Dr. Bill Friend at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 23 January 2000
"THE STRUCTURE OF THE WORLD ZIONIST ORGANIZATION (WZO) AND ITS INFLUENCE ON JEWS AND JUDAISM IN NORTH AMERICA"
"When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra." From Through The Looking Glass by Louis Carroll
"Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life." From The Manchurian Candidate, 1962 - Frank Sinatra, Lawrence Harvey
In 1978 I was what could be fairly described as a "typical American Jew". I had learned about Israel in afternoon Hebrew school where I was sent to study for my Bar Mitzvah. I had learned that the British had established the Jewish home in Palestine; that Jews who went to that abandoned wasteland had "made the desert bloom", had "cleared the swamps" and were building what was clearly one of the most altruistic societies on the face of the earth. Moreover, because of the almost total annihilation of Europe's Jews by the Nazis less than a decade prior, it was a proper place of refuge for those who survived and found themselves with not much more than the clothes on their backs. In dental school, I had been assigned to go around and collect money for the Red Mogen David at the time of the 1973 war. I recall that virtually everyone in the school gave something, but one of the students, who was Jewish, clearly refused to give anything, and moreover would not tell me why. At the time I thought it a bit odd, but I made no more of it.
When I went to drop off the money at the central collection point in Manhattan, I was proud of the several thousand dollars we had managed to collect when I presented it to the man at the agency. He took it. I stood there. He looked at me and said "Is there anything else that you want, because we re very busy." I said yes. He was a little annoyed and said "Well, what is it? I m in a hurry." I said, "How about saying thank you?" He scoffed and walked away. I filed that in the back of my head.
Around 1975 or 1976, my wife of three years and I had been living next to a couple in an apartment building in Queens, NY. He was an American and she was an Israeli. All of us were Jews. Some crisis du jour was going on between the Israelis and the Arabs at the time, and there was to be a demonstration near the UN.
They asked if we wanted to go and see what was going on and we did. As we approached I saw two distinct groups on opposite sides of the street. On one side was a group of people, men dressed in jackets and ties, women in dresses; carrying signs and marching in an orderly fashion behind a police barricade. I assumed that these folks were Jews.
On the other side of the street were a bunch of swarthy, greasy men with their shirts opened down to their belly buttons, cursing and screaming at the top of their lungs in a language that sounded vaguely familiar. Some of them had enough gold jewelry around their necks to embarrass Mr. T of A-Team fame. Because of their demeanor I had assumed that these were the Arabs. When we approached even closer, I saw that I had made an assumption that was in reality exactly the reverse. I filed that as well, in the back of my head.
In 1978 I noticed a well-received review of a recently published book , in the NY Times Book Review. The title of the book was The Zionist Connection by Alfred M. Lilienthal. The review had piqued my curiosity, as did the ¼ page advertisement for it in the back of that issue. A few days later, on my day off, I went looking for the book on 5th Ave., which at the time had a bookseller on almost every block, between 57th and 42nd Sts. Everywhere I went I received similar evasions. They had heard of the book, but they didn't have it, they didn't order it, but they could order it if I wanted it, they thought it might be coming in but to check back in a week or two, etc. I finally went to the jewel of stores on the strip, the late, lamented Scribner's bookstore. The clerks there were knowledgeable and helpful, and one assisted me after I had looked in current releases, current events, politics, history, and even Judaica to no avail. He disappeared for about twenty minutes and came back carrying four copies, which he located under a stack of books that were scheduled to be sent back as remainders. I didn't make much of that at the time, however after finishing the book in about three days and thinking "I never knew any of this!", I decided to call the publisher, Dodd-Mead and tell them about my odyssey in searching for the book. They thanked me and asked if I would like to speak to Dr. Lilienthal, and they gave me his phone number. I called him, and the first thing he said after introductions was "I knew this would happen". He thanked me, we talked some more, and he asked me if I knew who Rabbi Elmer Berger was.
I didn't and he told me to take his number, wait two days and then call him. Rabbi Berger was expecting my call and invited me to his study on the upper east side on Lexington Ave. I visited there with him on several occasions and he allowed me free access to his extremely comprehensive personal library. He gave me an admonition which I never forgot. "Now that you know what the truth is," he advised, "keep it to yourself until you feel you can say things with impunity. You are a young man starting a career and there are certain people who could hurt that." I asked who these people were. He told me certain Jews who had a compelling interest in Israel, who brooked no criticism of "The Jewish State". I kept my own council as he advised until the late 80s after the invasion of Lebanon and its aftermath.
As Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead said, "what a long strange trip."
THEODOR HERZL, born in Pest, Hungary on 5/2/1860, and who died in Edlach, Austria on 7/3/1904 is generally acknowledged as the "Father of Political Zionism".
It was Herzl who convened the 1st Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland between 8/29 and 8/31/1897. There were only 204 persons present at this meeting, but it was here that the program of Zionism was established and the World Zionist Organization (WZO) was created.
Although at the time, viewed almost universally by Jews as a crackpot and a utopian dreamer, Herzl believed, as he stated in his Diaries that in a half century "The Jew's State", the correct translation of the German, "Der Judenstaat", would be a reality. It was an accurate prediction. The way in which the State of Israel came about has of course been the topic of many scholarly works and is outside the realm of this paper. Yet it is important to note that after Herzl's early death, his work was carried on by his followers under the auspices of the WZO which at the current time has offices and subdivisions located in all parts of the world. Legally, the WZO is a functioning part of the government of Israel, which proclaims itself as "The Jewish State". The recognition of this has been achieved by the recognition of the WZO and Jewish Agency For Israel (JA) under the Basic Laws known as (a) The Status Law and (b) The Covenant Law.
Although moving in fits and starts and at times, almost seeming to disappear from the world stage, the ZO, because of the tenacity of its leadership, the confluence of world events, and the seminal meeting in New York in 1942 at the Biltmore Hotel,( The Zionist [Biltmore] Program of 5/11/42 was formulated at a conference held at the Biltmore hotel in New York, just across the street from the current location of Madison Square Garden and Penn Station on 34th St and 7th Ave.; from the 9th to the 11th of May, 1942. It was attended by six hundred Jewish Americans and sixty-seven visiting Zionists including Weizmann and Ben-Gurion.) gained a momentum which has only now shown signs of waning.
The influence of the WZO/JA and its divisions, on the Jews of North America, and the religion of Judaism, has at times been blatant, sometimes subtle, met with resistance from some quarters and with open arms from others. How this has come to be, is the subject of this investigation.
I have tried to the greatest extent possible to use primarily Jewish and Israeli sources for this investigation. Much of the information, which formerly would have been difficult to track down, is now conveniently located on the Internet, the information superhighway. Many of the organizations that are constituents of the WZO have, as does the WZO and the JA, their own websites. There are some things however that the Zionist leadership does not want made general knowledge, even though it is clearly written down and documented. Much of this has to do with The Jewish National Fund and its own subsidiaries. Several texts which I have used for this part of the paper include, The Jewish National Fund by Walter Lehn and Uri Davis; The Transfer Agreement by Edwin Black; and Zionism in the Age of The Dictators by Lenni Brenner. Any factual errors are mine.
THE PROTOCOLS OF THE ELDERS OF ZION, is a forgery. It is a document written originally by an anti-Semitic priest which then became translated into English. It was first published in the United States by Henry Ford in his Dearborn Independent. It is well known that the head of the Ford motor co. was a rabid Jew hater. This forgery, purports to show how a cabal of Jewish elders have plotted to take over the world. What I find sad is not how ludicrous this document is, but that there are so many people still willing to believe what it contains. What is doubly sad is that I found the document on the website of a Muslim organization. In view of the way people of the Islamic faith have been denigrated and treated in the United States; profiled for special searches at airport terminals, shown as primitives and terrorists in TV and cinema, this is deplorable. When one places things which are truthful with things that are obvious lies, it defeats the entire purpose of the message, and the truth becomes subsumed in the lie.
On the other hand, The World Zionist Organization is a real entity, with a distinctly laid out structure, a constitution and divisions of labor. It makes no secret of this and reveals all of this on its own website. The purpose of the WZO is not to take control of the world community, but certainly to establish a hegemony over the world community of Jews, and try and convert Jews to the philosophy of Political Zionism and thus to give uncritical support to the State of Israel as a supranational state for "The Jewish People". As will be shown, the WZO and its components have to a very large extent succeeded in this endeavor. I will give an outline form to the structure, and then discuss some of the components in more depth.
THE WORLD ZIONIST ORGANIZATION (WZO) is divided into nine major divisions:
For the purposes of this paper, the divisions of The President, The ZGC, The Supreme Court, The WZO Attorney, The WZO Comptroller and the Zionist Archives, will only be mentioned briefly, as all of them except for the presidency pertain to internal structural matters. The Presidency has been left unoccupied since the 27th ZC in 1968, with the real power lying with the President of the ZE. How this came about is of historical interest and will be discussed.
How the WZO has managed since 1897 to capture to its agenda, virtually the entire community of world Jewry is a function of institutions and programs which have been created at certain Zionist Congresses, the functioning of the Zionist Executive, and perhaps most importantly the Territorial Zionist Federations, which are collectively known as "roof organizations".
IN SPITE OF THIS READY AVAILABILITY, THERE ARE STILL SOME THINGS THAT BOTH THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL AND THE ZIONIST LEADERSHIP DO NOT WANT TO HAVE MADE GENERAL PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE, EVEN THOUGH ALL OF IT HAS BEEN CLEARLY WRITTEN DOWN AND DOCUMENTED. MUCH OF THIS HAS TO DO WITH THE JEWISH NATIONAL FUND AND ITS OWN SUBSIDIARIES. IN YOUR HANDOUTS IS A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF MANY OF THE BOOKS USED FOR THIS PRESENTATION, AS WELL AS A LIST OF THE WEBSITES.
ZIONIST CONGRESS (ZC)
From 1897 to 1992 there have been 32 ZC s. The WZO constitution defines the ZC as the supreme organ and legislative body of the WZO. Under Article 13 of the constitution, it is to meet at least once every four years at a place and time determined by the Zionist General Council (ZGC) and it is convened by order of the Zionist Executive (ZE). However there is a provision which allows for postponement of meetings of the ZC; and the last few were held approximately every five years. This fact, along with some recent developments such as the merger of three of the funds, the United Israel Appeal (UIA), the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) and the Council of Jewish Federations (CJF) into an umbrella group now called the United Jewish Communities (UJC), indicates that at the current time the ZC is not in practice the "supreme organ of the WZO".
It is however, some of the specific institutions and programs created over the past 100 years at the ZCs, which are among the key components to the mechanism of control which the WZO and the State of Israel attempt to assert upon the Jews of the world.
Before going into depth on these institutions and programs, the structural functions of the ZC need to be considered. These are:
What it considers with regard to these reports and in what depth is speculative, and for many items, in reality it must function as a rubber stamp. One comes to this conclusion, considering that the ZC in practice, meets for only a few days in Israel, twice a decade. The current lack of real power by the ZC is further reinforced by the fact that in the inter-Congress period, the so-called powers of the ZC are assumed by the ZGC, including the authority to amend the WZO constitution.
In spite of its current lack of real power, the ZC delegates are allocated in the following proportion: Israel 38%, USA 29%, everybody else 33%. The last is determined by a loyalty parameter, "by a special committee which takes into account in its decisions, the size of the Jewish population in a particular country and the Zionist achievements in each country such as the number of territorial federation members, "aliyah", donations to the various funds, and "Jewish education", which means of course, Zionist indoctrination.
Of the 32 ZCs the following ones stand out:
Now it is obvious that many of these institutions such as the Jewish National Fund and the United Jewish Communities still exist and play an important role in the ongoing Zionist agenda with regard to the raising of funds. Others such as the WZO itself and the JAFI, have by the institution of what are known as Basic Laws of the state of Israel, have come to function as legal extraterritorial arms of the state as an outreach organization to the world's Jewish populations. Others are of historic interest as pertains to the realization of Herzl's dream of the formation of "A Jew's State", Der Judenstaat, within the 50 year span that he remarkably predicted in his Diaries, which he stipulated not be published for 20 years after his death. Of particular importance to this discussion are the last few items mentioned above, The Jerusalem Program, The Duties of the Individual Zionist and the establishment of the Joint Authority for Jewish Zionist Education.
Now at this point something else should be stated. The large majority of Jews in the world belong to NONE of these organizations. Many who do belong, join for the benefits, such as the Group Health Insurance and Life Insurance programs offered by Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America. Many of these people are unaware of the Zionist nature of Hadassah. I know this from personal experience and the anecdote might be apocryphal. Two colleagues of my wife, whom we see socially, are members of Hadassah. I was conducting an informal survey for a previous talk; I wanted to find out what the Zionist Quotient, the Zi-Q of the average Jewish-American was. Now both of these women have Master's degrees, one actually has more than one. I asked them what the Women's Zionist Organization of America was, and neither one knew. Furthermore, the minority of Jews who do belong to these "roof organizations" often belong to more than one, and often to several. It should also go without saying that most of these people have not made "aliyah" to Eretz Israel; not yet maybe next year.
THE TERRITORIAL ZIONIST FEDERATIONS "ROOF ORGANIZATIONS"
The purpose of these numerous organizations is to implement the policies of the WZO.
The TZFs or roof organizations are subdivided into two groupings: (A) WORLD UNIONS and (B) INTERNATIONAL JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS.
"Zionist World Union" means a Zionist organization which represents a special ideological point of view within the WZO, has branches in at least five countries and is represented by a ZC grouping. Every individual member of any of the organizations in the World Unions must be a self-declared Zionist. Being a self-declared Zionist means by the criteria of the WZO that an individual accept the "Jerusalem Program."
THE INTERNATIONAL JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS
Since the 28th ZC of 1972, international Jewish organizations are represented in the ZC, provided that they accept the "Jerusalem Program", even if not all their members are declared Zionists (unlike the world unions in which every member must be a declared Zionist.) The number of these IJOs is more than 100, with many of them having websites on the Internet, and some of the more important ones will be elaborated upon later. Meanwhile, what is this "Jerusalem Program" that one must adhere to in order to be a Zionist?
THE JERUSALEM PROGRAM
The JP was first adopted in 1951 at the 23rd ZC which was the first ZC to be held in the new state of Israel. This was modified in 1968 at the 27th ZC. The "Duties of the Individual Zionist" were defined at the 28th ZC in 1972, and in 1978 the 29th ZC the JP was amended again. At this last congress, a resolution was passed on the centrality of Israel, as well as another resolution defining Zionism as a liberation movement. This of course, was in response to the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379 adopted on 10 Nov. 1975 in which it determined Zionism to be "a form of racism and racial discrimination" ( Zionism & Racism, published by International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, p.249-50 for full text of resolution).
The 1951 JP, defined the threefold TASK of Zionism to be "the consolidation of the state of Israel, the ingathering of exiles in Eretz Israel, and the fostering of the unity of the Jewish people". It defined the WORK of the ZO to be (a) encouragement of immigration (b) absorption and integration of immigrants, (c) Youth Aliyah, (d) stimulation of agricultural settlement, (e) economic development, (d) the acquisition of land as the PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, (f) to work for "halutziut" or pioneering, (g) and for "hachsharah (training for pioneering), (h) to make an effort to harness (solicit) funds in order to carry out the above defined tasks of Zionism, (I) to encourage private capital investment, (j) to foster a vague term which it called "Jewish consciousness" by propagating the Zionist idea, (k) by imparting "the values of Judaism", another vague concept since each of the different branches have distinctly different values with regard to worship, the sexes, sexual orientation, conversion, and "who is a Jew?", (l) Hebrew education, and the spreading of the Hebrew language, (m) MOBILIZATION OF WORLD PUBLIC OPINION FOR ISRAEL AND ZIONISM, (n) "maintenance and defense of Jewish rights". How these so-called Jewish rights differ from human rights in general was not elaborated upon.
The revised program of 1968 defined the AIMS of Zionism as being (a) the unity of the Jewish people and (b) the CENTRALITY OF ISRAEL IN JEWISH LIFE, (c) "the ingathering of the Jewish people, in its historic homeland, Eretz Israel, through aliyah from all countries". Note here that the "Jewish People" are to be ingathered not into the State of Israel which is defined as Medinat Israel but into the biblical land of Israel, Eretz Israel. This particular part of the program is critical to understand what is now occurring in ALL of the occupied territories including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights which were unilaterally annexed by Medinat Israel, the State of Israel, (d) the strengthening of THE STATE OF ISRAEL. Note again, the easy segue from the land of Israel to the State of Israel, to completely distinct entities. Also note here the justification for the doctrine of "peace with security" as promulgated in the election program of Benjamin Netanyahu, who was the head of the Likud party, which is a member organization of the Zionist World Union, (e) (once again another vague notion) the preservation of the identity of the Jewish people , through the fostering of Jewish, Hebrew and ZIONIST education (this part was a revision made by the ZGC in 1991 when THE JOINT AUTHORITY FOR JEWISH ZIONIST EDUCATION was established and ratified at the 32nd ZC), the fostering of "Jewish spiritual and cultural values", whatever that is and once again, as in 1951, (f) the protection of Jewish rights everywhere.
Now keep in mind that all of the World Unions must agree to promote the above, and all of the International Zionist Federations which are constituent bodies of the International Jewish Organizations must promote this as well. As an example of the latter: The World Union of Progressive Judaism is one of the I.J.O s. An individual belonging to a Progressive or Reform, as it is known in North America, Congregation or Synagogue, does not need to be a Zionist, and in truth many are not. However the WUPJ as a corporate entity, does accept the JP. Moreover, in N. America, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, which is the organizational body of Reform Judaism, has as a part of its organization ARZA, The Association of Reform Zionists of America. Now, when one pays their Temple Dues, the various parts of the dues structure are delineated, in most congregations. Invariably incorporated into part of the dues structure is membership in ARZA. One must actively state that one does not wish to pay ARZA dues as part of the Synagogue dues, otherwise (and I m sure most people don t even see it), one is counted as a member of ARZA when the full amount of the dues are paid. Yet recently as stated previously, the Reform Movement's new Declaration of Principles of 1999, known familiarly as Pittsburgh II or P2, has incorporated into it a few aspects of the Jerusalem Program. It should be noted that these sections which were placed in the P2, have become a bone of contention among not only many members of the Reform Clergy, but among a high proportion of the laity as well.
The Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) which is the organized body of the Reform movement of Judaism in North America, has a clerical division known as The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR). This past spring the CCAR passed P2, a new updated statement of principles. This 1999 Declaration of Principles is the fourth version of the official position of the rabbis of the Reform movement. Each declaration since the original in 1885 which was distinctly anti-Zionist(http://ccarnet.org/platforms/pittsburgh.html) has become more and more pro-Zionist.
The second declaration known as "The Guiding Principles of Reform Judaism, Columbus 1937"(http://ccarnet.org/platforms/columbus.html) stated in section A.5 of that document, "In the land of Palestine, the land hallowed by memories and hopes, we behold the promise of renewed life for many of our brethren. We affirm the obligation of all Jewry to aid in its upbuilding as a Jewish homeland by endeavoring to make it not only a haven of refuge for the oppressed but also a center of Jewish culture and spiritual life". Here the Reform Movement was essentially adopting the principles of Ahad Ha am, the Cultural Zionist, whose real name was Asher Ginsberg, who broke early on with the Political Zionism of Herzl, Nordau, and Weizmann. The document specifically goes on to attempt to merge a return to the land, a religious eschatology which for many groups of Orthodox Jews is not possible until the coming of Moshiach, the Messiah. The document at this point continues, "Throughout the ages it has been Israel's mission..." and here what is referred to is Am Yisrael, the People Israel defined as those claiming descent from the Hebrew patriarch, Jacob, whom in the Tenakh, God renamed Israel (God wrestler), by either patrimony or religious conversion to Judaism, " to witness to the Divine in the face of every form of paganism and materialism. We regard it as our historic task to cooperate with all men in the establishment of the kingdom of God, of universal brotherhood, Justice, truth and peace on earth. This is our Messianic goal."
"Reform Judaism: A Centenary Perspective, Adopted at San Francisco, 1976"(http://ccarnet.org/platforms/centenary.html) went another step further. Under the heading "One Hundred Years: What we Have Learned" it is stated: "The Holocaust shattered our easy optimism about humanity and its inevitable progress. The State of Israel, through its many accomplishments, raised our sense of the Jews as a people to new heights of aspiration and devotion .the spiritual emptiness of much of Western Culture taught us to be less dependent on the values of our society and to reassert what remains perennially valid in Judaism's teaching. We have learned that the survival of the Jewish people is of highest priority and that in carrying out our Jewish responsibilities we help move humanity toward its messianic fulfillment."
Under the heading in that document, "Diversity Within Unity, the Hallmark of Reform", section 2 plays with the definition above of Am Yisrael, The People Israel, in the same way that the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, never defines it either. It states "2. The People Israel The Jewish People and Judaism defy precise definition because both are in the process of becoming."
Section 5 pertains specifically to The State of Israel: "Our Obligations: The State of Israel and the Diaspora —- We are privileged to live in an extraordinary time, one in which a third Jewish commonwealth has been established in our people's ancient homeland. We are bound to that land (Eretz Israel-bf) and to the newly reborn State of Israel (Medinat Israel-bf) by innumerable religious and ethnic ties. We have been enriched by its culture and ennobled by its indomitable spirit. We see it providing unique opportunities for Jewish self-expression. We have both a stake and a responsibility in building the State of Israel, assuring its security, and defining its Jewish character. WE ENCOURAGE ALIYAH( emphasis mine) for those who wish to find maximum personal fulfillment in the cause of Zion." Then comes the caveat, "At the same time that we consider the state of Israel vital to the welfare of Judaism everywhere, we reaffirm the mandate of our tradition to create strong Jewish communities wherever we live". Finally an oxymoronic statement par excellence, "The State of Israel, and the Diaspora, in fruitful dialogue, can show how a people transcends nationalism even as it affirms it, thereby setting an example for humanity which remains largely concerned with dangerously parochial goals." With this statement, Rabbi Isaac Meyer Wise, the force behind the 1885 Pittsburgh Platform began to stir in his grave.
In contrast to the above statement of 1976, Rabbi Michael Lerner, the editor and publisher of Tikkun Magazine stated in an essay in the March/April 1998 edition of that journal, in an essay titled " Israel At 50 Post-Zionism, Overcoming Chauvinism" (Tikkun Vol.13 no.2, pp. 32-8), something quite the opposite. He says "If you judge who is a people's God by what they hold sacred then you have to conclude that for much of the past fifty years the real object of worship of much of the Jewish people has been Israel and Zionism. Unfortunately, like all false gods, this one has failed to satisfy the spiritual hunger of the Jewish people. If many Jews turn away from Judaism today, Israel has played no small part in that process. Judaism may be one of Israel's most important casualties." He berates religious Zionists "who might have functioned as a powerful moral constraint on the worship of power [and who] became after the 1967 War even more fanatical worshippers of Israeli power, now consecrated as the Will of God". This capturing of the religion of Judaism by a 19th century political philosophy, and the subsequent marginalization of legitimate dissenting opinion is addressed: "Once Judaism collapsed into this ultra-nationalist discourse, those who insisted that Zionism must address the pain of its victims sometimes became seen as non-Jewish or "Westernized" because they used the language of human rights. Ironically, many sensitive Israelis, and Jews from around the world who have critiqued Israel's policy toward the Palestinians on moral grounds, have been forced to go outside the bounds of the organized Jewish community. Some of them have been unaware of the solid Jewish religious foundation for their critique, but many of them have been turned off by OFFICIAL JEWISH POLITICAL CORRECTNESS) WHICH HAS TREATED ANY SERIOUS CRITICISM OF ISRAEL AS THOUGH IT WERE OVERT SACRILEGE AND A MANIFESTATION OF PSYCHOLOGICAL DYSFUNCTION."(emphasis mine).
Lerner pinpoints the effect that Political Zionism, as put forth by the WZO and its constituent bodies has had on Jews and Judaism in North America. Aside from the very real and very important tragedy that Zionism perpetrated on the native population of Palestine, it has caused another "naqba", this one transcendent, on Jews. He states, "Judaism has been one of the casualties of this project To the extent that Judaism has lost its ability to critique the distortions of the Jewish people, to the extent that it has become a cheerleader for a particular state, its army, its fundraisers, and its ideological support structure, Judaism has lost its connection to God and Torah. Instead of reclaiming its role as the voice of possibility, it has allowed itself to be subsumed as a prop to a deeply flawed existing reality. The result has been to create an Israel and a Judaism that can no longer speak to the spiritual hunger of the next generation of Jews.
Worse still, the transformation of American Judaism in the past fifty years into a cheerleading chorus for whatever direction the Israeli government has taken has caused major disaffection among the generation of Jews who grew up after the Holocaust. Growing up in a Jewish community dominated by fundraisers and the rich, told that any questions about Israel reflect a self-hating mentality , many younger Jews have been forced to look elsewhere for a moral and spiritual alternative to the ethos of selfishness and materialism that dominate both American society and some institutions of the organized Jewish community." Then, finally the fundamental truth which the leadership of the WZO and the government of Israel, acting in tandem, with all sorts of programs to foster "Jewish unity" fail to realize, that "ISRAEL AND ITS CHEERLEADERS HAVE IN FACT BECOME IMPEDIMENTS TO JEWISH CONTINUITY". One wonders how many of the learned rabbis of the CCAR who saw fit to pass on 5/26/99, "A Statement of Principles for Reform Judaism", bothered to read the essay by Rabbi Lerner in Tikkun, or any of the other very apparent warning signals of how the philosophy of political Zionism and its manifestation in "The Jewish State" of Israel, has taken a toll on Jews and Judaism of late. Inter-alia, this document has generated massive controversy, and even ignored the recommendation of the President of the UAHC, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, a member of the CCAR but not the head of that body, who called for further discussion before a vote was taken. One wonders guesses at what the underlying urgency of this new agenda was. This document is blatant in its endorsement of the Zionist program, specifically the "duties of the individual Zionist" as outlined, because it states in part:
We are committed to Medinat Yisrael, the State of Israel, and rejoice in its accomplishments. We affirm the unique qualities of living in Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel and encourage ALIYAH, immigration to Israel. We are committed to a vision of the State of Israel that promotes full civil, human and religious rights for all its inhabitants and strives for a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbors", a statement glaring in its similarity to a statement in the Declaration of The Establishment of the State of Israel on 5/14/48, which of course is not law in the state of Israel.
Although this declaration went through four drafts before it was finally approved, internal memoranda from sources within the rabbinate show that there is much dissension with regard to this program and there is a move under way to modify or rescind it, or present an alternative declaration. One of the reasons is that it is full of internal contradictions. It also states that "We are committed to promoting and strengthening Progressive Judaism (what Reform is known as in other parts of the world bf) in Israel, which will enrich the spiritual life of the Jewish state and its people". This last statement is remarkable for a number of reasons.
P2 continues with the Zionist agenda: "We affirm that both Israeli and Diaspora Jewry should remain vibrant and interdependent communities. As we urge Jews who reside outside Israel to learn Hebrew as a living language and to make periodic visits to Israel in order to study and to deepen their relationship to the land and its people, so do we affirm that Israeli Jews have much to learn from the religious life of Diaspora Jewish communities." It should be noted pointedly that in 1885, the original Pittsburgh Platform did not consider any Jews to be living in exile, in a "diaspora" (for the complete text of all platforms, 1885, 1937, 1976, and 1999, see http://carnet.org/platforms/principles.html).
Moreover, these concepts of "aliya" and "diaspora" included in this new Platform, are in fact being de-emphasized at this time by Zionists themselves.
The Special Interest Report of Nov/Dec 1999 of the American Council for Judaism, has as its lead article, "Term Diaspora is going out of style as post-Zionist Ideology Gains". This article is based on a report issued by the Jewish weekly, The Forward, of 11/5/99. Rabbi Michael Melchior whose official title is "Minister of Israeli Society and the World Jewish Community, complains when commentators refer to him as Israel's Diaspora Affairs Minister."
A new division at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs is called Bayit Meshutaf or Shared Home. The purpose of this new division is to forge relationships between Israelis and Jews elsewhere, which as shown above is clearly in the P2 platform. The Israeli Museum of the Diaspora, is now beginning to refer to itself as The Museum of The Jewish People.
In spite of this new reaction by The State of Israel, and the WZO which recognizes "the centrality of the state of Israel" in the Jerusalem Program; a reaction based on what is sensed to be the mood of the "organized Jewish community"; Rabbi Yoffie, supports the term and concept of "diaspora". He is quoted in the article as saying that "as far as he is concerned, diaspora is a perfectly acceptable word."
That this term has again been viewed as pejorative by many Jews is of significance. Many, in spite of official protestations by their leadership to the contrary, no longer consider Israel central to their lives, as shown by polls. The idea of a diaspora to these Jews, implies that their life in other parts of the world is somehow inferior to a life they could have in Israel. They recoil at this premise, as they do not see it as being true.
Although membership in the WZO since 1960 has been restricted to organizations only, individuals may not join. "The Duties of the Individual Zionist" were defined in 1972 as being as follows: (a)"to implement aliyah to Israel"; (b) to be an active member of a Territorial Organization; (c) to endeavor to implement the program of the Zionist Movement; (d) to study Hebrew; (e)"to give one's children a Jewish education." Here once again is the convergence of the learning of a religion with the indoctrination into a political philosophy, for it is obvious that by a Jewish education, here, is not meant the kind of Jewish education a member of the ultra-orthodox Satmar or Neturei Karta receive, both of which groups are staunchly anti-Zionist based on their religious epistemologies. "And bring them up towards ALIYAH and ZIONIST SELF-FULFILLMENT" (f) to contribute and be active on behalf of the Zionist funds (JNF, Israel Bonds and the UJCs) and to participate actively in the consolidation of Israel's economy (g) to strengthen "the Zionist influence" within one's community. Meant here is not only the local Jewish community, but the community at large.
Moreover this statement of duties concludes by stating that "the Zionist Federations shall make every effort to consciousness of these duties in their members and to leaders to set a personal example in their implementation."
Well, there was this old inter-alia joke about the definition of what a Zionist was, and it went that "A Zionist is a Jew who raises money to send another Jew to live in Israel." Now that's admittedly sarcastic, as well as cynical; yet how many of these leaders in the organized Jewish community have immigrated to Israel? 374 Reform Rabbis signed the 1999 D of Ps. Anyone care to wager on how many of these self-proclaimed Zionists are going to make "aliyah" in the next year or two?
(Continued . . . )