Jewish Messianic Theology and Zionist Nationalism

My conclusion:

Mix of Messianic Theology and Nationalist Politics is deadly.

I have been examining the trends in Israel. At a time of rising nationalism around the world there is a rising phenomenon in Israeli politics.

There is a clear evolution of thinking in the Dati Leumi – National Religious world. society. From R’ Avraham Yitzhak Kook who saw the secular and socialist pioneers as themselves the beginning of redemption rather than the rebellion against god, religion and Galut.’ Exile, as seen by the Jewish religious world. instead as rebuilding a Jewish Homeland and therefore part of the divine plan.

R’ Tsvi Yehuda who stressed and focused on the holiness of the land.

After 1967 the victory and also the liberation of The Temple Mount and Old City of Jerusalem ,then the religious  particularly , Religious Nationalists ( except most of the Haredi society), saw this as fulfilling their messianic vision.

So now we see this philosophy morphing into something extreme, intolerant and intransigent.

We have heard the idea crystalized:

If you don’t believe in Tora le’Moshe mi- Sinai, Az Ma Ata Oseh po’(bikhlal).

‘If you do not believe in the Torah of Moses from Sinai, (meaning Orthodox Rabbinic Judaism) Then, What Are You Doing Here?” (at all).’

This negated not only the reality of socialist secular founders of Israel but also de-legitimizes the presence and and the politics and policy of all secular Israelis.

Moreover the messianic nationalist judaism has always led to disaster. From the extremism of the ‘sicari, the rebellion of Rabbi Akiva and R kochba, through Jesus and Shabbtai Tzvi.

They do not see the reality of growing Palestinian demographics and military threats,  Iran, Hizbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad etc. They demand greater IDF military action regardless of the consequences. It must be said expressly that belief in a messianic divine plan engenders an overconfidence, a certainty that despite rational factors they will prevail regardless.

Note how the above paradigm, “if you don’t believe…what are you doing here,’ as a self fulfilling nightmare.

This may also shed light on the segments of American Jewry that have adopted neo-Hassidism. The spiritual aspects notwithstanding Hassidic,’ or in todays parlance, Haredi Judaism have central messianic tenets, however they do not have the nationalist aspect. Therefore this Jewish ideology and identity are consistent and comfortable for American Jewry.

The segments of  American Jewry  seeking a Judaism without nationalist aspects, inconsistent with the existence and identity of being American and America as a plyglot multi-cultural democratic society, for many, requires, perhaps demands, ‘a Judaism,’ without Nationalism.

Finally, I want to admire and praise the American US innovation of genius to separate Church and State so as to avoid these very conflicts which led to bloodshed for centuries among ethnic groups and states.

About the Author
An American born, Israeli, trained, licensed and practiced Trial Lawyer in NYC and Israel. Made Aliya 25 years ago after being an Ass't District Attorney and private Criminal Defense lawyer. Then Justice Ministry in Israel Criminal Law and Legislation and Knesset Commitee participation. Worked in the legal department of the Jerusalem Municipality for AG Eliakim Rubenstein and (PM) Olmert.
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