Declaration of Independence 1948
Declaration of Independence 1948A7 archives

As a constant and passionate observer of Israel and Jewish history, I have been observing an accelerating "kulturkampf" for the identity and soul of the Jewish state.

When I first visited and then moved to Israel, I was certainly aware that some Israelis were more "religious" than others , just as in the US.

Unlike the US, I believed that in Israel it is natural and desirable for all Israelis to identify as Jews - and Israelis. In the US, if you did not have a minimal Jewish education, you were on the way to assimilation and abandoning Jewish history.

In Israel, Hebrew is the language spoken by everyone. Most serve in the army where all walks of life share the same tent.

I knew that many Israelis did not follow much of the Torah, but I was impressed that they studied Tanach in school and had a connection to the land which was not possible in exile. An Israeli can read holy texts if they choose with the same ease as a newspaper. Not in America. Politicians sometimes quoted from our texts as did lawyers and writers, even though they were secular.

This ease with the holy words was a novelty for me and I was impressed that they had a deep grounding and pride in their Jewish roots though perhaps reflected more in their national spirit than in the synagogue.

I moved to Israel in 1977 after visiting and studying there on earlier occasions.

Looking back it seems that my first exposure came at a turning point in Israel society.

The founding generation of secular Zionist were often in touch with the classic texts and Jewish kowledge. However,they did not pass this last residue of "Yiddishkeit '' that they remembered from the "old home" to their children. The fathers were proud Jews while the next generations were rapidly becoming disconnected and ignorant .

One of the major Zionist figures of the Left, Ya'akov Hazan lamented , "we wanted to raise a generation of informed apostates (apikorsim) but in fact they are ignorant (amaratzim) of what we wanted them to reject."

The term "a state of all its citizens" was one that I heard years ago in the context of the radical Left. It meant compromising the Jewish character of the state for the inclusion of non Jewish citizens in every level of life even at the expense of national identity. If Jewish national identity discomforts non Jewish citizens then those citizens must be accommodated. This is the real test of a moral country. Jewish? "Morality" trumps. Essential values such as pluralism and ''minority rights` are paramount.

The spirit behind these words is that the Jewish nature of the state is basically unfair to the non Jewish citizens and therefore the entire concept of a Jewish state was born in sin.

It did not take a big leap to then take up the fight for the "other" against the :oppressive:Jewish culture.

Identity is the key word. Are you a Jew or are you an "Israeli"? Are you tied to the old definitions, values and allegiances?

The question of what is a Jew and what is an Israeli - constantly debated.

The Left likes to talk about a "Democratic - Jewish state" with democratic clearly overriding Jewish . The Right prefers the Jewish above the democratic. What was the two thousand year dream? Next year in Jewish Jerusalem or in a democratically shared or international Jerusalem, for instance?

What is the essence of this thing called Zion and Zionism? Is it democracy that demands the deconstruction of Judaism or is it a sacred thing that united all Jews for thousands of years?

It has become apparent to me that the Left is less concerned with democratic and more concerned with not Jewish.

How do I know?

The blind hatred for the "settlers'' who dare remind us of our Jewish ties to this holy land.(the demographic argument as to why Israel must not extend its sovereignty to all parts of our land ring hollow as the Left champions tens of thousands of illegal African infiltrators in the country as well as foreign workers whose visa expire,and whose children fill Israeli schools. The same Left fights to bring to Israel tens of thousands of Arabs to "unite" with Israel Arab marriage partners).

The attempts to secularize the Sabbath that symbolises and unites the Jewish people from the very beginning..

The resistance to exposing Jewish children to the most basic concepts of Judaism.

The encouragement of the dissolution of the Jewish family.

The list is long.

This was not the same Left that I met on my first visits to Israel. There has been change. There is a war being waged for the soul and Identity of this country.

I have not mentioned the Arabs until now. The Arabs are a problem but they are more a symptom of the unsettled question of our own identity than a physical threat. For many of the Left, Arab physical attacks on the country are far less a challenge and threat to them than the thought of the "Jews" leading the "Jewish country".

So I have written a book.Many of my articles in this book are facets and illustrations of this phenomenon as reflected in events that I observe and record..

It was not clearly felt years ago but it is today; there are many Jews, often in positions of power, who simply do not want a Jewish country. It was an unthinkable suggestion when I first came here.

If they lived in the USA they would simply assimilate. Here it is more complicated. They are the children of the founding fathers and have positions of power and wealth that they want to retain.

Yes, many do leave and it is a growing option. Their numbers are waning as they have smaller families than the "Jews" . "Alternate lifestyles" are in.

Perhaps they feel desperate and thus openly court anti Zionist Arab parties to share what little public support they still have . This was a taboo that their fathers respected and is being broken by the desperate heirs who want to cling to power and influence.

What about the Israeli Arabs amongst us; the ones who lost the war of 1948 that they started and are still mourning that loss?

It was an illusion from the beginning to think that they would accept our national domination. Their history, religion, education and culture does not allow real acceptance. No civil liberties or materai benefit can compensate for their belief that we stole their land, if not their country, which never existed.

No matter, they believe it as I have learned from both academic sources and my own conversations with many of them.

So what to do?

Incentivise them to leave. Those who act violently against Jewish sovereignty, as the thousands that attacked Jews in the pogroms of 2021 should be expelled. Most of the rest who are not violent, but vote for anti Jewish parties, should be encouraged and helped to leave. Polls show that many would like to and some have been joining their many brothers abroad


It's unhealthy for both the Jews and Arabs to continue the charade of coexistence.

It sounds good to the Western ear (not to the Arab) but it is an illusion. There is nothing that will satisfy their deeply felt narrative of injustice except for an Israel that is a "state of all its citizens",

In this, the Left and the Arabs Share common ground. Of course the Left doesn't realize that it won't stop there.

Our beloved Jewish state faces great challenges. The greatest in my opinion is the struggle for identity , for the soul of the country.

Once that is clear, once the "why" is clear, the "how" will be found to solve the rest of our problems..

Shalom Pollack is a veteran tour guide, who says: "I have the oppportunity to observe many sides of our beloved country. As a Jew who has come home, I am passionate about sharing my observations and thoughts." He can be reached [email protected]