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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Anti-Zionism As A Cover for Anti-Semitism

by Rabbi Avi Weiss (Posted on May 25, 2016)
Topics: Israel, Ki Tavo, Machshava/Jewish Thought, Sefer Devarim, Torah

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Three covenants (brit) are mentioned in the Torah, the covenant of the pieces (Genesis 15), the covenant of Sinai (Exodus 19), and the covenant of our portion, which was made just prior to our entry into Israel (Deuteronomy 29). Truth be told, they each contribute to the making of the nation of Israel.

The covenant of the pieces between God and Abraham established the family of Israel. It was nothing less than the planting of the seeds from which the Jewish people ultimately emerged. Abraham and Sarah were designated as the father and mother. From them, the children of Jacob were ultimately born. Soon after, we coalesced into a peoplehood.

The covenant of Sinai introduces a new element. As we became a people, it was crucial that we be governed by law. That law, given at Sinai, is the Torah. Its principles and precepts form a foundation which unites Jews, creating a sense of mission that we become “a kingdom of priests and a holy people.”

The covenant parshat Ki Tavo introduces a third critical component. It is not enough to be a people governed by law. Another crucial aspect is required for nationhood – a land. This element is addressed by the brit of our portion. Standing as we were, just days before entry into Israel, our portion begins with the words “When you come into the land,” and concludes with the message of the brit.

Not coincidentally, these three covenants, people, Torah, and land, comprise the basis of Jewish nationhood. It is in the words of Rav Kook a combination of the people of Israel, with the Torah of Israel, in the land of Israel.

Throughout the centuries, there have been those who have been bent on destroying the Jewish nation, by attacking one of these three pillars. Some like Amalek in Biblical times, or the Nazis in the modern era, have focused their venom on the Jewish people. Their goal was simply to annihilate us.

Others have directed their hatred against our Torah. A prime example is Christian persecution of Jews in what Raul Hilberg calls “fifteen hundred years of anti-Semitic activities.” Their claim was that they had no intention to murder Jews. Rather, it was to kill those who rejected their God. Basically, they stated, we accept Jews, but only if they embrace Jesus. In the end, however, it became clear that their goal of destroying our fundamental Torah beliefs was the equivalent of destroying the Jewish people.

Today another type of Jew hatred has emerged in the form of anti-Zionism. Truth be told, in the post-Holocaust era, it is simply not polite to directly target Jews or even their Torah. Hence, the attack against the Jewish land. In the end, however, a Jewish land is so fundamental to Judaism that any attempt to deny Jews their homeland is nothing less than an attempted destruction of the Jewish people. Simply put, anti-Zionism is equivalent to anti-Semitism.

The land of Israel, together with the people and Torah of Israel, are integral parts of our nation. To attack the Jewish land is intense anti-Semitism. This is the time for Jew and non-Jew to stand up and be counted. To be silent is to be complicit. All people of decency should proclaim “I am a Jew.”