Privatizing Zionism in Israel

Privatization has spread from the economy to the three main elements of Zionism: aliya, settlement and land redemption.

"The Zionist entity"? It's only Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and all the other haters of Israel who still remember and refer to the ideological roots of the Jewish national home. "Jewish and democratic," we proclaim, with an emphasis on the democratic. And Zionism? We pay it lip service.

On Tuesday, in the City of David, the Irving and Cherna Moskowitz Prize for Zionism was awarded. The location, like the deeds of the winners, epitomized a symptomatic situation: Today, movements and organizations - rather than "the Zionist entity" - are at the forefront of classic Zionist activity.

The City of David, a monumental enterprise to uncover the roots of the past, deserved to be a state undertaking. But the state, which swears on the Holy of Holies that Jerusalem will remain united "until the end of time," trembles like a leaf in the wind when it comes to translating this vow into action.

Were it not for David Be'eri, who conceived of and has been the driving force behind the Ir David (City of David ) Foundation, it's doubtful that these archaeological treasures, which have enormous historical and national significance, would ever have been discovered and turned into a national attraction.

And what is true of the site also goes for the prize. Why didn't the State of Israel establish what a wealthy Jewish family from the United States was able to initiate? Indeed, everything done by the three winners (Dr. Yitzhak Glick, a leading light of Israel's emergency medical care system; attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, a leader in the international legal battle against terrorism; and Zvi Slonim, head of the Land Redemption Fund ) should have been done by the state.

The state ought to be waging a worldwide legal battle against the sources of terrorist funding and helping the victims' families pursue lawsuits. And redeeming land is a national mission. An arm of the state, like the Jewish National Fund, ought to be buying up land, and in large quantities - not a nonprofit organization with limited financial and organizational resources.

Even the very few new communities established within the state's boundaries in recent decades were mainly the initiative of NGOs. Yet even when it comes to protecting these communities' residents and lands, "the Zionist entity" has fallen asleep on its watch. Attacks on farmers and their property are a daily occurrence; as a result, many farmers, veterans and newcomers alike, end up with their strength exhausted and their spirit broken. Arab takeovers of private land, state land and JNF land alike have become a national plague.

A new organization, Hashomer Hahadash (The New Guard ), has recently entered this vacuum. The organization, staffed by volunteers, helps farmers protect themselves and their lands and property. It, too, would be unnecessary if the government actually enforced the law. And it, too, will doubtless be awarded the Prize for Zionism someday - but not by the state, whose work it is doing.

Last year, one of the winners (alongside the late Hanan Porat and former Mossad chief Meir Dagan ) was Rabbi Joshua Fass, one of the founders of Nefesh B'Nefesh. This organization, established a mere 10 years ago, is currently responsible for the bulk of aliya from Western countries, and also helps the immigrants find jobs and get acclimated. Nefesh B'Nefesh - not the Jewish Agency, the World Zionist Organization or the Immigrant Absorption Ministry. Those agencies, if they do anything, merely "assist." For decades now, they've been so busy with their own internal quarrels that they haven't initiated anything.

Privatization has spread from the economy to the three main elements of Zionism: aliya, settlement and land redemption. Our post-ideological state, and our "national institutions" along with it, have grown tired; they no longer engage in actualizing Zionism. Thus, they ought, at least, to honor those who have taken up the torch and praise their deeds, if only for educational purposes. But even for this, they no longer have the strength. They have lost their will.