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Rabbi Melamed: Is Secular Nationalism Morally Coherent?

The Third Annual Ramle Conference was held today, with the theme, “Israel as Opposed to Other Nations: Renewing National Identity in Israel.”
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 4/6/2010, 6:37 PM / Last Update: 4/6/2010, 6:44 PM

The Third Annual Ramle Conference was held today to discuss “The Difference between Israel and  Other Nations: Renewing National Identity in Israel.”

Co-sponsored by the Torah Core Group in Ramle, the Municipality of Ramle and the Kommemiyut Organization, the conference featured the following topics:

  • Can Nationalism and Ethics Co-Exist?
  • Changes in the Concept of Nationalism Since the Beginning of Modern Zionism
  • Post-National Tendencies in Israel and the World
  • National Pride and International Pressures: Does an Increase in Pressure Signify Internal Weakness?
  • How to Prevent Clashes Between Knesset Laws/Diplomatic Agreements and Torah Law
  • After 100 Years of Zionism, Must Israel’s National Values and Goals be Redefined?
  • How to Enlist Our National Strengths
Among the speakers were:
  • Ramle Mayor Yoel Lavi
  • Rabbis Zalman Baruch Melamed, Yaakov Ariel, Dov Lior, David Stav, Tzefania Drori
  • Prof. Asher Cohen, Bar Ilan University
  • Yoram Ettinger, Israel-U.S. relations expert
  • Yitzchak Meir, former Israeli Ambassador in Western Europe
  • MKs Ze’ev Elkin, Uri Ariel, Tzipi Hotobeli, Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh)

Rabbi Melamed said, “Secular nationalism cannot exist for long, because it is essentially insupportable from a moral point of view. Nationalism of this sort can exist only to the extent that it comes closer to belief in G-d, to the idea that G-d chose Israel to bring His word to the world, that this mission must take place in the Land of Israel. That type of nationalism is morally correct in saying that the Nation of Israel must return to the entire Land, be here alone, and fulfill all of G-d given destined goals which can only occur here in this Land. Without such a world view, I don’t see how an exclusive nationalist outlook can be supported morally."

Rabbi Melamed did not rule out working together with secular nationalist groups, however. “We should work together with all those who wish to maintain the Land of Israel as the Jewish People’s home,” he said.

The objective of the annual Ramle Conference, say the organizers, is to “create a framework and basic infrastructure for discussion based on Torah, au courant knowledge and expertise, and on the variety of opinions present in Israeli society… The very fact that it is held in Ramle, which is one of Israel’s mixed cities [Jews, Christians and Muslims] is an expression of support for the city and its residents in dealing with a challenge that exists here specifically and in our country in general.”