We Need More Settlers

April 26, 2012 by Raffe Gold
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When David Ben-Gurion slowly raised himself up off his chair at 4:00pm on 14 May 1948 and walked over to the podium of the Tel Aviv Museum to declare the birth of the world’s newest nation, Israel, the world’s only Jewish State, he did so under the gaze of the founder of Zionist ideology, Theodor Herzl…writes Raffe Gold.

Raffe Gold

It took sixteen minutes to read out the Declaration of Independence and at the conclusion, the national anthem, HaTikva, was sung, while the thoughts of every citizen turned to the coming war. All knew from broadcast threats that as soon as Ben-Gurion announced Israel’s acceptance of the UN Partition Plan, its Arab rejectionist neighbours would immediately launch all their armies against the fledgling nation. Now, almost sixty-four years since that day, we see an Israel in a very different position. Whilst Herzl’s dream of a Jewish State has been fulfilled it is now time for Zionism itself to evolve and for the new generation of young, liberal Jews to take up the mantle of perfecting Israel.

 

It is important to put the original Zionism into its proper context. Prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, the Jewish world was suffering both Church sponsored and nationalistic anti-Semitism and Europe was eagerly lapping up the Czarist forgeries ‘The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion’ whilst instituting numerous pogroms against Jewish shtetls. Herzl, originally an assimilationist whose views changed dramatically in the late 1890s while reporting on the Alfred Dreyfus trial in France, began to put his thoughts to paper and wrote Der Judenstaat; his treatise on the importance of a Jewish State. Although there had been a growing Zionistic movement for many years as an answer to Jewish suffering in the Diaspora, Herzl’s polemic galvanized the Jewish world and within a mere 21 years Jewish leaders had secured the promise of a Jewish homeland from the British Empire in the form of the Balfour Declaration. Within 51 years, suffering six million Jewish martyrs in European death camps, Jews secured their own State.

 

This is the world in which Israel was conceived and born. When the world learned of the horrors of the attempted Nazi genocide, there were few voices raised against Jewish independence and statehood. After multiple wars to safeguard our own existence we have made our mark on the world in terms of military prowess, economic stability and technological superiority. The original settlers of Israel created a State with their bare hands and now we must call for a Sixth Aliyah; an aliyah that will ensure Israel’s liberalism and safeguard her from the take over by those advocating religious intolerance and right-wing extremism.

 

That Israel is currently at an ideological impasse is well known. The left-wing in Israel remains impotent under the pressure of a third Netanyahu Premiership and the social protests that were meant to invigorate Israel died with a tragic whimper. Israel’s standing in the international community remains tarnished and the occupation continues to drain her of her limited economic and military resources. The world is asking when, not if, Israel will bomb Iran and every day our neighbors crumble only to be replaced by Islamist factions that continue to exploit the suffering Palestinians and use Israel’s presence in the West Bank as a rallying call to their supporters. Now is the time for liberal diaspora Jewry to make their way to the Jewish homeland to help rebuild the State. Those who are ready to exchange their comfortable lives in the West for a life that they will find, holds more meaning. More now than at any point prior to Israel’s establishment, it is time for Jews in America, Australia, England and France (to name a few) to help Israel emerge from this darkening period stronger than ever before.

 

In America Jews are increasingly abandoning Israel. Peter Beinart’s new book ‘A Crisis of Zionism‘ has brought a debate, which was once spoken across the Shabbat table behind a locked door, to the mainstream. Liberal Western Jews, whilst highlighting Israel’s activist media, its judicial system or its support for homosexuals (be they Jewish or Palestinian), shy away from a full-throated defense of the Jewish State because they find so much in her to disagree with. It is time for these Jews to no longer sit on the sidelines and criticize but to become activists, rather than passively criticize from their comfortable armchairs. It is time for these liberal Jews no longer to mourn the demise of liberalism, but to come to Israel and actively reinvigorate the State with their philosophies, as more and more left-wing Israelis depart to Germany, America or Sweden. Now is the time for them to sing from the same song sheet as those Olim who toiled the land as they made the desert bloom.

 

Israel’s creation was the fulfillment of a dream. It was the dream of Herzl, of Ben-Gurion, of Jabotinsky and of Begin. It was the dream of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who travelled the distance, for a life that they knew was bigger than themselves. It is time for the Jews in the West to realize that Israel’s slow descent into right wing conservatism is preventable. Now is not the time to sit back and grieve for the late, great State of Israel but to dedicate their lives to ensuring that the State of Israel is something that Jews worldwide can be proud of. Now is the time for a new generation of settlers. This is what the new Zionism must become for Israel to survive for another 64 years.

 

Raffe Gold is an Australian Oleh. Follow him on Twitter: @raffeg 

Comments

4 Responses to “We Need More Settlers”
  1. Stewart says:

    Hi Raffe – I found Gideon Levy’s recent article in Haaretz relevant:
    “Am I a Zionist? How shall I answer? If Zionism is settling in the territories then I am anti-Zionist. If Zionism is continuing the occupation then I am non-Zionist. And if Zionism is the Jewish people’s right to a state, just like the Palestinian people’s right to a state, including at least partial correction of the injustice done to them in 1948, then I too am a Zionist. If Zionism is striving for a democratic state, then in that case too I am a Zionist, son of a Zionist.”

    Should liberal minded human beings emigrate to Israel to bring it back from its continual decline? Perhaps. I think it is more prudent for citizens in countries like Australian to call on their government to vote responsibly to secure a just result for Palestinians people which inevitably will bring security for people who choose to live (or were born) in Israel and Palestine.

    • I find it relevant that views such as “Stewart’s” are aired under the cover of single names . Those, such as I, for one, as well as Paul ( also identified by himself as Winter ), on the very OTHER hand, come with the complete package. There must be something in the infested water these people – single name ones – that precludes them from being up-front with identity. They would know, no doubt, that what they are uttering contains vile attacks gainst the Zionism that DOES form the foundation of Jewish identity, of Jewish survival. That Haaretz supports a Gideon Levy offensive rant comes only as a confirmation that it is so easy to find detractors of immutable concepts. It is part of selfish, deranged, frustrated traits of individuals who could not achieve positions of respect in a society ordained by principles worth living for. As such, our Israel should always hear our heart-felt call ” Israel hai !!”.
      This is the nice way of responding to a “contribution” thrown by a “Stewart” meant to hurt and damage the necessary determination any normal Jew must observe in the fight against the obvious and not so of our enemies.

  2. Paul Winter says:

    Well said, Otto, although I am not sure if even after 64 years Raffe will be able to eat his cake while he continues to have his foot in his mouth.

    I do not quite know the place where he lives, but the Israel I saw last year was not the one overtaken by right-wing extermism or religious intolerance. Sure there are problems and dissensions and there are extermists, but it is a functioning, caring, tolerant democracy, all the more surprising as it is still at war and a good part of its non-Jewish citizens is a fifth column.

    But in calling for more Jews to make aliyah, Raffe may have is desire frustrated. Were I to make aliyah, I would vote for Israel Beteinu, despite having been a Labour voter all of my life. The Israeli left is a group of yesterday’s people whom events have left behind.

  3. to simply state that Gold’s rants are simplistic is a grave injustice.
    The text above reeks of Syssific efforts at reason, emminent failure to envelope the idea of Zionism and its progression, NOT the “liberal” type progression but the logical, historical evolution of a State and a Nation, of an ideal.
    Whether inconclusive search for wisdom or, once again, hyperbolic self-elevation of one’s importance in matters well beyond one’s grasp, Gold has succeeded in betraying a solid loss of comprehension of basic Zionist principles.
    Quite a mouthful, yet a mild ( don’t know why ! ) reminder that to be able to bake a cake is not enough to have the desire to devour it.
    Howz about you grow up, Raffe, another 64 years and then come back and tell us how to boil eggs !!!

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