Thursday, September 06, 2007
Posted by Daniel Greenfield 15 Comments
For much of its limited existence the State of Israel faced a struggle between two competing ideologies embodied in Israel's two major political parties, Labor and Likud, Socialist Zionism vs Revisionist Zionism.
Socialist Zionism saw Socialism as the only possible system for mankind. Socialist Zionists broke with most Socialist and Communist Jews who believed that Jews had to assimilate and participate in building socialism in their individual countries, realizing that Jews could never be full partners in building socialism in someone else's country. Having seen the anti-semitism on the left, they instead chose to build a Jewish nation to serve as a Jewish socialist homeland.
Socialist Zionism did not and does not see Jews or Israel as unique. Israel for them was only a means for Jews to participate in a larger growing union of socialist nations and peoples. That kind of thinking still motives men like Shimon Peres today. It is why Labor is so willing to make concessions under European pressure and why it considers the domestic right more of a threat than Arab socialists like Fatah.
Revisionist Zionism by contrast believed in a unique Jewish national identity, a strong army and the reclamation of all of Israel. Yet time and time again, Revisionist Zionism shrunk from direct confrontation with Socialist Zionism, which was able to bully and throw its weight around. Revisionists who were prepared to fight Arabs but not fellow Jews faced Socialist Zionists who were prepared to fight fellow Jews but not Arabs. That same situation is repeated today as the Olmert-Peres government is unwilling to fight the Arabs but all too willing to fight the Jews who would fight the Arabs.
Time and time again, Revisionist Zionism placed its faith in winning the hearts and minds of the people. And indeed with Begin's victory, the Likud has reliably held onto power. Until it was destroyed from within by Ariel Sharon, who had come out of Socialist Zionism and the children of old line Revisionist Zionists like Ehud Olmert and Tzahi Hanegbi who care nothing for their parent's beliefs and happily sold out their party.
Today both Likud and Labor have been destroyed ideologically and politically. Both parties are in ruins and their beliefs have been shredded. Kadima, the unclean birth of both parties, represented the end of ideology, the loss of faith and the rise of opportunism.
Opportunism reigns in Israel. For Israel to survive, Israel must have leadership. As the Sharon era has demonstrated, leadership does not mean strongmen. It has to mean ideology and belief. It has to mean more than another political party but a political identity. Revisionist Zionism and Socialist Zionism were more than political parties, they were worldviews and identities. They determined how you saw the world and what you were willing to fight for and sacrifice for.
Right now the National Religious Camp is the best hope for the birth of such a force an an identity, shaped by the political struggle against Disengagement and settlement expulsions. But the National Religious Camp will likely not extend far enough. The hope of Israel lies in creating a successor to Revisionist Zionism, an ideology that embraces both the secular and the religious, that respects Jewish tradition and seeks to defend a strong Nation of Israel for the Jewish people.