My relationship to the news is fluid; sometimes I remain out of the loop (for example, I didn't initially realize that Bennett had become Prime Minister), yet other times I read parts of it obsessively.
So I thought maybe I struggled to understand because I'd been out of the loop.
Then I realized...no.
So regarding the Citizenship Bill:
See, I thought that naturalizing within Eretz Yisrael non-Israeli non-Jewish citizens who are married to Israeli non-Jewish citizens is a bad idea.
It's a bad idea halachically & a bad idea practically.
It's especially a bad idea concerning a group that traditionally produces lots of anti-Jew terrorists and generally votes against the well-being of Jews & acts against the 7 Laws of Noach.
Apparently, the Knesset enacted a law in 2003 preventing citizenship for Falestinians married to Israeli-Arabs.
This happened because many of these married-to-an-Israeli-Arab Falestinians used their newfound Israeli legal status to carry out terror attacks against Jews.
Bennett & his buddies wanted to extend this helpful law.
Yet all the parties you'd think would approve this extension voted against this law—just for spite (although they included other reasons too):
- Likud (Netanyahu's party & considered right of center)
- Religious-Zionist party (or whatever they call themselves this year; headed by Smotrich)
- United Torah Judaism (Ashkenazi charedi)
- Shas (Sefardi charedi)
- Joint List (a bunch of Arab parties who got together under one brand because they're too pathetic to make it on their own)
Even a member of Bennett's own turncoat party—Yamina—voted against Bennet's extension.
Even more confusing, 2 members of the Arab party Ra'am voted for the bill (which you'd think is NOT in their best interests).
The Leftist secular Jewish parties voted for the bill (again, you'd think they wouldn't).
Out of the bunch, Joint List was one of the only voting honestly.
Mostly, Bennett-haters voted against their own interests just for spite—just to prevent him from passing a bill & to prevent any appearance of him holding real leadership.
It got even more confusing when I read quotes by other Knesset members, who saw the bill's extension as a way give Falestinians the right to citizenship "in installments" & reaching agreements with supporters of terrorism—criticism of which seems the opposite of what this Jew-friendly bill's extension seems to do.
So you see why I was confused.
I tried asking more politically savvy people, who clarified things somewhat, but at the same time, they also seemed a bit confused.
Everyone in the government is now operating out of spite & tug-of-war, rather than trying to actually govern the country.
In other words, we still don't have a government.
(UPDATE: Lest this gives the wrong impression, I never supported Bennett. The late Rav Ovadia Yosef ztz"l definitely had Bennett's number when Rav Ovadia quipped that Bennett's Jewish Home party was actually "a non-Jewish home.")
A Little Bit about Where I'm Coming From
But before I discuss the terms like "Tziyoni" and "Tziyonut," it's important for you to know I USED TO BE A ZIONIST. I WAS A SECULAR ZIONIST AND THEN I WAS A RELIGIOUS ZIONIST.
(I used ALL-CAPS here because sometimes people debate me on issues as if I'd been stuck in a bucket of frogs until now, and just recently emerged. So just wanted things to be clear.)
So please know that at one point, I was firmly in the Zionist camp, longed to serve in Sherut Leumi, joyfully davened Hallel on Yom Ha'Atzma'ut, and so on.
Also, I read Rav Kook.
So if I reject the whole Tziyoni thing, it's not because I just emerged from living within a bucket of frogs & don't understand.
It's because certain observations & research brought me to different conclusions.
Ironically, some people are very enthusiastic about Zionism and proclaim themselves Zionists, yet will never settle in Eretz Yisrael.
I've lived happily in Eretz Yisrael for over half my life.
I own a home here.
I produced children here.
I haven't been outside of Eretz Yisrael for even a visit (not even to Eilat!) for over 18 years.
Yet because I'm not politically Tziyoni, some people think I'm sludge.
They think they're much holier & far superior for living in Chicago as self-proclaimed Zionists and writing impassioned pro-Israel letters to editors & congresspersons, and donating money to Agudah L'maan Hachayal (the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers).
Okay. You can't please everybody.
But, in addition to showing us that we have no leader other than Hashem, I think events are also Hashem's way of showing us He wants us to look at who we really are and our reasons for living in Eretz Yisrael and how to best help ourselves.
What is Tziyonut & What Has Resulted from It?
Many have and are willing to act with the highest self-sacrifice on behalf of their fellow Jews.
It also must be acknowledged that there isn't much difference between Jews like me and the very religious Zionist Jews.
In such cases, the word Tziyoni becomes more semantics than anything else.
However, the terminology (as discussed here: a-look-at-mainstream-media-bias-how-it-affects-even-the-frum-media.html) proves a problem.
As also previously discussed, the idea of Tziyonut does not exist anywhere in traditional Jewish scholarship.
Tziyonut was only coined in 1890 by Nathan Birnbaum, who was a secular ethnocentrist at that time. (He did complete teshuvah later, baruch Hashem.) He promoted Jewish nationalism based on the Yiddish language and culture (which means...what exactly?).
By amputating the idea of Jewish Statehood from the actual mitzvah, bizarre and harmful phenomena developed.
One result is how my son shared a room on an IDF base with 2 Russian Christians wearing crosses, who also decorated their Israeli army room with shiny holiday tinsel and belted out carols ("We wish you a merry...!") during the month of December.
Did I make aliyah for my son to be surrounded by pagan decorations & caroling while serving in "the only Jewish army in the world"?
Do all the pro-aliyah Tziyoni proponents ever mention this type of phenomena?
(Yes, my son served in the Israeli army. I should really put that in ALL-CAPS too so that people don't do the whole dynamic of: "Oh, you must have recently emerged from inside a bucket of frogs, so let me explain to you that...")
But the Tziyoni Law of Return allows for the non-Jewish children of completely assimilated fathers & non-Jewish mothers to receive full citizenship in Israel—including the freedom to practice a religion that not only violates Eretz Yisrael, but also the 7 Laws of Noach (which insist on the belief of ONE God, not 3.)
As IDF-serving Tziyonim, these cross-wearing caroling Christian Edomites are considered a more vital & worthier part of Israeli society within Eretz Yisrael than my family, who learns Torah & keeps the mitzvot (including the ones unique to Eretz Yisrael, like terumot and maaserot), and generally upholds the Torah.
Because Eretz Yisrael is a Land that "vomits out her inhabitants" when those inhabitants don't toe the line, these cross-wearing caroling Christians with full Israeli citizenship—plus their embrace by Jews within society—actually ENDANGERS everyone living in Eretz Yisrael.
Yet because of Tziyonut, they are seen as advantageous & really cool, rather than disadvantageous & really destructive.
According to Tziyonut, THEY benefit society.
Me and my kind are simply parasites who do not "share the burden."
Irrational Values Proclaimed in the Knesset
Here's a Likud MK, who believes that an extension of the bill is merely a cover-up to facilitate later infiltration:
"My position is to vote against the bill and the anti-Zionist deal between Shaked and Abbas."
But to the currently more investigative me, it sounds bizarre.
Is that really the core problem—it's anti-Zionist?
What does that even mean in this context?
The reason for the bill (and the whole issue) is that terrorists use marriage to Israeli citizens to facilitate terror attacks against Jews. (Sometimes non-Jews end up as victims too, but the main target is Jews.)
What does that have to do with Zionism?
Meaning, if they wanted to use legal means to carry out terror attacks prior to Nathan Birnbaum's coinage in 1890, would it be okay then?
No. But that's what it implies.
How about this instead (i.e. what a normal person would say):
"We vote against any deal that opens loopholes for mass murder against Jews."
That's the real issue at stake.
It has nothing to do with nationalism—just morality.
Now here's Netanyahu:
“Bennett and Shaked say they have formed a ‘Zionist government,’ but they aren’t capable of passing such a simple law because they’re dependent on anti-Zionist entities that oppose Israel being a Jewish, democratic state.”
Just a Zionist one—a nationalist government.
Nationalist for whom?
Because, as a Zionist nationalist government, they've let in a tremendous amount of non-Jews who are hostile to Torah values (both Yishmaelim & Africans & non-Jewish Russian Edomites who played a massive role in Avigdor Lieberman's success with his anti-Torah Yisrael Beteinu party).
Intermarriage is a rising problem in Eretz Yisrael (something that both datim & charedim aren't paying much attention to, for some reason).
Intermarriage with Muslims has always been an issue in the modern State, but even worse is what's happening with the many thousands of non-Jewish Russians who assimilated into Israeli society & speak fluent Hebrew.
Living within Israeli culture & attending Israeli schools, they attain familiarity & comfort with Jewish holidays and customs, making them seem like any other secular Jew.
They are perfectly attractive to secular Jews, who do not know enough to care.
To marry a secular or tepidly religious Jew, these non-Jewish Russians can access compromised "conversion" programs without true commitment to Torah & mitzvot, which then provide them & their children the appearance of Jewishness without actual being Jewish.
(If you cannot see this as a disaster in the making, well then...hopefully, Mashiach will come long before this all explodes.)
These people will never vote in a way that truly benefits Jews, and they will always seek to turn Israeli society into something more comfortable for THEM—while being considered loyal to the Zionist ideal.
Intermarriage (and all the pritzadik behavior that precedes marriage among secular people) is one of the most destructive forces against the Jewish people.
It is all the more terrible within Eretz Yisrael, as has been shown throughout Tanach.
Hashem hates it.
This calamity is a DIRECT result of Tziyonut.
It could never have happened with Jews who care about fellow Jews & Judaism.
As for Netanyahu's slam on those who oppose a Jewish, democratic State—well, what's Jewish in the eyes of him and his followers?
Again, everyone who votes for the Leftist parties, the Arab parties, and Lieberman's party opposes a Jewish State.
Because if you're not in favor of halacha, then you're in favor of non-Jewish values.
And those values end up destroying the Jewish people.
Also, the whole democracy thing...it really is 2 wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner.
Without religious Jews exerting a lot of thoughtful advocacy behind the scenes, history shows that Jews always lose in a democracy.
It's weird to place such an emphasis on the Tziyoni aspect of the issue when it's about brutal terror against Jews in Eretz Yisrael.
Here's a statement from Likud:
“Bennett and Lapid wanted to buy two Ra’am votes in exchange for allowing thousands of Palestinians to enter, endangering Israel’s Zionist identity.”
Again, aren't we concerned about JEWISH LIVES?
What about JEWISH identity?
Why do the leaders of what's considered a Jewish State avoid talking about Jewishness and instead keeping falling back on a purely nationalist identity (Zionism)—which includes both assimilated Jews & non-Jews who uphold beliefs & behaviors that destroy the Jewish people?
Just being Zionist does NOTHING to preserve Jewish lives (including unborn Jewish lives)—as we've seen throughout the modern history of Medinat Yisrael.
(Don't even get me started on the State's early treatment of religious Jews & Sefardim, especially the Yemenite Jews, and the whole Yemenite Children Affair horror. Or the hellhole created by non-Jewish African migrants against poor Jews living in North Tel Aviv—all facilitated by secular Tziyonim.)
Some Examples of Why Defining Everything as Either "Tziyoni" or "Anti-Tziyoni" Creates Problems
It's not anti-Zionist to eat pork on Holy Land.
A Tziyoni does not even consider Eretz Yisrael as Holy Land because he views it from a purely nationalist perspective.
A religious-Zionist may view treif as a problem (though not all do because some bought into the whole nationalism & democracy idea), but that's because he is religious—meaning, it's about Judaism not Zionism, whether he realize it or not. (Many religious Zionists conflate the two.)
Another example: It's not anti-Zionist to watch illicit images on your computer.
However, it's a terribly destructive force that brings down harsh judgement.
Really, keeping our minds & eyes clean do the most to prevent terror attacks and other disasters within Eretz Yisrael.
That's the best defense.
The mandatory draft of teenage girls into the IDF is considered wonderfully Zionist.
These girls consider it their Zionist duty to serve (some very reluctantly, some enthusiastically).
This results in wanton behavior (including outright assault & harassment against vulnerable girls), which the IDF plasters over by providing free abortions to female soldiers.
A little-known fact about abortion is the deep ongoing trauma it causes to many women & girls who choose to abort, in addition to the destruction of an innocent life—and in the case of many female IDF soldiers? The destruction of a Jewish life.
Yet none of this is considered anti-Tziyoni, even though it's clearly destructive and anti-Jewish.
By placing the emphasis on "Zionist," it also facilitates an alliance with Christian-Zionists (some of whom are truly well-meaning), but the majority of whom do NOT have our best interests at heart and who, if they got their way, would destroy us spiritually and annihilate our entire eternity...all with the best of intentions.
Yet they're considered "kosher" and even really wonderful & beneficial solely because of the "Zionist" appellation.
Another problem this terminology created is the idea that a Jew can be anti-Torah and married to a non-Jew and completely living in sin, etc....but as long as he considers himself a Zionist, he's okay. He's a good Jew.
But he's not. He's a failed Jew on the path straight to Gehinnom. According to Rav Avigdor Miller, the Rambam doubts whether such a person is even from the seed of Yisrael.
(See here: Rav Avigdor Miller on Are You a Descendant of Avraham Avinu?)
So this leads to a lot of self-deception that harms uneducated Jews who might have otherwise done teshuvah.
In fact, the Tziyoni government does the opposite by hosting toeva parades on Holy Soil, and generally allowing all sorts of appalling lewdness within the boundaries of its territory.
This is all incredibly harmful—yet it's not anti-Tziyoni, so only the truly committed & knowledgeable Jews care.
Because of all this, the whole Tziyonut issue presents an obstacle to true teshuvah and to becoming the best Jew you can be.
It creates an imaginary issue when there's really no issue at all.
In other words, it gets people debating whether something is Zionist or anti-Zionist—when the debate should really be about whether it's moral, whether it's just.
Reaching Our Authentic Self
So please note: If you are a religious Jew anywhere in the world, you are doing VASTLY more for the Jewish people than any self-described Tziyoni.
If you are a religious Jew living in Eretz Yisrael for spiritual reasons, you are the only kind of person doing any good for the Jews in Eretz Yisrael.
All the people who transgress Shabbat in Eretz Yisrael, who intermarry, who eat treif, and so on—they are bringing terrible din over Am Yisrael.
This din is only mitigated by the truly religious Jews (or Jews who are at least on the path to true commitment—as discussed in an earlier post, it can take a while to get there when you first start out).
As far as fighting or preventing Jew-hatred, Chazal has always been clear this has to do with our actions & relationship to Torah, and not just a matter of physical location.
Meaning, creating a Tziyoni state does nothing to prevent & fight Jew-hatred (as we have seen).
Yes, many people thought it would.
Even many devotedly frum Jews initially thought it would (until after 1948, when they saw the terrible discrimination against religious Jews, particularly new Sefardi immigrants).
But it didn't and it doesn't.
Contrary to how many people will perceive this, my position is based on genuine concern for my fellow Jews.
This is all really about being real with ourselves and who we really are at the soul level.
- http://www.myrtlerising.com/blog/what-do-the-sephardi-gedolim-say-about-tziyonut-the-medinah-and-all-that (especially important to read the comments by R' Kash at the end)
- https://torasavigdor.org/our-response-to-anti-semitism/ (video)
- A Prayer to Make Aliyah & Live in Eretz Yisrael