Why Religious Zionism Failed

What 39 years of Religious Zionist focusing on the Land of Israel rather than the People of Israel can do. The Jerusalem Post reports:

After being awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for poetry, Jerusalem poet Eliaz Cohen began a tour of Israel’s schools.

At first, he is reluctant to tell his story. He finally agrees, but still refuses to say where the incident happened, saying only that it was a “very ‘Zionist,’ and elite high school, with a very good, well-educated and dedicated teacher, who was as sad and horrified as I was.” Cohen was lecturing on his poetry, which he describes as ” Jewish in its perspective and connotations.” He alludes to a test of sorts, which he presented to the unknowing high-school students. He read them some of his latest poems…

He then asked the students what they understood from the text. Not one of them understood the metaphors or the cultural-social motives and context.

“I felt awful,” he recalls. “These were good kids, well-educated, with high marks, from good ‘Israeli’ and ‘Zionist’ families, and not one of them understood. I was very close to some kind of despair – issues like those mentioned in the poem didn’t mean anything to those kids. Nothing. No memories, no recall from the past – let alone from the present. As if anything Jewish had been wiped out from their brains.”…

This is the failure of Gush Emunim, Rabbi Kahana-Shapira, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook and so many more.

The land brought no security. It brought no peace. It did not bring the messiah. But preoccupation with it brought you millions of young Israeli Jews ignorant of their history and estranged from their heritage.

Rabbis, look what you have done to your people.



Filed under History, Israel, Jewish Leadership, Modern Orthodoxy

2 responses to “Why Religious Zionism Failed

  1. Paul Freedman

    If A fails to achieve a goal we cannot infer that -A, its negation, would achieve a goal either. President Katsav, for example, has not displayed an undue emphasis on the Land of Israel nor is his office, his status, his self-image, predicated on theocentric chauvenism.

    Not to mention that a poet kvetching that a group of students couldn’t decode the matphorical matrix of his own poetic output may not be proof of anything. Maybe his poetry sucks.

  2. Paul Freedman

    I mean, presumably these kids, as opaque as they were to the genius of Mr. Cohen’s “connotations” and deaf as they might have been to the alliteratively mimetic presentation of his “cultural-social motives and context” know at least a little something of Tanach and Mishnah and this and that, no?

    recommended non Gush reading of Israel’s crises of identity:


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