Search in Radio Bergen
FREEMAN CENTER FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES
P.O. Box 35661 * Houston, Texas 77235-5661
FREEMAN CENTER BROADCAST -- May 30, 1999
FOR TRUTH AND ZIONISM
by Boris Shusteff
It is not the first time that Zionism is losing its appeal. In 1931 in his speech to the Seventeenth Zionist Congress Zeev Zhabotinsky said:
"Zionism has lost its magic dominion over the souls of Jews. There is a danger that the pure Zionist pathos and the pure Zionist enthusiasm will evaporate. It is the demand of the hour that we proclaim that the aim of Zionism is in fact the solution of the Jewish problem and the creation of what is called a "Jewish State.'"
If one imagines the Jewish state as a living organism, Zionism is the blood circulating inside it. The weakening of Zionist ideals is, in this way, equivalent to many tiny cuts which continually bleed. When the body loses blood, drop by drop, it weakens, and if the hemorrhage is not stopped, death is imminent. Thus, the revival of Zionism should become the first priority not only for the National Union but also for Likud, Israel Beiteinu, the National Religious Party and everybody else who believes in the national Jewish values.
Anybody who belittles Zionism, or says that Zionism is useless and cannot achieve anything simply gets into the same boat with Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazi ideologist who wrote in 1922 that "at its best Zionism is the impotent effort of an unfit people to achieve something constructive." Zionism is a very multi-faceted ideology, and today, when the Jewish state is already in existence, its main goal is to keep that state alive, to defend it and to allow the state to define itself.
Israel needs a mission statement. She must proclaim the purpose of her existence. Her citizens should understand what is vitally important for the Jewish state, why it exists, and why it is where it is, surrounded by enemies. It is the task of the national camp to deliver such a statement. This should be done immediately without waiting for the establishment of a new Israeli government.
After Netanyahu's defeat in the elections, the national camp has sunk into a kind of stupor. The politicians are afraid to make any statements that could harm their efforts to join Ehud Barak's "wide" government. However, now is exactly the time when the leaders of the national camp must speak out. They must make the truth their most formidable weapon.
The truth always has a purifying effect. It helps to create an atmosphere that allows everything to appear in proper perspective. The truth, no matter how bitter it is, gives the possibility of correcting the situation. Among other reasons, Netanyahu lost the election because he allowed lies to become part of his policies. His attempts to keep his coalition from falling apart by surrendering Zionist principles backfired. He lost the support of those who saw him as an heir of Zhabotinsky and did not gain the votes of the representatives of the "peace camp."
Netanyahu made a mistake that he would not have made if he had followed the advice of Zhabotinsky, who arrived at a very similar situation when he was considering the split from the Zionist Organization. In a letter to Richard Lichtheim, one of the Revisionist leaders, on March 20, 1931, he wrote:
"There is no need to tell you how bitter it is for me to see Revisionism break up, but I prefer to go the right way with half the movement, or third, or even a dozen people, than to finish my Zionist days as the "opposition" to a crowd of spiritual bastards calling themselves the Zionist Organization."
It is Netanyahu's attempt to simultaneously keep "happy" people like Yitzhak Mordehai and David Levy, and people like Benny Begin and Uzi Landau, that brought him to the electoral disaster. Netanyahu disregarded the well known truth that the first step toward unity is a division of forces. This division allows one to solidify one's position and crystallize one's principles. It allows the bringing together of all those who support these principles. Only after that division is it possible to proceed with a unification based on common interests without betraying any principles.
It is not only Netanyahu who is to blame for the defeat. The national camp is seriously at fault too. The absence of impressive demonstrations in support of the Land of Israel and the Zionist principles was a result of the mistreatment of another political principle. Zhabotinsky warned about this in his July 11, 1930 article "Influence on a Government" that appeared in the Warsaw newspaper Haint. He wrote:
"What is important is WHAT you are demanding; what is important is in whose name it is being demanded. If the demand is presented in the name of a great mass of people, it is most important that THAT MASS ITSELF make it clear from time to time that it is seriously interested in the subject. What is important is patience and stamina; and one of the most important factors is that the spokesman stating the case should be capable of stating it clearly."
During three years of Netanyahu's term in office the masses have not made it clear even a single time that they are interested in the survival of Eretz Yisrael. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis were called to the streets by Histadrut, and hundreds of thousands of Israelis were called to the streets by religious leaders, but there were only a few thousand who demonstrated against the suicidal retreats of Oslo and Wye. This is even more puzzling after a May 26 Gallup Poll commissioned by IMRA indicated that 42.5% of Israelis oppose the withdrawals committed to in Wye Agreement "before the final status talks" and 28.9% are against "carrying out withdrawals under any conditions."
If we extrapolate this last number to the Jewish population of the country and even assume that only one out of four of these people would participate in a demonstration, thus expressing their views not only through the polls but through making their presence visible, then a demonstration by at least 300,000 people will speak for itself.
All this means is that either the national camp miserably failed in
presenting its position to the masses or the masses have lost faith in their leaders. There could be one more reason - the inability of the leaders to "clearly state the case." The difficult truth must be presented in all its nakedness. The people should be told that, as Walter Laqueur put it in A History of Zionism:
"The state created by Zionism faces an uphill struggle in its endeavor to make its neighbors recognize its right of existence. While the struggle continues, the existence of the state and its independence is no more assured than that of other small countries whose geopolitical location exposes them to the expansive designs of a superpower."
The leaders of the national camp should explain that contrary to Peres' and Beilin's dreams the essence of the Israeli-Arab conflict has not changed. The Arabs were and still are categorically against the Jewish state in Palestine. The Jews were and still are trying to appease and pacify the Arabs in the hope that they will acquiesce to the Jews' presence in Eretz Yisrael. On March 14, 1931, Zhabotinsky stated at a mass meeting in Paris:
"The dominant thinking in the Zionist movement demands emphatically that the Jewish side must do everything possible to reach agreement with the Arabs. Agreement is a good and essential thing but for some reason we go on imagining that this agreement is dependent only on us. In existing conditions it is impossible to overcome this clash of opinions and interests. Why then should we create for ourselves illusions of an agreement? We must have courage to tell the unpleasant truth."
As in 1931, the leaders of the national camp must have courage to tell the same unpleasant truth. If they do not do this today the Jewish state will disappear from the map of the Middle East and Alfred Rosenberg's horrible prediction might actually come true. [05/30/99 ]
Boris Shusteff is an engineer in upstate New York. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.