In a recent interview to commemorate the Yom Kippur War, Gen. Amnon Reshef was quick to utilize the opportunity to call upon the Israeli population to be faithful to Zionism by preserving the country’s Jewish majority.Reshef heroically commanded the regiment that suffered the brunt of the Egyptian surprise attack in the first days of the war, and then went on to command one of the first forces to cross the Suez Canal in its latter part.The general’s sleight of hand was not surprising. The 82 year-old veteran of three of Israel’s wars heads the Commanders of Israel Security, comprising more than 270 members, the overwhelming majority of whom are retired IDF generals or their equivalents in the nation’s other security agencies. Their fighting spirit and dedication to Israel and its security can only be venerated.Their basic demand for decades now can be summarized in a short statement of support for the two-state solution and strong opposition to religious and right-wing-led settlement in Judea and Samaria, based on preserving Israel’s Jewish majority. Only such a position, they believe, reflects the true meaning of Zionism.Or is this position, in fact, a reflection of post-Zionism?Many if not most of Reshef’s colleagues – before they joined the IDF and then Israel’s various security bodies – were either nurtured in families rooted in Labor Zionism or were the products of the youth movements that the various streams of Labor Zionism spawned. Many of them also took part in the pioneering settlement experience, “conquering the land” that stood at the center of Labor Zionist ideology.How intrinsic and dedicated this ideology was is immortalized in Zionist lore by (among many other settlement activities) Homa umigdal. This was the creation overnight of settlements that were bordered by wooden walls within barbed-wire fence perimeters further afield. At their center would be a tower from which the sentries warned of surprise attacks and let off smoke signals to call for help from nearby settlements in the event that more modern forms of communication, such as telephone lines, were discovered by the enemy.In retrospect, the tower-and-stockade settlements, most of which were created during the Arab Rebellion from 1936 to the first months of 1940, are widely perceived as the first organized Zionist settlement response that combined macro-political considerations – outlining as feasibly possible with the scant resources at the time, the future borders of the Jewish state, and meeting the security needs to bring it into existence.Yet there are two critical facts that the late Elhanan Oren, one of the finest historians of Zionist settlement, emphasizes have to be added to the account. The first is that spirit, ruach, preceded official intellect in the creation of these settlements. It was socialist Zionist youth who called to conquer the land, to attack new territory through constructive civilian settlement, rather than make due with passive defense for existing settlements. This was particularly true along the coast (Tel-Aviv) against the Arab challenge, before Zionist officialdom realized the intrinsic geo-strategic importance of these settlements rooted in spirit.The second point he makes is the argument that took place in Zionist officialdom. The argument was between the “rationalists,” Arthur Ruppin, the expert on German colonization who brought his expertise to bear in promoting Zionist settlement; Eliezer Kaplan, the movement’s leading economic mind who argued to stick to the existing coastal blocks; and the “visionaries,” Moshe Shertok (later prime minister Sharett), Joseph Weitz in the settlement department in the Jewish Agency, and others who called for far-flung settlement to deny the British Peel Commission – which was deliberating Palestine’s future – the option of further partitioning the Land of Israel.Who was right? Israel’s War of Independence proved the importance of these settlements in staving off the enemy, either Palestinians or even more critically, the Arab states that attacked the fledgling state. Shertok knew when he made the decision to support the “visionary” plan (in the absence of David Ben-Gurion who was in the United States at the time) that the incorporation of these areas would further aggravate the demographic problem. It was a situation in which Jews were less than one-third of the population in the Holy Land. However, Shertock, later known as a “dove,” chose spirit over matter. In the end, spirit combined with matter prevailed.How much more so should our leaders and warriors value spirit over bureaucratic thinking when the resources of the State of Israel, demographically and economically, are so much greater, and the foe is still adamant about conquering the Land of Israel from “the river to the sea?”Alas, Reshef and his colleagues, have lost the spirit on which they were nurtured. The Palestinian Authority’s strategic settlement plan from 2011 is a challenge that Israel and Zionism never faced before. That and the more traditional means of burning what Zionists by planted by Hamas launching incendiary devices from Gaza, proves that Homa umigdal is as relevant today as it was in the 1930s, or more so.The writer is a professor at the Departments of Political Studies and Middle Eastern Studies Bar-Ilan University and a Senior Research Associate at BESA Center for Strategic Studies.