Why do you deny Jews the right to protect themselves?

May 21, 2008

Dear Rabbi,

You say Zionism uses Anti-Semitism to promote it's cause.
However, Anti-Semitism has long existed prior to Zionism in most countries of the Western World. Jews have at one moment been welcomed to a country, then at another turned on with monotonous regularity through history, also often being told to go back to their own country. You are basically saying they should stay in whichever country they are in and wait for the next pogrom, which seems inevitable looking at history. You deny Jews the right to protect themselves by joining up together in a Jewish state. I presume the reason for your Anti-Zionism is that you don't like the non-religious elements within Israel. So your attitude towards Zionism is about yourself, not the welfare of your fellow Jews.

I presume that after the film "The Passion Of Christ" came out in your homeland of America there were signs outside churches all over the US saying the Jews killed Jesus. Henry Ford,the great US car manufacturer, was an avid supporter of Hitler. If a pogrom ever breaks out in America, possibly after some terrible economic slump as happened in Germany, where will you go? Anti-Semites who would love to wipe Jews off the face of the map must love your website as yet further proof to the rest of the world that even Jews don't believe Israel should exist. Basically these Anti-Semites don't want Israel to exist because they don't want Jews to exist and they use you in their campaign.

While you think that Israel is no safe haven for Jews, it is in possession of nuclear bombs, so I think you may find that others may have a great problem wiping it off the face of the map.
Anti-Semites who have wanted Jews to go to Israel have either wanted to rid their countries of these non-Aryans or wanted Jews to all be congregated in one place and hence easier to exterminate. As I said, these would be killers have the bomb to contend with.

I can't understand why you don't see the positive advantages Israel presents you. Rather than irreligious Jews in the Diaspora gradually marrying out and hence the Jewish race gradually dwindling away, in Israel there is more likelihood of Jews marrying fellow Jews. Also, it’s much easier for you to spread your religious message there. Yes, Jews should have loyalty to whichever host country takes them in, but to be under any delusion that their fellow citizens will eventually not one day turn on them is to deny the facts of history.

I thought jews are judged by the amount of mitzvahs they have performed. Surely it's a mitzvah to help Jews escape to Israel which they consider a safer place in the long term rather than remain in Europe where most countries aided and abetted Hitler in gassing their relatives. Even England during the war knew what was going on in the camps and where the railway lines were leading them to. And they refused to bomb these tracks. Neither did America help for that matter.

Yes, there are suicide bombers in Israel, as elsewhere, but this danger pales into insignificance when one compares it with the mass killings in Europe so many citizens of Israel escaped from during the last world war. Do you think that these mass planned killings of Jews that have continued incessantly in the Diaspora since Esther's times (even though that particular instance was foiled) have suddenly now come to a stop in the Diaspora? If so, you must be extremely short sighted.

Phil Blackman

Dear Mr. Blackman,

We look to the Talmudic sages for wisdom, and I would like to point out an important thing that they said about Anti-Semitism and persecution during exile. The fact that Jews have been scattered in various countries throughout the world is no accident, it is Divine providence. See the Torah, Deuteronomy 4:27 and 28:64. The Sages explained that the scattering was actually G-d's way of protecting the Jews. If Jews were all in one place, it would be easier for an anti-Semitic ruler to destroy them all. But G-d made sure that when Jews were expelled and persecuted in Spain, there was a king in Poland who let them live freely. When Jews were being slaughtered in Europe, there was a land America where they were safe. During the centuries of Christian persecution, there was a Muslim world that was relatively tolerant. Therefore, we say it is a great mistake to make a homeland and gather all Jews to one place. This will only be possible in the Messianic Era when G-d will give us His open protection.

The original Zionist leaders envisioned their state as a safe haven to welcome the Jews, but today we see that it didn't turn out that way. On the contrary, it has become the world's most dangerous place for Jews to live. The only Jews who used the state of Israel as a haven from persecution were the Jews from Muslim countries who fled there in the 1950's, but why were they persecuted at all in their home countries? Only because of Arab anger over the foundation of the state of Israel. Before Zionism they lived in relative tranquility.

You claim that because of the nuclear bomb, we can be smarter than G-d and the Talmudic sages. We can gather the Jews to one place and have nothing to fear. Let me remind you, however, that nuclear weapons are only a deterrent against established countries, not against suicidal terrorist groups. If, G-d forbid, a terrorist group got hold of a nuclear bomb and detonated it in the middle of Tel Aviv or Jeruasalem, there would be no one to strike back against. Whatever small retaliation they would carry out would be nothing in comparison to the attack and and would not deter the perpetrators, since they are suicidal anyway.

You wrote: "I presume the reason for your Anti-Zionism is that you don't like the non-religious elements within Israel. So your attitude towards Zionism is about yourself, not the welfare of your fellow Jews."

I want to correct you on that. We do not oppose a movement just because it is run by non-religious Jews. For example, if non-religious Jews were to run an emergency ambulance service or an organization distributing food to the poor, we would applaud them on the mitzvah that they would be doing, at the same time as we would reach out to them and try to convince to keep all of the Torah's commandments. Here too, if we thought the Zionists were benefiting the Jewish people with their state, we would praise Zionism, and at the same time criticize the sins of individuals and try to influence them for the better. In fact, there are many religious Zionists who do just that. These religious Zionists say that the secular Zionists did a good thing, and it's only a pity that Orthodox Jews weren't more involved at early stages of the movement, because if they had been, the state would now have a much more religious character. This view has old roots and was expressed 100 years ago by Rabbi A. I. Kook.

However, our community has a completely different standpoint. We see Zionism as the largest false messianic movement in Jewish history (I'm not counting Christianity because when it became big it was no longer a Jewish movement). Although it does not point to any specific messiah, Zionism is false messianism because it purports to do what only the Messiah will do: gather in the Jews and build a Jewish government in Eretz Yisroel. Zionism has turned the whole Divine scheme of Jewish history on its head. It has upset thousands of years of waiting for the redemption. Furthermore, it upsets G-d's plan and promise to protect us during exile in various countries as detailed above. Any believer in G-d and the Torah should admit that this does not benefit the Jewish people at all.