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Can anti-Zionist Jews live in the state of Israel?

June 30, 2008

I would like to ask a question with respect. How can a Jew who opposes Zionism live in Israel, protected by the Zionist state against enemy attack and allowed the priveleges of a free citizen? I would like an honest answer.

Dear Mr. Einhorn,

There is no good answer to your question because you are 100% right. A Jew who opposes Zionism should not live in the Zionist state, unless he sincerely believes that he is not being protected by the Zionists and does not receive any benefit from them. It is hypocritical to enjoy benefits and then denounce them. People who straddle this contradiction are either people who don't think, or people who are not really so opposed to Zionism.

It reminds me of the story of a "Satmar chassid" who went on vacation to the State of Israel and he was somewhere in the West Bank taking pictures with his fancy camera, and there was an army jeep nearby and they told him to stop taking pictures. He laughed at them, and so they confiscated his camera. They promised they would mail it back to him. Then the officer said to the chassid, "I want to explain to you something. I'm a Zionist and you are an anti-Zionist. What does that mean? It means that I am an army officer, my daughter is risking her life on duty at a checkpoint, my son is in a combat unit, all so that you can come and enjoy your vacation here and take pictures!"

There have always been some anti-Zionist Jews in the state, and most of them are from the Old Yishuv which pre-dated Zionism. The justification for their staying is that they don't feel the Zionists are protecting them. They were there first, they got along fine with the Arabs. The Zionists came and started wars, and the Zionists defend themselves, but that is irrelevant to them.

There is a Satmar community and a network of Keren Hatzola schools, partly from the Old Yishuv, partly from Jews who came as refugees after WWII before the state was founded, and partly Sephardi children who were brought closer to the Satmar viewpoint and are attracted by its idealism. The Satmar Rebbe zt"l encouraged Jews to support these schools, and gave an analogy:

"There was once a Jewish child who was snatched away from his parents and taken to a church where the priests attempted to convert him to Christianity. They tempted him with all sorts of treats and good food if he would only bow down to the cross. And as long as he refused, he was given nothing to eat. His parents were unable to get him out. But they were able to smuggle in food to his cell, so that he would be able to survive and resist the pressure of the priests."

Here too, the support for independent anti-Zionist schools and communities should in no way be misconstrued as support for the idea of living under the Zionist state. It's just that it's hard or impossible for many people to move, and as long as they are there they are under tremendous pressure to give in to the Zionists and accept their money. Our support for those schools is an attempt to relieve that pressure.

Of course, it goes without saying that any Jew who is "stuck" in the Zionist state and cannot leave should at least not benefit from the state's programs: insurance, welfare, rights to vote. If possible he should not even have government papers or identity card. I don't think its possible to renounce citizenship once one has it.

It saddens me greatly to read your clearly heartfelt view. I am deeply
troubled by the fact that if, G-d forbid, you are ill, you will benefit from
the Israely health system. If, G-d forbid, there is a bomb attack, then
whether you like it or not, the Israeli army and police force will risk
their lives to save you. If your ahavas Yisroel is so withered and rotten
that you are content to live amongst people you despise, is this not better
than living where you were despised to the point that that 6 million were

Maybe it isn't possible for you to renounce your citizenship. It was,
however, possible, even compulsory in Germany in the 1930's.

Rebbe Yissochor Shlomo Teichtal realised his error tragically late. I regret
bitterly the fact that so many Israeli's have abandoned their religion. But
isn't the way forward to encourage Yiras Shamayim, like Chabad, rather than
ostracize and therefore weaken Judaism?

I appreciate that this will be against all your belifs and I do not wish to
have a longterm email disagreement, I was just trying to understand why
there is such distrust between Jews, perhaps this is the greatest threat to
Judaism, the fighting within and no sides are innocent in this.

Yours sincerely, M. Einhorn

You wrote "If your ahavas Yisroel is so withered and rotten
that you are content to live amongst people you despise&"

I think you have something very wrong here. We are not against particular people, and we do not despise them. We are against an ideology. We fear that that ideology is leading to, G-d forbid, the loss of Jewish lives. We do not trust the Israeli army and police to protect the Jews from the danger into which Zionism is leading them. It is ahavas Yisroel that motivates us to write against Zionism. We hope that we can convince Zionist Jews to change their minds before it's too late.

When a Chabad member approaches a secular Jew and invites him to put on tefillin, he may not believe in the Torah, and he may even refuse to put on the tefillin, but at least he is moved by the concern and selflessness of the Chabad member. In the same way, we would hope that even if Zionist Jews disagree with our ideology, they should at least feel that we love them and are acting out of concern for their welfare. That is why it pains me to see you reacting by accusing us of lacking ahavas Yisroel.