Sabba – Thank you to MG Editor for his input and help.
Purposefully and for deliberate strategic reasons, any discussion of the topic of Zionism must automatically descend into a whirlwind of confusion and consternation. ‘Liberal’ Zionism…’Conservative’ Zionism… ‘Religious’ Zionism… ‘Extremist’ Zionism… ‘Historical’ Zionism etc. etc. etc. All of this is done deliberately for one purpose and one purpose only: to drove away prying eyes and prying minds from better understanding a political vortex that today threatens to consume all life in earth.
PART 1 – ZIONISM, A QUICK HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
The Jewish encyclopedia defines Zionism as follows: “Movement looking towards the segregation of the Jewish people upon a national basis and in a particular a home of its own; specifically, the modern form of the movement that seeks for the Jews “a publicly and legally assured home in Palestine,” as initiated by Theodore Herzl in 1896, and since then dominating Jewish history.” All encyclopedias give a more or less similar definition. And all agree that it was triggered by the Dreyfus Affair in France in 1894, a vortex all of its own, which has since been proven to be a magistral ‘psy ops’ of that time in setting the stage for what was to come later.
Theodore Herzl was an unknown, assimilated, ‘almost Christian’ Jew who, prior to the Dreyfus Affair, had never shown any interest in ‘the Jewish Cause’ nor written any book on the subject. However, so we are told, the ‘Dreyfus Affair’ featuring a Jewish captain in the French army named Alfred Dreyfus accused of espionage, shook Herzl so deeply that he became obsessed with the ‘Jewish Question’ and in 2 months’ time, wrote his best-seller, ‘Der Judenstadt’ (‘The Jewish State’) where he argued that the only solution to the Jewish problem was indeed a Jewish state all its own.
In other words, Theodore Herzl, who had written nothing before, had no political background, and who – as we are led to believe – had no Jewish religious education and had never shown any concern for the fate of Jews worldwide, went from being an obscure Viennese journalist to the founding father of the Zionist movement and to the Jewish state itself.
Theodore Herzl and the Rothschild
Despite all the deliberate disinformation that is peddled today concerning the topic, it appears that Zionism did not just spring up recently in the last 100 years, with the creation of the Zionist movement in 1897. Neither was its creation related to the Dreyfus Affair nor was it a ‘secular’ movement, as many claim today. As we shall see, Zionism – whether specifically described as that or not – is thousands of years old and, despite the clever and not-so-clever propaganda that is used in shrouding its true nature, is very much a ‘religious’ issue and not ‘secular’.
Israeli author Shlomo Sands tells us that the ‘secular’ Jew Herzl was actually very close to Moritz Güdemann, the Chief Rabbi of Vienna and that before writing his book, Der Judenstadt, Herzl had asked the powerful and influential rabbi to introduce him to the Austrian branch of the Rothschild family.
Besides Herzl’s very strong ‘religious’ affiliations, a closer look into Jewish history reveals that the ‘Zionist’ project long pre-dated Herzl. Many Jewish thinkers, writers, rabbis who were famous in their own lifetimes and respected members of the Jewish intelligentsia, had already turned a Jewish prayer (Next Year In Jerusalem) into a political theory and a political programme, advocating the return of the Jews to Palestine (Moses Hess, Rabbi Hirsch Kalischer, Perez Smolensking, Leo Pinsker and Asher Ginsberg (aka Ahad Ha-Am).
Indeed, the terms ‘Zionism’ and ‘Zionist’ did not even originate with Herzl but with another Jew, also from Vienna: Nathan Birnbaum (1864-1937). Unlike Herzl, Birnbaum was a known Jewish political activist and writer.
Before the Dreyfus Affair and before Herzl came up with Der Judenstadt, Birnbaum had written widely diffused pamphlets all relating to the ‘Jewish Question’ and the return of the Jews to ‘Zion’– historically known as Palestine – to reclaim as their own.
It is interesting to note here that the religious Birnbaum, the real founder of Zionism, had been all but ‘written out’ of Jewish History while obscure but ‘secular’ journalist Herzl has been almost deified.
In summary, Zionism was not born ‘out of necessity’ in a vacuum, nor did it originate with Theodore Herzl. It’s roots were not ‘secular’ and it was not a response to the ‘unbearable European anti-semitism’ as symbolized by the Dreyfus Affair. So then, why did Zionism as we know it emerge at the time it did and to what was it a response, if indeed it was not not the ‘pathological anti-semitism’ of Europe?
PART 2 – FROM THE GHETTO TO ASSIMILATION TO ZIONISM
The Jewish Question
Zionism emerged in Europe at a time when Western Jewry was facing one of its most dangerous crises, one so grave in fact that most Jewish literature of the XIXth century deals, one way or another, with the ‘Jewish Problem’, each trying to bring an answer to the ‘Jewish Question’.
Modern historiography would have us believe that the ‘Jewish Question/Problem’ was and still is motivated by the inborn ‘anti-semitism’ of Western Gentiles who simply want a ‘final solution’ to rid the world of Jews.
In Jewish literature however, the Jewish Question is an entirely religious and existentialist question and is as old as the Jewish people itself that is basically presented thus: how to remain isolated, how to preserve ‘the purity and sanctity’ of the Jewish people, how to remain “a nation dwelling by itself, and not counted among the nations (Gentiles)” as various religious passages in the Torah–in this case, the Book of Numbers–command.
The ‘Jewish Question/Problem’ is all over the Torah and appears to have been the number one obsession of all Jewish religious leaders from the time Jews appeared on the historical scene. But in the XIXth century, this obsession took on a new dimension, as it had become a question of life and death for and of the Jews as a people.
As the world is reminded on a daily basis, mostly by Jewish groups themselves, the history of the Jews is a long story of expulsions, exiles, and return.
The first forced ‘exile’ was to Babylon. Contrary to Jewish propaganda, the Babylonians did not imprison the Jews nor did they ill-treat them. The Jews were welcomed in modern-day Iraq and made so comfortable in fact that most were inclined towards defection and of joining the highly civilized and developed Babylonian society, of giving up their Judaism and joining the brotherhood of mankind.
In reaction to this, the Jewish priesthood, whose power lie solely in their collective ability to keep the Jews a ‘separate people’ all to themselves, devised their own diabolical plan of imprisoning the minds, hearts, souls, and bodies of their ‘flock’: they created the very first ghetto of History and elevated the concept of master-race as ‘The Law’.
For Israel Friedlander, this was the greatest miracle of the Levites who “transferred Israel’s claim to superiority from a sphere where it was bound to crumble at the slightest contact with reality to a domain where it was unassailable and indestructible: they accomplished it by turning the political superiority of Israel into religious, or spiritual, supremacy” thus giving Judah an “indestructible vitality”.
The next ghetto was built in Jerusalem by Nehemiah (using Persian military and money): new walls were erected and all non-Jews were simply driven out. ‘Ghetto’ being derived from the Hebrew word ‘ghet’, meaning ‘divorce’ provides a better picture of why/how those same models were applied in Christian Europe as mechanisms for separating Jews from Gentiles and not the other way around as many are led to believe.
Kabbalah and Humanism
Up to the XIIth century, the Jews, imprisoned as they were within their rabbinical gulags, concentrated all their hopes on the coming of their ‘Saviour,’ the ‘Moshiach’ or Messiah, who would liberate them from the ghetto, free them from the burden of the Law and the rabbinical rule of terror under which every facet of their lives operated. However, they were forbidden by their own torturers to try and hasten the coming of this savior.
In the XIIIth century the kabbalistic rabbi Nahmanides was to change all this by triggering a revolutionary religious movement which climaxed with Theodore Herzl. Nahmanides was the first to publicly declare during his disputation with Pablo Christiani that the Jews could hasten the arrival of this savior by multiplying their good deeds. He was also the first to involve the Papacy in the project of returning the Jews to the Holy Land by claiming their Moshiach would go to the Pope and demand of him that he re-settle the Jews in Palestine. It should come as no surprise then to those who have studied the history of Zionism that no by sheer coincidence, Herzl himself paid a visit to then Pope Pius X in 1904 and presented his ‘demand’ that the Pontifex Maximus look favorably upon the project of resettling the Jews of Europe to their ‘ancestral’ homeland in Palestine.
In the XIIIth century, the Jewish Kabbalah which, up to that time, had been a very occult part of Judaism, became mainstream and thus developed and spread all over the world like a wildfire within Jewry. Not just Jewry itself, but also, by the XIVth century, its influence started permeating the cultural elites of Christian Europe as well. Starting in Italy with Giovanni Pico della Mirandola but with no lasting effect, it then made its way to Germany, then Britain and then the Nordic countries which absorbed its teachings with dramatic consequences that were soon to change the History of Christian Europe forever in an event known as the Reformation.
Emancipation and assimilation
This cultural shift produced within Christendom as a result of Kabbalah’s teachings, led to a change of attitude towards Judaism and Jews which culminated with ‘the century of emancipation’.
It was France, the Church’s ‘eldest daughter,’ who was the first country to have emancipated ‘God’s eldest children’ following the up-until-then unprecedented bloodbath known as the French Revolution. Soon after, most Western European countries followed suit and emancipated their Jewish populations as well. This was welcomed by the Jewish people all the more as they had been waiting for it since the VIth century B.C.
From a rabbinical point of view, the end of the ghetto following this emancipation meant the death of Judaism and of their own death-grip on the Jewish people. They feared the Jews would be dazzled, bewildered and intoxicated by the Gentile aspects of European life, would naturally want to assimilate, live a ‘normal life’ and thus be freed of the reign of terror that had been imposed upon them and their ancestors since the time of the Babylonian captivity.
Jessie Sampter reveals: “The Jews have left their ghettos, they have general education, culture, modernity. In England, France and Italy, individual Jews have risen to high government positions. But each generation is less Jewish than the last.”
To prevent this disintegration and to re-tighten the bonds of world Jewry then, we see a sudden eruption of different Jewish associations all throughout the world (ex: the B’nai Brith, founded in 1843) and a resurgence of pogroms, mainly in Eastern Europe, precisely at the time when Eastern European Jews were about to be emancipated.
Jessie Sampter admits that all these pogroms and ‘anti-semitic’ attacks were “the chief force in preserving the Jewish race by forcing Jews to recognize their own racial solidarity”.
Rabbi Elmer Berger writes: “There are many who desire greater control over Jews by Jews, and who resent the dissolution of this control in Russia, where once a ghetto made such control easy and absolute”.
In sum then, the XIXth century witnessed the breakup of the ghettos which in turn led to the breakup of Jewish national life and thus of Judaism itself. A solution had to be found therefore which would attract all Jews of all stripes–religious, secular, assimilated, those about to be assimilated and those who had already left the cult.
As Israel Friedlander wrote, Zionism was seen then as “the ultimate consummation of Israel’s hope, and the only safeguard against absorption in the whirlpool of humanity.”
PART 3 – FROM JUDAISM TO POLITICAL MESSIANISM TO ZIONISM
Not merely some incidental issue in Judaism, the belief in the coming Moshiach (Messiah) has always featured as a very powerful meme within Judaism, and by extension, Jewish life. However, while he, as an individual has remained constant, the Judaic perception of him in terms of his characteristics, his role in world events and his attributes have considerably varied throughout the ages. As Julius Greenstone reveals, Judaism is always a religion in the making, it is always a work in progress.
Slowly, the idea took shape of a Messiah who will deliver the Jews from the oppression of the Gentiles. The image began formulating of a warrior-king from the house of David who would rule the world from Zion and who would annihilate all those who were at one time or another considered – real or not – enemies of the Jews.
It cannot be stressed strongly enough how important the messianic belief had been for the Jews during the time of their Talmudic captivity. The rabbis kept their terrified and dysfunctional people close to them first with fear and then with the promise of rescue at a later time. They kept them content in their misery by convincing the Jewish people that the greater their persecutions and suffering, the more cruel the Gentile ruler who was lording over them, the sooner will the Moshiach come. The messianic hope was the only thing that allowed them to bear in patience the cruel and tyrannical rule of their priesthood. It was the main stimulus which caused their survival and revival within the nations time after time.
With emancipation and then assimilation, more and more Jews felt that the promise of future redemption had arrived and that their greatest aspiration – liberation from the ghetto – has now been achieved. As a result, huge numbers of Jews simply rejected Judaism outright and were now content to assimilate and finally join the brotherhood of mankind.
This was a disaster the rabbinate had not anticipated: that they, their teachings and the paralysis in which they held the Jewish people for centuries were about to be made redundant and sent to the dust bin of History.
No longer able to keep the bodies of the Jewish people enslaved within the ghettos of Europe, the rabbis were then forced to resort to ‘Plan B’ in keeping the minds and hearts of their flock in chains and to revive the ‘ghetto-spirit’ lest it should disappear forever.
A substitute had to be found quickly, a substitute that would appeal to all — religious Jews, secular Jews, those who were about to be assimilated and those who had already rejected their Judaism.
Zionism as the new messianism
In the Middle Ages, messianism was always shrouded in irrational mysteries and miracles and centred around the character of the Moshiach, the king of the Jews.
In the Age of Reason however, the backwards and oftentimes barbaric aspects of this predicted future Messianic age simply could not be maintained: a new, more modern and updated version had to be developed, a version which would not be centred around a man but around the Jewish people themselves, a version which would appeal to all Jews and reclaim those who had already left the cult.
The messianic idea and ideal had to be re-packaged in such a way as to attract all Jews, to unify them again around one central and common goal. Its external wrapping had to look secular so as to not scare away those Jews who had liberated themselves from the paralyzing effects of Rabbinical Judaism and were thus repulsed by the very idea of the Jewish religion. Its internal goal though had to be religious to reassure those remaining religious Jews who might have been worried about its secular appearance.
And it had to be marketed in such a way so as to convince all Jews that the promises of Yahweh – that vengeful, vindictive, racist, blood-thirsty god of the Jews – and his promises of world domination were true and that therefore now was no time to give up but to act. Within this new narrative, the miraculous End had never been closer, the final victory of Judea over Rome was right around the corner, the Fifth Kingdom was about to come.
And Zionism was therefore the solution. As many XIXth century Jewish writers openly admit, Zionism is nothing but the lineal descendant of the Messianic idea, the last and desperate attempt to revive the belief in the promise of Yahweh as detailed in the Old Testament. In sum, Zionism – that ideology deceptively portrayed as ‘political’ and ‘secular’, is in fact nothing more than the modern-day, updated and upgraded version of the same Old Testament messianic promises of Judaic world domination.
PART IV – JUDAISM VS. ZIONISM
Rabbis against Zionism
As the continuing, circular discussion goes these days in maintaining that aforementioned ‘whirlwind of confusion and consternation’ surrounding the nature of Zionism – past, present and future – is the notion that rabbis and other ‘religious’ leaders opposed Zionism in the early days, justifying their opposition that, as a ‘secular’ ideology, it came into conflict with the ‘religious’ nature of Judaism.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that most Eastern European rabbis were in favour of Zionism right from the start. In the West though, they were more divided but not for the reasons we are told.
Jessie Sampter reveals that many European rabbis opposed the idea of a Zionist congress and not the Zionism itself only because “they were unaccustomed and afraid to discuss Jewish affairs openly”.
In other words, these ‘Elders of Zions’ did not want to discuss their ‘Protocols’ openly, they did not want to see the content of their plans made public for as the Talmud orders in Sanhedrin 59a: “To communicate anything to a Goy about our religious relations would be equal to the killing of all Jews, for if the Goyim knew what we teach about them, they would kill us openly”.
And then, there are the rabbis who truly opposed Zionism itself, not because of its ‘secular’ content but rather due to its role as a new form of messianism.
Herzl made it clear at the very first Zionist congress that the goal of this ‘secular’ movement was the creating a Jewish state in Palestine and nowhere else. That ‘declaration of faith’ had then been reiterated at all the following Zionist congresses held afterwards.
When some Jews suffered in their self-inflicted ‘pogroms’ in Eastern Europe after 1897, Britain offered some alternatives to prevent any further ‘pogroms’, while waiting for the right moment to create the Jewish state in Palestine.
These alternatives (Uganda, Argentina) were described by Max Nordau as “as a shelter for the night”.
Not only was Palestine the goal, but the rebuilding of the Temple “in glorious remembrance of the faith of our fathers” became one of Herzl’s obsessions.
If ever there were a statement refuting the notion that Zionism was a ‘secular’ movement not rooted in Judaism, that alone would suffice, but it certainly is not the only one.
Herzl also wrote that “The Temple will be visible from long distances, for it is only our ancient faith that has kept us together (…) Our community of race is peculiar and unique, for we are bound together only by the faith of our fathers (…) A wondrous generation of Jews will spring into existence. The Maccabeans will rise again“.
Remember, according to those arguing that there is nothing ‘religious’ about Zionism which they term a ‘secular’ movement, all the aforementioned items appearing in the ‘secular’ Herzl’s “The Jewish State” are absolutely from cover to core religious and ‘Judaic’ in nature.
So what could be the conflict here? What is it about the scattered Jews returning to their ‘ancestral homeland’ and ‘rebuilding the temple destroyed for by the Babylonians and then by the Romans in 70 A.D. that would be the source of so much rabbinic angst?
Those early ‘anti-Zionist’ rabbis remembered all too well that the Jews almost faced extinction, were almost ‘wiped off the map’ (assimilated) during all previous messianic outbursts, a few of which include the Maccabean revolt, followed by the rise of the Zealots and Siccari in the 1st Century that brought the destructive powers of the Romans down upon Judea, resulting in the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, AD135, Solomon Molko and David Reubeni, Sabbatai Zevi or Jacob Frank.
Writer/historian Julius Greenstone mentions that each ‘failed Messiah experience’ in the past had always resulted in mass conversions of Jews to the dominating religion, whether it was Islam and/or Christianity.
The XIXth century anti-zionist rabbis feared that, with the arrival of this ‘New Messiah’– Zionism – that a similar fate would fall upon the Jews which, this time, they would not be able to reverse.
There is one group of ‘anti-Zionist’ Rabbis however that do argue their position from a strictly ‘religious’ perspective, i.e. Neturei Karta, who claim that the Jewish state is illegitimate because it violates the prohibitions known as the Three Babylonian Oaths which (A) forbid the Jews to return to the Holy Land and reclaim it as their own, (B) to rise up against the nations and (C) to hasten the coming of the Moshiach.
But as many other rabbis are prompt to reply, the Jews did not rise up against the nations and they did not return to the Holy Land of their own accord: it was Britain and ‘the Nations’ (the UN) who brought them back to the Holy Land and re-created the state of Israel.
What this reveals is the deep and unfailing belief/adherence to Judaism on the part of these so-called ‘secular’ and ‘atheist’ Zionists. Despite their apparent secularism and atheism, they were so frightened of what might arise out of their violating these ‘3 Oaths’ that they took all care, all measure to ensure that they did not break any religious laws. And this is why they absolutely needed the Balfour Declaration and why they absolutely needed the UN to officially ‘create’ the state of Israel.
Israel was created in 1948 by the United ‘Nations’ and, from the very beginning, defined itself as the Jewish state, a state for Jews only, with the Torah as its constitution. The emphasis on the ‘Jewish’ aspect is so great that ‘Israeli’ is not even recognized as a citizenship/nationality within Israel. We need to stress here it does not define itself as the ‘zionist state’ and its constitution is not Herzl’s ‘Der Judenstadt’. And to remove any lingering doubt one might have about the nature of this political beast, one need only listen to all Jewish leaders, past and present, who never fail to remind the listening world that all their actions, all political decisions, the very beating heart of their endeavor, is all rooted in the Torah, from ‘secular’ Ben Gurion, to Golda Meir, to Netanyahu etc.
One-eyed pirate Moshe Dayan even wrote a book entitled “Living with the Bible” where he glorifies every battle waged by the IDF against the Arabs as only a ‘repeat’ of the ancient battles as recounted in the bible and concludes his book by describing the ultimate goal of the Jews and of the Jewish state: making modern Israel a reincarnation of the kingdoms of David and Solomon as described in the bible.
Israel – A project in the making
From a Jewish eschatological perspective, the end of the exile meant that the Jews had been catapulted into the End Times: passivity is over and political activism has become the engine that drives the Jewish people and Israeli policy. As Israel Friedlander states, “The Jewish state was not to be an end in itself, but merely the material means for a spiritual end.”
It is now accepted that their Moshiach will not initiate ‘redemption’ (understand: WORLD DOMINATION) but rather that it is Jewish messianic activism that will prepare the grounds for his arrival. And, as David Zeidan reveals, the keys to redemption are Jewish dominance and sovereignty over Greater Israel.
Therefore, according to this narrative, the end can and must be hastened by any means, even radical and violent action. Gershom Scholem explains that catastrophe is part and parcel of the messianic process and so catastrophe, terrorism, wars, etc. are all considered a legitimate means to short-circuit adverse developments and precipitate total redemption.
And for all Jews, the ultimate act of terror would be the bombing of the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque in the hopes that it would inflame the entire Muslim world and thus re-ignite the long-prophecized war between bibilcal Edom and Ishmael, both considered enemies of Jewry, or using language from the book of the Apocalypse, the war of Gog and Magog, thus paving the way for the final acts of the End Times.
CONCLUSION: ZIONISM IS POLITICAL MESSIANISM
In the XIXth century, the Jews were facing a crisis of an amplitude never experienced before and were on the brink of total disintegration as a ‘separate’ and ‘distinct’ entity amongst ‘the nations’. Zionism was the cement that managed to bind together all different types of jews: the secular, the atheist, the assimilated, the religious etc. With its secular shell and messianic content, it united them all under one banner: Eretz Israel.
It secular shell was also meant to fool and deceive the Western powers whose military help and blood was necessary to achieve his goals. Herzl had to convince the West that Zionism was a ‘national’ movement identical to any other European national movement, a concept they could relate to. We can only wonder what would have been the West’s response had Herzl not acted ‘by way of deception’ but openly revealed his plans of Eretz Israel.
Theodore Herzl may have been an obscure figure but must have had the support of the most powerful and wealthy Jews of his time, partially proven by the fact that merely a year after he published his book he managed to summon the representatives of world Jewry in Basel for the 1st Zionist Congress. How else does one explain that a year after the publication of his book, he was able to meet with the Kaiser, Chamberlain, the Pope, with the Ottoman sultan, king Victor Emmanuel of Rome, prominent Tsarists etc.? Who opened up the doors for him?
Herzl, as rabbi Nahmanides before him in the XIIIth century, believed that the Jews had to initiate the Redemption process themselves, the first phase of which was the return of the Jews to Palestine. With rabbi Nahmanides, it was known as ‘active messianism’; with Herzl and the powerful people behind him, it has become ‘political messianism’.
Herzl’s ultimate goal was always the rebuilding of the Third Temple and all Jews worldwide perfectly understood it meant: the coming of the king of the Jews, their Moshiach, through whom, according to Julius Greenstone “THE HEATHEN NATIONS SHALL BE DESTROYED AND ISRAEL BECOME THE WORLD POWER.”
Zionism, as a movement, was always understood by all Jews as being just the first phase of the greater messianic program, extensively developed in the Torah by the Jewish prophets (not by Theodore Herzl). Only after the state of Israel is re-born, can the next phases be initiated which will culminate in the crowning of a man in Jerusalem as the King of the Jews.
Zionism’s goal, as a movement, only meant only to bring back the Jews the Holy Land to start off the Redemption process (understand: world domination). Judaism’s goal, as revealed in the Torah, means to give the Jews world domination.
In understanding fully what this means, let us never forget that the Torah is the constitution of the Jewish state and it should therefore be read not as a spiritual book but as the Political Testament of the Jews. Let us look at how it is being put into practice in occupied Palestine. And for those Westerners who feel no concern for what happens in the Middle East, believing that it is an Arabs vs. Jews conflict, let them look at the ethnic cleansing of Christian Russians by the Jews (aka Bolsheviks) in that gigantic talmudic gulag known as the USSR.
COHN Norman: “The Pursuit Of The Millenium”
GRÄTZ Heinrich: “History Of The Jews”
GREENSTONE Julius: “The Messiah Idea In Jewish History”
HERZL Theodore: “The Jewish State”
FRIEDLANDER Israel: “Past And Present”
ROTH Cecil: “A History Of The Marranos”
SAMPTER Jessie: “A Guide To Zionism”
SAND Shlomo: “The Invention Of The Land Of Israel”
SCHOLEM Gershom: “The Messianic Idea In Judaism”
SOKOLOW Nahum: “History Of Zionism, 1600-1918”
ZEIDAN David: “Jerusalem In Jewish Fundamentalism”