Can Haredim Save Zionism by Embracing It?

To some analysts, Israel’s current and intense political divisions come down to a conflict between those who view themselves primarily as Israelis, and those who see themselves primarily as Jews. Inspired by a conversation with a secular compatriot, Yehoshua Pfeffer argues that the country’s Ḥaredim—if they can overcome decades of ambivalence toward Zionism and the Jewish state—can point to a way forward:

While in Mandatory Palestine sometime in 1929, Ze’ev Jabotinsky once visited one of the newly established Hebrew schools. The teacher prepared her students ahead of time, and when the dignified visitor asked the children what was “the most important thing,” they immediately knew the answer: the Land of Israel! But Jabotinsky was not entirely satisfied: “And what other thing is of great importance, no less than the Land of Israel?” Neither children nor teacher were ready for this question, and Jabotinsky himself answered: am Yisra’el, the Jewish people. . . . The nation.

David Ben-Gurion, Jabotinsky’s great rival, acknowledged this unequivocally: “First of all, I am a Jew,” he declared in a 1963 speech (delivered in Yiddish), “and only then am I an Israeli.”

Ḥaredi society is set to experience (with the assistance of some brave leadership) a similar transition from a focus on local and community responsibilities to extensive civic engagement, all this while preserving its fundamental principles. Among those fundamental principles is maintaining an unshakable sense of aḥva [literally, brotherhood], love of all Jews, even in a democracy that rightly treats all its citizens as equals. In this sense, ḥaredi society is positioned to be a tremendous positive force for the Jewish state. Indeed, for Zionism. . . .

In many ways, the transition is already happening. While significant challenges remain, it is a great hope.

Read more at Tzarich Iyun

More about: David Ben-Gurion, Haredim, Israeli politics, Vladimir Jabotinsky


Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security