‘A vision seen in a dream’: A leading religious Zionist’s 1956 call for the Palestinian refugees to return

Israel/Palestine
on 59 Comments

Yehoshua Radler-Feldman (1880-1957), who wrote under the pen name R. Binyamin, was a leading figure in religious Zionism and a self-described “Herzlian Zionist”. He was also, however, one of the founding members of Brit Shalom, a binationalist, and a vocal advocate of Palestinian rights, both before and after the establishment of the State of Israel.

The following essay by Radler-Feldman appeared in the Ihud Association’s Ner journal, in March, 1956. The original, Hebrew version can be found here:

A New Israeli Message to Our Infiltrator Brother
(A vision seen in a dream)

Rabbi Binyamin
Yehoshua Radler-Feldman (Photo: Wikimedia)

You are trembling, worried, afraid for your life, because you are at our mercy. You fear severe punishment, long imprisonment or death.

Have no fear, our infiltrator brother. We will not harm you, but help you.

These words are strange to your ears. You have never heard anything like them before. No matter. Tomorrow or the day after, you will understand their practical, revolutionary significance. Your children will learn their profound, inner meaning. The children of other nations will learn them, to the end of days.

Listen now:

We called our war with you, our Arab brothers, the “War of Liberation”. Fancy words – fancy and false. We did not fight a war of liberation, but a war of subjugation. We were free men before the war. In fighting it, we became slaves. Slaves to whom? To the harshest Pharaoh in the world: his majesty Satan himself, the Evil Inclination, selfishness and arrogance, constant gnawing anxiety, fear of a “second round”, a “third round” and so forth, ad infinitum. Our bellowing for the “best weapons ever seen” was not manufactured, but the natural outcome of this state of affairs. The false education we gave our children – our gifts from God – dedicated to bloodshed and Moloch, flowed from the depths of these circumstances. In short, we felt trapped and believed in one force alone – physical strength, in which we placed our faith! That is where all our thoughts lay, and that alone is what all of our leaders, spiritual, scientific and religious, worshipped. Many shared this superstition with us; the great nations of east and west alike. Their eyes were blind to the light of truth.

It is a long and sorrowful affair. Let us not dwell upon it.

But, by the grace of God, the blinders were removed from our eyes, and a great light, a heavenly light shone upon us. And it is by this light that we shall now walk. A revolutionary change has occurred, that no one would have believed possible.

You shall no longer be called infiltrator but ascender*, because you have unknowingly ascended toward the redemption that has borne you on its wings. You are not an enemy, a foe and an adversary to us, but a brother and friend.

And this is what we shall do with you:

We shall resettle you in our midst, as one of us, in one of the villages of your people, as you choose. And we shall announce it on the radio, to your fellow refugees, lest they worry unnecessarily: so-and-so son of so-and-so was apprehended in such and such a place at such and such a time, and the Israelis who apprehended him gave him food and water and resettled him in such and such a village, and he himself will now speak to you. And from now on, refugees will not have to infiltrate by stealth, trembling with fear and trepidation, but may enter calmly, in peace and tranquillity, secure in the knowledge that nothing will befall them. If a hundred come, we will welcome them in peace, and even if a thousand should come, we will welcome them as brothers, with love and fellowship.

Then there will be a certain pause, a brief one. And we shall observe the effect of our actions. And when they have been successful, we shall do as much again. For we know that this is the sublime way of peace. This is the great and incomparable messianic idea. Do you not agree?

Ner, vol. 7, issue no. 7, March 1956

* Maʿapil – the same Hebrew word used for clandestine Jewish immigrants to Palestine, imbued with strong positive connotations in Israel of the 1950s.

59 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    November 8, 2012, 11:30 am

    Sublime. And such a correct vision of how Zionism-militant has led to the current (since 1948) horror. Judah Magnes may have foreseen this; it doesn’t matter. It is true and it is important.

    Israel-militant-as-perpetual-subjugator is as unsustainable as the world-with-global-warming.

    • MRW
      November 9, 2012, 9:22 pm

      Sublime is a good word for it. It rearranges the cells inside your body to read it, and you can expire.

  2. Don
    November 8, 2012, 11:51 am

    you are one cool guy, Shmuel…as was Yehoshua Radler-Feldman.

  3. Walid
    November 8, 2012, 12:24 pm

    That was great, Shmuel, thanks.

  4. valency
    November 8, 2012, 2:07 pm

    Thank you for this. Ironical that the people who were born in the land were called “infiltrators”, whereas the people whose most recent common ancestor shared with the residents of Palestine is around 500 BCE were called the people of the land.

  5. Newclench
    November 8, 2012, 2:08 pm

    Amen.

  6. Taxi
    November 8, 2012, 2:12 pm

    Truly beautiful.

  7. Ellen
    November 8, 2012, 2:34 pm

    beautiful words of more beautiful thoughts. Thank you.

    any chance this can be published in the mainstream media? it is so deserving and the timing is right for the message to be received.

  8. Don
    November 8, 2012, 3:19 pm

    I can’t think about this “message to our infiltrator brother” without wondering…what would be the state of the middle east today if the Christians of Europe had been able to extend a similar greeting of brotherhood to Jews…say about 100 years ago.

  9. sydnestel
    November 8, 2012, 6:21 pm

    Shmuel

    I wonder what else of interest they were publishing in the Ner journal in the 1950′s. Is it available online?


    Sydney

    • Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel
      November 9, 2012, 1:12 am

      I wonder what else of interest they were publishing in the Ner journal in the 1950′s. Is it available online?

      I was wondering the same thing, but haven’t been able to find anything. Please let me know if you have better luck.

  10. DICKERSON3870
    November 8, 2012, 10:00 pm

    RE: “We were free men before the war. In fighting it, we became slaves. Slaves to whom? To the harshest Pharaoh in the world: his majesty Satan himself, the Evil Inclination, selfishness and arrogance . . .” ~ Yehoshua Radler-Feldman

    MY COMMENT: I would probably say the Israelis have become slaves to the twin devils of narcissism and hubris, but what’s the point in quibbling over nuance?!?!
    And yes, those twin devils are a very “Evil Inclination”! ! !

    P.S. “FREE DON” SIEGELMAN PETITION – link to change.org

  11. Inanna
    November 8, 2012, 10:13 pm

    Thanks Shmuel. A beautiful piece. I can’t tell you how much it moves my heart to hear this kind of message aimed at Palestinians from our cousins.

    • seafoid
      November 8, 2012, 11:09 pm

      What a sad story

      link to magnumphotos.com

      Militarism was so alluring

      link to magnumphotos.com

      • Annie Robbins
        November 9, 2012, 12:06 am

        seafoid, for some reason magnum photos link doesn’t afford individual urls for their series links. but if you click on the photo ‘ISRAEL. 1967. Rounding Up Terror Suspects‘ in the Selected Photo Essays, including ‘more information’ you can witness in a series of photos, the same process sacco illustrates in footnotes of gaza (one of the very best books available for understanding the horrors of ethnic cleansing of palestine).

        Micha Bar Am

        Israel, Kafr e Labbed, in Samaria. 1967. After an attack on the Kibbutz Yad Chana a pursuit was organised by the Israeli troops to find the perpetrators. The tracks led to Kafr E-Labbed in the Samaria region. All the male inhabitants of the village were rounded up and ordered to hand over the attackers that were hiding there. With the assistance of some collaborators out of the inhabitants, an identification parade was held.
        The men of the village paraded in front of the vehicle with the “hooded” informers.

        note this is a process that could be used by an oppressor of just cherry picking dominant member of a community for torture or execution. since hooded men are unidentifiable..they could be..anyone, even israelis.

        thanks for the link.

      • seafoid
        November 9, 2012, 4:41 am

        Annie

        there is another stunning Magnum picture by Bar Am in the Magnum book “Israel at 50″ dated 1968 that shows 7 or 8 dead Fatah fighters being stood over by maybe 20 grinning Israeli soldiers and it looks like a British Tiger hunting party image from India around 1900.
        I couldn’t find it online but ended up on the Magnum site and those Bar Am galleries.

        I wonder what happened to him afterwards. He had a great eye for history.

        You can view 108 images from 1967 below.
        He captures the incredible emotion that the Israelis felt on winning East Jerusalem. Note that it was Rabin who was head of the IDF. How ironic that it was the settlers who murdered him.

        link to magnumphotos.com

      • Elliot
        November 9, 2012, 1:20 pm

        Classic images. The image of the Orthodox Israeli soldier with a run of machine gun bullets draped around his shoulders is one of many that were meant to evoke the transformation of the weak, “Diaspora” Jew into the muscular, Hebrew man. The traditional prayer shawl is now live ammunition.

        link to magnumphotos.com

        The other image that caught my eye was the Israeli soldier defacing the Arabic lettering on the street sign for the “Wailing Wall”. Still a current issue. The discomfort Israelis have with Arabic signage in the State of Israel today has come to stand for their feelings towards Palestinians in general.

      • Mooser
        November 9, 2012, 3:29 pm

        “The image of the Orthodox Israeli soldier with a run of machine gun bullets draped around his shoulders is one of many that were meant to evoke the transformation of the weak, “Diaspora” Jew into the muscular, Hebrew man”

        Well, it might have worked on me, too, but, jeez, you know, before they can produce that new Zionist man, they need at least something to start with.

      • jon s
        November 9, 2012, 4:45 pm

        Seafoid,
        Indeed, Bar-Am is a great photographer. Since you asked about him, this is his website:
        link to michabaram.com

        Rabin was, indeed ,IDF chief-of -staff in 1967. His assassin, however, was not a settler.

      • seafoid
        November 9, 2012, 5:15 pm

        The muscular Hebrew with the Hebrew Army. Any problem ? Use the army.
        And what a stunning strategy that has been. Always just one more dose of brutal violence and that will be that.

        But who would have thought in 1967 that the Sabras would become so paranoid by 2012?

      • Sibiriak
        November 9, 2012, 8:46 pm

        “Hooded informers”– standard practice during the ethnic cleansing of 1947-8.

        Ilan Pappe, “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”:

        Mashvitz went along with a local collaborator, hooded as at Ayn al-Zaytun, and picked out individual men – again, in the eyes of the Israeli army, ‘men’ were all males between the ages of ten and fifty – and took them out in small groups to a spot further away where they were executed. The men were selected according to a pre-prepared list drawn from Tantura’s village file, and included everybody who had participated in the 1936 Revolt, in attacks on Jewish traffic, who had contacts with the Mufti, and anyone else who had ‘committed’ one of the ‘crimes’ that automatically condemned them.

        The women and children fled in panic while the men stayed behind and, soon enough, saw the Jewish troops entering the village.19 The ‘men’ were ordered by the occupying forces to gather in one place, as was the routine throughout rural Palestine on such occasions.

        The informer, always hooded, and the intelligence officer soon appeared. The people watched as seventeen of them were selected, largely for having taken part in the 1936 Revolt, and killed on the spot. The rest were expelled.20 On the same day, a similar fate befell the sixth village in this pocket of resistance, Jaba.

        Kalman’s forces entered the village towards noon. Women, children, old people and a few younger men who had not left with the Syrian volunteers came out of hiding waving a white flag. They were immediately herded into the village centre.60 The film then re-enacts the search-and-arrest – in this case the search-and-execute – routine as performed by the special intelligence units of the Hagana.

        First, they brought in a hooded informer who scrutinised the men lined up in the village square; those whose names appeared on a pre-prepared list the intelligence officers had brought with them were identified. The men selected were then taken to another location and shot dead. When other men rebelled or protested, they were killed as well. In one incident, which the film captured extremely well, one of the villagers, Yusuf Ahmad Hajjar, told his captors that he, like the others, had surrendered and thus ‘expected to be treated humanely’. The Palmach commander slapped him in the face and then ordered him, by way of punishment, to pick thirty-seven teenagers at random. While the rest of the villagers were forced into the storage room of the village mosque, the teenagers were shot with their hands tied behind their backs.

      • seafoid
        November 10, 2012, 5:54 am

        Amir was linked to right wing settlers who opposed Rabin because of Oslo and the recognition that the land was Palestinian. I thought he lived in a settlement but it hardly matters. Rabin made YESHA possible and YESHA killed him.

      • Mooser
        November 10, 2012, 12:58 pm

        “Rabin was, indeed ,IDF chief-of -staff in 1967. His assassin, however, was not a settler.”

        Of course not! Who said that? It was just an ordinary Israeli taxpayer, A regular Sam Citizen engaging in the political discourse, not one of those criminal settlers!

      • Annie Robbins
        November 18, 2012, 5:51 am

        thanks seafoid, just saw your 4:41 am comment/link.

  12. foresomenteneikona
    November 9, 2012, 12:02 am

    Fascinating…
    Written only eight months before Israel invaded Egypt…which led to the UN Expeditionary Forces being positioned along the boarder…which brought an end to the “infiltration” from Gaza.

    • Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel
      November 9, 2012, 2:19 am

      Written only eight months before Israel invaded Egypt

      The Ihud Association (publisher of Ner) also opposed the war with Egypt. See A. Orr, M. Machover, Peace, Peace, and No Peace, pp. 443-444 (Hebrew).

      • Newclench
        November 9, 2012, 8:20 am

        Peace, Peace, and No Peace is a classic. Why has no one ever translated it? Truly a fantastic book.

  13. gamal
    November 9, 2012, 1:44 am

    “We called our war with you, our Arab brothers, the “War of Liberation”. Fancy words – fancy and false. We did not fight a war of liberation, but a war of subjugation. We were free men before the war. In fighting it, we became slaves. Slaves to whom? To the harshest Pharaoh in the world: his majesty Satan himself, the Evil Inclination, selfishness and arrogance, constant gnawing anxiety, fear of a “second round”, a “third round” and so forth, ad infinitum. Our bellowing for the “best weapons ever seen” was not manufactured, but the natural outcome of this state of affairs. The false education we gave our children – our gifts from God – dedicated to bloodshed and Moloch, flowed from the depths of these circumstances.”

    compare this profound beautiful rendition of spirituality with the weird stuff posted on some other thread, by w.jones, i am often embarrassed to speak in the name of religion, with good reason, its wonderful to read such words, i happily prostrate before such life giving wisdom, available to all within their very own minds/ hearts, though vastly the inferior of the speaker here quoted, this is how i read scripture, as per the instructions of my many teachers, one could hardly imagine him supporting humanitarian wars or arrogant dominion, may he be blessed may all of us attain such a wise and loving perception. one blood one love infinite diversity.

    • Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel
      November 10, 2012, 7:02 am

      Thanks, gamal. I love your thoughts on religion :-)

      I don’t think it is a coincidence that many of the leading members of Brit Shalom/Ihud were religious (Radler-Feldman, Shereshevsky, Magnes) or religiously-inspired (Buber, Bermann).

  14. Mooser
    November 9, 2012, 3:27 pm

    Where there’s a stick, you sometimes find a carrot, too. But it’s important not to confuse the two. In a project like Zionism, it’s always a good idea to start a diversionary discourse with the people you are dispossessing.

    Look, Zionism’s ideology give us the underpinnings and motivation to take and take possession. All that bi-national stuff has given us nothing, hasn’t slowed the Zionist project one bit. Who are you trying to kid? Still holding out for a mass Israeli consciousness-raising or something?

    • LeaNder
      November 9, 2012, 5:20 pm

      Did you notice when Radler-Feldman left Russia in 1906? Unforunately we only have this, Three years after Pavel Krushevan, a central Black Hundrists published the protocols in his paper, and 1 years after Sergej Nilus had added it as an appendix to his book. The only question is, did he leave before or after the pogrom in 1906?

      Do you blame him, for looking for a place without increasing antisemitism? Wouldn’t have happened if anyone in Russia, Germany, Austria behaved like the average Jew, Mooser? Yes, the Austrian Karl Krauss struggled too, too much noise and the wrong decisions about a case of blood libel in the Austrian empire, before that too much ado about Dreyfus he thought, but then he was lucky enough to die in 1936 in Vienna.

      • Mooser
        November 10, 2012, 12:56 pm

        “Wouldn’t have happened if anyone in Russia, Germany, Austria behaved like the average Jew, Mooser?”

        Typical Jew, average Jew. Jeez Lea, believe me, I know what I am, don’t rub it in. Actually, I sorta like it. So Sioux me.

    • andrew r
      November 9, 2012, 8:54 pm

      Thanks Mooser, I was almost taken in by this ’til you woke me up. Real clever, too, before reading a single word I had prepared a similar reaction, but then came the ‘war of subjugation’ line, and it almost looks like he’s going to turn against Zionism. Of course, it’s just the same old ‘shoot-and-cry’ genre. In fact, the name Brit Shalom rang a bell, so here I am running back to this thesis yet again. Looks like R. Binyamin wasn’t so innocent after all.

      Ruppin founded Brit Shalom immediately after his final, official retirement from the Vaad Hapoel Hatzioni (Friedlander 1989, 230). In April 1925, the core members of Brit Shalom met for the first time. They were composed mainly of Zionist activists and intellectual figures from the intimate circle of the Hebrew University. Among the members were Ruppin’s most loyal secretaries since the early days of the PO: Tahon and R’ Binyamin (Yehoshua Radler-Feldmann Ha-Talmi), and a group of scholars, and university faculty members, Judah Magnes (chancellor and first president of the Hebrew university), Martin Buber, Hugo Bergmann, Ernst Simon and Gershom Scholem; most of whom had immigrated from Germany or Prague to the Land of Israel in order to work at the Hebrew University (Ratzabi 2001, xiv).

      [Bloom p. 377]

      Some of the members, like Buber and Magnes, genuinely believed in the aim of bi-nationalism, but Ruppin put those dorks in their place.

      Similarly to Lavsky’s historiographical conclusion that Brit Shalom “assisted Zionist historiography in its desire to promote an image of the Zionist movement as seeking peace” (Lavsky 1996, 162-167), I will argue in the following that Ruppin’s involvement in the establishment of Brit Shalom was meant, or at least served, to promote an image of the Zionist movement as humanistic; an
      image that made an impact on both the British authorities and ‘the humanist Zionists.’ It must be remebered that the bi-national idea was the plan that Ruppin presented to the British Shaw Committee (1929) (Bein 1968, III, 168, 180-181), although, as we shall see, he himself never believed in its plausibility, certainly not as an immediate political solution.

      [Bloom 376]

      Anyway, you’ll note above that R. Binyamin was one of Ruppin’s secretaries. He played a minor role in the ill-fated Yemenite aliyah during 1911 by taking part in a bizarre and silly deception meant to pass off the envoy, Shmuel Yavnieli, as a scholar rabbi.

      In addition to the pamphlets, Yavneli also carried with him a letter to the Yemenite Rabbis which included a series of questions concerning the Yemenite version of the Halacha (Jewish law) and traditions. This letter expressed the ostensible interest of the Yishuv in the Yemenites’ customs, and it complemented the pamphlet by making a direct link between settlement in Palestine and the religious idea of kibbutz galuyot (Heb. ingathering of the exiles), which entailed, in its first stages, concentrating and reevaluating all the traditions of Diaspora Jewry. According to Ruppin, this letter was written by R’ Binyamin with the aid of Rabbi Kook (Bein 1968, II, 103). This fabricated letter is full of flowery biblical phrases and mystical allusions. The letter presents Yavneli as a scholar Rabbi who studied in the “Holy land” for a few years, was knowledgeable in the traditions of both Ashkenazim and Sephardim and now wished to study the traditions of the Yemenites for the imminent kibbutz galuyot.

      [Bloom 330]

      • LeaNder
        November 10, 2012, 2:29 am

        Buber had to leave Germany in 1938, and in 1941 Rommel, the Desert Fox arrived in North Africa and as far as I know he only starts his retreat in 1943 after El Alamein.

        Rommel later was forced to commit suicide, since he was suspected to be involved in the assassination attempt against Hitler and after that got a pompous state funeral.

        I have no idea what time the passage you allude to above relates to but these surely weren’t times during which high ideals had a chance to succeed. Nevertheless it is important to see that they existed.

        After 1945 the Holocaust cast a long shadow and the Zionists found themselves in very special circumstances.

        I think it is too easy to judge this Jewish generation too easily.

        In hindsight one can also argue that the West supported Israel too easily, but there you go. We can of cause blame it all on the people who had managed to escape to the land.

      • RoHa
        November 10, 2012, 10:46 pm

        “in 1943 after El Alamein. ”

        November 1942.

      • LeaNder
        November 11, 2012, 10:43 am

        November 1942.

        True, and not true. There is an order from Hitler to stick it out. In any case he left Africa only in March 1943.

        But yes the military is not my specialty. I always was always more interested in the “special forces” accompanying the Nazi’s military, the Einsatzgruppen.

        That’s a very special story in military history, I would guess.

      • RoHa
        November 11, 2012, 6:34 pm

        “There is an order from Hitler to stick it out. In any case he left Africa only in March 1943″

        Nonetheless, Rommel began retreating immediately after the battle. It was a well-conducted fighting retreat, and there were other battles on the way to Tunisia. There he joined up with von Armin, and he won the battle at Kasserine, but the Eighth Army broke through at Mareth, and by March there was nowhere left to go but Tunis and Italy.

      • Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel
        November 10, 2012, 5:13 am

        Andrew,

        As I wrote, Radler-Feldman considered himself a “Herzlian Zionist”. He broke with Brit Shalom over the issue of free Jewish immigration. Yet, he and others associated with the group truly espoused principles of humanism and equality, and rejected the idea of an ethnocratic, exclusively Jewish state. After the establishment of the State of Israel, the former members of Brit Shalom formed the Ihud Association, which focused on Palestinian rights within Israel (e.g. strongly opposing the expropriation of Palestinian property), the return of the refugees, and opposing war with Israel’s Arab neighbours. The respective positions and actions of Magnes, Buber, Bergman, Shereshevsky, Radler-Feldman and others are not above critcism, but they cannot simply be dismissed as mere hypocrisy or opportunism either. (Ruppin is a somewhat different story).

        Orr and Machover (Peace, Peace, and No Peace, p. 443) describe Ihud as follows:

        They [the members of Ihud] are worthy of special [emphasis in the original] appreciation for their moral courage, as the only group within the Zionist camp that advocated compromise and concession. Their shortcoming lay in the fact that their outlook was not political. It is true that there is a moral-humanitarian aspect to the Israeli-Arab conflict and especially the refugee problem. The problem is essentially political, however, and a purely moral approach is incapable of resolving it or of refuting the official claims.

        Furthermore, the ostensible inconsistencies in Radler-Feldman’s worldview do not detract from the power of his words (and the convictions behind them) or the inspiration they offer.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        November 10, 2012, 6:06 am

        ” the power of his words ” – Sermoneta-Gertel
        ————————————
        Radler-Feldman says: “These words are strange to your ears.”

        I find these words, spoken by a Rabbi, indeed very strange:
        - “we became slaves … to … his majesty Satan himself.”

        To me he is a crackpot, although a nice one.

      • Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel
        November 10, 2012, 6:55 am

        I find these words, spoken by a Rabbi, indeed very strange …

        It’s called a sense of irony. Even some rabbis have it (although I don’t think Radler-Feldman was actually a rabbi). I can’t vouch for sociologists and retired school teachers.

        BTW, a more literal translation would have been “his royal highness Satan”, if that helps.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        November 10, 2012, 8:25 am

        “It’s called a sense of irony. Even some rabbis have it”
        “a more literal translation would have been ‘his royal highness Satan’”
        ———————
        “his royal highness Satan” is indeed funny.
        I suspected that the whole thing is a Jewish joke when I read the last sentence:
        “This is the great and incomparable messianic idea.”

      • Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel
        November 10, 2012, 8:37 am

        I suspected that the whole thing is a Jewish joke when I read the last sentence:
        “This is the great and incomparable messianic idea.”

        Um, no. That part is serious.

      • MHughes976
        November 10, 2012, 9:47 am

        A form of messianism deriving ultimately, I suppose, from those biblical passages where the kings and nations flow joyously to Jerusalem and many nations are added to Yahweh. I don’t think that these passages should, pace those discussing them on another thread, be taken too literally, as if they overlooked serious problems of food supply and sanitation. They assure us that the spiritual benefits bestowed at Jerusalem will be available for all.
        Charles Wesley’s poem in which the Messiah is mentioned, with sufficient scriptural authority I think, both as ‘Israel’s strength and consolation’ and as ‘the desire of every nation’ is in the hymn book used in my church. There’s also a modern version, written by someone with heart in the right place, balancing Wesley’s ‘Israel’s strength’ with ‘desire of Palestine’.

      • Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel
        November 10, 2012, 10:00 am

        A form of messianism deriving ultimately, I suppose, from those biblical passages where the kings and nations flow joyously to Jerusalem and many nations are added to Yahweh.

        That’s certainly part of it, but there is also a humanistic aspect to Radler-Feldman’s faith that necessarily understands redemption in a universal sense. Below, I linked to Jerry Haber’s post “Progressive and Religious Zionist”, in which he cites passages from the writings of Radler-Feldman and Shereshevsky that reflect a religious outlook governed first and foremost by universal ethical principles, or “a platform for truth, love, and peace”.

      • Elliot
        November 10, 2012, 8:16 am

        He played a minor role in the ill-fated Yemenite aliyah during 1911 by taking part in a bizarre and silly deception meant to pass off the envoy, Shmuel Yavnieli, as a scholar rabbi.

        This was standard practice. Rabbi Kook was in on the plan. Zionist emissaries successfully pitched the Zionist project to Jewish communities, particularly in the Arab world, appealing to whatever Messianic narratives those communities held.

        The description of the letter that Rabbi Kook helped write is plausible. Kook was a genuine mystic and believed in all sorts of strange ideas. “Flowery biblical phrases and mystical allusions” were his hallmark.
        The Zionists had an authentic fascination with Yemenite Jews and they truly believed in the “direct link between settlement in Palestine and the religious idea of kibbutz galuyot (Heb. ingathering of the exiles)”.
        Zionist scholars of that time (for example, the founder of modern Jewish musicology, Zvi Idelssohn) devoted their academic careers to “concentrating and reevaluating all the traditions of Diaspora Jewry”.

        And, to make it work, Kook and Rupin polished Yavnieli’s CV to make him look more like a scholar. Per Wikipedia, this act of deception was also necessary since the Turkish authorities would never have allowed a secular revolutionary access to the Jews of Yemen.

        That’s not to say that the Ashkenazi Zionist ideologues did not look down on the Arab Jews. Warshawsky aka Yavnieli was a secular revolutionary pretending to be a rabbi so as to win the trust of a pre-modern, religious community.

    • gamal
      November 11, 2012, 1:04 pm

      Yes while i agree that these words do not redeem the Zionists or their project, what could, and knowing nothing of this man save these words, I think it is important to remember that the world has changed, and that many Jews back in the day found themselves in very difficult circumstances, and made poor choices under considerable pressure, not the leaders or the movement as a whole but individuals who may well have regretted. Just to be clear i am disgusted by the trauma meme, deployed as a kind of mitigation.

      Yes there is perhaps an element of empty rhetoric to these words, i have no idea what Radler-Feltman actually did, perhaps he himself never lived up to these ideals, however constrained as we are to deal with what is, and having watched the butchering of Palestine since before ’67, i was born in the 50′s to a very politicized environment in east Asia, back in anti-colonial times and lived, as child, in newly independent nations themselves recovering from brutal colonial wars, in both Africa and Asia, there is something in what he says, just the simple human kindness, which i feel is a priceless treasure having seen enough of the harsh realities of a disordered world, naivety is not always lacking in wisdom and irrational is not always incorrect.

      Petraeus is not the only man to suffer crucifixion by email, Cyril Ramaphosa, that hero of the anti-Apartheid war, lately become a tycoon, has been caught assuring the Lonmin directors that he would deal savagely with the Marikana miners, striking for a living wage, who he derides as criminals, and that arch traitor Mandela is universally celebrated as a Saint, so perhaps having got used to the thin gruel of Imperialistic utterances and the Hauteur of conquerors i reserve the right to be moved by words that even though perhaps empty are at least kind, which is a big thing to the likes of me, so Lakota me, should you wish too.

  15. Mooser
    November 9, 2012, 3:33 pm

    “We shall resettle you in our midst, as one of us…”

    Gee, Binny, that’s damn white of you old man! Even for a vision.

    • MRW
      November 9, 2012, 9:24 pm

      ;-)

    • Klaus Bloemker
      November 10, 2012, 8:58 am

      “idea of kibbutz galuyot (Heb. ingathering of the exiles)” – Elliot
      ———————————————————————————–
      Take note Mooser: This is the idea of ingathering world Jewry.

      • Mooser
        November 10, 2012, 12:45 pm

        “Take note Mooser: This is the idea of ingathering world Jewry.”

        Ah! So that’s what that ingathering stuff they always talk about at cabal meetings is about! I though they were altering dresses for this years drag show.
        Thanks, Klaus, for introducing me to a fascinating current in Jewish thought, in fact the overwhelming, unifying and compelling directive of my faith, which I was, like, totally unaware of.

      • Elliot
        November 10, 2012, 3:30 pm

        That’s the inside-out reading of Zionism. In a strange way, this upside down view that the colonial frontier in Palestine is actually the Motherland, was adopted by mainstream world Jewry.
        So why is world Jewry not rushing back home? Because, they don’t really believe this stuff. It’s just make believe.

  16. yonah fredman
    November 9, 2012, 7:03 pm

    hey Shmuel,

    thanks for informing me of the existence of Rabbi Radler-Feldman. Every little bit helps.

  17. seafoid
    November 10, 2012, 6:13 am

    Religious Zionism became heavily militarised post 1967. They had something irresistible at their feet- East Jerusalem -and they couldn’t say no. The only way to keep it was for the society to lurch rightwards and drop its morality. And so it did.

    I think there are parallels with what happened the breakaway Protestant churches in the US in the 60s. Tolerance and reason went out the window and “take whatever you can” became the replacement ideology. L’Oreal religion. Because you deserve it.

    Beit Hallahmi wrote a super book called “original sin” about 1948. Israel left 1948 behind when it embraced messianism and militarism . It is still all about 1948. Israel’s Gaza fetish.

    Finkelkstein says Israel is a heavily militarised society that feeds off war and I think he’s right. It’s a total mess at this stage. The system will eventully collapse under the weight of its own contradictions.

    • Mooser
      November 10, 2012, 12:49 pm

      “Finkelkstein says Israel is a heavily militarised society that feeds off war and I think he’s right. It’s a total mess at this stage. The system will eventully collapse under the weight of its own contradictions.”

      Oh, never mind that! Piffle! What about how perfectly adorable old Yehoshua Radler-Feldman is? Why if there were only four or five million of him, and one typical Zionist, instead of the other way round, wouldn’t things be wonderful, and wouldn’t the Palestinians looove having us there taking the place.

    • Elliot
      November 10, 2012, 3:25 pm

      I think there are parallels with what happened the breakaway Protestant churches in the US in the 60s. Tolerance and reason went out the window and “take whatever you can” became the replacement ideology. L’Oreal religion. Because you deserve it.

      The American Jewish lurch to the right was a combination of the acquisition of religious treasures in Israel in 1967 and Jews joining the ranks of the wealthy in the U.S.

      • seafoid
        November 10, 2012, 5:56 pm

        There must have been movers and shakers who made this happen and sidelined the moderates who had been in charge until then. Who were they? Who were the thought leaders ?

      • Elliot
        November 11, 2012, 10:03 pm

        I’m not an expert but my sense is that this was a generational shift. New institutions arose that made the old ones irrelevant. It happened over 2-3 generations, sometimes quicker. Your parents live in a small condo in the city and belonged to the Workman’s Circle; you moved to the suburbs and belong to the country club. You are removed geographically and politically from the realms of your parents’ generation. They are working class lefties while you are a conservative, suburbanite. They were refugees from Europe. You are a proud post-1967 Zionist.

  18. Mooser
    November 10, 2012, 1:02 pm

    Okay, I don’t belong here. I seem to have wandered into the special pleading thread.

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