunity to take advantage of the modern world. The homeland was almost as much about language as about land. It’s difficult to believe that [a mere] “homeland” could generate the same cultural fulfillment as the state has already delivered.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Ahad Ha'am, Anti-Zionism, Hebrew, History of Zionism

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror