The State of Israel has many achievements to its credit. It has provided a
refuge for persecuted Jews, has proverbially “made the desert bloom” and has
contributed many scientific and medical breakthroughs. As authors Saul Singer
and Dan Senor highlight in their best-seller, Start-up Nation, Israel is famous
for its phenomenal incubation of innovative industry.
accomplishments and successes, however, are not a sufficient raison d’être for
the country today. Although impressive, they do not inspire a national
A nation connected to four millennia of Jewish history, Israel is
linked to a prophetic vision, ingathering the Jewish People to their homeland.
It is an open, vibrant and creative society with a relatively high standard of
living, decent education by OCED standards, and a health system that works, more
or less. Moreover, Israel assists countries in need and those which have
suffered natural disasters. This was the vision of Isaiah, who saw the monarchy
not only as a political entity, but as a moral force.
The State of Israel
represents a new stage in Jewish history.
As the nation-state of the
Jewish People, it is the vehicle for the third Jewish
Grounded in the vision of Isaiah, the State of Israel can
be a mechanism that imbues life with holiness, a shining “light unto the
Many will question whether this image of an “Isaiah nation” is
realistic, since modern states are concerned with mundane and sometimes
offensive practices. Reconciling everyday requirements of running a state,
dealing with social and economic inequalities and protecting the state from
attacks are challenging.
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But operating a predominantly secular state –
albeit with Jewish symbols and adherence to some aspects of Jewish law –
according to Jewish guidelines is what makes Israel different.
Israel, an Isaiah-oriented approach is based on an understanding of the
connection between the state as a political entity and as an instrument of God’s
will. Although we can’t know what “God’s will” is or how to implement it,
remembering the relationship provides a values compass of
Emphasizing our essential being not only as start-up
nation, but as the Isaiah Nation – even though some might not accept that label
– creates a new political and social awareness.
This is critical because
the old Zionism, which was a response to the plight of the Jewish people and the
need for a refuge, is no longer as relevant as it once was. We need to inspire
future generations with spiritual goals. It is not enough to remember the
Holocaust and remind the world of what happened and why. Our existential sources
are in the Isaiah tradition.
Being the Isaiah Nation means Israel is not
only proud of its technological innovations, but its spiritual
Israel’s uniqueness, its values, and national identity are
rooted in our history as a people and our prophetic tradition.
Nation speaks to human dignity and values, to self-sacrifice and concern for
others, to the nobility of the soul and awareness of a higher self, to living
one’s potential and fulfilling the purpose for which we were created.
weapons needed by the Isaiah Nation are not only those which we need for
physical protection, but those we need to be inspired in our struggle against
exploitation, dishonesty and moral weakness.
Isaiah Nation is about a
society that encourages strength of character and the ability to distinguish
right from wrong, and, for Jews, that depends on our connection to and
understanding of Torah.
Isaiah Nation means that our motto is “God is
Almighty and God is One” – Hashem Elokaynu Hashem Achad. This includes the
obligation to redeem the world, tikkun olam, and to survive, and if necessary to
fight for that survival. Self-defense is just as important as offering peace,
and sometimes even more.
Isaiah’s vision of a world taught by a
God-inspired nation, “Children of Jacob,” is enshrined in front of the United
Nations headquarters: “the Law comes forth from Zion and the Word of God from
Jerusalem: nations... will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears
into pruning hooks; nation shall not raise the sword against nation and they
will no longer learn war anymore.”
Some argue that Israel cannot be the
Isaiah Nation because it “oppresses Palestinians.” Those who raise this
objection fail to note Israel’s unique legal and historical claim to Judea and
Samaria, and its assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Nor do they explain
how Israelis can beat swords into plowshares while those who incessantly call
for Israel’s elimination sharpen their swords and openly call for Israel’s
The Jewish People seeks to fulfill its prophetic mission
even as they are under attack and denied their historic homeland.
Nation shifts the focus from unrealistic notions of a “two-state solution” to a
return to the prophetic roots of Jewish national consciousness, applying the
ingenuity of a start-up nation to the arduous task of ensuring the values of
Judaism and the sovereignty of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.
source of inspiration, the Book of Isaiah carries a message of hope to the
world. That is the real meaning of Jewish/Israeli sovereignty and Jewish
destiny.The author is a PhD historian, writer and journalist living in
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