Theological disagreement

There are legitimate, THEOLOGICAL disagreements with this orthodox doctrine. Some of those disagreements are found among Jews themselves. Probably the most unequivocal theological dissent was proclaimed in 1885 in a credal declaration issued by a group of Reform Jewish rabis in Pittsburgh, PA. Known as the Pittsburgh Platform, it stated:

We consider ourselves no longer a nation but a religious commmunity. And therefore expect neither a return to Palestine, nor a sacrificial worship under the administration of the sons of Aaron, nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning the Jewish state.

Anti-Zionism and opposition to a Zionist state has been, and is, therefore a legitimate position in Judaism. There were, and are, Jews who, far from incorporating political Zionism as a part of their faith, have regarded it as A MORAL IMPERATIVE to stand IN OPPOSITION. It would be less than candid to leave the implication that the demonstrable existence of this anti-Zionist tradition implies indifference to the fate of humans no comprising the majority population of the Israeli state. Historically, the general perception of the YISHUV (the Jewish population of Palestine at any given time) was one of "refuge" from the oppressive societies of EAstern and Central Europe and later, of course, in an intensified version after the rise of Hitler.

This remains the DOMINANT IMAGE among the majority of western European and American Jews. Most do not belong to any Zionist organization. Most would accept the description of "non-Zionist", however vague this term is to the point of meaninglessness. They have also sometimes been called "philanthropic Zionists". On the whole, THEY ARE SADLY UNINFORMED, or misinformed, about the specifics of the political issues of the Palestine problem. "Arab" information, by and large,has been both inadequate and inept. Responsible anti-Zionist information by Americans (or western Europeans) has been plagued by lack of resources and consistently overshadowed by heavily financed and expertly designed Zionist propaganda (AIPAC). Lacking effective presentation of their own official positions, Arabs have been victimized by Zionism's representation of them in the WORST POSSIBLE STEREOTYPES of their humanity and aspirations.(3)

The PLO is "dedicated to terrorism for the stake of terror.

" The Arab states are determined "to drive the Jews into the sea.

" Israel's obstructionist policies in every effort to attain a peace are always reasonable precautions for Israel's "security".

Even this abbreviated delineation of this most prevalent attitude among Jews suggests that none of these positions should be invested with the SANCTITY OF REIGIOUS DOCTRINE. They are defensive positions.

They react to the real or Zionist fabricated threats to what is now a significant number of Jews whose existence ina part of Palestine is a fact of history and of REALPOLITIK. "Philanthropic Zionists" do not perceive any Arab resistance to Zionism as a threat to THEIR legitimate rights. For the most part, these Jews do not fully comprehend the signficance of the Zionist state's gratuitous, legislative grant TO THEM of Zionist national/political rights and obligations. Where even a partial comprehension exists these Jews reject the grant, once they understand it as a form of "dual nationality" fused into their Judaism.

Clarification of these matters is important so tht knowledgeable and responsible critics of past and present policies of the Zionist state may feel free to speak their judgments, uninhibited by the Zionist nourished misrepresentation acusing such critics of attacking legitimate rights of Jews or derogting some authentic sacrament of Judaism.

Free, informed and civil debate of the political issues will be as helpful to these "philanthropic" Jews as to the rest of the world now acutely concerned with Middle East peace. In fact, since Jews have been more directly the targets of zionist propaganda and therefore, after the Palestinians themselves, the greatest victims, releasing constructive critics of destructive Israeli politics from any sense that they are contributing "anti-semitic" injry to Jews may be more helpful to these Jews than to others. Such a release from a sense of guilt could recruit new, informed, responsible participants in the expanding public debate about Palestine and Middle East peace. New participants wuld accelerate clarification of the secifics of the political issues, providing guidance for and imact upon wider audiences, kncluding many of these "non-Zionist" "philanthropic" Jews. This, in turn, would inevitably influence politicians and decision makers of the "great powers" who so heavily influence policy. And these, in turn, might then be relieved of the hobgoblin of the Zionist-concocted myth of a "Jewish People" holding one-dimensional, homogeneous political views and prepared to operate as a blackmailing political lobby (AIPAC).

A sequence of such developments would provide the otimum of freedom for the inevitable and expanding political debate over resolution of the Middle East's(M.E.) oldest and so far most intractable problem. And such free debate is also the minimal necessity for most of the political leaders of the West who are more often followers of unreliable public opinion polls and submissive servants of the loudest, special pleders than genuinely creative leaders. This brief exploration of religious motivations, and of the doctrine of messianic Zion would be incomplete without mention of the "fundamentalists" or "biblical literalists" of various denominations of Christianity. These Christians also consider the "return of the Jews" to the Holy Land to be a divinely ordained ingredient of the milllennium. They are among the most formidable advocates and defenders of the policies of the Zionist state.

In the U.S., individuals such as Billy Graham, equating the establishment of the Zionist state with the fulmillment of Old Testament prophecy has been a political factor of considerable consequence. (see the writings of the Christian Coalition, the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, The Promise Keepers etc. all of which were established subsequent to this essay of Dr. Berger- Bill). (When) Jerry Falwell issued the demeaning statement "God does not hear the prayers of the Jews", not being daunted by his arrogant effrontery, the Zionist Organization of America ever alert for poltical advantage, invited him to be an HONORED guest at a banquet being held for Menachim Begin. (Note that more recently Rabbi Daniel Lapin and his alter ego the movie critic Michael Medved have been jewish shills for the Christian Coalition. Rabbi Lapin has been one of the keynote speakers at the last few "Road to Victory" celebrations.) There are, of course, theological differences separating these fundamentalist Christians from the messianism of some traditionalist Jews.

(Rabbi Berger goes into an involved analysis of these distinctions). Leaving aside these speculations in theological imponderables, however, the fact is that the messianists and the millennialists, both Christian and Jewish, operate with their own expertise in the field of REIGION. Their debate and dialogue are legtimate in the context of theology. They both address imponderables of life usually regarded as the prerogtives of religion: questions of God's will, of man's spiritual aspirations and the criteria for ultimate truth. THESE ARE NOT QUESTIONS TO BE RESOLVED BY BOUNDARY ADJUSTMENTS, SUPERIOR ARMAMENTS OR THE ELCTION OF ONE KIND OF HUMAN SOVEREIGNTY OVER ANOTHER. Genuinely religious men and women may invoke God's guidance to assist in finding the closest humn approximation of justice or truth in resolving these mundane matters. And the earnest, agonizing efforts of men of real integrity to find the best, possible human formula for such problems may be ennobling examples of humanstriving to do God's will. But neither the mortal players nor the rsults shuld be cavalierly equated with THE DIVINE PLAN. To attempt to proscribe the struggle, the debates which accompany human efforts to reach the greatest possible justice and the nearest approach to truth in answer to these earthly problems by having some mortal ASSERT HE OR SHE HAS THE AUTHORITY TO SEAL ANY ONE, HUMAN DSIGN WITH THE INSIGNIA OF GOD IS ARROGANCE IN THE SUPERLATIVE DEGREE AND A PROFANATION OF ANY OF MANKIND'S GREAT RELIGIONS. Any who attempt to foreclose debate of such political questions by claiming DIVINE SANCTION for THEIR particular answers do, indeed "take the name of the Lord in vain." Mindful of these religious/theological committments of both SOME Christians and SOME Jews, and distinguishing between these matters of religion and the substantive, political issues of territory and political rights which comprise "the Palestine Problem", students of andcommentators on international affairs, may even have a moral responsibility to speak their minds on the merits of the cases of the seral parties to the conflict. An additional caveat is for the commentary to be buttressed by ascertainable facts. Then, partisanship is not only permissible; it, too, becomes a moral responsibility with respect to each facet of the complex problem. It is in this spirit , hoping to contribute to the free atmosphere congenial to democratic debate and dialogue that the following analysis of the role of Zionist ideology as an OBSTACLE TO PEACE is offered.

The fact that, from the very beginning of international recognition of the territorial/political claims of Zionism it was considered essential to establish safeguards for the rights of indigenous Palestinians and anti-zionist Jeews in countries other than Palestine (see the text of the Balfour Declaration), is self-evident proof of the potential of zionism for political and territorial aggression. The Balfour Declaration offered the British Government's "favour" for "a national home for the Jewish people." The extent of the "favour" was specifically restricted by the provision:

It being clearly undertood tht nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and relligius rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine (which at the time in 1917 was 90% of the population - Bill), or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

When Sir Mark Sykes first shwed the text of the Declaration to Chaim Weizmann, he said anticipating Weizmann's elation. "It's a boy". But Weizmann later recorded inhis autobiography, "Well, I did not like the boy at first, he was not the one I expected."(4)

The disappointment can be explained only by the restrictions placed upon Zionism. The stipulated protection of the rights of the "non-Jewish communities" meant a dilution of Zionism's aspirations for a "Jewish state"; and the safeguard for the "rights and political status" of Jews in countries other than Palestine diluted the zionist assertion that ALL Jews shared a common NATIONAL identity. The negotiating history of the Balfour Declaration and the final textboth testify to the historic fact that the British government, anti-zionist Jews and advocates of the rights of the Palestinians all recognized the threat inherent in Zionism's ideology to the rights of the natives, as well as the threat to Jews, in any country, who rejected zionism's claim tht identification as a Jew automatically included acquisition of whatever Zionist political/national rights and obligations might follow recognition of the Zionist Organizationas party to an international political agreement. If demollition of the WZO had accoompanied the Declaration of the state's establishment in 1948, the threats of further aggression against the rights of native Palestinians and Jewish citizens of ountries other than Palestine might, probably would, have been liquidated.

Native Palestinian Christians and Moslems would still have objected to the partition of their country. But the demographic mix of "The Jewish State" proposed in the 1947 UN recommendation would have included so significant an Arab minority that the Zionist ideologists who took over the government wuld hve been unable, in a democratic society, to structure a state so uninhibitedly Zionist/"Jewish" nationalist as the present state of Israel. And without the lolal Zionist groups operating within the discipines of the WZO in countries with large populations of Jews, there would have been no apparatus making demands upon non-Palestinian or non Israeli Jews which compromised their "rights and political status." But the Zionist movement was NOT demolished. On the contrary, its status, privileges and responsibilites were reinforced and increased. According to Article 4 of the Mandate, the activities of the Zionist Organization were "subject always to the control of the British Administration." But the Mandate was terminated in May of 1948. The termination ENDED ANY JURIDICAL RECOGNITION OF AN INTERNATIONAL STATUS FOR THE WZO. It had no "charter" legitimizing its operations in countries other than Israel and it had no status or designated rogram within the newly-declared Israeli stte. It was in other words, in limbo.