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Early Zionism & Understanding the Haredi Approach


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Av 19, 5777
The Zionists prior to the invasion of Poland in WWII were practicing Eugenics in regards to immigration. As I understand it, the Zionists were repatriating immigrants with disabilities and mental illnesses back to Europe. One of the reasons was the financial burden of treatment and long term care. The other issue was one of self-perception and the creation of the "New Jew", which emphasized strength and masculinity, and they were rather critical of diaspora Jews whom they viewed as pale and weak by comparison. The Haredi seem to capitalize on the inconsistencies of early Zionism when they want to avoid integrating into Israeli society by paying taxes and serving in the military, but strangely they are the least likely to extend the olive branch to the Palestinians (or their fellow Israelis for that matter). What are the reasons for this?? How is their theological understanding different than other religious Jews?? Because they seem the most antagonistic towards Christians, Muslims, and other Jews. Is it necessary to have Kosher Electricity, and to live off of the State? The Amish in the US do not do this. They take zero state or federal assistance, and are self-sustaining farmers and carpenters. And they don’t use electricity at all. I think the Haredi (and Satmar in the US) could learn a lot from the Amish. Very similar communities but they do not use welfare, take social security, or vote. And Yiddish and Pennsylvania Dutch are mutually intelligible languages. The Israelis should run an exchange program with them.
I suggest you check your facts, because Iv’e heard of the early Zionists giving preference (!) to the healthy self-supporting and able-bodied, as all new and under-developed countries do. I have never (!) heard of “sending back” the unhealthy to Europe, but it sounds, as you inferred, that your source is Satmar propaganda (they blame the Zionists for the Holocaust! Talking about self-blaming neurosis and fear of the gentiles...). Fact: Israel absorbed my 80 year old mother-in-law with full rights (including expensive health coverage!), just as we have fully accepted tens of thousands (!) of elderly olim from the former Soviet Union, just because they were Jewish. It’s true that the idealistic Zionist pioneers wanted to “revive” the original Jew, as found in the Bible, “healthy in body and soul”, and were embarrassed of the weak “diasporan” Jew (because there was truly what to be embarrassed from), sometimes wrongly ridiculing them excessively, but to portray them as sadistic is far from the truth (always check who's the source of your “information”!). Haredim and traditional Jews are more steeped and connected with our past roots and sources. When someone fasts four days a year to commemorate historical anti-Semitism and disappointing and tragic relationships with the gentile nations, he has a tendency to be more wary, both consciously and sub-consciously. The more “Jewish” a person is, the longer his memory, and woe to a nation who doesn’t learn from their experience to repeat the same mistakes. We always extend our hand for peace, and even (unfortunately) gambled Israel’s security in Oslo and running away from Gush Katif, but have just received increased terrorism in return. If our neighboring countries are torn apart by their fanatic Islamic ideology, can you imagine what they have in store for us?! Regarding their fellow Israelis, the Haredim have a tendency to view everyone else as they viewed the “outsider” gentiles in the diaspora, in order to insulate themselves from influence (Satmar propaganda says that even religious Zionists aren’t Jewish, even though really, halachically, even secular Jews are!). In short, Haredim are different from other religious Jews in that they view everything as it was “traditionally” just for the past 2,000 years of exile, and as is common for religious people, they are very wary of any change. Their mistake is that Zionism and Jewish nationalism isn’t Reform, but rather returning to the original Bible. In addition, if one believes that God runs the world, the earth-shaking events of the past century cannot be ignored, and if the modern world can kill 6,000,000 Jews in 6 years, God is necessitating us to revive our historic independent Jewish army and get the heck out of exile! In addition, the globalized and mass-transportation world of today also leaves us no choice, and the only answer to assimilation is returning to the original Judaism, to live with Jews, in a Jewish State, with a Jewish culture, and Jewish army, as did Joshua, Samson, David, Solomon, etc. Thanks God, not all Haredim are Satmar, and there are many different shades, including those who work, those who serve in the army, those who pay taxes etc.
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