Thursday, September 2, 2010

Zionism and Democracy

However much one believes in God or a spiritual life, once God gets into politics, trouble begins. Put another way, politics requires the language of empiricism and verifiability. Locke and Hobbes, who provide the philosophical bulwark for democracy, were empiricists. German metaphysics and idealist philosophy, culminating in Heidegger’s dasein, or “being there,” is great if you’re a phenomenologist, but Heidegger’s search for an unverifiable condition of ultimate truth might have led to his supporting Hitler. In a recent Times Op Ed piece, Gadi Taub, a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, similarly differentiates between “the secular Zionist dream”—which “was fundamentally democratic” and followed from the ideals of Herzl and Ben Gurion—and the writings of Abraham Isaac Kook, chief rabbi of Palestine under the British Mandate, and his son Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook (“In Israel, Settling for Less,” 8/30/10). Zvi Yehuda Kook “focused his father’s theological ideas around a single commandment: to settle all the land promised to the ancient Hebrews in the Bible.”  “His disciples,” Taub explains, “energized by a burning messianic fervor, took Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War of 1967 as confirmation of this theology and set out to fulfill its commandment.” God would triumph over the ideals of democratic Zionism. The net result of the divine message is a quagmire. While Arabs, according to Taub, account for about one fifth of “Israel proper,” restoration of the biblical kingdom would eventually leave Jews outnumbered. “Israel would have to choose between remaining democratic but not Jewish, or remaining Jewish by becoming non-democratic. Israel’s enemies have long maintained that Zionism is racism and that Israel is an apartheid state. If the settlers succeed, they will turn this lie into a truth.” Taub’s Op Ed piece articulates the central quandaries of modern Zionism while also providing a brilliant argument for the necessity of a two-state solution. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.