There is no question there has been a fragmentation, a near collapse of the relationship between the ruling class of Israel, the secular establishment and all its state sanctioned apparatus of control , the bureaucracy, and the disparate elements that let them assume power in the first place; the religious Zionists, – a contradiction in terms- , the ultra-orthodox and simply large sectors excluded from the circles of power such as the immigrants and Sephardim jews. The result has been a dissident ideology that has arisen of which politically could be seen in the likes of Moshe Feiglin and others including religious activists like Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpo.
Its still shambling and chaotic, but the commonality of concerns is becoming apparent. A dozen wealthy families controlling a disproportionate share of the wealth, apparently controlling half the market cap value on the stock exchange cannot keep recycling old Zionist ideology in new packages like Yair Lapid. Effectively, they appear to view the Zionist project as a shopping mall idea, and will try to extract the most value per square foot from the enterprise. Like a Jewish Hong-Kong. The far reaches of the West Bank, the settlements of Judea and Samaria are seen as limited commercial potential or wothwhile sacrificing for more over-reaching commercial concerns. The main thing is to maintain power and call out as undemocratic, fascist, extremist, even terrorist, anyone questioning the arrangement from outside the locus of power. To frame the issue as secular moralism, read atheism under barrage and siege by wild unwashed fanatics and anyone who consciously denies their right to impose values.
Separating state and those who run it is a new, liberating and emancipatory experience. The shunted no longer have to demonize the state or condone actions out of guilt. Its not revolutionary. Although Rabbi Wolpo called for Olmert and others to be hung for treason after Gush Katif expulsions and the missiles in southern Israel, the dissidents for the most part want to reform the secular establishment, but that is going to be a tough sled. For the religious, our world is unredeemed, the messiah has not arrived even if the times are messianic, but modest political power is a realistic objective. After all, their ideas were not fully developed. There is still a diaspora mentality of exile which precludes an enthusiastic engagement with political institutions, though Zionism has enhanced and added new wrinkles to this culture. In short, the colonized and oppressed are getting fed up; their social conditions are analogous to Egyptian bondage pre-Exodus and there has been a fertile tinkering with Jabotinsky style liberal nationalism, Torah derived ideas, and a dash of practical considerations that will ultimately re-allocate resources and reduce the powers in place with the goal with the public sphere more proximate to traditional values and the state monopoly on education and media to be de-regulated and liberalized. It won’t be easy and there are side issues that will strain democratic thought, but are surmountable.
The dissident views fall into a number of zones; first, a quarter of the population is Arab or guest worker, or non-Jewish immigrants. The small but very powerful ruling class is for the most part only nominally Jewish; a kind of unfortunate birth defect, that was a fluke of nature. So, the state lacks justification for speaking on behalf of Jewish people in the world at large, an insidious but ingenious maneuver, and really has no interest in putting its fat lips onto matters of Jewish law which it does merely to control and annoy. The state can decide on immigration criteria, but not on the more touch identity issues in which the state inevitable enmeshes itself in defining and deciding intrinsically religious spheres of knowledge and understanding which based on past experience is usually a veiled assault on the values of a large segment of people and an intentional uses of lack of common sense and good will in order to divide people.
A disentanglement, at least in part, of religion and state would ultimately benefit the religious to assert their claims, often well founded and given little credence in the media. Instead of, cap in hand, begging at Rothschild’s door for alms, legitimate demands could be removed from the purview of the condescending structure that presently exists. After all, they are significant in numbers, their demographics mean even more significance in a generation and the establishment, given the weekly blandishments and attacks from professional shillers ranging from media, to political hacks, is a sign of worry. The shadow of Wolpo’s gallows. Ironically, like the struggle against segregation and sexism in America, and legitimate concerns of Palestinians, the dynamics of public debate and cultural dialog could radically be altered by a removal and discarding of the anti-Jewish subtext underlying much of the public narrative in the country.
The current basis of anti-Jewish discourse, effectively a self-hating anti-semitism should be delegitimized; Zionism is racism, that is racism towards its own people who do not adhere to the secular and material values at the heart of it. Not all Jews want to worship at the Golden Calf. Any new paradigm also means proportional representation of dissident jews in public bodies, which is surely going to uncover a lot of dirt. Tokenism like Katsav as President was a farce. They knew he was a skirt chaser and philanderer, vulnerable and flawed before his appointment. Its time to get out of the ghetto, even if the ruling class wants to stay in their own.