Is right-wing more religious? – Understanding Israel’s new government:

After the recent Israeli elections, with right wing and extremist parties gaining the upper hand, many are concerned about how this may play out with regards to the occupation, especially after Netanyahu promised extreme ally Ben-Gvir that illegal settler outposts will be legalized in the new government’s first 60 days, settlements evacuated years ago will be resettled, and a network of roads to serve the settlements will be built.

Aside from the settlers, the new government also includes the religious Shas and UTJ parties. Due to these religious parties’ presence in the government, many get the impression that the government’s goals are somehow kosher and in accordance with the Torah, the Jewish religion.

Much is in the news about the political parties and their principles, but little or no attention has been paid to the large and growing anti-Zionist Jewish block that, on principle, never takes part in Israeli elections and politics and totally opposes the State of Israel. To put it into perspective, among religious Jews living in the Zionist state there are basically four segments:

1) The religious Zionists, who believe in Zionism ideologically and misquote the Torah to justify their beliefs.

2) The settlers, an extreme minority element within the first group.

3) Those who are traditionally Orthodox and yet still participate in the political process. Although many of them are not Zionists – they do not believe in the state as an ideal, and refuse to serve in its army – they choose to vote and elect representatives to prevent the state from trampling on their freedom of religion. In keeping with their non-Zionist orientation, they condemn extremists like Ben-Gvir. Their situation is similar to that of the so-called “Israeli Arabs” – the Palestinians living with the state’s borders who send parties to the Knesset.

4) The large anti-Zionist community that does not vote, and carries on ongoing active campaigns to encourage Jews to boycott the election. This community does not accept any funding from the state or participate in any way, because they don’t recognize the legitimacy of the existence of the state of Israel in its entirety, not just the territories but all land conquered in 1948, regardless whether a left or right wing government is in power. They are supported ideologically by large communities of like-minded Jews like ourselves in America, Canada, England and other countries.

Some have questioned the approach of the last group. What is the purpose in boycotting an election? If you don’t vote, your voice will not be heard, they argue. The answer is that our rabbinic leaders since the creation of the State taught that by voting and participating, one becomes an accomplice to criminals and declares his allegiance to Zionism, even if he may not agree with everything the government does. As time goes on, these rabbis have been proven right again and again: most recently, the Zionist government has been telling its religious partners to “share the burden” and join their army. If you take, you must give back. It is becoming clear that the only way to raise a completely independent community, opposed to the existence of the state, is to have nothing to do with the state or its politics.

Furthermore, this group argues that those who join the government, whatever their actual views are, give the wrong impression to the world. With their long beards, sidelocks and religious clothing, they seem to put the rabbinic stamp of approval upon the state.

The large and powerful anti-Zionist community does not vote, but they make their voices heard in other ways. They hold rallies to publicly denounce the entire State, and sometimes turn out in the thousands to block the streets. All the brutality and riot control techniques that the police can muster, including night raids on homes, fail to intimidate this community. Clearly, the state considers this community as a growing threat.

The philosophy of Zionism, to create a homeland for the Jewish people by force, is contrary to Jewish belief. The Torah teaches that we are in exile by Divine decree and we are prohibited to end the exile on our own. The occupation of Palestine, including stealing land and killing or expelling its inhabitants, is a violation of Jewish law. When religious parties join the government, or when religious Jews take action to further the occupation, it doesn’t make it right, but a desecration of the name of the Almighty. When the Torah is misused to justify a crime, the crime becomes worse. These people say they are religious, but their action do not represent all Jews, or the very religion they claim to practice. Judaism is belief and service of the Almighty; Zionism is a political movement that violates the Torah and human rights.

As we work against Zionism and the occupation, let us pray that soon the day will come when Jews and Muslims can live as neighbors in a free Palestine.

May the glory of the Almighty be revealed in the world and may we see the day when, in the words of Isaiah, “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

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