There Is No Judaism without Zionism

The connection between Jewish nationhood and the Jewish religion goes back to God’s revelation to Abraham in Genesis, writes Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, and the two cannot be pulled apart now any more than they could be then:

Jewish particularism—the distinctive attachment and commitment to the Jewish people—is not an incidental component of Judaism, or a less-evolved, now irrelevant vestige of ancient days. It is its beating heart. Every biblical verse, every prophetic utterance, every talmudic discussion, every halakhic ruling, every prayer, emerges from, and assumes fealty to, the centrality of Am Yisrael—the people of Israel.

That said, from the beginning, Jewish peoplehood was a blend of both particular and universal impulses: “I have grasped you by the hand . . . and appointed you a covenant people, a light of nations, opening eyes deprived of light” (Isaiah 42:6–7). Thus, God compelled a reluctant Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach the message of repentance and social repair. Our particular purpose was to represent universal moral values: “I have selected Abraham to do what is just and right” (Genesis 18:19). The urgency to do right compels Abraham to challenge God’s intention to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

[But] Judaism absent Jewish peoplehood is not Judaism; it is something else. Whenever Jews abandoned their ideological—or practical—commitment to Am Yisrael, they eventually drifted away.

Unlike every nation of antiquity that lived by our side, we did not disappear when our national sovereignty was dissolved. Miraculously and unprecedentedly, we learned to adapt and survive. But at no time was separation from the Land of Israel considered permanent. At no time did we abandon the dream of return. At no time did we consider dispersion to be a blessing. At no time did the rabbis sever Torah from Israel, or God from the people. At no time was tikkun olam—the universal demand to do what is just and right—ripped from the moorings of klal yisrael—the centrality of Jewish peoplehood. It was never one or the other.

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Read more at Sapir

More about: Hebrew Bible, Judaism, Particularism, Religious Zionism

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter