Guest Editorial

THE RETURN TO ZIONISM

By Boris Shusteff

Some students, after solving a mathematical problem given as homework, peek into the solution section and correct their answer if it is different from the one in the textbook. It does not occur to them that there could be a mistake or a typo in the book and that their answer may have been correct. Many Israeli leaders today resemble these students in their dependency on public opinion surveys. Instead of following a certain political line they constantly adjust their policy according to the latest poll results. Nothing can prove this better than the creation of the so­called "centrist" party, which should really be called the "instant poll" party.

This illness has not spared the nationalist camp either. As soon as some polls showed that voters are moving away from Benny Begin to Yitzhak Mordekhai, voices began to sound, calling for Begin to withdraw his candidacy from the Prime Ministerial race in order not to hurt Netanyahu's chances for reelection. Somehow principles and ideology do not count anymore. The Yesha council is in disarray, and its leaders are threatening to resign if the council does not support Netanyahu. All of Netanyahu's "sins" are forgotten and he is again envisioned as the future "savior" of the country.

It is very much possible that Netanyahu is the best choice for the nationalist camp, but this is only true if he can be steered in the right direction. And the driver's seat must be taken by the minor "rightist" parties. They must define their positions clearly and forcefully. Only by adopting an unbending nationalistic stand will the minor Israeli parties Herut, Moledet, Tzomet, Tekumah and Yisrael Beytenu be able to force Likud to return to its former position of the unacceptability of relinquishing any part of Eretz Yisrael.

On January 22, leader of the new Yisrael Beytenu Party Avigdor Lieberman in an interview with Tel Aviv "Novosti Nedeli "called for an "ideological renovation" when he said, What is particularly bitter and painful for me is lack of principles, cynicism and the loss of ideals... A state, particularly a state such as ours, cannot exist without a clearly defined purpose. The general devil­may­care attitude is spreading wider and wider, like an oil spot on the water surface. Today, the very notion of the "Zionist idea" which was the foundation on which Israel was built sounds as something obsolete, an anachronism.

The return to Zionism is the only solution that will allow Israel to have a future. Only by going back to Zionist principles the first and foremost of which is settlement will it be possible to change the situation. It is not a coincidence that, according to the Tel Aviv newspaper "Vesti" from February 5, fifty two percent of Moledet members constitute immigrants from the former USSR. Separated for generations from their homeland they instinctively cling to a nationalist party. They, better than many "sabras," understand what it means to regain a homeland. Their dormant nationalist feelings are finally awakened, and they cherish every inch of the Jewish land and are ready to fight for it.

However, it would be unfair to say that it is only the Russian Jews who are "nationalistic." The favorite Israeli resource of information polls can serve as an eye opener for those who claim that the land is not important. A survey conducted among the Jewish population on January 27 by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University showed that 66.3% said "No" to "the establishment of a Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital [even] if this would remove the last stumbling block on the way to true peace between Israel and the Palestinians." What is extremely interesting is that 77.9% of the survey participants are "greatly or somewhat supportive of the peace process between Israel and the Arabs" and 11.4% are "in the middle."

This survey clearly indicates that the Jewish people still long for the Jewish land. It is the task of the nationalist parties to touch the most sensitive strings of the Jewish soul. By accentuating the true Jewish and Zionist values the nationalist parties and Likud could guarantee a victory in upcoming elections. In order to attract the voters they need to convince them that they really mean what they preach.

While a strong nationalist stand is a must for the "rightist" parties, unity is a must too. When Benny Begin says that he is not going to join forces with Rehavam Ze'evi because the latter's "transfer" idea (relocating the Arabs of Judea and Samaria to other Arab countries) is "anti­educational," he simply misses the point that Moledet's main idea an undivided Eretz Yisrael is very much pro­educational. There are and there always will be differences between the nationalist Israeli parties, but much more important is the common link that unites them. This common link the all­absorbing love for Eretz Yisrael and the unshakable belief in the necessity to settle every corner of Judea, Samaria and Gaza should become the foundation of unity.

The Zionist ideology must be reborn. What can be more sacred then the love of one's homeland? The two­thousand­year yearnings for Zion and Jerusalem that were suppressed by post­Zionism need to be released from their incarceration. Like a mighty river they should sweep away the ghetto mentality and self­hatred that ruins the Jewish state. The Israeli Jews should proudly raise their head and declare to the whole world that they love their Land. It is so natural to love it. It deserves to be loved. Every inch of it is soaked with Jewish blood, sweat and tears. It is the love of Eretz Yisrael that allowed the Jewish people to withstand the inferno of the Holocaust. It is Eretz Yisrael where the Jewish people found shelter after being abandoned by the whole world.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin in his Commentary on the Weekly Torah reading for 20 Shvat, 5759 (February 6, 1999) wrote, "It is no mere coincidence that both the Torah of Israel as well as the Land of Israel are called 'morasha,' which our Sages connect to 'me'orasa,' or 'beloved fiancee.' One must love the Torah as well as the land if one is to acquire each of them." This love creates miracles. It turned the desolate and withered land into an oasis. It returned the People to the Land. It can preserve the Land for the People. This love can be expressed in words. Since it is fashionable for Israeli political parties to have a campaign slogan the united Nationalist Front should adopt one too. It can simply state, "To Love and to Settle the Homeland." 02/05/98

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Boris Shusteff is an engineer in upstate New York. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies. Unless indicated otherwise, the translations of the Jewish press are from I & G News.


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