Thursday, April 13, 2017

Another Odious Comparison

Religious Zionists worse than Hezbollah? (Jerusalem Post
Columnist Yossi Klein in his latest oped in Ha’aretz has called religious Zionists "more dangerous than Hezbollah, hit-and-run drivers or girls with scissors." 

I searched Ha’aretz’s website and could not find the article. Perhaps they pulled it, I don’t know. Maybe the near universal condemnation of that comparison caused them to re-think the wisdom of retaining it in their archives. 

It is not surprising that Ha’aretz, the 6th largest newspaper in Israel  hosted such an article. They are probably the most left wing publication in the state. That oped fit in well with their worldview. Which is basically the worldview of J-street. Which favors the Palestinian narrative that  blames Israel for the continued conflict between them and Palestinians.  Blaming religious Zionists for all the troubles in the world is a logical extension of that worldview.

So when Klein submitted that repugnant oped, they probably salivated at the prospect of publishing it.

Based on all of the reaction I’ve seen published in many of the other media outlets in Israel, I surmise that Klein must have based his contention on acts of violence perpetrated against Palestinians by the radical elements among them. Or the oft heard cry about ethnically cleansing Israel of its Palestinian residents. 

I have been one of the most vocal critics of that segment of religious Zionism. It is from religious Zionist ranks that murderers like Dr. Baruch Goldstein and Yigal Amir have arisen. It is also from their ranks that the so-called price taggers stem. These are the ones who worship Goldstein and Amir and advocate ethnic cleansing . 

But that is not the sum and substance of Mizrachi (…the more commonly used term for religious Zionists in America). The idea that all  religious Zionists are radical extremists that will stop at nothing to get their way is the same thing as saying all Jews are white collar criminals that will stop at nothing to enrich themselves.

Although I am not a religious Zionist, they are some of the most admirable people I know.  Especially those that grew up in the comforts of an American home in an American culture that offers them everything! 

Even though one can live very well in the modern state of Israel, it is undeniable that the affluence of America is there for everyone to achieve in far greater measure than it is in Israel.  Furthermore the cultures of the 2 countries are different. If one is raised in an American culture, it is a huge adjustment to move to a country whose culture is a mix of Middle Eastern and European culture. There is also the language barrier, dealing with additional Halachos that only apply in Israel, dealing with mandatory conscription into the army,  and getting used to a different kind of bureaucracy.  Not to mention leaving your family (parents, siblings) and friends behind and moving into a country where you may not know anyone. These are only a few of the differences.

I therefore have nothing but pure admiration for the religious Zionists that make Aliyah.  They are the kind if idealists the rest of us can only hope to be. I could not do what they do. I admit that I am too comfortable here. They have given up that comfort to live their ideals. In this case the ideal is the Mitzvah of living in the land of Israel.

It is from their ranks that the cream of the Israeli military is drawn. The Hesder program that combines military service with Torah study (a 6 year commitment if I understand correctly) is designed specifically for religious Zionists. These committed soldiers are among the most elite and dedicated soldiers in Israel – often volunteering for the most dangerous assignments in groups! That is perhaps one reason that religious Zionists are moving up the ranks of the officer corps to the point that some of the top military leaders are religious Zionists.

For Yossi Kein to label this particular group worse than Hezbollah is an insult in the extreme! Of course the extremists among them are dangerous. But let us be clear. They are extremists. Not core religious Zionists. Although there is a fairly large number that worships murderers like Baruch Goldstein, they are not the mainstream of religious Zionists.

They are of the Meir Kahane faction. He too was a religious Zionist but he eventually went off the rails and in my view is the source of most if not all the radicals among them. Most of the religious Zionists I know are all about living in Israel.

True, most of them believe in of settling all of the land. But not with violence nor even with breaking the law in most cases. They want to do it politically by voting for parties that sympathize with that ideal.

How blinded by bias must Klein be for taking this view. And how blinded by that same bias must Ha'aretz be for them to have published it. And sticking by it after near universal criticism even from the politcal left! If this doesn't tell you what Ha'aretz is all about, nothing does.

In the original post, I made the error of mistaking Yossi Klein for Yossi Klein Halevi. They are not the same person. It was an honest mistake for which I offer Mr. Klein Halevi a sincere apology.