Drought and emptiness prevail
What is happening to Israeli society? The last two generations have received an education that is alien to their nation and land, the number of idealists is plummeting alarmingly, the leaders of the nation and state are in prison or are suspected of criminal activities.
If I'm not mistaken it was back in 1978 when my friend Israel Harel of Ofra, who has a column in this newspaper, organized a series of meetings between Gush Emunim and leftist intellectuals. The meetings were held at Kibbutz Hulda, at the home of writer Amos Oz. Among the participants were two other writers, A.B. Yehoshua and S.Yizhar, and on the Gush Emunim side, the late Hanan Porat, Harel, Yoel Bin-Nun and myself.
My subjective conclusion from these meetings, and in particular from Yehoshua's words, was that Western humanism, which Yehoshua expressed as an ideal, was a pagan religion and an alternative to Judaism.
As early as the Second Zionist Congress in 1898, a resolution was proposed stating that "we have nothing to do with the Jewish religion." It was Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook who prophesied in a series of remarks and articles that "this spring will dry up" - any spring or well that does not feed off Jewish sources will turn into broken wells (as the prophet Jeremiah said ).
Indeed, the various movements that have cast off the yoke of Jewish tradition have been forced to adopt or invent alternative value systems. And we have seen how, from both the left and right, from the socialism of the Labor Party and its predecessor Mapai, to Ze'ev Jabotinsky's Revisionism, almost nothing has survived. Drought and emptiness prevail.
It turns out, as the Jewish sages said long ago, that any value system that is not based on Jewish faith and identity cannot be the foundation and glue of the Jewish people, who sooner or later will develop a way of rejecting foreign values.
Mapai no longer settles the homeland, and the movements that came after it cannot even put together settler groups for the Negev or Galilee. The banner of "Judaization" of the Galilee is considered a banner of racism, as is the ideology of Hebrew labor. All that remains, it seems, is democracy and the values of Western humanism. Jabotinsky's students have undergone a similar process, so today it's hard to find anyone who describes himself as his student.
Israeli secular society has gradually cast off the previous generation's values, but it has not found a suitable replacement. The desperate attempts by state education and the legal system to impart the values of democracy and humanism have for the most part been fruitless. Israel has been prevented from setting up a new Hebrew settlement for Jews because a move like that is defined as inegalitarian, according to the rulings of the High Court of Justice.
And so the nation that for 2,000 years awaited its return to its homeland cannot establish new settlements for its sons and daughters. Israel cannot encourage army veterans by paying them national insurance stipends because a step like that is also defined as inegalitarian. The Jewish people that inhabits Zion cannot address the demographic problem that annoys the majority of the population because encouraging Jews to bring children into this world is considered racist. And no one dares mention the Judaization of the Galilee because apparently the problem has been solved.
And as far as defense is concerned, we cannot fight terror because it is almost impossible to deport terrorists, while the destruction of terrorists' houses is generally prevented by the High Court. Our soldiers are forced to go from house to house in Gaza or the Jenin refugee camp, putting their lives at risk, since we are not allowed to bombard enemies or use members of an alien population as human shields. As said, the High Court of Justice and humanism.
And what is happening to Israeli society from the inside? The last two generations have received an education that is alien to their nation and land, the number of idealists is plummeting alarmingly, the leaders of the nation and state are in prison or are suspected of criminal activities, faith in state institutions has dramatically declined - from the Supreme Court to the Knesset and the police - the parliament is seen as a house of national intrigue, and during elections the people vote with their feet. Around 30 to 40 percent of the people don't vote at all.
Young people, those who do not turn to drugs or the Internet, have lost their way. This country's people are confused and shocked. It's not surprising then that many are seeking their Jewish identity, the true wellspring.
I did not call for the establishment of a state based on Jewish law instead of a democratic regime, and I thank Haaretz for immediately correcting its website article on this and giving me the chance to state my position here. I did express my opinion that Israel's democratic regime in its present form will break down, and in fact that's what is happening slowly but surely. I did say the basic solution is to prefer something "Jewish" to something "democratic," as long as there is no "moral" clash between the two. And on this score I was preceded by Kadima MK Avi Dichter. Indeed, the frame should preserve the picture, not the other way around.
The writer is chairman of the Samaria Residents Committee.