Tuesday, June 01, 2010

What is a Jewish state?

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 6/1/10

My recent “Pundit’s Blog” essays on Moshe Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) as a rising political phenomenon in Israel have brought much interesting mail and commentary. To the neurosis that has crippled forward progress in an Americanized Israel at least since 1993, highlighted now by the Gaza incident, a singular soldier with a moral compass like Feiglin’s brings clarity. He calls for Israel to be a religious state; “a Jewish state” instead of “a state for Jews.”

A writer in the on-line “World of Judaica,” citing one of my blog essays, wrote, “The Jewish people are moving from a collective consciousness of ‘we must be accepted by the nations,’ to ‘we are actually separate from the nations.’ This is already happening, slowly, but the tipping point will be reached soon, and when it does, I predict an avalanche of Jewish national catharsis will be released in a huge wave.”

Commentator “Kat” says of my last week’s essay titled, “Israel as a Jewish State”: “No state should be a religious state. The very concept is absurd.”

But I received a letter from Maury in New York who writes:
“Kat and others who assume that Judaism is simply a religious belief and its practices are making a huge mistake. Judaism, besides being a religion, is a philosophy and a way of life which formed and have sustained the Jewish People for over 3000 years.

“I think the analogy with England as a Protestant state is not a correct one. Judaism, in the sense of an ethno-religious culture, is the national religion for all Jews. Israel, to survive, must maintain its own unique culture (Jewish), just as the English and the French have theirs.

“The majority of Israel's Jewish population identify themselves first and foremost as Jews. Manhigut Yehudit's advocacy for a "Jewish state" simply reflects this traditional perspective. We are talking about policies like Jewish education that will ensure Israel remains a Jewish state; like unbiased media that reflect Jewish values and morals; like a fair justice system based on Jewish values; like making empowerment of the traditional family a national priority; like decentralizing government and strengthening the private economy; like more liberty for citizens; like encouraging community responsibility for the welfare of its residents and individual responsibility of one Jew for another; and fighting evil instead of compromising with it.

“We are advocating for principles -- rooted in the Biblical representation of responsibility, kindness, and goodness -- that have guided the progress of Western civilizations, including the U.S., for millennia. If the State of Israel will return proudly to its Jewish roots, it can and will be what the Prophets called a Light to the Nations. The Jewish People want this and the world needs and deserves it.”

This is my thought: In the 1800s when my family was still in Ireland, the Irish, the Catholic Church and the earth were one. There are many good things about being an American – Randy Moss, the iPad, “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” Red Neck Lawn Mower Racing – but that sanga has been broken here. I am not sure people can survive without it or if it is worth surviving without it. So the bringing together of Temple, Jews and earth again as one in Israel, is most auspicious, if not miraculous.