Uri Misgav’s piece in Haaretz last Thursday deserves to be quoted here in full. I took the liberty of highlighting a few passages.
Will the real post-Zionists stand up?
In the future, those who are spearheading and perpetuating the occupation and the settlement enterprise will be seen as responsible for the destruction of Zionism. The religious Zionist settlers have taken this mission upon themselves.
By Uri Misgav | May.30, 2013
WASHINGTON – I get jealous visiting the National Museum of American History for a couple of reasons. First, because of the very existence of such a spectacular museum, which is fully funded by the state and doesn’t charge an entry fee. Second, because of the sense of recognition that permeates the exhibits here. The good have won. The museum bravely displays a turbulent, violent, polarizing and controversial history. It covers the rejection of foreign rule, the birth of a nation, the massacre of Native Americans, slavery, civil war, imperialism, world wars, the atom bomb, the Cold War, racial segregation, and unnecessary conquests in Asia and the Middle East. But at the end of the day, the fundamental values of democracy, freedom and equality prevail. There is plenty more room for improvement, but it seems as if the general direction of history is a positive one.
What direction is Israel going in? It was promising at the outset. The Zionist project was a success story, if not a miracle. The real question is whether it has an expiry date.
What will bring the Zionist project to an end is the occupation and the settlement enterprise. This subject may not trouble the average Israeli, but it signifies the downfall of Zionism. The goal of Zionism was to create a national home for the Jewish people within secure, recognized borders. But this goal cannot be achieved as long as the occupation continues and the settlement enterprise exists.
In the future, those who are spearheading and perpetuating the occupation and the settlement enterprise will be seen as responsible for the destruction of Zionism. The religious Zionist settlers have taken this mission upon themselves. Over the last few years it has become apparent that they are the surprise political winners. They haven’t succeeded in inhabiting the hearts of the people, but they have managed to inhabit the land and the hearts of the ruling establishment. A small and determined vanguard has managed to impose its principles and desires upon a silent, confused and paralyzed majority.
But however brilliant this victory may be, it marks the end of Zionism. The religious settlers and the supporters of the settlers are the real post-Zionists.
The last elections finally proved just how strong a grip these post-Zionists have on Israeli politics. Not one party has dared to stand up to them, from the right-wing parties to Hatnuah and Meretz. The Labor Party, headed by Shelly Yacimovich, tried to suck up to and ingratiate itself with them. Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid formed with a pact with the “Jewish brothers.” The post-Zionist settlers took over Likud long ago. Avigdor Lieberman and a few others from Yisrael Beiteinu are settlers themselves. The ultra-Orthodox aren’t interested in Zionism, and their disputes with the religious settlers are limited to power struggles for control of the religious establishment.
The farcical extension of the hesder yeshivot program, which allows religious soldiers to combine yeshiva study with military service, proved who really wears the pants – and who shouldn’t be messed with when it comes to the “new politics” and “the universal draft.” All the post-Zionist rabbis had to do was blink and the establishment gave in. In their usual manner, they even suggested a “compromise”: the hesder yeshiva service would be extended to 17 instead of 16 months. Of course, the girls will continue to be fully exempt.
Meanwhile, many from this stream will continue to enlist, and to do the full service and volunteer for leadership roles. This will preserve the post-Zionist grip over the Israel Defense Forces and also physically prevent the settlement enterprise from being dismantled.
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared: “I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” Exactly one hundred years later, Martin Luther King, Jr. led masses of white and black Americans in a freedom march on Washington. Both men have been properly commemorated in the history books, as well as in the museum in Washington.
The occupation and the settlement enterprise are not only wrong – they are a historic wrong. But we don’t have Lincoln, nor do we have Martin Luther King. The post-Zionist victory is well on its way to making the Zionist enterprise a short chapter of history.