The Rabbis Speak Out: The 130 Year Record of Religious Jewish Opposition to Zionism
The Jews have always been religious people who lived with belief and trust in the Almighty. In their long history, they have gone through many different periods. There were times when they had their own land, sanctioned by the command of the Almighty. At other times, such as in the current era, they have been in exile.
In the course of the two thousand years of this current exile, following the destruction of the Temple, Jews have remained faithful to the Almighty. Knowing that their exile was His will and His decree, they have always accepted it, and have not risen up to fight with other nations or dominate them. They have lived loyally under whatever governments they happened to live.
The past century has seen the rise of the Zionist philosophy, which transforms Judaism from a religion to a nationalism, from spirituality to materialism. (The word “Zion” was used by the prophets as a name for Jerusalem. The secular nationalists borrowed the name for their movement, whose goal was to take over Jerusalem.) The Zionists convinced a segment of world Jewry to leave behind their faith in the Almighty, not to trust in His security, and to take matters into their own hands. They forced their way out of exile and built a “Jewish” state. This act in itself was a severe violation of the Torah, which forbids Jews to found their own state before the coming of the messiah.
The act is doubly sinful when we consider that they founded their state in the land already inhabited by the Palestinian people. They cruelly expelled, murdered and persecuted the Palestinians, and stole their land – all terrible crimes in the eyes of the Torah.
Zionism, starting from its founding day in the year 1897, aroused sharp condemnation from all the Rabbis, both in Palestine and around the world. All of religious Jewry was united in its opposition to this dangerous new movement, and fought it fiercely. The result was that Zionism took hold almost exclusively among non-religious Jews. And were it not for the tremendous downfall of Jewry in the Second World War, Zionism could never have conquered any part of religious Jewry. In the War, which preceded the establishment of the Zionist state by only a few years, the Jewish people was torn to pieces and lost almost all its greatest Rabbinical leaders. Many Jews lost their faith and felt defenseless and vulnerable, and they were taken in by the Zionists‟ promises to “defend the Jewish people.”
In this publication, we bring some excerpts from words of the Rabbis of past and present generations on Zionism. These are the Rabbis, giants of Judaism, by whose light religious Jews walk to this day. As the reader will see, they were totally opposed to the ideology of Zionism, the existence of the State of “Israel”, the Zionists and all of their acts.
We must note that many of the rabbis quoted here lived before the founding of the Zionist state, and although the Zionists even then had a long record of cruelty and brutality to the Palestinians, their intentions and actions were not widely known. In fact, the Zionists took care to present themselves as a movement to purchase land and settle in Palestine, not as a movement to make wars with other peoples and displace them. Therefore, the rabbis of that period focused their opposition on the Zionists‟ violations of the Torah and their rebellion against the Almighty‟s decree of exile.
Even in the period after 1948, the Zionists‟ crimes against the indigenous people of Palestine received almost no coverage in the international media and thus most of the Rabbis did not know about them. In the State of “Israel” itself, the Zionists understandably did not want to arouse public opinion and therefore their media, for many years, did not report on the plight of the Palestinian people; they forcibly blacked out any coverage of their own atrocities. It has only been in the last two or three decades, starting approximately with the Lebanon War of 1982, that the Western world has gained an awareness of these issues. This awareness is reflected in the words of the Rabbis of the most recent period.
We hope and wait for the day when the Almighty‟s glory will be revealed, “the earth will be full of knowledge of the Almighty” (Isaiah 11:9) and “the Almighty will be king over all the earth” (Zachariah 14:9). Then there will be a spiritual revolution in the entire world, and the Almighty will redeem all Peoples, as we say in our prayers, “All the nations will become one organization to do Your will with their whole heart.” And in the words of the Psalms (102:23), “Nations and governments will gather together to serve the Almighty.” May it be soon, in our days, amen.
Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin, rabbi of Brisk,Lithuaniaand later rabbi of Jerusalem (1817-1878)
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