A NEW ZIONIST CONGRESS
By Louis Rene Beres
"We are here to lay the foundation stone of the house which is to shelter the Jewish nation." These were the very first words uttered by Theodor Herzel, on August 29, 1897, at the First Zionist Congress in Basel. Herzel's "house" was completed, of course, on May 14, 1948, when Ben-Gurion's declaration made DER JUDENSTAAT a reality.
But further construction is needed; it is needed desperately. The house which was to shelter the Jewish Nation has become unspeakably fragile. Even more disturbing, in spite of Herzel's dream that a Jewish State would resolve the "Jewish Question," there is today no more dangerous place on Earth for Jews, as Jews, than the State of Israel.
This intolerable irony must not be minimized. Rather, it should be taken as the starting point for rebuilding the foundation of Herzel's house, from the ground up, before it is razed altogether. Now we require nothing less than a new Zionist Congress, one which will no longer need to create a Jewish State, but to preserve the existing Commonwealth. We require such a Congress to save the imperiled State of Israel.
In an illuminating JEWISH PRESS column of 25 February 2000, Professor Howard L. Adelson warned, in the face of repeated Israeli surrenders and degradations: "The Government of Israel must either stand firm, or another government fit for a determined defense of Jewish interests must replace it!" Yet, we must now accept the fact that Israel lacks the leadership to rescue it from self-annihilation, and that "another government fit for a determined defense of Jewish interests...." can never arise in the State of Israel. Sadly, oh how sadly, the lack of national will and collective self-respect is so sorely lacking in Israel that true and viable leadership will have to originate from "outside," from the diaspora. The current lack of vision and understanding is now so far-reaching within Israel's borders that not a single Israeli politician can be up to the monumental task of saving the beleaguered country.
This suggestion would appear to be immensely impractical, not to mention brazen and interventionary. But Herzel, who had been moved to the Zionist dream after witnessing the humiliations of Dreyfus, was joined by only 196 other delegates. In 1897, these Zionists, not ever imagining that one hundred years later a Jewish State would exist wherein tens of thousands of "Israelis" would be ashamed of Zionism, began a necessary process of ensuring Jewish survival. Today, in a grotesque and twisted inversion of their valiant efforts, and in desecration of the Six Million, Israel's leadership is smugly midwifing the birth of "Palestine." Carved out of the still-living body of Israel, it will be a birth in which surprised gravediggers shall wield the forceps.
Israel's leaders now seem to live outside of history, in parentheses. Buttressed by the insubstantial theorizing of academic and military" thinkers," their faith in a "peace of the brave" is the result of not wanting to know what is true. Refusing categorically to be resuscitated, the leaders of Israel are blinded by their foolish dreams and deafened to the now audible death agonies of the Jewish soul.
Israel can not be rescued by Israelis. Again and again since Rabin, since Peres, since Netanyahu, since Barak, Israel's citizens have demonstrated a persistent and perplexing incapacity to understand what is happening. The Arabs don't use a mysterious, sacerdotal language. Their declarations are open and unambiguous; they are brutally honest; their web sites are explicit. The official Palestine Authority (PA) maps of "Palestine" include ALL of Israel. For the Arabs, there aren't two states in the area, only one. That state is called Palestine. There is no Israel for Barak's "partners in peace," only "liberated Palestine" and "occupied Palestine."
Why must Israel's leaders always hide from the truth, from a truth so obvious and so undisguised that it would be apparent to a child? Why must these leaders doubt what their enemies believe, what these enemies repeat, so honestly, so straightforwardly, day after day after day: That ALL Jews are "filth," that ALL Jews are irremediably "vile," that the State of the Jews is a "cancer," is a "rot," so insidious, so abhorrent, that its "elimination" must be "inescapable and unavoidable?"
The suggestion, for a new Zionist Congress, will seem a monstrous affrontery to most Israelis, and even to a majority of American Jews. Israel, after all, is a sovereign state, a democracy even, with a properly elected government. How dare a non-Israeli make such a demeaning proposal? How dare a non-Israeli, an American - one who has not even shed one drop of blood for Zion - advance such an idea?
Here is my reply. This is not a question of international law. It is not about political independence in world politics. It is not about paying ones' dues. It IS a matter of national survival, not only in the traditional and narrow sense of the nation as state, but in the much broader and more meaningful sense of the entire Jewish Nation - of all Jews throughout the world, in the diaspora as well as within the eroding boundaries of Israel itself.
We in the diaspora owe all manner of support to the Jews of Israel, but, reciprocally, so too do the Jews of Israel owe us their best efforts at staying alive. Once they CHOOSE to lie down and invite catastrophic slaughter in war and terrorism, they have forfeited the normal prerogatives of sovereign authority. Once they announce their current reformulation of The Jewish Question - that is, how can we best appease our sworn enemies by insistently groveling before them? - it can no longer be business as usual.
Jews, is this self- annihilatory state the reason why so many thousands of young Israelis gave their lives and bodies in war, so that increasingly incapable political leaders might barter essential land and security for an illusionary "peace of the brave?" Is this Jewish State our memorial to the Six Million, a Jewish State that is not only unable to protect five million Jews, but that also consciously adopts policies that will ensure a permanent and final lack of protection? IS THIS STATE OF ISRAEL THE FINAL SOLUTION TO THE JEWISH QUESTION? [29 February 2000]
Louis Rene Beres was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) is Professor of International Law, Department of Political Science, Purdue University and publishes widely on Israeli security matters.
E MAIL: BERES@POLSCI.PURDUE.EDU