ABA AHIMEIR: NEO-ZIONISM
"Zionism will never die"
The Crisis of Transition
There is much talk nowadays about a crisis in Zionism. What precisely is this crisis? Some people say: There is no immigration from the West. But when was there any immigration from countries which knew no Judennot*? Was there any immigration from Russia before the First World War?There was only a trickle, just like the present trickle coming from America and South Africa. And did the wealthy Jews from pre-war Russia invest more capital than the wealthy Jews of America are doing today? No this is not the root of the crisis.
There are many who see no crisis at all in Zionism. They only see the completion of a mission: Zionism concluded its task with the establishment of the State of Israel. But the question is whether it has indeed concluded its task. Has the dream of Zionism indeed become a reality? Has it been completely implemented?
The dream of Zion has been implemented only in part. There is still much to do: 85 percent of our nation still lives outside of the State of Israel; the State of Israel occupies only a small part of the area of Eretz Israel, geographically, as well as historically.
A Jewish State has come into being on a. small part of the land and for a small part of the nation. A Jewish state has come into being before the redemption of the greatest part of Eretz Israel and of the majority of the People of Israel. Is the task of complete redemption to be thrust upon the State, and not upon the Zionist Organization?
There is no crisis in Zionism at present. This is only a period of transition. The Zionism of the eve of European Jewrys destruction belongs to the past we can no longer act in the spirit, or with the methods, of that Zionism. The old Zionism has failed utterly, it was. not ableto circumvent the catastrophe of the European Diaspora. The old Zionism could not save the doomed part of our people a third of the nation. But we are looking forward, not backward. And if we do have to look back, it is in orderto avoid the same mistakes in the future.
New Aspect of the Diaspora
Until 1939, Zionism functioned amongst European Jewry, or, to be more precise, amongst Eastern and Central European Jewry. Zionism was the Renaissance Movement of the Yiddish-speaking Jews, in the little communities, dispersed mainly among the Slav peoples. From the beginning of World War I from 1914 the means at the disposal of Zionism were provided mainly by America. But not only was Zionism active in Central and Eastern Europe, it was also influenced by the trends prevailing in these countries: nationalism and socialism. Zionism aspired to save the nation from Central European nationalism. Zionism was haunted by the specter of anti-Semitism; it was imbued with the spirit of Judennot; it saw the distress of the masses in Eastern Europe, in the same way as humanitarian socialism saw the distress of the masses in general. But Zionism did not appraise the danger which threatened the nation once Central European nationalism and the Eastern European class struggle turned their theory into practice. Herein lies the failure of Zionism. European Jewry was physically destroyed, while Eastern European Jewry has been living for the last forty years under a regime of cruel, imposed Marrano assimilation.
After the National-Socialist wave in Central Europe, and the Soviet wave in Eastern and now also in Central Europe, we see that the majority of our nation has shifted from the Slavic countries~ Hungary, Roumania, and. Germany to the Anglo-Saxon countries, Latin America, and Western Europe.
After the Jewish centre in Eastern and Central Europe had disappeared, the crisis in Zionism became more acute. Zionism has not yet succeeded in adapting itself to the new conditions to the new centres ofthe Diaspora, whither the majority of the nation has been transplanted, and all its attempts to make use of the same methods as it used in Eastern andCentral Europe are doomed to failure. Zionism used to operate against the background of anti-Semitism and Judennot. In the Slav countries the Jews lived in an atmosphere of Liberal anti-Semitism (as compared to the National-Socialistic Hitlerite anti-Semitism). The majority of the Jews lived in their villagesand in townships in the pale of Settlement. The Jews were not citizens with equal rights. They were also made to suffer for their economic success
New Canters of the Galut
What has been the position of the Diaspora since 1945?
We now have three centers of the Golah:
a)the Western Diaspora, with North America in the first place;
b)the Communist Diaspora, with Soviet Russia in the first place;
C) the Islamic Diaspora, with North Africa in the first place.
Each of these centers has its own conditions. Thepicture each one presents is clear enough, and needs no lengthy analysis.
The position of the Jews in the Communist and Islamic countries is so bad that, in comparison, that of the Jews in Czarist Russia under Alexander III and Nicolai II seems ideal. In the first place, there was economic prosperity. Secondly, the Jews were persecuted because they were Jews, not because they dared to dream of Zion
Czarist Russia opened the gates of its Western borders to the Jews. The Jews in the Communist and Islamic countries are kept prisoners...
Ever since the October Revolution, Zionism has tried to obscure the dangerto our nation.Zionists were persecuted.Jewish traditions were persecuted more than Christian or Moslem ones. Zionism closed its eyes to it, believing it saw in Communism an effective weapon against anti-Semitism.
Since the emergence of red anti-Semitism, however, the truth has become clear to all, but it was the strengthening of the 1eft wing in Zionism which led to the Communist danger being obscured.
In vain have the Zionists been trying for the last forty years to convince the Soviet leaders of the kashrut of Zionism from the Communist viewpoint. On the contrary, the more communophile Zionism became, the greater became the Kremlins hatred towards it.
As long as Zionism is ruled not by men of energy but by shtadlanim' (influence peddlers), drawing-roomCommunists and Hashomer Hatsair Stalinists of yesterday, Nenni-Titoists* oftoday, Zionism will be ineffective in its relations towards the countries under red dictatorship.
The question of Judennot does not exist for the Jews of the West, either economically or from the aspect of civilian rights. The regime prevailing in the Zionist Organization since the 1920 London Conference, and since the 1933 Congress of shame in Prague is not one favorable to the immigration of Jews from the West.
The preconditions for the immigration of these Jews are a change of regime in the State of Israel and a change of atmosphere in Zionism.A new Zionism must be created, a Zionism composed of two sectors,one to operate among the Jews in the Marxist and Moslem countries, the other among the Jews in the democratic West two different Zionist Organizations within the New Zionist Organization.The air must be cleared of drawing-room communist Zionism, of red fellow-travelers, of schnorring and Reparations.
There is still a great task in store for the heirs Herzl and Jabotinsky.
The Root of the Crisis
This writer is under no delusion: the patient reader will finish reading this article with a just feeling of disappointment, For he will look in vain for a cure for this illness called "Crisis in Zionism".
But before the cure is discovered, the symptoms of the illness must be established and understood. This was the object of the present article.
The causes of the crisis in Zionism must not be searched for in the fact that the great. majority of our nation has been geographically transplanted from Eastern and Central Europe to North and South America, Western Europe and South Africa. For there was not only this geographical transplantation there was also a historical mutation:the Jews who remained in Eastern and Central Europe were subjected to a change of regime, from a regime of monarchist-aristocracy to one of Communist totalitarianism.
The Zionists have not yet awoken to these changes and to their significance. Herein lies the root of the crisis in Zionism. The changes which have taken place in the Diaspora over the last two generations (in 1914, 1917, 1933 and 1939) are the factors underlying the crisis. Zionism must be made to realize the significance of these changes and to draw the necessary conclusions, for unless it does this, there is no future for it. If we do not learn this lesson, the future of our nation will hold nothing but fossilization and stagnation.
Originally published in: Hayarden (June 1960)
*Herzl's term for the plight or distress of the Jews.
*referring to Communist leaders in Italy and Yugoslavia, respectively.