In the disapora, the absence of political sovereignty presented some opportunities for self-improvement, it was never regarded as an end in itself. Much like the Old Country proverb about dying, it was more of a tradition than a good deed. Hence with the first stirrings of political sovereignty were stewing with the onset of the pogroms and Edmond De Rothschild’s first but somewhat reluctant investment in collective farms,the workings of Moses Montefiore and others, the possibility became a tangible potential abetted by the Revisionist movement a bit later “down east” with Jabotinsky, Trumpledor et al. The Zionists sought the quantum leap: to empowering Jews by expanding the scope of their autonomy from the cultural to the political sphere.
Or ideally, dropping religion in favor of a religion of nationalism. The basic argument was it would correct the obvious physical threats and as a bonus revitalize a culture that was stagnating; in effect it was taking Western Liberal emancipation that was secularizing jews in Western Europe and which began with the French Revolution and transferring this template to Palestine and in the process reinforcing jewish identity. So, the divide between the religious and secular was always there. And the argument that jews would be less economically and politically dependent through Zionism was tenuous at best.
Of course, this meant homogenizing all the civil institutions Jews had developed over the centuries in the Diaspora into a large governmental apparatus, state socialism with the concentration of power in the hands of an elite, a relative few, that sought a collective identity in the state alone, to the exclusion of cultural considerations. The people bank-rolling it were going to run it with hired hands. And they were white and for the most part regarded their Judaism as an unfortunate birth defect. If need be, they would be a yid version of the African nigger king. A jewish state as a racial entity. The secular power was then used to civilize and tame what were considered inferior groups, namely religious immigrants, Jewish refugees from Arab states and the dregs and leftovers from the death camps. There was always a rump here that would resist internalizing secular Zionist orthodoxy.
So, these patterns of power and their execution were established in the early days of the state, continually reinforced, and have been maintained to the present day. These “others” enumerated above are analogous to tolerated guests, a kind of glorified guest worker excluded for any real power. Not a democracy, but a junta that perpetuates itself. Denis Goldberg was not mistaken entirely in equating Israel to South Africa; not quite the same he said, but many structural similarities. But is Israel not merely an extension of, an imitation of Western democracies in which these nominal jews are trying to appease the larger plantation owner. To use Malcolm X’s fiery rhetoric, are the Peres’s , Barak’s, Mofaz’s et al. gold plated house negroes and not field hands?
This “ruling class” is something out of Peter Barne’s play of the same name. A closed and narrow group of like minded types who perpetuate control of the state among themselves. More importantly, and you can say Norman Finkelstein was right here, their values, such as they are, are assumed in public discourse to be so obvious, so embedded down to the bedrock of bourgeois poppycock, that attempts to bring other views to the table are assumed to be, and dismissed as coercion, anti-semitism, etc. And for desert, their criticisms of the establishment are seen as a healthy manifestation of a virile democracy in action while the identical assertions by outsiders is condemned as hostile, aggressive, threatening and subversive, triggering another “existential” crisis with the usual crocodile tears over jewish identity.
In any event, the ruling class in Israel consisting of the ideological continuation of labor Zionism. They did not sink the Altaleena for show. Since Day one, the most salient feature of this ruling class has been the exclusion from it of all the various groups who consider themselves more Jewish than Israeli. And this may have started when opportunists left Egypt with the Jews, the Biblical Erev-Rav now instilling their standard pyramidal system on the Land of Israel. The Arab Spring showed the Arabs had enough of this phony con job by bad actors, and maybe the mass of Israelis will wake up as well.
Despite several Likud governments since Begin in the late 1970′s, the same cabal that assumed power in the early days of the state still controls the state apparatus, with the elected governments providing window dressing. The media, the security structure, the judiciary, are all self-perpetuating establishments closed to those who refuse to lick the boots of the secular establishment. Tokenism is the rule. An example is the supreme court “reserving” a religious seat. A seat on the back of the bus. The me
is almost all secular and bashing of the “other” the norm, like the background wail of anti-semitism of Al-Jazeera. There are very few religious soldiers at the policy deciding echelon. The same template also exists in the financial sphere through several families controlling through monopoly power, the state sanctioned cartels and professional associations such as the liberal professions…