THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 24, 2007
Jewish history throughout the ages has proven incontrovertibly that Zionism, the assertion of Jewish rights and control over the Land of Israel and the affirmation of Jewish national identity, is the solution to most of the problems that have beset the Jews since the time of Abraham. In the Land of Israel, as a nation of free men and women willing and able to assert and defend ourselves, the Jewish people flourish on every level.
Disturbingly, with each passing day it becomes more and more obvious that the Olmert government does not believe that Zionism is important. To the contrary, both in its domestic and foreign policies, the Olmert government consistently advances anti-Zionist, or post-Zionist policies, that unsurprisingly increase the dangers to the Jewish State and to the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora.
Zionism is built on four foundations: education, aliya, the Land of Israel, and national defense. As we saw in the war last summer and in the government's abject failure to contend with any of our enemies since, the Olmert government's policies directly undercut Israel's national security.
On Sunday it was reported that Education Minister Yuli Tamir approved a new social studies textbook for third grade Israeli Arabs. The textbook teaches children that the Jewish right to sovereignty in our land is not the truth, but just one among various competing "narratives." The textbook tells the children that while for the Jews the 1948 War of Independence - in which the infant State of Israel beat back five invading Arab armies bent on murdering all Jews in the Land of Israel, and so secured their independence - is a good thing, for the Arabs it was the "Nakba," or the catastrophe.
AS OPPOSITION leader Binyamin Netanyahu pointed out in an interview on Israeli Radio Monday morning, Tamir's view is both morally and intellectually indefensible. The history of the War of Independence that is taught in Israel's schools is not a narrative. It is the truth. And the history of the War of Independence that is taught in the Palestinian Authority and throughout the Arab world, which claims that the Jews started the war, expelled the Arabs from their homes and stole their lands is a lie.
Netanyahu also noted that throughout Jewish history, violence against Jews has always been preceded by the dissemination of libels against the Jews. And here is the Education Ministry of the State of Israel actively working to propagate those lies.
Tamir was one of the founding members of the post-Zionist Peace Now movement. Over the past decade she has repeatedly argued that Israel's school system is too nationalist and should make room for the Arab "narrative." Two months ago she allowed an Arab-Jewish school in Jerusalem to both celebrate Independence Day and commemorate the "catastrophe" of the establishment of the Jewish State.
Through her actions and statements, Tamir has marked herself as a radical leftist and is considered the leftist fringe of the Olmert government. Unfortunately, her assault on Zionism is far from unique.
OLMERT AND his colleagues claim that their desire to surrender Judea, Samaria and parts of Jerusalem to the Palestinians is based on their desire to ensure that Jews continue to be the majority of Israel's citizens. The government's contention that Israel's Jewish majority is endangered by the Arabs of Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem is at best debatable.
But what is inarguable is that aliya, or Jewish immigration to the State of Israel, is the main guarantor of Israel's Jewish majority. And yet, while loudly proclaiming its commitment to maintaining that majority, the Olmert government is actively undercutting efforts to encourage Diaspora Jewry to make their home in the Jewish state.
In a recent interview with Yediot Aharonot, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit laid down the gauntlet against aliya. Sheetrit claimed that Jews should only be granted citizenship "on the condition that they see themselves and their children as partners here in the future."
As far as Sheetrit is concerned, Israel should stop reaching out to Jews and encouraging them to make their homes in Israel. "We don't have to pressure Jews to make aliya. Jews who want to come can turn to Israeli representatives [abroad]."
He added that the Law of Return, which confers automatic citizenship on every Jew should be revised. Jews should be forced to pass citizenship tests as a means to ensure that they are worthy of citizenship. As he put it, "The State of Israel and the Minister of Interior need to assess how to ensure that a person coming into the country is a positive person."
This is not Sheetrit's first assault against Jewish immigration. In the 1990s, he repeatedly stated that he objects to unlimited aliya of American Jewry. Sheetrit argued that American Jews are too nationalistic and therefore, their citizenship should be conditioned on their willingness to abide by the government's peace policies.
Sheetrit has a major ally in his offensive against North American aliya in the Jewish Agency. Until recently, the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency was the only organization engaged in bringing Diaspora Jewry to Israel. In the absence of competition, and with the waning of institutional support for Zionism with the onset of the Oslo peace process, the Jewish Agency has done little to nothing to encourage aliya from Western countries. Indeed, Jewish agency representatives have often discouraged Jews from making aliya.
This should come as no surprise from an agency that happily operated under the leadership of Avrum Burg in the 1990s. Burg, an anti-Zionist, recently authored a memoir in which he compares Israel and Zionism to Nazi Germany.
GIVEN THE Jewish Agency's refusal to take any concerted action to encourage aliya from North America, it is not surprising that throughout the 1990s, when Israel's economy was growing at breakneck pace due to the technology revolution, North American aliya dropped to all time lows.
All of this changed in 2000 when private donors got together to address the issue of aliya from a Zionist vantage point. Nefesh b'Nefesh, a private charitable organization stepped into the vacuum that the Jewish Agency created. It began actively encouraging North American Jews to make aliya. The results have been dramatic. Since 2000, aliya rates from North America have risen 90 percent.
Last week, the Jewish Agency decided it has had enough of Nefesh b'Nefesh and set out to destroy the organization. It cancelled its cooperation agreement with Nefesh b'Nefesh claiming falsely that the group only recruits Orthodox Jews. It then turned to the organization's backers in Jewish Federations and warned them - again falsely - that Nefesh b'Nefesh is abusing its tax exempt charitable status and that funding the group could cause legal difficulties for Federations.
SO BETWEEN the Jewish Agency and the Olmert government, official Israel is going to war against aliya. Again, this from the same government that insists its desire to endanger all major population centers in the country by surrendering Israel's heartland to Hamas, is motivated by its commitment to ensuring Israel's Jewish majority.
And then there is the Land of Israel itself. The heart and soul of the Land of Israel is Zion, the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site, and arguably the most important site in Western civilization, is being systematically destroyed by the Muslims.
This month the Islamic Wakf which controls the Temple Mount restarted their illegal destruction of the sacred site by digging a meter-deep, 80 meter long trench from the northern to the southern end of the Temple Mount. The destruction is being carried out with no archaeological supervision. As a result, as has been the case since the Muslim authorities began their systematic destruction of the Temple Mount 10 years ago with the illegal construction of the mosque at Solomon's Stables, the Wakf is destroying both the holy site, and the archaeological heritage of the Jewish people specifically and of Western civilization as a whole.
And the Wakf is carrying out this cultural destruction with the full backing of the Olmert government. The Olmert government not only gave its approval to the destruction. Operating in accordance with the government's policy, the Israel Police prohibits irate archaeologists from even bending down when they visit the scene of the crime, lest they manage to pick up some of the artifact-rich earth being carted away and destroyed. That is, the Olmert government is actively facilitating the destruction of the cultural, religious and physical heritage on which Jewish identity and through it, Zionism is founded.
TODAY IS Tisha Be'av, the most devastating day in Jewish history. It is the day on which both the First and the Second Temples were destroyed. As Jews in Israel and throughout the world fast and mourn the destruction of our Temples and the loss of our freedom in times past, it is deeply disturbing that we are today being led by a government that is actively working to destroy our future as well.