The "Israel As A Jewish State" Mantra
October 15, 2010 4:10 pm ET — MJ Rosenberg
Historically, right-wing Zionism — in contrast to the socialist Zionism of David Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin and their allies — preferred rhetoric to action. While the old socialists were building the physical infrastructure of the future state and then the state itself, the right-wing Zionists stuck to rhetoric. The left built the army, the roads, the farms (kibbutzim), the air force, the factories, even the nuclear deterrent, while the right issued fiery statements about the need for Israel to expand, rid itself of Arabs, and become purely Jewish.
This was not an accident. The founder of right-wing Zionism (and the Likud Party's hero to this day) was Vladimir Jabotinsky, who died in New York in 1940. He saw his role as opposing every compromise David Ben Gurion and his colleagues felt they had to make to secure a state.
Jabotinsky and his followers just said, "No. We want it all."
Even in the wake of the Holocaust, with its survivors desperate to find a home, the right insisted that an Israel without the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem wasn't worth having. Not surprisingly, the current prime minister's father felt that way. He opposed the United Nations Partition Plan, which was Israel's birth certificate.
When a struggling Israel negotiated a multibillion-dollar aid package from Germany in the 1950's, essentially saving the state and a million Holocaust survivors from bankruptcy, Jabotinsky's successor Menachem Begin was vehemently opposed. "No blood money," he screamed at raucous rallies, indifferent to the fact that without the aid from Germany (to which Israel was more than entitled) the state could not survive.
The only thing that has changed in the years since is that now the Israeli right has a record of building something: settlements. Although they disdained building in the Galilee and the Negev, they have zealously embraced the idea of building in the West Bank. Today the settler movement is the physical manifestation of the word "No."
"No" to peace with the Palestinians, which ultimately will mean "no" to democratic Israel at all. More at: http://politicalcorrection.org/fpmatters/201010150017