Asa Kasher is an Israeli philosopher who wrote many years ago the IDF code of ethics. His comments at FB about the recent election and the shape of the national religious right and the ultra orthodox as dominant social forms caused some controversy (among rightwing Israelis). I’m posting Kasher’s wods below. People did not like his use of the word “mutation,” but what Kasher said is basic and to recent dynamics and trends related to the radicalization of Judaism in Israel. The point about the racist radicalization of religious Zionism was underscored by traditional leadership in the Israeli branch of the old-guard religious Zionist movement, Bnei Akiva, as reported here. (The article traces some of the history of the movement and of the National Religious Party (NRP) before religious Zionism was taken over by the settlement project in the West Bank. It provides data about the popularity of the racist religious right represented by the ReligiousZionism/Jewish Power in so-called normal and mainline settlements),
Kasher’s point reflecs how once upon a time, the religious parties, the old National Religious Party and the Haredi parties represented a force of social conservativism. Today the public face of religious-orthodox Judaism institutes a force of radical and violent disruption about to assume a dominant postion at the center of political power. They are Nentanyahu’s “natural allies” in the so-called national camp, which is a national-religious camp. Netanyahu is the technician who brought the Kahanists together and organized them into a tight parliamentary bloc with the ultra-orthodox parties. Normal orthodox Jews in Israel and outside Israel will complain; and it is still too early to predict who will actually be sitting in the next ruling coalition; they still only represent 20% of the country. But the Kahanists and the ultra-rthodox are the two groups of people who represent in the Knesset the public political face of Judaism in Israel. Observers of religion inside and outside of Jewish Studies will note this as a “scientific” fact. About the mutation of Jewish religion in Israel over time, about orthodox Judaism over the last twenty years, there is nothing that Kasher said that is not empirically true.
A comment on the results of the Knesset elections. I am particularly interested in one image that was discovered in the elections that passed this week: the image of the face of the “Jewish people sitting in Zion”, living in Israel. The image of the Jewish people, known to us from our childhood, from the education we received, from the life we knew, from the stories we heard , is not the current character
Before us are two movements of the Jewish people:
The ultra-Orthodox movement reveals a transition from the exiled way of life of the minority that lives its own life, keeps its guests and does not provoke the foreign rulers (“Dina Damalkuta Dina”) to the new way of life of the minority that lives at the expense of The other is an economic parasite, a security dodger, deprived of civil responsibility, with no real respect for the democratic regime and its principles.”
The nationalist movement reveals a transition from the religious way of life to a life in which adherence to the principles of justice and fairness, honesty and compassion, out of fear of God, but in responsible human conduct (“the morals of the prophets”) to a wild, malicious way of life, which sanctifies the land and controls itself with violence over its inhabitants, with methods that have no justice, no compassion, no morals, and more than any idol worship of the land, the people and its corrupt leadership.
The Jewish people whose face is not my Jewish people, is not the Jewish people that I wish to be named among my sons. I remain a person of Jewish origin. I will always be like that. My origin and my identity are the healthy Judaism that preceded the morbid mutations, The malignant, the rude and the repulsive, before our eyes.
Any call for the unity of the people is in my eyes an invalid call, accidental or malicious, and you will never see me respond to it. The differences between me and my people are not marginal, differences that should be ignored from them for a higher purpose. On the contrary, these differences are important beyond measure, their expression is a higher purpose that deserves to be served now.