Article Library / 2016

2016 Annual Assessment

The mainstream of Religious Zionist thought today views the goal of the return to Zion and the establishment of the Jewish state not primarily as a response to anti-Semitism and persecution but as the realization of religious and divine ideals. Furthermore, it is the vocation of the Jewish state to realize divine ideals in its institutions and public life. Ultimately, Religious Zionists believe this realization will have both a utopian and restorative character (e.g. the rebuilding of the Temple). These utopian and restorative aspirations give contemporary Religious Zionism its “messianic” or redemptive character. The national restoration of the Jewish people as well as the political incorporation and settlement of the Greater Land of Israel are intrinsic and important parts of this redemptive realization of divine ideals. In this context, Religious Zionists regard the Jewish nation and the Land of Israel as organic entities with a corporate life of their own, and not as aggregations of contracting individuals or infinitely dividable fragments of land.6

Of course, the vast majority of Religious Zionists are not theologians. Nevertheless, these underlying theological premises inform their thought on more mundane issues, especially those that concern national identity, citizenship, minority rights, democracy, and politics. As it conceives of the nation in organic, corporatist terms, it demands that the individual identify with the national collective and put him/herself at its service. Contemporary Religious Zionism does support democracy in the sense of a government that expresses the will of the people, and is based upon its consent. However, the “people” does not consist of atomistic individuals who through the social contract form a political body, but rather of the corporate nation of Israel, which is a historical, cultural, religious and even metaphysical entity.7According to the regnant Religious Zionist ideology, the true inner will of the nation is in fact the will of God. From these basic, theological, ideological and political premises, Religious Zionists and their representatives tend to formulate their stands on practical, concrete, and quotidian public and political issues.