Theodor Herzl was confident the world would support his endeavor to reestablish the Jewish state. This would not be due to a moral obligation – not due to Europe’s 2,000 years of abusive persecution of Jews, nor as correction to its deporting the Jews from Judea. “Gevalt” or European guilt will not get us a state. The Jewish state will exist because it would be the necessity of the world!
Herzl believed that once the Jewish mind and spirit are liberated from European oppression, Jews in the Jewish state will make extreme advancements for humanity, and hence, the world would need the Jewish state to exist and prosper.
Herzl, like Moses, championed the concept we call today “peace through strength.”
In Moses’s case, the exodus from Egypt was accompanied by great miracles, which instilled global consciousness that God is with the Jews. This, as described in the Song of the Sea, generated deterrence: “The chiefs of Edom were affrighted; the mighty men of Moab trembling…”
In Herzl’s case, the exodus was also accompanied by miracles: Innovations that come out of the Jewish state would alter the state of humanity, such as ending famine by turning air into water and generating medical innovations that increase longevity. There is broad recognition that humanity is advanced through the Jewish state, through Zionism.
Therefore, anti-Zionism is anti-humanity
As Herzl predicted, nations around the world now want to partake in the success of Zionism. Last month, non-Jews, including the leader of Israel’s Druze community and a dignitary from Dubai, went to Basel to participate in the 125th anniversary celebrations of Zionism.
But in both Moses’s and Herzl’s case, not everybody was happy. The story of Amalek, who attacked Israel on its path toward freedom, remains paramount in Jewish ethos. There is even a Shabbat called “Remember,” recounting that event. Today again, there are those who attack Israel on its path toward elevating humanity. Paradoxically, those attackers now accuse the Jewish state of committing crimes against humanity.
Crimes against humanity vs the elevation of humanity
As discussed in this column and in my book Judaism 3.0 – Judaism’s Transformation to Zionism, there are startling parallels between the early days of the antisemitism movement in the 1890s during Herzl’s time and the still early days of the Israel-bashing movement today in the 2020s. One such parallel is the accusation that Jews corrupt humanity.
Celebrated German opera composer Richard Wagner argued that Jews cannot compose proper music. But his argument faced a problem, since Europeans flocked to concert halls and opera houses to hear Jewish composers’ music. In his book Giacomo Meyerbeer The Deliberately Forgotten Composer, Prof. David Faiman shows how Meyerbeer, who was Jewish, was the world’s top opera composer of the 19th century.
Therefore, Wagner had to adjust his argument and claimed in his article “Jews in Music” that inside that seemingly sweet music, there is this Jewish poison. Jews, like Meyerbeer and Mendelssohn, are corrupting humanity through their music – from the inside. But it is not just through music, also through science and the arts. What seems to be, to the unsuspecting observer, as Jewish contribution to humanity is just “pinkwashing” for the polluting actions Jews commit against humanity.
So what to do about it? What is the solution to such hideous acts against humanity? Indeed, Wagner’s philosophy was a cornerstone in the German-led mass murder of European Jewry.
Similar circumstances emerged in the 2020s. Peace broke out between Israel and much of the Arab world, and there is a trajectory toward de facto normalization with much of the Palestinian population. Therefore, Israel bashers and Occupationalists (Westerners who hijack the Palestinian cause for their own benefit) face an existential crisis. Their response is similar to Wagner’s response to Europeans loving Jewish music: This is no longer about the Israeli-Arab conflict nor about the Palestinians. This is about humanity.
Israel bashers now accuse the Jewish state of crimes against humanity, just like Wagner accused the Jews of crimes against humanity.
Wagner was an expert. He understood what is inside the music; therefore, a reasonable person can rely on his opinion that through music, Jews pollute humanity.
Similarly, the Israel bashers’ accusations are channeled through expert organizations – Amnesty International, UN Human Rights Council and even respectable media outlets. Therefore, a reasonable person could conclude that indeed the Jewish state commits crimes against humanity.
So what to do about it? The world united against South Africa, and then against Putin. Should the world – for the sake of humanity – now unite against the Jewish state, which (once again) commits crimes against humanity? Many believe so, some obsessively. And that is why Israel-bashing has replaced traditional antisemitism as the primary existential threat to Judaism and to all Jews, including those who bash Israel themselves.
However, those Israel bashers must stay in Judaism 2.0. This way, they can mask their opposition to Judaism as opposition to Zionism. Once there is a broad global recognition that Judaism has transformed to Judaism 3.0 and Zionism is now the anchor of Judaism, they can only be Israel bashers if they are okay being Jew bashers. And like with Edom and Moab back then, that Jew basher label alone serves as a powerful deterrence.
Zionism as the anchor of Judaism
The October 14, the Magazine was dedicated to tackling that question: Is Zionism really becoming the anchor of Judaism as I claim in this column and in my book? Ten prominent thinkers shared their views. The president of the Jewish state, Isaac Herzog, in a special message to Magazine readers, said it bluntly: Reclaiming Zionism is the mission of our generation.
This mission should have partners not just in Israel – where Zionism is the consensus ideology that enables disagreements to be argued passionately but safely (99% of Israeli Jews vote for Zionist parties) – but also around the world.
Just like not everybody in 19th-century Europe agreed with Wagner and the antisemites, not everybody in the 21st century agrees with Amnesty and the Israel bashers.
In fact, even before Herzl, there were non-Jewish philosophers who pointed to the enormous advancement in humanity that the Jewish state would bring. French thinker Ernest Laharanne predicted in 1860 that the Jews’ return to their land would lead to a dramatic advancement of humanity. “March forward because you are a generous nation... you [Jews] will be the triumph-arch of the era of the future – that is, the era of peace and unity.” Other thinkers had similar views, and Herzl took note of that: “I did not know until I came into this movement that the Christians, just as Jews, view our return as the beginning of the era of wonder,” he wrote. “The wonder of this era will be expressed through our aspiration for our infinite ideal – to the elevation of humanity.”
Zionism is a light upon the nations. Those who oppose it rob the world’s nation from that crisp light emanating from Zion and, in doing so, cause great harm to humanity.
The writer is author of Judaism 3.0: Judaism’s Transformation to Zionism (Judaism-Zionism.com).