Issue 74 Download Archive Links Search Contact Us


The articles in this issue have been divided up into the following categories







My Thoughts on Israel
By Naim Dangoor

For nearly 2,000 years we have been praying and hoping for the return to Zion. Our generation has been privileged to witness the rebirth of Israel. I therefore often ask myself, what are we doing here? Why are we not back in Israel? The answer lies in the difference between religious Zionism and political Zionism.

From the early days of the Galuth, Babylonian Rabbis came to the conclusion that Israel needs a Mashiyah to make a radical change in its structure. It was no use reviving Israel with the old diseases that killed it on two previous occasions. Ezra’s reforms made the Galuth under the Torah self-sufficient and deferred ‘sine die’ the need for a Mashiyah. Jesus opposed the Pharisees and Mohammed, claiming that he came to revive the pure religion of Abraham, arose as a direct reaction to the spread of the Talmud. Jewish circles not within the Babylonian orbit widely opposed the Talmud and accepted Mohammed as a Gentile Mashiyah, such as the Jews of Arabia and the Jewish exiles in Afghanistan and Kashmir (the Pathans).

It is said that history repeats itself. In fact, like a good teacher, history only repeats itself when the lesson is not learned. So what are the problems that a Mashiyah has to solve? And where did we go wrong? Firstly, that Eretz Yisrael by itself is too small as a viable homeland for the Jewish people. While Israel is our national home, the whole Middle East is our regional home. For a long time the Jews did occupy Hejaz and parts of the Yemen. The Hebrews came from Arabia in the fourth wave of Amorite migration around the peninsula through Kuwait and Iraq and thence to Canaan. All this shows our historic connections with all parts of the region. Israel should aim for a kind of confederation, based on the communal autonomy that was applied by the Ottoman Empire. In a sense Israel’s strategic frontiers are on the borders of Iran and Turkey.

Secondly, that Israel must not be caught in superpower politics. The defeats of 586 BCE and 70 BCE were the outcome of involvement in the struggle between Egypt and Babylon and between Rome and Persia. Today, Israel’s dependence on American Jewry which, in every way, is the modern counterpart of the Babylonian Diaspora could embroil the Jewish State in America’s problems.

Thirdly, economics. It is said that Israel is a nation of rich people in a poor country. The rich are the moneylenders and those who are fortunate to own land and property. Have the prophets not denounced again and again the economic system whereby the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? As we see today, this is particularly dangerous in a country such as Israel.

But the Torah forbade usury, i.e. interest on money. Moslem banking is an artificial way to get around usury. The correct way is an interest-free monetary system, whereby money is issued in the name of the borrower and not in the name of the lender.

Likewise, the Torah forbade freehold titles in land – "And land must not be sold in perpetuity" – and commanded the Jubilee system which means in modern terms, index-linked leasehold tenure with rent reviews every fifty years. It would ensure that the land of Israel remains forever in Jewish hands.

Fourthly, relations with the Arabs. Why did we weep then and why are we concerned today? Perhaps the next three words of the psalm can give the answer - Al Arabim Betokha (because of the Arabs who were there). What is the sense of offering full employment to Arabs in Israel or who come to Israel, while neighbouring Arabs countries import labour from India and Far East and while many Israeli Jews are forced to emigrate? Perhaps to their detriment, Jews never tried to drive out natives from Israel. It was the Arabs who applied such a policy so that by massacres, conversions and forced emigration they made Arabia 100% free of Jews until now.

The Arabs accuse Israel of being expansionist but it is the Arabs themselves who have been expanding since the rise of Islam.

Fifthly, Aliyah.
At the inauguration of the Commonwealth Jewish Council last year, Francis Pym who was Foreign Minister remarked in his speech that it was no longer true to say that the sun never sets on the British Empire. But that it is true to say that the sun never sets on the Jewish Diaspora. The Diaspora can be looked upon as Israel’s Empire. There is no need for Israel to swallow up the communities of the Diaspora one after another. In the absence of a Mashiyah, Diaspora Jews want by and large to stay put. The Diaspora has no desire to liquidate itself. However, under proper conditions many more Jews would want to immigrate to Israel. In the meantime there is a case for encouraging half-Aliyah whereby Diaspora Jews can establish permanent second homes in the Holy Land.

Israel needs millions more people. But these can be produced from within and would cost Israel less than immigrants. The national dividend can be tailored to encourage large families.

Sixthly, a Mashiyah will give us a moral uplift and may also develop our religion to realise the vision of Jeremiah and Deutero-Isaiah when the whole world accepts and submits to God’s rule.

We must realise that the new Israel is part of a changed Middle East.

But even in the absence of a Mashiyah we should do our utmost to facilitate his job.

Two thousand years ago, only the Jews worshipped the One True God. Now three-quarters of humanity submit to the God of Israel. Single-handed, Mohammed created a new monotheistic religion on the lines of the Revelations to Abraham and Moses, having today two billion followers all over the world. Islam does not conflict with Judaism but confirms it. We should have no difficulty in acknowledging that there is no God but Allah and that Mohammed was his missionary. The conflict started when Mohammed tried to convert the Jews, and the Jews rightly refused because they already acknowledge God. Just as Christian-Jewish enmity started not because of the baseless accusation of "deicide", but because Jews refused to convert to a paganised Christianity.

If you would like to make any comments or contribute to The Scribe please contact us.