What Are They Remembering?

True Torah Jews received a letter from an American who recently made aliyah to “Israel”. Here’s what she wrote:

I just returned from a Yom HaZicharon presentation with my Ulpan (Modern Hebrew language) class. It was my first and I went with an open mind. I hadn’t had breakfast or lunch and lacked the strength to project my own perspective onto it unless really provoked.

A number of things struck me during the 45 minute ceremony which was held at a national religious school and conducted mostly by school boys. The first was how all the gestures seemed borrowed from somewhere else. The plethora of flags, the marching, the soldier with the torch, the national anthem. It was all European/American military-esque except for the national anthem not mentioning G-d. There was even an American military band marching song which could have very well been written by John Phillip Sousa.

The second thing was how little of it was religious considering that the school was National Religious and this was an event to commemorate the dead.

At one point they started to sing Ani Ma’amim (I Believe) whose theme of waiting for Moshiach was so contrary to everything else. It seemed borrowed from somewhere else. The event was so confusing. It was as if they were secular Israelis in style but remembered that they were also trying to be religious even though the two clash intrinsically. I felt confused and they looked confused.

As I sat there I reflected on a tirade my Ulpan teacher had just made about the State of Israel being a place where Jews didn’t have to be victims anymore. If my Hebrew had been better I might have interrupted her shouting to ask her to consider the fact that many more Jews have been murdered in the land of Israel since the founding of the State than outside the land even though for most of that period many more lived outside the state.

Something really started to bother me. I felt that these school boys were being indoctrinated to identify with the State in memory of the deceased soldiers when it seems to me that the soldiers might have died only because of the existence of the State. I wanted to turn my head and share my thoughts with the person next to me but knew I’d never get an intelligible answer but only outrage. One of the prices we pay for this State is the development of extremely aggressive personalities that uphold their arguments by force of personality.

I had never felt it so viscerally before that Zionism is an exercise in heresy. And Religious Zionism is a fraud, like a kashrus seal on traife meat. Here I was at a Chardal school, the more religious of the Religious Zionist institutions, watching a military parade singing an atheistic anthem.

I walked out feeling a little sad but peaceful as well. You see, I really did walk in open minded. I was open to the arguments for Zionism and was suffering from my own confusion. I walked out with clarity. Zionism is not for me.


Yom HaZicharon