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soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Jews and Israel (8/12)
Section - Question 14.6: I've heard there were/are very Orthodox Jews who were/are against the state of Israel. How could this be? Who are

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   It is pointless to single out this situation as something terrible
   about Orthodoxy or even the so-called "ultra-Orthodox". In the early
   1900s, Reform was officially opposed to Zionism, and even today, there
   are numerous secular Jews who are strongly anti-Zionistic. Nowadays,
   most Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist Jews support Zionism
   (in fact, Reform has its own Zionist movement, [5]ARZA/World Union).
   Many Orthodox Jews support religious Zionism, and even those Orthodox
   Jews indifferent or opposed to Zionism (particularly secular Zionism)
   often send their sons and daughters to study Torah in Israel.
   Anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews believe that Israel can only be regained
   miraculously and view the present state as a blasphemous human attempt
   to usurp G-d's role, and they work to dismantle Israel. However,
   unlike many gentile anti-Zionists, they firmly believe in the Jewish
   right to Israel, but only at that future time of redemption. The
   best-known of the religious anti-Zionists are the Neturei Karta.
   There are two common religious grounds given for anti-Zionism. One is
   that today's Zionism is a secular Zionism, packed with non-Jewish
   influences, and lacking key features like Moshiach and the rebuilt
   Temple. Groups based on those groups are more on the non-Zionist, as
   opposed to the anti-Zionist, side. The other grounds are that that
   Talmud (Meseches Kesuvos 111a), as part of a discussion of Song of
   Songs 2:7 verses mentioning oaths, states that when Israel went into
   the second exile, there were three vows between Heaven and Earth:
    1. One that Israel would not "go up like a wall" [conquer Eretz
       Yisrael by massive force]
    2. One that G-d made Israel swear that they would not rebel agains
       the nations of the world [would obey the governments in the exile]
    3. And one that G-d made the non-Jews swear not to oppress Israel
       "too much" [translation of phrase yoter midai]
   Groups holding to those grounds are more on the anti-Zionist side.
   Note that there was a fourth oath in that piece: one G-d made of the
   nations that would recieve us, that they would not try to exterminate
   us. Some believe that oath was violated in WWII, therefore bringing
   into question whether the other three oaths are still binding, or if
   the "contract" was already violated. However, many think that gaining
   statehood by UN proclamation does not constitute a violation of the
   oath, and is a stronger argument.
   The religious counter-reply to the above is that secular Zionism is a
   preliminary stage of religious Zionism, and that the vows no longer
   apply since the gentiles violated their part (by such actions as the
   Roman persecutions, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Nazi Holocaust).
   The Balfour declaration of 1917 and the United Nations vote of 1948
   are also regarded as having given permission to the Jews to
   reestablish the state by the non-Jewish rulers of the area. Once this
   permission was granted it could not be revoked. It should also be
   noted that these oaths are only mentioned as a side point in one place
   in a discussion in the Gemoroh and as the viewpoint of an individual.
   Further, Talmudic texts come in two flavors: halachah (religious law)
   and aggadah (other topics, primarily ethics, values, philosopy and
   mysticism). The oaths are mentioned within an aggadic discussion. Yet
   there is a halachah that one ought to try to settle and gain
   sovereignty over Israel. There is little precedent for taking an
   aggadic statement over a halachic ruling. So, many people feel that
   these oaths do not apply in any case.
   Some Religious Zionist Jews see the formation of the secular state as
   accelerating the process of redemption, with themselves playing a
   major role in doing G-d's will by serving the state, whose creation is
   often seen as miraculous.
   So-called "non-Zionist" Jews are pleased that Israel exists from a
   practical standpoint--as a haven for oppressed Jews and as a land
   imbued with holiness well-suited for Torah study. But they don't
   generally assign religious significance to the formation of the modern
   state, and often decry aspects of its secular culture.
   [Note: Zionism is used in the strict sense of the Jews should have a
   homeland, preferably Israel (Israel is where "Zion" is, hence
   Zionism). Criticizing today's Israeli government regarding policies X,
   Y, Z is not the same as anti-Zionism.]

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Top Document: soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Jews and Israel (8/12)
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