For decades the State of Israel has promoted illegal settlements on the land captured during the Six Day Way. For decades Jews around the world turned a blind eye to the idolatry of settler Judaism promoting worship of the Land rather than God. The worship of Israel is corrupting the very soul of our people, but we refuse to see it. Yet every once in a while some evil is perpetrated by Israeli Jews that just cannot go unnoticed.
This December’s pogroms perpetrated by Israeli terrorists against innocent Palestinians—burning farms, homes, cars, attacking Palestinians with stones and even bullets, defacing mosques with anti-Muslim graffiti, and desecrating Muslim graves with Stars of David—is proof that both Zionism and Judaism have failed in Israel. Judaism has fallen victim to the danger that threatens every religion: when the religious get guns, religions get violent.
Judaism, like Islam, is a warrior religion. Abraham, Moses, and Joshua, like Mohammed and the Caliphs that followed him were warlords whose God sanctioned their military efforts and promised ultimate victory. Nothing has changed. Of course the majority of Jews and Muslims eschew violence, but the violence done in their name continues unabated.
It is true that the Prime Minister of Israel was the one to call these Jewish acts of terror “pogroms,” and it is also true that the heads of many Jewish organizations decried them as well. I am proud of these leaders and applaud their willingness to come out and oppose the evil some Jews do in the name of Judaism. But this is not enough.
Israel must immediately cease to fund all religious and secular groups that promote violence in theory or practice. We have our Jewish version of jihadist madrasas in both Israel and the United States, and these should be publicly identified and defunded. We have the Jewish equivalent of the Taliban, and the State of Israel and every Jew who donates money to Israel subsidizes many of these Taliban-like movements, synagogues, and rabbis. This funding must cease.
There may never be peace in the Middle East, but we need not be implicated in funding violence. Federation money donated to Israel should be limited to specific humanitarian efforts and not be allowed to be used to free up other money to go to fund ultra-right-wing religious groups that preach hatred and/or participate in and sanction evil.
Jews around the world should demand that worship of the land be labeled for what it is: idolatry. We should insist that those who worship the land be called what they are: idolaters. We should immediately label those who perpetrate pogroms against Palestinians what they are: terrorists. We should demand that Israel free herself from the theocratic stranglehold of the Orthodox, end the occupation of the West Bank, and become a true secular democratic state with synagogue-state separation written into law.
What better time than Hanukkah to advance true freedom in Israel? What better time to decry the idolatry of land worship and rededicate ourselves to the highest ideas of justice, peace, and love? If not now, when?