Gadi Taub in Yediot: It’s the “Zionism of the State” vs. the “Zionism of the Land”
Future historians will be able to judge whether Israel at the end 0f 2009 was on the brink of an existential crisis or had already gone over the edge. Mainstream political actors find the second option inconceivable. The intellectually honest, however, are no longer willing to waffle, understanding that the status quo is untenable. Thus, a Likud hardliner, MK Tzipi Hotovely, endorses the one-state solution and, below, centrist author and academic Gadi Taub to assert that a showdown between the State of Israel and the fundamentalist settlers is inevitable.
The land or the state
Op-ed, Gadi Taub, Yediot, December 21 2009
Judging by the reports, it appears that the IDF is preparing to enforce the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria as if this were an attack on nuclear facilities in Iran. On the face of it, this would seem to be a serious exaggeration. The security establishment regards the inflammatory rhetoric of the settlers as if this were truly an enemy army numbering 300,000 people. But the rhetoric is far from the reality. The settlers will not try to subdue us by arms. They are used to having the state pamper them, and they believe that the “price tag” policy will deter us.
Although this is not an enemy army, we are talking about a fundamental clash between two kinds of Zionism, which are incompatible, and therefore we should not make light of the magnitude of the shock that we will undergo before we succeed in dividing the land. The Zionism of the settlers is a Zionism of the land, while the Zionism that most of us hold is a Zionism of the state. It is easy to confuse them: The Zionism of Herzl, Ben-Gurion, Weizmann and Jabotinsky is also closely tied to the Land of Israel, whereas the Zionism of the settlers also holds the State of Israel in high regard and is willing to sacrifice a great deal for it. It is not by chance that the religious settlers volunteer en masse for combat units, and that the spirit of sacrifice on behalf of the collective is a central part of their education.
Despite this, the difference is central and important, and the rift has only been growing since the 1970s. As Aviezer Ravitzky observed years ago, in his important book Messianism, Zionism and Jewish Religious Radicalism [originally entitled “The Revealed End and the Jewish State” in Hebrew], the disciples of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Hacohen heap praises upon the ideal state, while withholding them from the actual government.
The ideal state is the one that sanctifies settlements, and when the actual government restricts settlements—it loses its legitimacy. This is what stands behind the freedom that the settlers have taken to block the path of those enforcing the construction ban, to demonstrate at an IDF swearing-in ceremony, to teach the students of hesder yeshivas that they are subject to an authority higher than their commanders. The state is holy only inasmuch as it promotes settlement activity.
Hanan Porat clarified well the difference between the two types of Zionism—Zionism of the land versus Zionism of the state—when he said in the past that “the commandment of settling the land has several aspects, including Jewish sovereignty over the entire Land of Israel.” In the eyes of the mainstream, the opposite is true: Jewish sovereignty has several aspects, one of which is settling the land.
This refers, then, to the difference between the end and the means. In the eyes of the settlers, the state is a means to the end of fulfilling “our duty to the Land of Israel, in immigration and settlement” (as stated by the founding document of Gush Emunim). In the view of mainstream Zionism, settlement is a means of establishing the sovereignty of the state.
As time passes, it becomes apparent that the difference is a chasm. The two views can be expected to face each other in a head-on collision: After all, it is clear to any sensible person that Israel stands before the choice between a large state with an Arab majority and a less large state with a Jewish majority. Loyalty to the Land of Israel has become the most tangible danger to the basic principle of political Zionism: A Jewish and democratic state.
There is no need for panic. Disengagement demonstrated that at the end of the day, the Zionism of the land will bend to the Zionism of the state, if the state is determined enough. The settlers have neither the means nor sufficient ideological confidence to part from the state, not to mention declaring war on it. And although the thorough deployment of the security establishment may look excessive, it is in fact good that it is preparing for the future with great seriousness: Israel has to make it clear to the settlers that Zionism will not tolerate any attempt to place the land above the state that we have established on it.