Abraham, the mutual forefather
of the Jewish people and their Arabic cousins, is described by Efron
in the Bible as “a prince of the Lord in our midst.(Genesis
23:5)” Since man does not live in isolation, one of the goals
of the true religious personality is to achieve a degree of devotion
capable of evoking the praise of all men and their desire to emulate
From Abraham’s days this was the sole agenda of the Jewish
people. The revelation at Mt. Sinai placed an enormous burden upon
our people. We were summoned to be “a kingdom of priests and
a Holy nation. (Exodus 19:6)”
Down through the ages Jews lived a humble, holy existence, at
peace with all men and served as loyal and co-operative citizens
in the nations amongst whom they dwelled.
One hundred years ago, a Jew, far removed from his faith and in
total ignorance of its basic beliefs, launched the movement today
known as Zionism. Its early adherents were almost uniformly drawn
from the ranks of Jews who had previously abandoned their faith.
Time does not permit us to catalogue in detail the evil effects
of this ideology upon Jews themselves and how it led them to abandon
the beliefs and practices of the Torah. Rather for the purposes
of this conference we will, God willing, explain why Zionism is
a rejection of Judaism and how its demise is the only path to true
All mankind stands aghast at the terrible suffering in the Middle
East . Innocents on both sides are swept up in a spiral of seemingly
never ending bloodshed. The world searches for a solution.
Our perspective is representative of the Torah view, maintained
by hundreds of thousands of Jews worldwide, which offers a real
alternative to the current impasse.
Our position is that of the Talmud and Midrash which explicitly
prohibit premature attempts to end exile. Indeed, we are told that
it is metaphysically impossible for there to be a real cessation
of hostilities so long as the Jewish people are in violation of
the terms of their exile.
With this introduction complete let us now turn to the details
of the dilemma now before us.
What is the traditional Torah belief concerning the Holy land ?
The Holy Land was a conditional Divine gift. It was a place set
aside for God’s worship. But it was given conditionally. The
Bible foretold that if the “children of Israel ” should
fail in their spiritual task, they would be banished from the land
and sent into exile. This exilic punishment will last until the
Lord in His mercy, sees fit to end history as we know it, by ushering
in the Messianic era – a time of universal brotherhood and
peace. This utopian future will feature the worship of God by all
mankind, centered in the Holy Land and the city of Jerusalem .
In the Additional Service recited on every major Jewish holiday
we find the following prayer, “And because of our sins we
were exiled from our land and removed from our soil and we cannot
now go up and appear and prostrate ourselves before You.”
These prayers represented nothing new in the way of doctrine to
those who instituted and recited them. From the time of the Temple
’s destruction and throughout Jewish history our people always
regarded their exile as a Divine punishment. Indeed, no Jews ever
dared suggest in the thousands of years of our exile that the Romans
had destroyed the Temple due to a lack of Jewish military preparedness
or resources. Rather, the Temple was lost physically because of
the Jewish people’s failure to live up to their spiritual
obligations to God.
Indeed, despite thousands of years in exile, frequent exclusion
and persecution, no Jew ever suggested that the Holy Land could
or should be retaken by force of arms. Exile was, indeed, a physical
state. Yet, it was completely caused and perpetuated by spiritual
forces. Thus, the only means to end exile and usher in the promised
era of peace and worldwide brotherhood, were and are spiritual.
They consist of the essential practices of our faith -- repentance,
prayer, Torah study and good works.
In the words of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (German Jewish leader
1808 – 1888), “During the reign of Hadrian when the
uprising led by Bar Kochba proved a disastrous error, it became
essential that the Jewish people be reminded for all times of an
important, essential fact, namely that (the people of) Israel must
never again attempt to restore its national independence by its
own power; it was to entrust its future as a nation solely to Divine
Providence.” (Hirsch Siddur, 1969: 703)
Again Rabbi Hirsch writes, “We mourn over that which brought
about that destruction (of the Temple), we take to heart the harshness
we have encountered in our years of wandering as the chastisement
of a father, imposed on us for our improvement, and we mourn the
lack of observance of Torah which that ruin has brought about. .
. This destruction obliges us to allow our longing for the far away
land to express itself only in mourning, in wishing and hoping;
and only through the honest fulfillment of all Jewish duties to
await the realization of this hope. But it forbids us to strive
for the reunion or possession of the land by any but spiritual
means.” (Horeb, 1981: 461)
The attempt to explain the exile in this-worldly terms is not simply
an error of doctrine or a distortion of Jewish history. It strikes
at the core of Jewish belief. In fact, the Maharal of Prague (Czechoslovakian
Rabbi and pivotal medieval Jewish leader, 1525 – 1609) writes
that a Jew should rather give up his life than attempt to end exile
by conquering the Holy Land . (Netzach Yisroel, 24)
Why? Why was this seen as so basic to our belief system?
In simple terms -- if one views the exile as the result of military
cause and effect, then the very heart and soul is ripped out of
Jewish destiny and Divine guidance. By asserting our right to alter
the Divine plan of exile as punishment, repentance, expiation and
miraculous return, we assert that the essence of Jewish destiny
is fundamentally capable of being altered by other than spiritual
forces. God is then exiled from the drama and final resolution of
Of course, exile is far more than mere punishment. The Jewish people
were sent amongst the nations in order to proclaim by word and deed
the truths of God’s existence and His revelatory injunctions
for all men.
In the words of Rabbeinu Bachya (12th century Saragossian Biblical
commentator) “The Jewish people should spread among the nations
in order that those nations should learn from them belief in the
existence of God and the flow of Divine Providence regarding the
particulars of men.”
Tragically, two events coalesced to cloud over the above, once
universally recognized truths among the Jewish people. First, the
exile dragged on for hundreds and eventually thousands of years.
Second, in the aftermath of the Enlightenment, many Jews abandoned
Torah faith. Thus, those Jews who no longer saw exile in Divine
terms sought to explain it as nothing more than the result of this
In their frustration at the length of the exile they demonized
all nations. In their view all Gentiles would forever hate the Jewish
people. Therefore, they reasoned, we must immediately end exile
by political and, if need be, military means. Thus, was born the
pseudo religion of Zionism.
This necessitated ignoring the Palestinian inhabitants of the land.
When this strategy became impossible, the Zionist movement and later
the Israeli state sought to depict them as unreasonable enemies
for whom military conquest was the only just fate.
Accordingly, both exilic missions (repentance and serving as a
“light unto the nations”) were damaged by the ideology
We are called upon by Zionism to view all Arab nations as our enemies.
We are forever exhorted to dwell on anti – Semitism, real
and imagined, in order to justify the creation of the state and
its subsequent aggressions. This obsession with wars, terror and
counter terror, the subjugation of the Palestinians, reparations
and claims upon all nations and ever wilder charges of anti - Semitism
provide an inviting substitute for many Jews. This heresy was particularly
tempting to Jews ignorant of Torah and due to historical and cultural
forces, estranged from their faith.
The costs of all this in terms of our true exilic tasks are staggering.
In place of fulfilling our quiet role of being a “light unto
the nations”, we are forever dragged into a bloody conflict
with the Palestinian people. Thousands of innocents on both sides
continually suffer. Jewry worldwide has little time or patience
for its primary task -- the worship of God and its derivative benefit
-- the sanctification of His Name.
There is no need for Jews to be seen as the enemies of the Islamic
world. There is no need for Jews to be forever accusing Popes and
governments of having insufficiently apologized to us for past wrongs
– real and imagined. There is no need for Jewry to base its
collective political strategies in America and Europe on a “Is
it good for Israel?” basis, thus alienating and angering their
Beyond these factors, there remains the tragic fact that much
of mankind sees the Israeli state as representative of the Jewish
people. Thus, the state which has rejected or, at best, ignored
God, conveys the message to humanity that the essence of Jewishness
is a secular nationalism.
Further, the claim of Israel to represent world Jewry links all
of our people to the state’s acts of violence against the
Palestinian people. This is a frustrating and embarrassing lie.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Many Jews in the Holy Land
and around the world are greatly pained and anguished by the suffering
and persecution of the Palestinian people. Of course, our hearts
bleed whenever innocent Jews suffer. But, this need not blind a
moral people to the similar sufferings of the other. This is precisely
the point—Zionism is a recipe for endless suffering among
both Jews and Palestinians.
In the words of Grand Rabbi, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum zt’l (of
blessed memory, originally of Hungary, who lived in New York after
WW II, 1888 – 1980), “In sum, the hatred against the
Jewish community is because it is said that those who are not Torah
observant, who are heretics, are the leaders of Jewry. The nations
of the world are misled by them and acquire a hatred of Jews. One
of the greatest commandments there is, to be observed with utmost
self-sacrifice, would be to make known to the nations of the world
that they (Zionists and irreligious leaders) are not the representatives
of the Jewish community. (And to tell them) that observant Jews
have no connection with them.” (Dibros Kodesh, 1986: 210-11)
The vast majority of Jews rejected Zionism when it first began.
In the early part of the century, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem (not
to be confused with the Chief Rabbis of the State of Israel), Rabbi
Yoseph Chaim Zonnenfeld negotiated with King Hussein in order to
help the Orthodox Jewish community escape the Zionist machinations.
This resulted in the assassination by Haganah operatives in 1924
of the Rabbi’s advisor, Dr. Jacob Israel de Haan. In 1948
Rabbi Yosef Zvi Duchinsky of Jerusalem sent an urgent petition to
the United Nations, asking that the Orthodox community in the Holy
Land be exempted from Zionist rule. These were not isolated incidents.
For over a century Zionism has been opposed by large segments of
Orthodox Jewry in Jerusalem, the Holy Land and around the world.
Many continue to do so today. In fact, they refuse any form of recognition
of, or co-operation with the state. They frequently pay for their
opposition to the state by being arrested, beaten and, at times,
murdered. Their voices are generally ignored in the Israeli press
and throughout the world.
Zionist assertionso having solved the “Jewish question”
by “ending exile” have proven a dismal failure. If anything,
the Zionist’s claim to having created a safe haven for Jewry
is patently false. The truth is that Israel today, whether governed
by “doves” or “hawks” is the most dangerous
place in the world for Jews. Such was to be expected, as Israel’s
very creation was an act of defiance against the Creator’s
Our position is the only one offering a real alternative to the
status quo. Anti – Zionist Jews believe that the one path
to peace in the Middle East, the only means for Jews to fulfill
their proper role in exile and the only path demonstrating justice
and kindness towards the Palestinians, is the total dismantling
of the Israeli state. Only then, with sovereignty transferred to
Palestinian rule, will a true peace be attained.
After 53 years of having our blood shed on the altar of a nineteenth
century colonial, nationalism, misapplied to the Jewish people,
having spilled rivers of blood of other peoples, it is high time
that world Jewry subject the first assumptions of Zionism to criticism.
What has been accomplished by linking our people’s fate
to that of the state?
At root, Zionism has succeeded in changing the definition of Jewry
from that of a people of faith, intent on achieving closeness to
the Creator in this world, to that of a barren secular, ethnic identity.
It has exacerbated anti Jewish sentiments around the world.
It behooves those Torah Jews who have known, since Zionism’s
inception, that only ill could come of its dreams, to urge world
Jewry to accept the only suitable alternative.
This alternative would not demand Jewish political rule over the
Temple Mount or Jerusalem. The “non negotiability of Jerusalem”
is not a Torah concept. Indeed, the true Torah concept is to relinquish
the notions of Zionism and abandon, in a peaceful fashion, the current
Zionist sovereignty over the land.
This need not sadden any Jew. It is far better to relinquish political
power than fail in our religious/moral task as the Torah nation.
It is far better to practice kindness and fairness to all men as
dictated by the Torah, than it is to be drawn into a never ending
battle with the Palestinians, the Islamic world, the entire Third
World and increasingly the nations and peoples of Europe and North
America. We Jews have a task, but it is not to be dispossessors
The serious alternative to Zionism is the faith of Judiasm. In
Rav Hirsch’s powerful description:
“Picture every son of Israel a respectful and influential
priest of righteousness and love, disseminating among the nations
not specific Judaism – for proselytism is forbidden –
but pure humanity. .. . .How impressive, how sublime it would have
been if there lived a people . . .. . who beheld in material possessions
only the means for practicing justice and love towards all, a people
whose minds imbued with the wisdom and truth of the Law, maintained
simple, straightforward views, and emphasized them for themselves
and others in expressive, vivid symbolic acts.” (Nineteen
To the Palestinian people and the other peoples here represented:
You have no quarrel with the Jewish people. We are not your enemies.
Our message is simple. Let us endeavor to live in peace and true
To our fellow Jews we ask that you all embrace the faith of ancestors
as revealed on Sinai; that you deal justly and kindly with all men
and that we all work towards the day of ultimate brotherhood and
redemption for mankind.
Our prayer to God is that the Israeli state be speedily and peacefully
dismantled without any further shedding of Jewish or Palestinian
blood and that we be worthy of seeing the full revelation of God’s
glory in the world. Amen