American Jews to Zionism: Bye Bye

“…the ‘widespread sense of disillusionment’ with the Jewish state is fueled, Waxman contends, not by ignorance but, to the contrary, by a growing enlightenment. The more American Jews know about Israel, he writes, the more disabused they become of what many now realize were naive misconceptions.”

Mosaic Magazine

The shock and outrage that emanated from a recent Jerusalem Post article written by Israeli MKs Aliza Lavie and Dov Lipman seems to be the voice of those who have been suddenly and rudely awoken from a deep slumber. They write that, “When the rabbi said it, we were pretty stunned. While hosting a delegation of North American rabbis at the Knesset last week, a reform rabbi told us that her congregation asked to insert a clause in her contract stating she will not talk about Israel from the pulpit.” With words carefully chosen for their subtlety and tact, they continue, “WHAT??!? In meetings with hundreds of rabbis from around the world over the past few years, we had never heard – nor could we have imagined ever hearing – any rabbi say those words. We softly asked her to repeat what she said. But it was true: A Jewish congregation sought to forbid its spiritual leader from mentioning the Jewish state from the pulpit. In writing! A clause that would have meant a possible firing for breach of contract.” Though MKs Lavie and Lipman seem nonplussed that such a reaction could have come from what they had previously believed to be good, all-American Jews, the reality is that such a clause has been long in coming.

True Torah Jews recently spoke with a prominent kiruv (Jewish outreach) specialist centered in Jerusalem (he preferred to remain anonymous) who, when speaking to a group of secular Israelis about Orthodox reluctance to serve in the Zionist military, gave them an answer that was surprisingly satisfying. “We don’t serve in the military for one reason. Because the whole medina (country) isn’t worth risk our lives, or your lives for that matter. Enough is enough, the experiment failed. Let’s pack our bags and go somewhere else where they (the government) don’t harass us, like California.” His response was met with knowing smiles and a liberal smattering of laughter. There were even those who came up to the rabbi afterwards and told him that he had echoed their sentiments exactly, though till then they had been more subconscious.

Though his audience enjoyed this brand of humor, his statements speak to a very real metamorphosis in how Jews, Israelis or otherwise, view the State of Israel. Enough. Enough with being the scapegoat for Israel’s aggressive and frequently ill-conceived political moves. Enough with being sacrificed on the altar of the Zionist State for the sake of increasing their worldwide legitimacy and increasing aliyah numbers. Enough. Those Jews who previously displayed a knee-jerk support for Zionism are, after close to 70 years of bloodshed, displaying the normal response for someone who has been betrayed. The Jerusalem Post, though not intentionally, hit the proverbial nail on the head when they asked, “Have we reached a point where elements of the American Jewish community are now saying they want a divorce?” The answer, it seems, is a resounding “YES”.

Torah Judaism has no need for a divorce because there was never a wedding between us and the Zionist ideology to begin with. However, those who did at one point believe in the legitimacy of “Israel” are beginning to look at it as an absentee father. Their feelings of betrayal are real and well founded and the apathy which has set in as it has become clearer and clearer that Zionism is militant atheism cloaked in religious garb is the perfect opportunity for American Jewry to look back and revaluate. What has the forceful atheism of the founders of “Israel” and their heirs produced? What has it given Jews around the globe? A question in the Jerusalem Post’s article seems almost rhetorical, “Is it really time to throw in the towel and wave the white flag after just 68 years of the modern- day miracle called the State of Israel, if Jews don’t want to even hear about Israel in synagogue?” In a word, “yes”.