Beyond Politics

[Professor Paul Eidelberg]

Summary ... Israel's salvation requires a Torah-oriented statesman on the one hand, and a Judaic form of government on the other. Only when the two are conjoined will Israel transcend politics and restore the greatness of the Jewish People.

Political scientists are not wrong when they define politics as a struggle for powercall it a lust for personal and partisan aggrandizement. This lust is often couched in honorific terms, be it "democracy" or "peace." Still, politics means manipulation, leading the unwary astray by misleading language and even outright mendacity.

Consider the deliberate misnomer, "Disengagement," which entails, to begin with, the expulsion of 8,500 Jews from Gaza, and recall how Prime Minister Sharon reneged on his promise to abide by the results of the May 2, 2004 Likud referendum on Disengagementthe policy he himself campaigned against in the January 2003 election. But let us probe a little deeper.

Ponder another misnomer, "secular Zionism." Zionism cannot be secular without violating the original meaning of the term "Zion," which involves three interrelated loyalties: (1) first and foremost, loyalty to the Torah, (2) loyalty to the People of Israel, and (3) loyalty to the Land of Israel.

Even though he was "secular Zionist," David Ben-Gurion, Israel's greatest prime minister, admitted that it was only the Torah that preserved the Jewish people during these past two millennia. Nevertheless, had he and his political heirs been the leaders of the Jewish people 2,000 years ago, the Jews would have become as extinct as the dodo.

The secular Zionists who founded the modern State of Israel thought they could dispense with the Torah. We see the results: political and moral decadence. Twenty-seven Likud Knesset Members, who campaigned against Disengagement in the 2003 election, voted for Disengagement the following year. By so doing they voted to abandon not only parts of the Land of Israel but also the Jews who live on this land. They betrayed the three loyalties of authentic Zionism.

To be sure, some members of the Likud oppose withdrawal from Gush Katif and the expulsion of its Jewish residents. They do so, however, without realizing that this betrayal of Zionismhence of Jewish nationalismbegan with the abandonment of the Torah. Even Yoram Hazony fails to see that the internationalism or "post-Zionism" of Shimon Peres and his left-wing cohorts is rooted in the secularism of Israel's founding fathers. Indeed, their internationalism is conceptually linked to Ben-Gurion's Marxism, which Hazony obscures in his admiration of that conceptually inconsistent Labor-Zionist.

In any event, "secular Zionism" is dead and is being buried by Ariel Sharon. This means that politics in Israel has no distinctively national, i.e., Jewish goal. The sole purpose of politics is power. Nevertheless, one need not be disheartened by this decay. The decay is a logical consequence of the secular, i.e., flawed founding of the State.

Occurring in the midst of this decay, however, is a resurgence of Judaism. Never have there been so many Jews returning to the Torah. A veritable renascence is taking place in the study of the Halacha, revealing its unrivaled rationality and moral relevance. Scientists and mathematicians are engaged in fundamental Torah research, showing that the Torah is not only the paradigm of how man should live, but also the key to cosmology and history.

Meanwhile, more and more people in Israel realize that politics is incapable of solving any of the country's basic problems. They are becoming increasingly aware of the disintegration of Israel political system. They see the impotence of Israel's Knesset, the aggrandizement of Israel's Supreme Court, the ineptitude and corruption of multi-party cabinet government.

The deadly failure of Oslo and the civic turmoil of Disengagement have made this decay increasingly obvious. It matters not who is Israel's prime minister, whether it happens to be the clever Binyamin Netanyahu, the inane Ehud Barak, or a Machiavellian like Ariel Sharon: these secularists, lacking Jewish national pride, and having made a fetish of peace, can only genuflect to Washington and thereby betray the Jewish People and the Land of Israel.

Israel's salvation requires a Torah-oriented statesman on the one hand, and a Judaic form of government on the other. Only when the two are conjoined will Israel transcend politics and restore the greatness of the Jewish People.

[ Published: June 3, 2005 ]

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