The True Source of Religious-Secular Tension in Israel: The Arrogance of Ben-Gurion (and now Naftali Bennett)


ben-gurion-israelBy Rabbi Moshe Averick

As the latest round of coalition-building maneuvering plays out in Israel – with Bibi Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett (the new false-messiah of religious nationalists; the previous one being Ariel Sharon), and Yair Lapid locked in that time-worn political dance we’ve watched so many times in the past – it is critical to understand the history behind one of the issues so fiercely debated in the current political situation: the “universal” draft of yeshiva (rabbinical) students. It is this very issue which has, until this point, prevented the formation of a government. Bennett has declared that his Jewish Home party will not join Netanyahu’s coalition unless a universal draft law is enacted. The fight over yeshiva students and army service is at the core of much of the tension between the secular/non-observant and religious/hareidi communities in Israel. In fact, the roots of this tension extend back well before the founding of the State of Israel in 1947.

A little bit of background information is in order here. Most people have a profound misunderstanding regarding the nature of the secular/political Zionist movement which was inspired by the publication, in 1886, of Theodore Herzl’s manifesto Der Judeenstaat (The Jew’s State). The movement was about much more than creating a homeland for Jewish people. Most of the leaders of political Zionism were swept up in the zeitgeist and were ardent socialists and nationalists, two of the great ideological movements of those times. Many were rabidly secular/anti-religionists who looked with contempt at the “backward” and “anti-modern” Hareidi/Hassidic/Orthodox Jews. Their contempt for the “medieval” Sephardic/Arab Jewish communities ran even deeper. Ben-Gurion (the first Prime Minister of the State of Israel) once referred to Moroccan Jews as “savages.”

The secular/political Zionist dream was to create – along with a Jewish homeland – a completely new definition of the Jew and the Jewish People; a Jewishness that unambiguously excluded the concept of a covenantal people loyal to the Torah and the commandments. In other words, the Judaism that had sustained the Nation of Israel for the previous 3,400 years was to be discarded and replaced with a modernistic amalgamation of nationalism, socialism, enlightened western culture, and ethnic Jewish identity.

Naftali Bennett, head of the “Jewish Home” party

From the World Zionist Organization website:

For some Zionists, especially the East European Jewish intellectuals, Zionism was not only a national movement committed to the establishment of a Jewish homeland. It also wished to create a modern, secular Jewish identity. According to this formulation it was not religion that was to provide the basis for Jewish identity but ethnicity and nationalism. The Hebrew language, the land of Israel, Jewish history, literature, customs, folklore and their interplay were to provide a new more open-ended paradigm for Jewish identity.

Historian, Rabbi Ken Spiro, in his essay on Modern Zionism elaborates:

The key factor which shaped their [secular Zionist thinkers] worldview was a nationalism based not only on the notion of creating a physical Jewish homeland, but also of creating a new kind of Jew to build and maintain this homeland. Many of these early Zionist thinkers felt that centuries of ghettoization and persecution had robbed the Jews of their pride and strength. To build a homeland required a proud, self-sufficient Jew: a Jew who could farm, defend himself, and build the land.

The pious, poor, ghettoized Jew-who presented a pathetic image of a man stooped-over and always at the mercy of his persecutors-had to be done away with. To build a state required something all-together different-a “Hebrew.” The early Zionists called themselves “Hebrews” and not Jews, and deliberately changed their German or Russian or Yiddish names to sound more Hebraic and nationalistic (for example, David Gruen became David Ben-Gurion. Shimon Persky became Shimon Perez). It was a deliberate attempt to create a totally new Jewish identity and rid themselves of any aspect of the religious, Diaspora Jewish identity…These early Zionist leaders knew of course that religion had preserved Jewish identity in the ghettos and shtetls of Europe, but in the modern Jewish state, they felt there would be no need for it. Of course the Bible would be used as a source of Jewish history and culture but there was no room for religion or ritual in the modern Jewish state.

This obsession with creating a “new Jew” even trumped the basic values of Jewish brotherhood, the imperative that all Jews are responsible for one another, and that nothing takes precedence over saving lives. David Ben-Gurion shockingly wrote the following in 1938, one month after Kristellnacht:

“If I knew it was possible to save all [Jewish] children of Germany by their transfer to England and only half of them by transferring them to Eretz-Yisrael, I would choose the latter–because we are faced not only with the accounting of these [Jewish] children but also with the historical accounting of the Jewish People.”

In a cloud of obliviousness born of arrogance secular Zionist leaders were certain they would emerge triumphant in their plan to redefine the entire direction and purpose of the Jewish people. Left-wing politician and journalist Urey Avnery wrote the following in 2002, capturing the attitude shared by many of the early Zionist ideologues:

People of my age can remember the situation. Ben-Gurion, like all of us, believed that the Jewish religion was about to die out. Some old people, who spoke Yiddish, were still praying in the synagogues, but with time they would disappear. We, the young new Israelis, were secular, modern, free from these old superstitions. Not in his darkest nightmares could Ben-Gurion have imagined a time when religious pupils, some of whom are not taught in their schools even the most basic modern skills, would amount to nearly half the Israeli Jewish school population.

The number of religious shirkers now deprives the army of several divisions. [Orthodox yeshiva students are not required to serve in the army, one of several concessions Ben Gurion granted Orthodox leaders in return for their political support.] Step by step, the religious community is taking over the state. The religious settlers, the religious anti-Arab pogromists, their allies and ultra-right collaborators are gaining new footholds by the day. Just now the army has announced that 40% of candidates for junior officers’ courses are wearing kippahs. In 1948, when our army came into being, I did not see a single kippah-wearing soldier, not to mention an officer.

Dr. Chaim Weizman, first President of the State of Israel

(As an aside, note the schizoid attitude – shared by many left-wingers in Israel – expressed by Avnery. First he complains about the number of “religious shirkers” who do not serve in the Army. He then goes on to express his shock and disgust that 40% of candidates for officer’s courses in the Army are kippah-wearing religious Jews! Like the joke about the elderly woman who complained that not only did the food at her hotel taste terrible….but they served such small portions! Avnery’s hatred of religious Jews creates such cognitive dissonance that it’s impossible for him to perceive the absurdity of his position.)

The stage was now set for the inevitable clash with the great Torah sages and the Orthodox community who certainly had no intention of accepting David Ben-Gurion’s “new Jew.” Even before the turn of the century, the illustrious Talmudic scholar, Rabbi Tzadok HaCohen Rabinowitz (1823-1900), wrote the following: “It may be assumed that if the Zionists gain domination they will seek to remove from the hearts of Israel, belief in God and in the truth of the Torah…they have thrown off their garments of assimilation and put on a cloak of zeal so that they appear zealous on the behalf of Judaism. They are in fact digging a hole beneath our faith and seeking to lead Israel from beneath the wings of the Divine Presence.”

By 1918, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, President of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) and later to become the first President of the State of Israel, was already embroiled in bitter personal debates with Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, Chief Rabbi of the Ashkenazic  Hareidi community of Jerusalem, which had roots going back to the late 18th century. The debates were over the future of Jewish education in the Holy Land. Weizmann tried to convince Rabbi Sonnenfeld that the Hareidi schools must change their curriculums to be more “modern” and that if they would agree, WZO would provide much needed funding to the impoverished Hareidi community. Rabbi Sonnenfeld was outraged that a man who cared nothing for the Torah and traditions of Judaism would try to dictate to his entire community how they should educate their children. It goes without saying that he flat out refused both to make any changes in the educational system and to accept any funding from WZO.

Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld (1848-1932), Chief Rabbi of the Hareidi community in Jerusalem

The majority of the world’s leading Torah Sages, vehemently and indignantly denied WZO’s claim that it represented the entire Jewish people. Rabbi Sonnenfeld, in the name of Agudas Yisroel (a European based organization representing Orthodox Jews) and the Eida Chareidis (the official name of the Hareidi establishment in Jerusalem) was determined to conduct his own negotiations with both the British rulers of Palestine and with the surrounding Arab leaders, particularly in Trans-Jordan. They were not interested in WZO’s dream of an independent Jewish state, not only because of its secular/anti-religious nature, but because they rightly feared the inevitable bloodshed that would occur in a conflict with the Arabs if the drive for statehood continued. They wanted to have a harmonious relationship with the Arabs, were fully prepared to accept British rule, and only wanted autonomy so that they could continue living as a Torah-based community. As it turns out, the Hareidim were the original “Peace Now” movement. (Ironically, in modern Israel, nowhere is the hatred of the Hareidi community stronger than in the leftist “peace camp.”)

Dr. Jacob Israel de Haan, a secular Dutch journalist and intellectual who had become increasingly religious while forming a close relationship with Rabbi Sonnenfeld, represented the Eida Chareidis in negotiations with the Arabs and British. His prominence, intellectual acuity, and skill as a negotiator represented a real threat to WZO’s self-appointed position as the exclusive representative of the Jewish community in dealings with the British or Arabs. De Haan was labeled a traitor by the Zionist establishment. On June 30, 1924, in a shocking display of arrogance, brutality, and abandonment of Jewish values, the Haganah (para-military wing of WZO), under the leadership of Yitzchak Ben-Zvi (a future President of the State of Israel), assassinated De Haan as he emerged from the synagogue of the Shaarei Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem. It was this same sense of arrogance and self-aggrandizement that Ben-Gurion used in June, 1948, to justify his ordering the murders of 16 members of the Irgun, a group representing his political rivals.

The murder of De Haan achieved its goal inasmuch as it effectively stopped the Orthodox community from further progress in their own negotiations. However, the Zionist leadership faced a much bigger problem. A large percentage of the new immigrants were from Arab countries. They had religious traditions stretching back hundreds or even thousands of years in their respective communities and had no interest in the concept of a “new Jew.” These immigrants represented a serious political threat to the Ashkenazi (European Jews) dominated Socialist Labor party. It was imperative that their children be prevented from continuing with their traditional Jewish education and to be indoctrinated with modern Zionistic ideology.

Jacob Israel de Haan, assassinated by the Hagganah in 1924

Although Israeli law mandated that parents could choose a religious or secular stream of education, it was decided by the Ministry of Education not to extend this option to the immigrant camps. The only education available was the secular curriculum. In order to ensure implementation of this indoctrination process a Department for Imparting Culture and Absorption for Immigrants was formed, headed by Nachum Levin. In his book, The Melting Pot in Israel: The Commission of Inquiry Concerning the Education of Immigrant Children During the Early Years of the State (Suny Press, 2002), Zvi Zameret writes:

“The instructions to the teachers in the immigrant camps reflect the overall worldview that the Department of Culture wished to instill in the children. The pedagogical objective was to draw the immigrant children closer to accepting the Zionist revolution and the image of the “new man” that it wished to create.”

Many young boys had their peyot (sidecurls) forcibly cut off and everything was done to coerce them to violate the Sabbath and eat non-kosher food. A prominent religious intellectual in Israel, Dr. Yeshayahu Leibowitz complained of religious coercion in Kfar Lifta near Jerusalem. He claimed that the local instructor explicitly threatened the new immigrants that should they insist upon religious education, they would be penalized in terms of provisions of food, clothing, and jobs. In his testimony before the Frumkin Commission (established to investigate the scandal) he said:

“I came into contact with the new immigrants in a number of moshavim (new towns)…I found the local instructor used threats against the new settlers…there is interference [in their religious observance and education] and at times…brutal means of threats and coercion. We are forced to put up a fight in each and every place.”

If there is any doubt as to the truth of these accusations, here are the words of Nachum Levin himself, Director of the Department of Culture and Absorption and the man responsible for the educational system in the immigrant camps. He spoke these words in a closed session of the Histadrut (Israel Labor Federation):

“All of the camps today are flooded with yeshiva students…they represent the powers of darkness. They will not educate these children or youth to a life of pioneering or to go to the Negev. The struggle here is a struggle for the character of the immigrants…this is a battle not about religion, but for political influence over the immigrants and the future image of the State of Israel.” Enough said.

Yemenite immigrants on their way to the new State of Israel. Immigrants like these posed a political threat to Labor Zionism

It is against this backdrop that the conflict arose over mandatory army service. Under no circumstances was the orthodox community prepared to put their young sons – during the most impressionable years of their lives (18-21 years of age) – in the hands of a government that looked at their way of life with disdain, contempt, and outright hatred; a government that was even prepared to murder other Jews to achieve their goals.

David Ben-Gurion realized that any attempt to force the issue would result, literally, in civil war. The government reluctantly amended the draft law to exclude orthodox men who were learning full time in Yeshivot (rabbinical seminaries). However, none of these men would be permitted to work legally unless they did Army service. This act of spiteful cruelty was a typical outgrowth of the unbridled arrogance of Ben-Gurion and his ilk. The message to the Hareidi community was the following: If you don’t do it our way, we will strip you of your basic human dignity; that is to say, the ability to work and support oneself and one’s family. If you want to live your way of life you will be forced to live on either government handouts or charity. In other words, the Hareidim effectively became 2nd class citizens in the new State of Israel. After forcing the Hareidi community into this situation and forbidding them to work unless they toed the secular-Zionist line, they then accused them of being “parasites” because they didn’t work!

The “parasite” canard along with the accusation that the Hareidim refuse to “share the burden” of serving in the army, has been used as a stick with which to beat the Hareidi community since the founding of the State of Israel. It has also been effectively used by secular ideologues to demonize Hareidim among non-observant Israelis. Imagine how different it would have been if instead of doing everything in his power to marginalize the Hareidi community Ben-Gurion had held out his hand in brotherly love and said the following:

“We are brothers, the sons of one man” (Gen. 42:13) All of us are here because we are Jews. We all love the land of Israel and we all agree that a Jew must serve the needs of the Jewish people. Our sons will serve by joining the army, your sons will serve by keeping alive our moral and spiritual legacy by studying Torah. After both complete their years of service they are free to work and become productive members of our society.

How different it could have been indeed.

Now, in 2013, Naftali Bennett – ostensibly an orthodox Jew – instead of using his newfound political power to help heal these terrible wounds in the Jewish people, has decided to pour salt on them instead. It is obvious that something is horribly wrong when even the radically left-wing Ha’aretz (!) in a 3/6/13 op-ed piece points out that Bennett’s approach may destroy all the progress that has been made until now in healing the religious/secular rift in Israeli society.

My son, Danny Averick, who was stationed at the Erez/Gaza Border Crossing during his service in the Israeli Army. The girl gleefully posing with him wearing his army beret is his little sister Malka, with her twin, Tirtza, to the left. This picture was taken in Jerusalem, at the engagement party of my oldest daughter, Sara Razel.

All of this is a shameful chapter in Jewish history which is unknown to most Jews and rarely talked about by those who do know. It is time for the Israeli government to confess its sins and accept the orthodox/Hareidi community for what it is. What could be more absurd than a group of people tripping over themselves while trying to make peace with those who have been violently trying to destroy us for the past 70 years, and yet are unable to reach out and make peace with their own brothers?!

Let us all pray that soon we will truly enter an era that reflects the words of the Psalmist:

“How goodly and sweet it is when brothers sit in peace together.”

Rabbi Moshe Averick is an Orthodox rabbi, a regular columnist for the Algemeiner Journal, and author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist.


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  1. The fight over yeshiva students and army service — as you wrote the fight is over employment, mental/emotional imprisonment and funds funnelled into the Chardei coffeers & increased under Begin.

    Without injecting the Religious Zionist world of Rav Kook and other prior Gedolim, the post is missing vital info.

  2. This article is about sinas chinam and has such a myopic grasp of Jewish history and current events that it is appalling.

    First, quoting a paragraph from a WIZO website about how “some Zionists” viewed Zionism as anecdotal evidence about the view of all Zionists is akin to viewing all chareidim from the specter of the Neturei Karta USA website.

    Second, Rabbi Averick leaves one with the profound misunderstanding that the Zionist movement began with Herzl. Its origins began with R. Tzvi Hirsch Kalischer and his sefer derishas shalom which preached that eretz yisrael would be redeemed with Hashem’s help only when we actively took part in its rebuilding. The point being, religious Zionism was always a player in the development of Modern Zionism.

    As to racism, in Zionist society-Zionism whether secular or religious has had a much greater success in racial relations then chareidim. Look at the dati leumi schools and weddings. Ashkenazim and Sefaradim sit together and marry into each others families at a much greater rate than the chareidim do. Its almost ironic that we wanted to save the teimanim but the only way we would allow them in our houses would be to do sponga. Who is the racist??

    As to Bennett and his lot, remember the path that the chareidim took to bring him to this position. Gaza was handed over to the Arabs because Sharon knew they would sell out for more money for their schools and projects. It didn’t take a genius to see what the results of that behavior would be. Rockets are flying from the south that can reach Yerushalayim. Yerushalyim and the territories are further under siege and it is only a matter before further concessions will be made.

    If this wasn’t enough, Shas and the Gimel ticket spent their energies telling the voting public that Bennett wasn’t one of us-he wasn’t an authentic representative of Orthodox Judaism-Just look at his kipah! We see where that goodwill has taken us.

    Bennett wasn’t created in a vacuum. Hopefully, he will get the siyata dishmaya to return to his brothers in the Torah camp.

  3. It is ridiculous to feel a need to”inject” the opinions of Gedolim who were not directly a part of the history discussed. This article has nothing to do with whether or not it is proper according to the Torah for boys to serve in the army. The discussion here is the historical and cultural backdrop of this that the Chareidim do not serve and it’s affect on today’s political negotiations. The opinion of those who were not a part of it, while they may be right, are not relevant to the conversation. Wrong opinions which are part of this backdrop are. Everyone can follow the guidance of their rabbeim as to what the proper thing is to do. This will not change the viral background of the opinions of others. Until one recognizes that he will not be able to negotiate effectively.

  4. to #1 the words Religious and Zionist can’t come together being that the entire foundation of the state was with the words “Bais Yakkov L’Chu V’Nailcha” without the Word Hashem.

  5. another arrogant self-serving diatribe

    reality check

    why should a 20 year old kid not learning – charedi or otherwise – not do his share
    lets get real

  6. “If I knew it was possible to save all [Jewish] children of Germany by their transfer to England and only half of them by transferring them to Eretz-Yisrael, I would choose the latter–because we are faced not only with the accounting of these [Jewish] children but also with the historical accounting of the Jewish People.”

    It is disgusting that Matzav uses an out-of-context Ben Gurion quote used by all the enemies of Jews and Israel.

  7. I agree the National Zionist or

    so called religious Zionist as Mr Bennet selling themself.Should the get together with Lapid they could be sure that for Chuz Laaretz
    they will not get money and a lot of chareidim
    giving money to israel.An the only new Immigrants to Israel are the chareidim and it is like the Brisker ebber said 100 Years ago
    that the Religious Zionist will ruin israel and the religious world,how wise he was

  8. #1 you accept the lies of the secular media without a whif.

    1) FYI “funneling” of funds is sometimes needed because even though there are hundreds of thousands haredi taxpayers (yes that’s the fact), haredi schools are never automatically included in the state budget, so haredi politicinas always need to fight for our basic rights.

    2) Hundreds of millions of dollars are brought in annually to Israel thru haredi institutions, this money is not recycled money its fresh money injected from donors abroad, and tens of thousands of families live off these funds and spend it in the Israel

    3) “Mental/emotional imprisonment” oh yes, that’s typical accusation how Jews where labeled by anti-semites over the past 2000 years. A quick visit to any haredi home will prove that wrong.

  9. So we have wide differences in philosophy among the parties and social factions in Israel. We’ve known this for a long time.

    What practical solution should Chareidim now advance that has a chance to succeed in this environment? That’s what we should focus on instead of wasting our time naming villains.

  10. “Israel is home” is correct. The essay implies that the only parties to this conflict were the Evil Zionists and the Good Torah-Jews, and that they were always in conflict. In fact, many gedolim including Rav Reines, Rav Kook, Rav Uziel, Rav Herzog, and Rav Soloveitchik were strong supporters of Zionism. Chaim Weizman was no socialist at all, and neither was Jabotinsky or Begin. From the beginning of the state until the 1970s, Orthodox rabbis such as Rabbi Dr. Yosef Burg dominated the National Religious Party and its predecessors, and they were completely supportive of the socialist policies of Ben-Gurion. Furthermore, Ben-Gurion’s first three governments included the charedim, who were far less hostile in practice in Israel than they were in theory in the diaspora. Finally, charedi schools all over the world are today teaching a modern secular studies curriculum; there is no reason to deny a full education to children in Eretz Yisrael.

    There is plenty of room for a solution. Yair Lapid’s father was an anti-religious bigot; he himself, however, put two Orthodox rabbis on his Knesset list and both were elected. He wants the education ministry portfolio in order to force students in the secular Israeli schools to open gemaras — Ben Gurion would be horrified! Naftali Bennett has inspired religious Zionists as no leader has since Rabbi Burg, winning the largest number of seats for that movement in 35 years.

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  12. For arguments sake, let us say that all that bad history did not happen. Would the Chareidim then be willing to share the burden of military service like all other Israeli Jews.
    The honest answer is no; all these arguments are nothing but excuses and distractions.
    Do you really believe that in 2013 if the Chareidim proposed that we will serve, providing we receive certain religious accommodations, that Netanyahu would not give it to them? Do you really believe todays Israeli public would not jump at the gesture of goodwill on the part of the Chareidim?
    Who are you trying to fool!

  13. #1: With respect, the article is intended to put the chareidi/secular divide into historical perspective, not the chardal+d”l/chareidi divide or anything else. Bringing up Rav Kook would have been irrelevant to the point.

    #2: As your post drips with animosity toward the chareidi community — “funds funnelled into the Chardei coffeers” — I feel compelled to point out that those chareidi coffers INCLUDE the “Religious Zionist world of Rav Kook” (institutions like Mercaz HaRav which have benefitted from these “funneled funds”).

    #3: The only thing missing is precisely WHY Ben Gurion made concessions to the chareidim(with all due respect to the author, it WASN’T fear of civil war): Eida Chareidis was petitioning the UN to be recognized as an independant, indigenous minority and to thus be granted autonomous status. Ben Gurion and his ilk simply could not tolerate anything other than being the sole voice of Jewry but, unlike the case with DeHaan HY”D, the zionists couldn’t murder their way out of this one. So, convinced that the religion would disappear in a generation or two anyway, Ben Gurion cut a deal.

  14. #14 – If there was no bad history the Israelis would not ask the chareidim to serve. They do not need them for military reasons. They want them in the army in order to indoctrinate into becoming like them.

  15. De Haan was known for committing acts that recently put another Jew in jail for a very long time. Is it really proper to give him honor by associating him with such a Gadol as Rav Sonnenfeld?

  16. to Disgusting:

    re WZO: you miss the point, that being that EVEN WZO acknowledged this position (iow, zionists acknowledgement, not just accusations from critics). There are many, many, many other quotes from zionist leaders and philosophers that I would gladly provide supporting the same view.

    re: Rav Kalisher, this canard has been so oft repeated (and disproven) it amazes me that anyone would cite it except out of utter ignorance or disingenuous intent. Rav Kalischer NEVER supported and explicitly DENIED either interest in or intent to establish Jewish political sovereignty in Eretz HaKodesh (i.e. establishing a state) or doing ANYTHING that would antagonize the rulers of the land, as EITHER would constitute a violation of the three oaths (which I am sure you do NOT hold by).

    In truth, the idea that settling in Eretz Yisroel will bring the Geula first came from the Karai “godol” Daniel Al-Qumisi.

  17. It is very important to differentiate between Ben Gurions Zionism and Begin/Stern Zionism. Begin and Stern had groups that were very traditional and many time religious as well. There were many hareidim in their group as well. The problem was and still is Labor Zionisom. Any one who argues on this does not know basic history.

  18. Religious view of Jewish identity: We are a covenental people. Our every identity and purpose is EXCLUSIVELY based on our relationship with G-d through His holy Torah. Deavarim 27,9-10: “This day, you have become a people to the HaShem, your God. “You shall therefore obey the HaShem, your God, and fulfill His commandments and His statutes, which I command you this day.” Chullin 101b: “they were not called ‘Children of Israel’ before coming to Mount Sinai”. G-d Torah and the Jew are one, nothing else. Even the very word “Jew” literally means to praise or thank G-d!

    Zionist view of Jewish identity: rejection of “backward superstition” and based on a 19th European century post-romantic philosophy of national identity based on land, ethnicity, language, culture and history — ironically, the exact same ideology that gave birth to German ethnic nationalism (and we all know where that led).

    Would someone from the religious nationalist movement please explain to me how these two mutually exclusive ideologies coalesce?

  19. What is wrong with some of these commenters. Your lack of history is astonishing.
    Rabbi Averick gave a very true and realistic accounting to the history of the founding of the state by the labor zionists. This happens to be a very well documented and true history lesson that most of you need. The founders were hardened socialists who wanted to create a Jewish cultural breed of Jews without G-D. Tzadikim like Rabbi Sonnenfeld, z’tl, fought very hard against them. In the 1950’s when the Yemenite Jews were brought home to E.Y., horror of horrors were done to them (kidnappings by childless Jewish couples, experimentations, etc.). There are books written about this sorry time in history. Read and learn.

  20. And the only new Immigrants to Israel are the chareidim —-
    Think you should check the roster of NEFESH BNEFESH and you will find that the majority of OLIM to Eretz Yisroel are Torah-True Nationalist Jews from Anglo countries (USA, South Africa, England, Canada).

  21. #18: DeHaan HY”D was accused of treason, not espionage as your post implies. His “crime?” He turned against zionism and became a spokesman (a quasi-ambassador) for Eida Chareidis. This was, to the zionist leadership an intolerable and unconscionable act, making him subject to cold-blooded murder.

    To me, this says everything that needs to be said about zionism: disagree with us and you you are the enemy; speak against us and you are evil; turn against us and you have no rights, deserving of no trial or mercy, just death.

    89 years later, little has changed.

  22. #17
    The reality is Israel needs in general mandatory conscription regardless whether the extra potential Chareidi soldiers are strictly necessary.
    That said, how do you justify the blanket exemption of a whole segment of society, while all other segments of society are obliged. Where are your morals?

  23. Informative article. The question is NOW how do Jews of very different views get along. First we Chareidim have to recognise that today there are many good, inteligent, even yarei shomayim Jews that have very different views then us about the right way to live today in Erets Yisroel. If we stand firm in our point of view and villify our opposition we are in for a war which we will all lose. It takes tremendous courage to respect another way of looking at things and be willing to be flexible. It is tempting to annoint leaders who dig their heals in and have no creative solutions to win the hearts and minds of our fellow Jews.

  24. #20: Begin/Stern were Jabotinsky-ites. While Labor zionists were marxists, Jabotinsky was a fascist who admired mussolini and saw him as the model leader. He even went so far as to (literally) propose an alliance with hitler y”sh. And since we are talking about the chareidi/secular divide, it is worth pointing out that Jabotinsky was and ardent secularist who despised chareidim no less than the laborites. I’ll be happy to provide you with direct quotes if you wish.

    As to Begin and Stern themselves, they were blood thirsty terrorists, plain and simple (and I am not talking about just against the British either). The ONLY thing that makes them any better than the Laborites is that at least they’re not guilty of murdering their fellow Jews.

    With all due respect, I suggest that YOU are the one that doesn’t know basic history.

  25. There is so much misinformation in the article and the comments.

    R TH Kalischer did not start modern Zionism; this a mantra that the religious zionists have used for a long time and is untrue. R TH Kalischer believed that the coming of mashiach should come through going to EY, building a beis hamikdash and bringing karbanos. He based this on the mishna in Edyos and a me-mon-nifshach in the Rambam and Raavad. For more, see the tshuvos binyan tzion. I will not get into the mishna of the rambam.

    There have always been others wanting to return to EY, but not as political zionism. See the kariate Daniel al-Kumisis, who, according to the logic of poster #2, was the founder of Zionism. Not someone you would want to be associated with.

    Der Judenstaate, which the author suggests was printed in 1886 and inspired the Zionistic movement, is also incorrect. First, the Judenstaate was printed in 1896, 7 years after the founding of Zionism. Nathan Birnbaum founded political Zionism in 1889 at the University of Vienna, which he promoted through the kadima movement. Birnbaum, born religious, rejected his heritage, and later returned as a baal teshuva, founded haolim, which died with him in 1937. Herzl first praised Birnbaum and later criticized him because of his religous awakening.

    De Haan’s murderer stated that he killed De haan because de haan was going to destroy Zionism. This may be treason, but there is no proof that the Zionist thought he had to die for being a traitor; rather, de haan died because he was a chareidi spokesman.

    Israel does not need mandatory conscription. They need a volunteer army that does not waste money on finding and punishing deserters. It also should get rid of the 3 year conscription and go to a 6 years of service to save money on training soldiers. This will not happen because currently the army is 40% religious. A volunteer army would be 70% religious, giving the religious zionists way to much power. The secular powers that be would not allow it.

    It makes you wonder why the religious zionists blindly support a government that discriminates against them.

  26. R’ Shlomo Wolbe was sitting in a miklat in Be’er Yaakov at the beginning of the six day war and the Jordanian shells were landing close by. Amidst the commotion and shutter caused by the near hits, those sitting near R’ Wolbe heard him calmly saying to himself that he is willingly mekabel upon himself missah [to die] if through this would affect the bitul of the Chillul Hashem which is Tzionism

  27. When a British member of academia says that their original support for the Jewish return to Zion was premised on their dream that through it would come about a new biblical covenant with the world and instead all that we got was this … sad secular state.


    When the Arab countries have said of all the reasons for their opposition to the state of Israel, the single most serious one is the degenerate morality that the state flaunts and foists on their region.


  28. “Is there a cherem to speak loshon hora on yidden who died ?”

    Nope – just a general cherem on speaking loshon hara in general. Mercifully, that is far easier for each of us to manage.

  29. Very Good:

    In an essay entitled “The Zionists are not our Saviors,” widely available on the net (translated into English). Just search the title.

  30. #30

    tore up his zionist membership card in ’31,
    was treacherously marginalized by mizrachi’s concordat with Ben Gurion in ’35,
    and secular as he was, toward the end felt more in kindred with the gedolim

    “As to Begin and Stern themselves, they were blood thirsty terrorists, plain and simple (and I am not talking about just against the British either). The ONLY thing that makes them any better than the Laborites is that at least they’re not guilty of murdering their fellow Jews”

    About the stern gang you are partially correct
    (more than 1/4 were ,it so happens,religious)

    Regarding Etzel you are plain wrong,
    irrespective of their understandable admiration for Mussolini