For Hanukkah: The True Purpose of the National Camp

How the National Camp can fulfill what he defines as its true mission.

Prof. Paul Eidelberg

Judaism Paul Eidelberg
Paul Eidelberg

In the May 1977 elections, the Likud, to everyone’s surprise, emerged from the political wilderness, where it had been dormant for twenty-nine years. This party of losers won enough seats in the Knesset to gain control of the Government for the first time in its lackluster history. It was a virtual revolution for the so-called National Camp.

How nationalists reveled! How they lifted their heads and beheld new life and a glorious future for the nationalist camp! Alas, their joy was short-lived. They never dreamed that their “right-wing” party, which had come into power with the intention of spelling Labor backwards, would soon be spelling Labor forward. Intoxicated with power, the Likud drifted to the Center o the political spectrum, there to capture many floating votes and thus remain in power.

Today, this metamorphosis is obvious. For the politically naive, however, it did not become obvious until June 14, 2009, when Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu endorsed the creation of Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria. He thus finalized the Likud-Labor legacy.

What has gone unnoticed, however, is that this legacy signifies that Israel has been led by a Government devoid of any serious Jewish identity, or, conversely, that this Government, regardless of which party has been at the helm, has never been challenged by a serious opposition party, a party committed to the ultimate issue of “Zionism.”

Conventional commentators will define this as the “territorial issue.” But a far more profound issue is that of Israel’s National Redemption.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, a philosopher of history, defines this issue as Israel's National Dialogue with God. This dialogue was wiped away with the destruction of the First Temple and the Jewish people’s loss of a sovereign, independent state. What remained and gained preeminence was the Individual Dialogue with God from which Christianity emerged, and which Zionism imitated.

Although the revival of Israel’s national dialogue was never on the agenda of Zionism or of Herzl’s book, The Jewish State, the rebirth of the State of Israel has prepared the grounds for reviving the Jewish people’s National Dialogue with God, which will require, however, the construction of the Third Temple.

Notice that no Likud-led and no Labor-led government has ever had to confront a serious opposition party, a party committed to the construction of the Third Temple and the revival of Jewish people’s National Dialogue with God.

Bearing in mind that most of the Jews in this country have been significantly to the right of their Government, it is hardly an exaggeration to say that the institutions of this Government have been designed ion such a way as to effectively disenfranchise the people on the most important of issues:

What is the purpose of this people, or rather, for what purpose was this unique people created? The answer is at hand. The word “Jew” is derived from “Judah” (Yehudah) which means “he shall exalt.” In his very name we behold the Jew’s world-historical purpose, as it says in Isaiah 43:21: “This people have I created that they may relate My praise”—meaning God’s infinite wisdom, power, and graciousness in every domain of existence.

This is why Israel needs to construct the Third Temple and thereby renew its National Dialogue with God. This should be the goal of the “National Camp,” which should bear in mind these words of Isaiah 2:2-4): “Many peoples will go and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of Hashem, to the Temple of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His ways and we will walk in His paths,’ for from Zion will the Torah come forth, and the word of Hashem from Jerusalem” (2:2-4).