Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The War to Deconstruct Settlements and the Crisis of the Jewish State. | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The former chairman of the Jewish Agency in Israel, Abraham Burg, wrote that despite the hoax of the withdrawal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza strip, which will intensify Israeli settlements in the West bank, the move will prove catastrophic for Israeli security. He adds that the pullout will pose a challenge to Israeli identity and the project upon which the state was founded. Burg noted in his article that featured in the French newspaper Le Monde on the 18th of August 2005, that over the past half century, Israel has been using elements of reality and myth such as the security ideology, the sacredness of settlements, and the supremacy of Judaism as a religion to justify its actions.

According to Burg, the security ideology was a pretense to transform Israel into a hostile state that rejected peace and dialogue and practiced killing, discrimination, and annexation. As a result, it has lost its soul and has become a repressive occupying authority. As for the matter of settlement, it has always been functionally interconnected with security despite that reality indicates the contrary. The result has been that checkpoints became widespread in Israel, which then closed its ghettos due to the spread of settlements causing a decline in security. Burg continued to explain that Judaism, which was founded on selectivity, became a racist ideology that is supported by violence and a false security ideology. In conclusion, Burg says that the end of the classical Zionist narration will be replaced by a new fundamentalist doctrine. The essential basis of the new doctrine will be founded on a strict religious Jewish foundation that consists of extreme ultra-Orthodox Jews, fundamentalist Zionists, and the trends that are influenced by the neo-American fundamentalist movements and sects.

A paradox has occurred in that Ariel Sharon, a notorious figure of the extreme right and one of its most hostile and violent elements, is presently portrayed in the literature of the religious settlers who oppose the withdrawal from Gaza, as the &#34Nazi Traitor.&#34 Moreover, he is frequently threatened with murder, which in itself indicates the deteriorating condition of the Israeli political arena. A scene that had always witnessed the coexistence of three forces: Secular Nationalism, Religious Zionism, and Anti-Zionism (which branches into two contradictory trends: Leftist Internationalism and Religious Rabbinical).

Secular Nationalism is the force that managed to crystallize the Zionist idea and gain foreign support for it. It finally embodied the Zionist notion in reality by the creation of the Hebrew State, which only referred to religious myths for mobilization, and was in fact based on the European modern nation state in every manner that only led to racist chauvinism and hostility towards the other.

Religious Zionism became associated with Abraham Isaac Kook and his son Zvi Yehudah, and is represented today by Gush Emunim. It is well known that Kook was the first to state that the establishment of a national Jewish state was religiously legitimate. Until then the entire Rabbi Institute had regarded that such an aspiration was against the principles and doctrines of Judaism, since according to Judaism, the creation of the &#34Jewish State&#34 should be a matter of complete divine will.

The followers of Anti-Zionism follow two contradictory trends. They accept the state in practice, yet they oppose it on the religious basis (in the case of the Religious Rabbinical trend). On a democratic basis, it practices religious and national discrimination, in the case of Leftist Internationalism trend. Most Israeli peace activists are of the latter movement.

The difficult crisis of Israel at present is represented in the collapse of the balance that was formerly established between the three forces mentioned above. The secularist trend centered on the Labor party, which founded the state and led most of its wars has collapsed and is no longer a political or an electoral power. In addition, the nationalist extremist trends such as Likud and affiliated parties have gradually fallen under the tight grip of extreme fundamentalist religious currents, which generally do not hesitate in abandoning the foundational principal of Zionism, namely using mythological justifications to create a secular state. This explains the obsession we see today in Israel with the secular-religious conflict that dominates the streets. This conflict took a stronghold over the last few days during the withdrawal from settlements in Gaza, which prompted the prominent Israeli political columnist, Amos Oz to state that the Gaza pullout was not a standoff between settlers and the army but rather between the Jewish religion and the state. Many nations have experienced similar conflicts to define clearly the positions of religion and politics. It seems that the recent confrontation in Gaza between the state and the religious settlers marked the beginning of such a conflict because it imposed an important question upon the Zionist state whether Israel is &#34a religious entity or a nation state.&#34

Even though the latest confrontation in Gaza did not experience bloodshed, all indications show that the Jewish religious establishment supported the settlers with a religious legitimacy as it did with the settlements. The religious establishment expressed that it was insistent on the protection of the settlements by force in case there were further attempts to deconstruct more settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. According to the French Jewish historian, Aster Binbasa in the newspaper Le Figaro dated 29 August 2005, using the &#34Holocaust&#34 as a means of pressure caused the secular Zionists themselves to be maligned as &#34Goyim&#34 (the term used for a non-Jew) and &#34Anti-Semitic.&#34 Even Sharon was nicknamed the &#34new-Hitler,&#34 which reveals the level of extremism and hostility expressed by the fundamentalist settler current.

The settlement of Jews has shown that occupation changes from excluding the occupied people, to excluding fellow occupiers of the same camp, and that &#34external&#34 discrimination soon becomes &#34internal&#34 discrimination and exclusion. Such results have been proved from all experiments with occupation. This is what prompted the famous French leader Charles De Gaulle to say, &#34I have not liberated Algeria from France, I have liberated France from Algeria.&#34 What Israel is experiencing today, is in fact the collapse of the fragile balance of power that has so far enabled it to portray successfully the idea of a harmonious state established upon three elements: religious legitimacy, nationalist belonging, and modern democracy. The confrontation with the settlers is a clear example that demonstrates the crisis of this collapse, which the political process should not seek to hide.