Theodor Herzl – Anti-Zionist?
In his 2009 and 2013 governments, Primeminister Netanyahu included center-left parties that functioned as a restraint against the most extreme excesses of his own party, which has moved ever more to the right. The Likud has made sure to kick out its last genuinely democratic parliamentarians like Dan Meridor, Michael Eytan and Benny Begin in 2013, and Reuven Rivlin is now president.
The Likud’s new stars
But it seems that he won’t repeat this mistake, after Yesh Atid and Hatnua actually caused him trouble and made him fire Lapid and Livni: his next government will be composed of the extreme right and the ultra-Orthodox only. Here are some ideas for the Likud after the next elections.
The Likud’s new up-and-coming stars, Zeev Elkin, Yariv Levin, Danny Danon, Miri Regev & Co are amassing an impressive record. They have gone a long way towards a re-definition of Zionism that rejects the most basic principle of liberal democracy, equality of rights for all citizens. The nation-state law they are promoting not only wants to give Jews preeminence in Israel, they also want Jewish law to be the primary inspiration for Israel’s legal system. Anything other than an ethnocracy is either Post-Zionist or anti-Zionist.
The new Likudniks have not only transformed the Likud party from a right wing, but basically liberal-democratic party into a one with totalitarian and racist leanings. They have also contributed much to the flourishing racism of their constituency ranging from the chants of “death to Arabs” by Beitar Jerusalem fans to Amir Benayoun’s latest song about the Arab student who is reveling in Israel’s delights only waiting to kill Jews at some point.
But they have not yet purged Israel of old conceptions of Zionism as befits the genuinely totalitarian country they are envisaging, and parties like Labor, Yesh Atid and even Meretz, God forbid, still dare to call themselves Zionist. It’s time for the new Likudniks to leave a genuine mark on Israel, and I have the perfect plan for them.
A Vienese self-hating Jew
They should address a terrible scandal that taints Israel’s cities: all of them have one of their main streets named after a bearded Viennese self-hating Jew called Theodor Herzl. This man wrote a despicable book called Altneuland, containing absolutely horrid anti-Zionist propaganda.
He promoted a country in which Jewish religion has no formal standing at all. Herzl believed that the Temple-Mount should be avoided, and any reconstruction of the temple should just be another synagogue. Worst of all: Herzl’s horrible work takes pride in the treacherous notion that the Nation-state of the Jews gives completely equal rights to all citizens, including Arabs, and is cosmopolitan in nature. Herzl even thought that the country should be multi-cultural and multi-lingual, including both Yiddish and German!
Calling main streets in Israel after this man is not only an offense against true Zionism, but positively harmful. Imagine if Israeli children would actually read Altneuland, which can be downloaded from the Web nowadays: They might get the most destructive ideas about Israel and Zionism!
Ahad Ha’am and Jabotinsky – lacking in nationalist fervor
Ahad Ha’am, also to be found on every Israeli city’s street signs is even worse. He wrote anti-Semitic tracts in which he deplored Jewish settlers contemptuous treatment of Arabs in Palestine, and argued that this was un-Jewish behavior. Worse than that: he warned not to build a Jewish state in Israel, because this might turn into an immoral society and instead suggested developing a Jewish cultural center in Palestine. Ahad Ha’am, in other words, was a post-Zionist avant la lettre. He didn’t have a shred of patriotism, loved Arabs, and was against a Jewish state!
The new Likudniks should pass a law that would replace the names of every Herzl and Ahad Ha’am Street – I leave it open to them whom they would like to replace them with. Meir Kahane and Rechav’am Zeevi might be names that would prove that the new Likudniks have genuine long-term vision for the country.
Just a brief post-scriptum: While they are at it, they should consider whether it wouldn’t be better to take Zeev Jabotinsky off Israel’s street signs as well. Jabotinsky was distinctly lacking in nationalist fervor: he actually wrote that Israel could have a legitimately elected Arab prime minister. The time has come to purge Israel’s streets of these anti-Zionists!
Der Autor ist in Basel aufgewachsen. Er ist Professor für Psychologie an der Universität Tel Aviv. Dieser Beitrag ist zuerst in "Haaretz" erschienen.
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