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Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel

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  • World View <ummyakoub@yahoo.com>
    Book Review: Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel By Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky. London:Pluto Press,1999, 176pp.List: $18.95; AET: $16.00 Reviewed by Allan
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 26, 2002
      Book Review:
      Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel
      By Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky. London:Pluto Press,1999,
      176pp.List: $18.95; AET: $16.00
      Reviewed by Allan C. Brownfeld

      In recent years there has been a dramatic growth of Jewish
      fundamentalism in Israel which has manifested itself in vigorous
      opposition to the peace process and has played a key role, as well,
      in the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the murder
      of 29 Muslims at prayer by the American-born fundamentalist, Baruch

      Few outside of Israel have been properly informed about the extent of
      the fundamentalist movement or the theology upon which it is based.
      American Jews, in particular, seem unaware of the narrow
      ethnocentrism which is promoted by the movementís leading rabbis, or
      of the traditional Jewish sources they are able to call upon in
      drawing clear distinctions between the moral obligations owed to Jews
      and non-Jews.

      In an important new book, Jewish Fundamentalism In Israel , Israel
      Shahak and Norton Mezvinksy provide a thorough assessment of this
      phenomenon in modern Israel. The authors trace the history and
      development of Jewish fundamentalism, examining the various strains,
      and identify the messianic tendency which they believe to be the most

      Israel Shahak, an Israeli and a Holocaust survivor, is a retired
      professor at the Hebrew University and a leading human rights
      activist. Norton Mezvinsky is a professor of history at Central
      Connecticut State University who has written and lectured extensively
      on the modern Middle East.

      The authors point out that "the adherents of Jewish fundamentalism
      in Israel oppose equality for all citizens, especially non-Jews." The
      respected Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling, citing evidence from
      a study conducted by other scholars, declared: "The value of the
      [Jewish] religion, at least in its Orthodox and nationalistic form
      that prevails in Israel, cannot be squared with democratic values. No
      other variable - neither nationality, nor attitudes about security,
      social or economic values, nor ethnic descent and educational
      influences the attitudes of [Israeli] Jews against democratic values
      as does religiousity."

      What particularly concerns the authors is the total contempt which
      Jewish fundamentalists show toward non-Jews. Rabbi Kook the Elder,
      the revered father of the messianic tendency of Jewish
      fundamentalism, said, ìThe difference between a Jewish soul and souls
      of non-Jews - all of them in all different levels - is greater and
      deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of

      Rabbi Kookís entire teaching, which is followed devoutly by, among
      others, those who have led the settler movement on the occupied West
      Bank, is based upon the Lurianic Cabbala, the school of Jewish
      mysticism that dominated Judaism from the late16th to the early 19th
      century. "One of the basic tenets of the Lurianic Cabbala," the
      authors write, "is the absolute superiority of the Jewish soul and
      body over the non-Jewish soul and body. According to the Lurianic
      Cabbala, the world was created solely for the sake of Jews; the
      existence of non-Jews was subsidiary. If an influential Christian
      bishop or Islamic scholar argued that the difference between the
      superior souls of non-Jews and the inferior souls of Jews was greater
      than the difference between the human soul and souls of cattle, he
      would incur the wrath of all and be viewed as an anti-Semite by most
      Jewish scholars regardless of whatever less meaningful, positive
      statements he included."

      The scholarly authors of books about Jewish mysticism and the
      Lurianic Cabbala, such as Gershon Scholem, have, the authors charge,
      "willfully omitted reference to such ideas. These authors are supreme
      hypocrites. They are analogous to many authors of books on Stalin and
      Stalinism. Until recently, people who read only the books written by
      Stalinists could not know about Stalin's crimes and would have false
      notions of the Stalinist regimes and their real ideologies."

      According to the ideologies which underlie Gush Emunim, the militant
      West Bank settlers group, and Hasidism, non-Jews have ìsatanic soulsî
      Shahak and Mezvinsky note that "the role of Satan, whose earthly
      embodiment according to the Cabbala is every non-Jew, has been
      minimized or not mentioned by authors who have not written about the
      Cabbala in Hebrew. Such authors, therefore, have not conveyed to
      readers accurate accounts of general NRP (National Religious Party)
      or its hardcore Gush Emunim politics."

      Common to both the Talmud and Halacha, Orthodox religious law, is a
      differentiation between Jews and non-Jews. The late, highly revered
      Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the "Lubovitcher Rebbe" who headed
      the Chabad movement and wielded great influence in Israel as well as
      in the U.S., explained that, "The difference between a Jewish and a
      non-Jewish person stems from the common expression: 'Let us
      differentiate." Thus, we do not have a case of profound change in
      which a person is merely on a superior level. Rather, we have a case
      of "let us differentiate" between totally different species. This is
      what needs to be said about the body: the body of a Jewish person is
      of a totally different quality from the body of [members] of all
      nations of the world. A non-Jew's entire reality is only vanity. It
      written, "And the strangers shall guard and feed your flocks" (Isaiah
      61:5). The entire creation [of a non-Jew] exists only for the sake of
      the Jews."

      Rabbi Schneerson always supported Israeli wars and opposed any
      retreat. In 1974 he strongly opposed the Israeli withdrawal from the
      Suez area. He promised Israel divine favors if it persisted in
      occupying the land. After his death, thousands of his Israeli
      followers played an important role in the election victory of
      Binyamin Netanyahu. Among the religious settlers in the occupied
      territories, the Chabad Hassids constitute one of the most extreme
      groups. Baruch Goldstein, the mass murderer of Palestinians, was one
      of them.

      Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh, who wrote a chapter of a book in praise of
      Goldstein and what he did, is another member of this group. An
      immigrant to Israel from the U.S., Rabbi Ginsburgh speaks freely of
      Jews' genetic-based, spiritual superiority over non-Jews. "If you saw
      two people drowning, a Jew and a non-Jew, the Torah says you save the
      Jewish life first," Ginsburgh states. "If every simple cell in a
      Jewish body entails divinity, is a part of God, then every strand of
      DNA is part of God. Therefore, something is special about Jewish
      DNA. If a Jew needs a liver, can you take the liver of an innocent
      Jew passing by to save him? The Torah would probably permit that.
      Jewish life has an infinite value."

      Shahak and Mezvinsky point out that, "Changing the words 'Jewish' to
      'German' or 'Aryan' and 'non-Jewish' to 'Jewish' turns the Ginsburgh
      position into the doctrine that made Auschwitz possible in the past.
      To a considerable extent the German Nazi success depended upon that
      ideology and upon its implications of being widely known early.
      Disregarding even on a limited scale the potential effects of
      messianic, Lubavitch and other ideologies could prove to be
      calamitous. The similarities between the Jewish political messianic
      trend and German Nazism are glaring. The Gentiles are for the
      messianists what the Jews were for the Nazis. The hatred of Western
      culture with its rational and democratic elements is common to both

      The ideology "is both eschatological and messianic. It resembles in
      this respect prior Jewish religious doctrines as well as similar
      trends in Christianity and Islam. This ideology assumes the imminent
      coming of the Messiah and asserts that the Jews, aided by God, will
      thereafter triumph over the non-Jews and rule over them forever."
      Members of Gush Emunim argue that "what appears to be confiscation of
      Arab-owned land for subsequent settlement by Jews is in reality not
      an act of stealing but one of sanctification. From their perspective
      the land is redeemed by being transferred from the satanic to the
      divine sphere - the Gush Emunim rabbis assert that this one messianic
      sect has to handle and lead the ass-like Jews, who have been
      corrupted by satanic Western culture, with its rationality and
      democracy and who refuse to renounce their beastly habits and embrace
      the true faith. To further the process, the use of force is permitted
      wherever necessary."

      The Jewish fundamentalists believe that God gave all of the Land of
      Israel (including present-day Lebanon and other areas) to the Jews
      and that Arabs living in Israel are viewed as thieves. Rabbi Israel
      Ariel, a fundamentalist leader, published an atlas that designated
      all lands that were Jewish and needed to be liberated. This included
      all areas west and south of the Euphrates River extending through
      most of Syria, much of Iraq, and present-day Kuwait.

      Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, another spokesman, said, "We must live in this
      land even at the price of war. Moreover, even if there is peace, we
      must instigate wars of liberation in order to conquer it [the land]."
      Mordechai Nisan, a lecturer at the Hebrew University, expressed this
      view in an official publication of the World Zionist Organization.
      Relying on Maimonides, he said that a non-Jew permitted to reside in
      the land of Israel "must accept paying a tax and suffering the
      humiliation of servitude." He said that non-Jews must not be
      appointed to any office or position of power over Jews.

      When it comes to Baruch Goldstein's murder of 29 Palestinians at
      prayer, fundamentalists refuse to acknowledge that such an act
      constitutes "murder" because, according to the Halacha, "the killing
      by a Jew of a non-Jew under any circumstances is not regarded as
      murder. It may be prohibited for other reasons, especially when it
      causes danger for Jews." When asked if he was sorry about the
      murdered Arabs, militant Rabbi Moshe Levenger declared: "I am sorry
      not only about dead Arabs but about dead flies."

      For the fundamentalists, Goldstein became a hero. Military guards
      transported his coffin to Kiryat Arba through Palestinian villages.
      Rabbi Dov Lior in a eulogy stated that, "Goldstein was full of love
      for fellow human beings. He dedicated himself to helping others."
      Authors Shahak and Mezvinsky write that, "The terms 'human beings'
      and 'others' in the Halacha refer solely to Jews."

      Although messianic fundamentalists constitute a relatively small
      portion of the Israeli population, their political influence has been
      growing. If they have contempt for non-Jews, their hatred for Jews
      who oppose their views is even greater.

      The murder of Yitzhak Rabin, the authors show, is one in a long line
      of murders of Jews who followed a path different from that ordained
      by rabbinic authorities. They cite case after case, from the Middle
      Ages until the 19th century.

      One typical example was the assassination by poison of Rabbi Avraham
      Cohen in Lemberg, Austria on Sept. 6, 1848.

      Assuming his rabbinical position in 1844, Cohen initiated changes in
      Jewish life. His most important initiative was his attempt to abolish
      taxes on kosher meat and sabbath candles which Lemberg's Jews paid to
      Austrian authorities. These taxes were burdensome for poor Jews but
      were a source of income for many Orthodox Jewish notables.

      The Austrian authorities accepted Cohen's request and abolished the
      taxes in March 1848. The five Jewish notables of the town began a
      total struggle against Rabbi Cohen. Critics argued that the "law of
      the pursuer" applied to the rabbi. One placard said: "He is one of
      those Jewish sinners for which the Talmud says their blood is
      permitted" (that is, every Jew can and should kill them). On Sept. 6,
      a Jewish assassin successfully entered the rabbi's home unseen, went
      to the kitchen and put arsenic poison in a pot of soup that was
      cooking. Both Rabbi Cohen and his small daughter died. The Hassids
      and their leaders did not attend the funeral, but celebrated.

      It was precisely the same Talmudic laws that caused Rabbi Cohen's
      death which were used to murder Yitzhak Rabin. Yigal Amir, Rabin's
      assassin, cited the "law of the pursuer" (din rodef) and the "Law of
      the informer" (din moser). The first law commands every Jew to kill
      or to wound severely any Jew who is perceived as intending to kill
      another Jew. According to halachic commentaries, it is not necessary
      to see such a person pursuing a Jewish victim. It is enough if
      rabbinic authorities, or even competent scholars, announce that the
      law of the pursuer applies. The second law commands every Jew to kill
      or wound severely any Jew who, without a decision of a competent
      rabbinic authority, has informed non-Jews about Jewish affairs or has
      given them information about Jewish property or who has delivered
      Jewish persons or property to their rule or authority.

      The authors write: "The land of Israel has been and still is
      considered by all religious Jews as being the exclusive property of
      the Jews. Granting Palestinians authority over any part of this land
      could be interpreted as informing. Some religious Jews interpreted
      the relations that developed between Rabin and the Palestinian
      Authority as causing harm to the Jewish settlers. In this sense,
      Rabin had informed."

      For the future, the authors fear the growth of such fundamentalism
      just as the prospects for peace have dramatically improved. They note
      that, "It should not be forgotten that democracy and the rule of law
      were brought into Judaism from the outside. Before the advent of the
      modern state, Jewish communities were mostly ruled by rabbis who
      employed arbitrary and cruel methods as bad as those employed by
      totalitarian regimes. The dearest wish of the current Jewish
      fundamentalists is to restore this state of affairs."

      This book should be a wake-up call to many Americans, particularly
      Jewish supporters of Israel who are not aware of the nature of the
      fundamentalism which is growing strong in that country. This
      fundamentalism is increasing in influence as a result of Israel's
      electoral system, which bestows power to minority parties far beyond
      their representation in the population. The authors declare: "We
      believe that awareness is the necessary first step in opposition."
      Professors Shahak and Mezvinsky have done a notable service for men
      and women of goodwill of all religious traditions by pointing to the
      ideological roadblocks to genuine peace which must be overcome.



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    • ummyakoub
      Pursuing the Millennium: Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel by David Hirst - The Nation - Feb 2, 2004 http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20040216&s=hirst In the
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 21, 2004
        Pursuing the Millennium: Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel

        by David Hirst - The Nation - Feb 2, 2004


        In the minds of many Westerners, Muslim fundamentalism has replaced
        communism as perhaps the greatest single "threat" to the existing
        world order. From this perspective the Palestinian intifada becomes
        just another episode in a "clash of civilizations." For them, there
        is an intrinsic link between Palestinian "terrorism" and, say, the al-
        Qaeda bombing of an American warship off Yemen. Almost totally absent
        from such arguments is any inclination to examine Jewish
        fundamentalism, or so much as to ask whether it, too, might be a
        factor in the conflict over Palestine, one of the reasons why it
        seems so insoluble.

        There is, in fact, a great ignorance of, or indifference to, this
        whole subject in the outside world, and not least in the United
        States. This is due at least in part to that general reluctance of
        the mainstream American media to subject Israel to the same searching
        scrutiny to which it would other states and societies, and especially
        when the issue in question is as sensitive, as emotionally charged,
        as this one is. But, in the view of the late Israel Shahak, it
        reflects particularly badly on an American Jewry which, with its
        ingrained, institutionalized aversion to finding fault with Israel,
        turns a blind eye to what Israelis like himself viewed with disgust
        and alarm, and unceasingly said so.

        American Jews, especially Orthodox ones, are generous financiers of
        the shock troops of fundamentalism, the religious settlers; indeed a
        good 10 percent of these, and among the most extreme, violent and
        sometimes patently deranged, are actually immigrants from America.
        They are, says Shahak, one of the "absolutely worst phenomena" in
        Israeli society, and "it is not by chance that they have their roots
        in the American-Jewish community." It was from his headquarters in
        New York that the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the late Menachem Schneerson,
        seer of possibly the most rabid of Hasidic sects, the Chabad, gave
        guidance to his many followers in both Israel and the United States.

        The ignorance or indifference is all the more remiss in that Jewish
        fundamentalism is not, and cannot be, just a domestic Israeli
        question. Israel was always a highly ideological society; it is also
        a vastly outsized military power, both nuclear and conventional. That
        is a combination which, when the ideology in question is Zionism in
        its most extreme, theocratic form, is fraught with possible
        consequences for the region and the world, and, of course, for the
        world's only, Israeli-supporting superpower.

        Like its Islamic counterpart, Jewish fundamentalism in Israel has
        grown enormously in political importance over the past quarter-
        century. Its committed, hard-core adherents, as distinct from a
        larger body of the more traditionally religious, are thought to
        account for some 20 to 25 percent of the population. They, and more
        particularly the settlers among them, have acquired an influence,
        disproportionate to their numbers, over the whole Israeli political
        process, and especially in relation to the ultra-nationalist right,
        which, beneath its secular exterior, actually shares much of their
        febrile, exalted outlook on the world. It is fundamentalism of a very
        special, ethnocentric and fiercely xenophobic kind, with beliefs and
        practices that are "even more extremist," says Shahak, "than those
        attributed to the extremes of Islamic fundamentalism," if not "the
        most totalitarian system ever invented."

        Like fundamentalism everywhere, the Jewish variety seeks to restore
        an ideal, imagined past. If it ever managed to do so, the Israel
        celebrated by the American "friends of Israel" as a "bastion of
        democracy in the Middle East" would, most assuredly, be no more. For,
        in its full and perfect form, the Jewish Kingdom that arose in its
        place would elevate a stern and wrathful God's sovereignty over any
        new-fangled, heathen concepts such as the people's will, civil
        liberties or human rights. It would be governed by the Halacha, or
        Jewish religious law, of which the rabbis would be the sole
        interpreters, and whose observance clerical commissars, installed in
        every public and private institution, would rigorously enforce, with
        the help of citizens legally obligated to report any offense to the
        authorities. A monarch, chosen by the rabbis, would rule and the
        Knesset would be replaced by a Sanhedrin, or supreme judicial,
        ecclesiastic and administrative council. Men and women would be
        segregated in public, and "modesty" in female dress and conduct would
        be enforced by law. Adultery would be a capital offense, and anyone
        who drove on the Sabbath, or desecrated it in other ways, would be
        liable to death by stoning. As for non-Jews, the Halacha would be an
        edifice of systematic discrimination against them, in which every
        possible crime or sin committed by a Gentile against a Jew, from
        murder or adultery to robbery or fraud, would be far more heavily
        punished than the same crime or sin committed by a Jew against a
        Gentile--if, indeed, the latter were considered to be a felony at
        all, which it often would not be.

        All forms of "idolatry or idol-worship," but especially Christian
        ones (for traditionally Muslims, who are not considered to be
        idolaters, are held in less contempt than Christians), would
        be "obliterated," in the words of Shas party leader Rabbi Ovadia
        Yossef. According to conditions laid down by Maimonides, whose
        Halacha rulings are holy write to the fundamentalists, those
        Gentiles, or so-called "Sons of Noah," permitted to remain in the
        Kingdom could only do so as "resident aliens," obliged under law to
        accept the "inferiority" in perpetuity which that status entails,
        to "suffer the humiliation of servitude," and to be "kept down and
        not raise their heads to the Jews." At weekday prayers, the
        faithful would intone the special curse: "And may the apostates have
        no hope, and all the Christians perish instantly." One wonders what
        the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons think of all this; for it is
        strange, this new adoration by America's evangelicals of an Israel
        whose Jewish fundamentalists continue to harbor a doctrinal contempt
        for Christianity only rivaled by the contempt which the Christian
        fundamentalists reserve for the Jews themselves.

        Fundamentalists come in a multitude of sects, often fiercely
        disputatious with one another on the finest and most esoteric points
        of doctrine, but all are agreed on this basic eschatological truth:
        It is upon the coming of the Messiah that the Jewish Kingdom will
        arise, and the twice-destroyed Temple will be reconstructed on the
        site where the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques now stand. One
        school of fundamentalists, the Hanedim, believes that the Messiah
        will appear in His own good time, that the millennium, the End of
        Days, will come by the grace of God alone. The Shas party is their
        largest single political component. Their position has in it
        something of the traditional religious quietism, which, historically,
        opposed the whole idea of Zionism, immigration to Palestine and the
        establishment of a Jewish state.

        The other school, less extreme in outward religious observances, is
        more so, indeed breathtakingly revolutionary, on one crucial point of
        dogma: the belief that the coming of the Messiah can be accomplished,
        or hastened, by human agency. In fact, the "messianic era" has
        already arrived. This messianic fundamentalism is represented by the
        National Religious Party, and its progeny, the settlers of the Gush
        Emunim, or Bloc of the Faithful, who eventually came to dominate it.
        Its adherents are ready to involve themselves in the world, sinful
        though it is, and, by so doing, they sanctify it. Except for the
        symbolic skullcap, they have adopted conventional modern dress; they
        include secular subjects in the curricula of their seminaries.

        According to the teachings of their spiritual mentor, Rabbi Tzvi
        Yehuda Kook, the Gush, or at least the rabbis who lead it, are
        themselves the collective incarnation of the Messiah. Since, in
        biblical prophecy, the Messiah was to appear riding on an ass, he
        identified the ass as those errant, secular Jews who remain in
        stubborn ignorance of the exalted purpose of its divinely guided
        rider. In the shape of those early Zionists they had, it is true,
        performed the necessary task of carrying the Jews back to the Holy
        Land, settling it and founding a state there. But now they had served
        their historic purpose; now they had become obsolete in their failure
        to renounce their beastly, ass-like ways--and to perceive that
        Zionism has a divine, not merely a national, purpose.

        The mainstream secular Zionist leadership had wanted the Jewish
        people to achieve "normality," to be as other peoples with a nation-
        state of their own. The messianics--and indeed, though for emotional
        more than doctrinal reasons, much of the nationalist right--hold that
        that is impossible; the Jews' "eternal uniqueness" stems from the
        covenant God made with them on Mount Sinai. So, as Rabbi Shlomo
        Aviner, a Gush leader and head of a yeshiva that studies the ancient
        priestly rites that would be revived if and when the Temple were
        rebuilt, put it, "while God requires other, normal nations to abide
        by abstract codes of 'justice and righteousness,' such laws do not
        apply to Jews." Since Zionism began, but especially since the 1967
        war and Israel's conquest of the remainder of historic Palestine, the
        Jews have been living in a "transcendental political reality," or a
        state of "metaphysical transformation," one in which, through war and
        conquest, Israel liberates itself not only from its physical enemies,
        but from the "satanic" power which these enemies incarnate. The
        command to conquer the Land, says Aviner, is "above the moral, human
        considerations about the national rights of the Gentiles in our
        country." What he calls "messianic realism" dictates that Israel has
        been instructed to "be holy, not moral, and the general principles of
        morality, customary for all mankind, do not bind the people of
        Israel, because it has been chosen to be above them." It is not
        simply because the Arabs deem the land to be theirs that they resist
        this process--though, in truth, it is not theirs and they are
        simply "thieves" who took what always belonged to the Jews--it is
        because, as Gentiles, they are inherently bound to do so. "Arab
        hostility," says another Gush luminary, Rabbi Eliezer Waldman,
        director of the Kiryat Arba settlement's main yeshiva, "springs, like
        all anti-Semitism, from the world's recalcitrance" in the face of
        an Israel pursuing "its divine mission to serve as the heart of the

        So force is the only way to deal with the Palestinians. So long as
        they stay in the Land of Israel, they can only do so as "resident
        aliens" without "equality of human and civil rights," those being "a
        foreign democratic principle" that does not apply to them. But, in
        the end, they must leave. There are two ways in which that can
        happen. One is "enforced emigration." The other way is based on the
        biblical injunction to "annihilate the memory of Amalek." In an
        article on "The Command of Genocide in the Bible," Rabbi Israel Hess
        opined--without incurring any criticism from a state Rabbinate whose
        official duty it is to correct error wherever it finds it--that "the
        day will come when we shall all be called upon to wage this war for
        the annihilation of Amalek." He advanced two reasons for this. One
        was the need to ensure "racial purity." The other lay in "the
        antagonism between Israel and Amalek as an expression of the
        antagonism between light and darkness, the pure and the unclean."

        For the Gush, there is a dimension to the settlements beyond the
        merely strategic --the defending of the state--or the territorial--
        the expansion of the "Land of Israel" till it reaches its full,
        biblically foretold borders. Settlements are the citadels of their
        messianic ideology, the nucleus and inspiration of their theocratic
        state-in-the-making, the power base from which to conduct an internal
        struggle that is inseparable from the external one--the intra-Jewish
        struggle against that other Israel, the secular-modernist one of
        original, mainstream Zionism, which stands in their path. The Gush
        must make good what Rabbi Kook taught: that the existing State of
        Israel carries within itself "the Kingdom of Israel, the Kingdom of
        Heaven on Earth; consequently, total Holiness embraces every Jewish
        person, every deed, every phenomenon, including Jewish secularism,
        which will be one day swallowed by Holiness, by Redemption."

        It goes without saying that the Gush consider any American-sponsored
        Arab-Israeli peaceful settlement to be a virtual impossibility; but
        furthermore, any attempt to achieve that impossibility should be
        actively sabotaged. For them, the Oslo Accords, and the prospect of
        the "re-division" of the "Land of Israel," was a profound,
        existential shock. It was, said Rabbi Yair Dreyfus, an "apostasy"
        which, the day it came into effect, would mark "the end of the
        Jewish-Zionist era [from 1948 to 1993] in the sacred history of the
        Land of Israel." The Gush and their allies declared a "Jewish
        intifada" against it. The grisly climax came when, in the Ramadan of
        February 1994, a doctor, Baruch Goldstein, Israeli but Brooklyn-born-
        and-bred, machine-gunned Muslim worshippers in Hebron's Ibrahimi
        Mosque, killing 29 of them before he was killed himself. This was no
        mere isolated act of a madman. Goldstein was a follower of New
        York's Lubavitcher Rebbe. But what he did reflected and exemplified
        the whole milieu from which he sprang, the religious settlers, and
        the National Religious Party behind them. There was no more eloquent
        demonstration of that than the immediate, spontaneous responses to
        the mass murder; these yielded nothing, in breadth or intensity, to
        the Palestinians' responses to their fundamentalist suicide bombings,
        when these first got going in the wake of it. Many were the rabbis
        who praised this "act," "event" or "occurrence," as they delicately
        called it. Within two days the walls of Jerusalem's religious
        neighborhoods were covered with posters extolling Goldstein's virtues
        and lamenting that the toll of dead Palestinians had not been higher.
        In fact, the satisfaction extended well beyond the religious camp in
        general; polls said that 50 percent of the Israeli people, and
        especially the young, more or less approved of it.

        The "Jewish intifada" also turned on other Jews. Yigal Amir, who
        assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995, was no
        less a product than Goldstein of the milieu from which the latter
        sprang. As in other religious traditions, the hatred Jewish
        fundamentalists nurtured for Jewish "traitors" and "apostates" was
        perhaps even greater than it was for non-Jews. Rabin, and the
        "left," were indeed traitors in their eyes; they were "worshippers of
        the Golden Calf of a delusory peace." And in a clear example of their
        deep emotional kinship with the fundamentalists, Sharon and several
        other Likud and far-right secular nationalist leaders joined the hue
        and cry against Rabin and his government of "criminals," "Nazis"
        and "Quislings." Declaring that "there are tyrants at the gate,"
        Sharon likened Oslo to the collaboration between France's
        Marshall Pétain and Hitler and said that Rabin and his foreign
        minister, Shimon Peres, were both "crazed" in their indifference to
        the slaughter of Jews.

        The struggle between the religious--in its fundamentalist form--and
        the secular, between ancient and modern, ethnocentric and universal,
        is a struggle for Israel's very soul. The Gush settlements are at the
        heart of it. The struggle is intensifying and is wholly unresolved.
        The fundamentalists can never win it; they are simply too backward
        and benighted for that. But, appeased, surreptitiously connived with,
        or unashamedly supported down the years by Labor as much as by Likud,
        they have now acquired such an ascendancy over the whole political
        process, such a penetration of the apparatus of the state, military
        and administrative, executive and legislative branches, that no
        elected government can win it either. Meanwhile, they grow
        increasingly defiant, lawless and hysterical in pursuit of the

        The Zionist-colonial enterprise has always had a built-in propensity
        to gravitate towards its most extreme expression. And what, with the
        rise of the Begins and Shamirs, the Sharons and now a new breed of
        super-Sharons, has been true of the whole is bound to be even more
        true of its fanatical, fundamentalist particular. Its latest
        manifestation is the so-called "hilltop youth"; these sons and
        daughters of the original, post-1967 settlers, born and reared in the
        closed, homogenous, hothouse world of their West Bank and Gazan
        strongholds, surpass even their elders in militancy. In keeping with
        time-honored, Sharon-approved Zionist tradition, they have taken to
        seizing and staking out hilltops as the sites of settlements to come,
        and, in every neighborhood they claim as their own, they forcibly
        prevent the Palestinians from harvesting the fruit of their ancestral
        olive groves. There is surely worse--much worse--to come.



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