Opinion

Israel's Settler Right Should Be Called Religious anti-Zionists

Rafi Peretz, left, and Bezalel Smotrich at the Knesset, November 20, 2019.
Ohad Zwigenberg

The novelist Haim Be’er was wrong to call religious Zionism a “cancerous growth.” It isn’t right to pin an image of disease on a large swath of the population, whether they’re Sudanese or leftist or even religious. It’s also wrong to generalize in this way. Not all knitted kippa wearers live in settlements, vote for right-wing parties and thereby threaten Israel’s future.

But Be’er was wrong even before that in choosing his words. We must stop using the term “religious Zionism” in reference to the population that does fall within those parameters. This is a false description, which we all recite in our stupidity. All the kippa wearers who belong to the settler right, whether they live in Elkana or Ra’anana, should be called religious anti-Zionists.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 56Haaretz

The essence of Zionism was to ensure a national home for Jews in recognized, secure borders, as part of a democratic state with a Jewish majority, in which all citizens enjoy full equality. The occupation and settlements project has been torpedoing this purpose for 52 years and the spreading annexation ideas will thwart it forever. All those people may be religious, but they’re certainly not Zionists. It’s very simple, only that the left and center can’t for some reason make this clear, and instead find themselves in an absurd reality in which they’re the ones who feel an apologetic need to be called the “Zionist Camp” or “Kahol Lavan.”

However, there’s also a light at the end of the tunnel. The past year, and the past week in particular, have thrown religious anti-Zionism into a blessed political whirlpool. In the end, the masks have finally been removed. Behind all the ridiculous splits and unions, the intrigues and impulsive moves, hides a great truth: Religious anti-Zionism in its entirety stands behind the immunity coalition of the defendant from Balfour Street.

Yitzhak Shamir once said it was OK to lie for the Land of Israel. Deceit, robbery and fraud have always been in religious anti-Zionism’s DNA in the occupied territories. Now, for a change, a welcome honesty is emerging: a severance from state institutions, democracy and the rule of law even inside the Green Line.

They are the serial defendant Netanyahu’s most loyal soldiers, the first to rally ‘round the flag and charge. He knows it, so for three election rounds he has permitted himself to mix and stir and organize their parties. He sends the religious head of the National Security Council to persuade rabbis to impose their authority on Naftali Bennett, makes an agreement with Moshe Feiglin under which the latter doesn’t run for Knesset in exchange for an imaginary future position, and applies pressure to unite forces with Otzma Yehudit.

In recent days he’s threatened to fire (!) the defense minister if he didn't merge with Rafi Peretz and Itamar Ben-Gvir and solicited his personal gofer, Shimon Riklin, on the phone to contend for the Knesset in Habayit Hayehudi, of all parties. The next stage will probably be to send the Mossad chief to persuade Yigal Amir’s wife not to split the camp’s votes in exchange for appointing her head of the Israel Prison Service or the Shin Bet.

As is customary in times of pressure, the rest of the masks come off too. Riklin’s father in law, Israel Harel, called on the defendant, on this page, while he’s head of a transitional government, to annex the Jordan Valley and Area C right away, and all will be forgiven. Rafi Peretz aired his views once again regarding Kahanists, Palestinians, members of the LGBTQ community and helicopters.

Channel 13 political reporter Amit Segal, who was forced to apologize to Balad, called TheMarker journalist Nati Tucker a “court Jew.” What Tucker (a kippa wearer) had done was to report the apology. Segal continued to distribute kashrut and conversion certificates by claiming “a national religious person who continues to buy or keep that wretch Haim Be’er’s books is a good Christian who likes to turn the other cheek.”

In fact, the one who keeps turning the other cheek to religious anti-Zionism – despite the Jewish underground and Baruch Goldstein and Rabin’s murder and the outpost outlaws – is the sane Israel, which has long since turned suicidal.