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Save Ourselves From Ourselves

Netanyahu and his ministers photo by Yosi Zamir
Netanyahu and his ministers. Photo by Yosi Zamir

Anybody who has eyes in their heads can see that the Religious Zionism has lost its way and its moral base - a disintegrating ideological movement. Smotrich and Ben-Gvir completed the takeover and are dragging the entire political system down with them. All the other parts of Israeli society must reach agreement - at the expense of the extremists.

An expression of sorrow

I am very sorry about what happened on Yom Kippur 2023. I am sorry that people from the community to which I belong, who consider themselves liberal, were unable to contain the Jewish Head’s provocation and respect Yom Kippur’s holiness. I am sorry for the insult and offense caused to worshippers who had to leave the premises and pray elsewhere. I am sorry for that, regardless of Tel Aviv municipality's instructions and the court ruling that were violated, the partitions that were put in place, or my strong opposition to any exclusion of women.

I am liberal-secular by choice, which is precisely why I respect my religious brothers and Yom Kippur’s special holiness, and hence my personal position is that whoever was there should have contained the provocation - at least for the duration of Yom Kippur.

And yet - what do I think about the Religious Zionist missionary organizations?

After expressing my deep and sincere sorrow for what happened on Yom Kippur, I would like to express my opinion about those front missionary organizations supported by the Religious Zionist list. Those who come to grant us the light of the Torah, the correction we need, the answer, and thereby bring Messianic redemption closer. It is important that we understand that they do not carry any light, but mostly darkness, hypocrisy, and extreme Messianism that have been disintegrating the “Religious Zionism” for many years.

The Religious Zionist list was put together by Bezalel Smotrich, the supporter of Jewish supremacy, Kahanist Itamar Ben-Gvir, the dark Orit Strock, and Thauist Avi Maoz. This happened solely thanks to the very active support of the accused Netanyahu, who feared losing mandates to the opposite camp. Such a list should not have had a moral right to exist in a Jewish-democratic state, period. Because this is a list that promotes anti-Zionist values such as racism, Jewish supremacy, condescending treatment of seculars as an "empty cart" and "the messiah's donkey”. This is a list whose members

encourage Jewish progromists who set Palestinian homes on fire, call for the erasure of Palestinian villages, or organize public support for a despicable Jewish terrorist who burned a pair of Palestinian parents and their baby in their sleep.

Do these represent the light of Judaism? Are these or their emissaries in Tel Aviv and other places the people who will correct us and bring us back to repentance for their crooked and morally flawed Judaism? Unfortunately, there are innocent and weak people who fall into their net, but anyone with eyes in their head knows that they are the representatives of an ideological movement that has lost its way and its moral basis, a movement that is increasingly disintegrating.

Why is the Religious Zionist disintegrating?

In 2015 I wrote a post that was published in the press and caused a stir. I will present his main points here...:

"The Religious Zionism is still not the majority in the State of Greater Israel, but as a very significant elite it was able to make a decisive contribution to the establishment, de facto of course, of the "State of Judea" , and it is on its way to try and take over (democratically) the State of Israel. This is, without a doubt, a victory for the Religious Zionist ideology - but it is a Pyrrhic victory, a tragic victory. This is because the Religious Zionism gave birth to the seeds of calamity that will destroy it. It gave birth to the phenomenon of extreme religious nationalism, which gave birth alongside it as a right-wing competitor to the phenomenon of extreme Jewish Messianism, which gave birth to the anti-state, extreme and violent “Noar haGvaot" phenomenon, which advocates the "revolutionary" values of Jewish supremacy (yes, Jewish supremacy), of the Halacha state, of terrorism, of hatred of the other, of racism. Today even the rabbis who gave birth to these delusional ideologies have become moderate and too soft in the eyes of some of their flock. It gave birth to the value of the "sanctity of the land" and practically placed it before the "sanctity of the people" and its unity, and in the absence of unity - we will not have existence.

I know that there is nothing more dangerous to the existence of the people of Israel than extremism, separatism and hatred. Anyone who wants is welcome to look through the history books of the Jewish people again. What makes everything I have described here a doubly serious problem is the fact that "the two states for the two Jewish peoples" is being realized within the emerging and growing “bi-national state," where it is no longer possible to separate the Jews from the Palestinians.

Whoever thinks that an official announcement of this situation is expected is wrong. It is a slow but consistent process that takes place each and every day. It is very difficult

to notice until it accumulates a "critical mass", but it changes reality irreversibly. When you wake up, it may be too late."

I already thought so eight years ago and since then the process has gained critical mass. The extreme margins led by Smotrich and Ben Gvir have completed the takeover of the Religious Zionism and, together with Netanyahu, are dragging the people of Israel and the State of Israel to destruction. Take the current reality eight years forward, and you will understand where we are headed if we do not turn the Jewish-democratic spirit in the spirit of the values of the Declaration of Independence of the protest into an effective work plan to stop this destructive trend.

Who is really using violence?

Members of Knesset and ministers of the Religious Zionist list, along with several other hate mongers in the horror coalition, consistently accusing the protestors, "violent anarchists”, as those who violently attack policemen, coalition representatives, or Jewish worshippers, and of course have the support of the national inciter Benjamin Netanyahu.

In general, the 2023 protest is not a violent protest. There were very few cases where there was violence, and they also had no justification in my eyes. However, speaking of violence, it can be established without a shadow of a doubt that historically, terrorists have never emerged from the liberal and left-wing camp in the State of Israel and no bloodshed has ever been caused.

On the other hand, from among the extreme right, and especially from among the Religious Zionism in its various streams, over the years there have been extremely severe cases of violence and terrorism directed against Palestinians and against Israeli citizens, Arabs and Jews.

A partial list, for those who don't know: the Jewish underground, an anti-terrorist organization, the Revenge Patrol, the Bat Ayin underground who tried to place an explosive cart near a girls' school in A-Tur, the murderer Jack Teitel, the murderer Asher Weisgen who murdered four Palestinian workers, the murderer Gur Hamel, The murderer Nahshon Wells, the murderer Uriel Davidi, the murderer Eden Natan-Zada who murdered four passengers on a bus in Shafram, the murderer Baruch Goldstein, in whose honor a park was built in Kiryat Arba after he murdered 29 Muslim worshipers in the Cave of the Patriarchs and wounded another 125, the murderer Amiram Ben Uliel

who burned to death the Dawabshe couple and their baby, Yigal Amir, the murderer of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the murderers of the boy Mohammad Abu Khdeir who burned him alive, and more.

This partial but horrific list is further evidence of the loss of the way and the loss of the moral base of those who are trying to carry out a regime coup and at the same time are also trying to correct us. However, happily, there is also a glimmer of light at the end of this dark tunnel.

The light that can drive away the darkness

In the last few months, I joined The Shared Story initiative. Together with secular friends from the protest we are talking with wonderful people, lovers of the people and the land from the mainstream Religious Zionism. It is not an easy dialogue at all, it is full of mutual fears and emotions, but it is only possible due to the agreement formulated by the founders of The Shared Story:

We are a diverse group of people who have differences among us, looking at the burning house, joining together and looking for ways to promote reconciliation, fraternal relations, trust and a shared sense of responsibility in Israeli society - for the sake of establishing Israel as a Jewish-democratic state that respects all its citizens, based on the values of the Declaration of Independence, and out of an aspiration for as broad an agreement as possible on crucial issues.

We mobilize all the power of our influence in order to lead change in three channels:

  1. Promoting brotherhood between all parts of Israeli society.

  2. Defining the common values, the preservation of which will allow us all to feel at home here.

  3. Promoting norms of conduct that will respect us and be an example for our children.

After the division, hatred and polarization of the last few years, the ability to reach such an important agreement that is the basis of this dialogue between secular and religious, between right, center and left, has an extraordinary meaning in my eyes. After all, it is not by chance that we are together on this piece of land, and this dialogue sharpens the fact that, despite the politicians' polarizing hate talk, there is still much in common over the division. And this commonality is what is the most important basis for the beginning of the healing of Israeli society.

There is no easy way to generate hope, except through your feet. Step by step we will destroy the dark tunnel that has been built around us, and we will walk together towards the light that shimmers at the end, towards the hope that we can still save ourselves, from ourselves.


Yuval Diskin is a former head of Israel Security Agency (Shabak). Contributed by Yuval Diskin to USA for Israeli Democracy


April 28, 2024

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