Good Zionists, Bad Zionists

July 5, 2009

One of the unwritten laws of war is that the winning side is allowed to do as it pleases after the cessation of hostilities. This law is even more relevant when the victor turns out to be the side that didn’t initiate the war, or didn’t want the war to occur in the first place.

Thus we find Israel, after its victory in a war that it initially tried to avoid in 1948, utilizing its victory to expand its territory. For several years after this war, new communities started to appear on the map, such as Ashdod in 1956, Karmiel in 1964, Dimona in 1955 and Arad in 1962 (to name just a few).

Then, nearly 20 years later and faced with the prospect of an Arab onslaught, Israel was forced to fight another war in 1967, which, like the war in 1948, resulted in a decisive victory for Israel. Then once again, as it had done after its 1948 victory, Israel utilized this victory to embark on a campaign of expanding its territory. New communities started to dot the map, such as Kiryat Arba in 1972, Kedumim in 1975, Karnei Shomron in 1977 and Efrat in 1983 (to name just a few).

However, this is where the similarities stop. For some reason, the communities that were founded after 1948 have always been considered legitimate by the Israeli public, while the communities that were established after 1967 never quite managed to gain the same degree of legitimacy in the eyes of some sections of the Israeli public and are in fact considered illegitimate by some here in Israel.

Of course the argument that the latter communities were established in the midst of, or near, large Arab population centers, or on ‘Arab lands’, doesn’t hold much sway, especially since the same can be said of many ‘legitimate’ communities started after 1948 and even of some communities started before 1948. If this is the case, then what is the reason for this different treatment of post-1967 communities to those of their pre-1967 counterparts?

It seems that the only logical answer is that the earlier communities were founded by the ‘Good Zionists’ (Ben Gurion and friends), while many of the latter post-1967 communities were founded by a different type of Zionist, namely the type that believes settling Eretz Yisrael is a mitzvah and who draws his inspiration and motivation for such ideals straight from Judaism. This is the only plausible answer as to why this second group of Zionists and the communities they have built have become stigmatized and deemed illegitimate by so many here in Israel.

Unfortunately, what many here in Israel that deem such post-1967 communities as illegitimate fail, or perhaps refuse, to understand is that in the eyes of the Arabs, all of the communities (pre-1948, post-1948, post-1967) are illegitimate. They don’t make such trivial distinctions. Only us, the silly Jews, make such distinctions.

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4 Responses to Good Zionists, Bad Zionists

  1. Geoff says:

    Your allusion to the ‘Right of Conquest’ is interesting as it appears that this law has operated throughout history up until the UN was established. Am I correct in my understanding that during the 1967 war that Jordan, the custodians of the ‘west’ bank, technically was the aggressor as they sought an opportunity to take all of Jerusalem during the perceived Jewish vulnerable moment early in the war? Did the Jews repeatedly request that Jordan stay out of the war? Does this make Jewish conquest of Samaria legitimate (as say the Russian/Georgia question of 2008)?
    The British mandate seems to have been legitimate when the whole region was wrested from the Ottoman Empire, and given in a rather ‘willy nilly’ fashion to compliant arab and/or muslim groups, but unfortunately the Jewish cause at that time does not seem to have been expedient.
    I do believe you are right in the content of many of your articles. Israel’s delegitimisation will continue, and things will only get worse before they get better.

    • Yoel Meltzer says:

      Geoff shalom,

      Thanks for your comments. Although I’m not sure of the exact reason that Jordan attacked in 1967, bottom line they signed a defense pact with Egypt a few days before the war and then they did in fact attack Israel. This of course was after PM Levi Eshkol sent a message to King Hussein saying Israel would not attack Jordan unless he initiated hostilities.

      As I’m sure you know the problem with international law and legitimacy is that concerning Israel all the laws and norms are thrown out the window.

      I’m not an expert on international law but I know there’s been a lot written supporting Israel’s claim to Judea and Samaria. But once again, even if the truth is with us it doesn’t matter. That’s the reason I try with my articles to direct my fellow Jews inward since for me that’s the source of the problem. Only by really knowing who we are and what is our true purpose in the world (specifically in the Land of Israel) will we be able to break out of the shackles.

      All the best.


  2. Geoff says:

    Shalom Yoel,

    There is indeed a lot written supporting Israel’s claim to Judea and Samaria. It is found in the prophets. For example, the significance of Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones has been clearly recognised as a vision spelling out the return of the Jews to their homeland. A prophecy that has been conveniently forgotten about today. Who, before WW2 and the holocaust would ever have appreciated the erie significance of what Ezekiel saw when the nation subsequently came into existence three years later? It was really the tragedy of those Jewish graves scattered across the landscape of Europe that provided impetus for the nation of Israel to have breath breathed into it once again. It couldn’t, and didn’t have happen before. The menorah gift in the 1950′s of the British Government, as it tried to appease its sins of the mandate, stands outside the Knesset and has Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones etched right in the middle. Yad Veshem, the old Knesset gates, both with depictions of the dry bones, even Johnson’s song of “Dem dry bones… hear the word of the L_rd” are a credible reminder of what G_d has done.

    Does anyone think that the victory of the war of independence or the six day war was due to Jewish ingenuity and skill at war? They were still barely getting up off their emaciated knees after what Hitler had done to them. How could they take on five vastly superior armies at once and win? Wouldn’t America have loved to be able to surgically remove Sadam in six days and then return home? The US, the most powerful and sophisticated military machine ever to be seen on this earth, with all its intelligence capabilities, in every campaign since WW2 has only manage to get bogged down in the quagmire of guerilla resistance again and again, and again. How could the Jewish people do it if it weren’t for G_d promising in Moses, in the prayer of Solomon, in Jeremiah that he would bring them back to the land.

    The sad thing is Yoel is the drama is only just beginning. As the prophet with your names sake says, “In those days, and in that time, when he will bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, (1948, and 1967 respectively) He will also gather all nations together in the the valley of Jehoshephat (just outside Jerusalem). Do you think Israel will survive ’70 years’ before G_d intervenes again? This is not just about the nations delegitimising of Israel. This is a controversy that G_d has will all nations. Especially when no one seems to acknowledge the miracle of what he has already done.

    Things will only get worse before they get better as the prophet describe the carnage of what is yet to unfold. But in the end…. “Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation…. for the L_rd shall dwell in Zion”. We are the ones whose eyes have witnessed these things begin to come to pass… The question is whether we do something personally about being ready for G_d’s solution. Because it is clear that NONE of the worlds leaders, including those in Israel, have any solutions.


    • Yoel Meltzer says:

      Geoff shalom,

      Thank you for your wonderful comment. I agree with everything you said.

      Just to add one thing. According to the Jewish sages, the geula (redemption) is guaranteed to come. However, depending on our deeds it can come either the hard way or the easy way. Most would agree that based upon the last 50-100 years it’s coming the hard way. However, this can change. Therefore I write as much as I can to do my small part in trying to wake up my people since our mindset/consciousness (or whatever you want to call it) is the real problem. Moreover it is this shift which can end the suffering not only for the Jewish people but for the whole world as well.

      Looking forward to the geula!


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