A revolutionary proposal concerning Israel’s past and future Dr. Yitzḥaq Ḥayut-Man The Israeli elections are already behind us but the coalition talks are problematic. It’s possible that we will have another election soon. This is an appropriate time to analyze some of the foundational principles upon which Israel’s parliament and the State of Israel in general rest upon.
I invite the reader to join me in a thought exercise – Is there a basic mistake? Or is there a trap in our basic comprehension what, or who, is ‘Israel’?
My proposal is to define ‘Israel’ in a much broader concept than ‘Judaism’. Israel’s parliament-the Knesset- includes non Jewish members and most of its members do not identify with ‘rabbinic Judaism’. But the ideational principle is actually more important.
What is the source of the words ‘Israel’ and ‘Judaism’? The source of ‘Israel’ is the Bible and especially the 5 books of the Torah. The people of Israel are defined there as consisting of 12 tribes (actually 13 with those who serve as the linkers-the Levites). Only one of them is Yehudah. From the Bible’s perspective ‘Israel’ is the body chosen by (or chooses) the God of Israel and designated to mend all humankind. Israel was cold the firstborn child of the universal God (Exodus 4:22). The Biblical vision of redemption includes the return of the tribes and their amical restoration. The future Israel is a very great nation. According to the blessings of Moses (Deut. 1:10-11), the nation of Israel destined to grow a thousand fold from the over 600,000 of army age and all the rest who were in the desert.
‘Judaism-Yahadut’ is a modern word that does not appear in the Bible, or in the oral tradition. Literally it refers to the collection of ‘Yehudim’- those of the tribe of Judah. In the Bible, the term Yehudim/Jews appears as a national concept starting only from the Scroll of Esther. There it refers to the scattering of the diaspora and not to the Jews of the Landof Israel. Yehudah is one of the 12 tribes and the ‘camp of Yehudah’ includes a quarter of the whole ‘camp of Israel’. (In the Torah it includes Yehudah, Yissaschar and Zevulun; historically it included the tribes of Yehudah, Shimon, Benjamin and part of Levi). According to the Bible, Yehudah’s first sin was his alienation from Yosef (namely “will add” – the non-Jewish addition to the nation of Israel) and afterwards from all his brothers- ‘And Yehudah descended from his brothers’ (Genesis 38:1). It was however also Yehudah who brought about the return and reconciliation with Yosef and his return to Israel.
The Israel Declaration of Independence is a document that clearly expresses this duality. It is the foundational document for the State of Israel but begins with the (historically inaccurate) statement that: ‘In the Land of Israel there arose the Jewish nation. The categorization of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people removes the basis from the continuation in which , which describes it as a ‘democratic state’. Being ‘The state of the Jewish people’ denies the status and the rights of those in Israel who are not Jewish. Returning to the original Biblical meaning of Israel allows the absorption of additional tribes that are not Jewish according to the Jewish rabbinical categories. It would allow the absorption of all who see themselves as part of the people of Israel but does not identify with the rabbinic category.
This certainly includes the Israeli Arabs who are already counted as Israel, and allows for Palestinian tribe(s) (the majority of whom are apparently descended from the Jews who stayed in Israel after the destruction of the Second Temple period. See site website of The Engagement Movement). This categorization can also include the tribes of foreign workers and furthermore include joiners from the tens or hundreds of millions of lovers of Israel around the world. (This may be expanded in an accompanying article.)
The fear that paralyzes thought like this is the fear from a Moslem-Arab majority. This fear would be neutralized by understanding that the Muslims comprise only one “camp” (each camp can consist of a few tribes) of the 12 (Arabs – Ạravim; versus Westerners – Maạravim)
What are we to do with this?
Is it possible to create an appropriate ‘Israeli conversion’ alongside the rabbinical Jewish conversion process or even instead of it? Is it possible to add to the Knesset a Second house of representatives comprised of representatives of all the tribes?
My essay will reach you through the medium of the Internet. There is no obstacle to establish in the Internet a ‘Knesset Two’ for the representatives of the tribes of Israel from among the believers in the universal destiny of Israel to rectify itself and the whole world. The motto -’if you will it, it will not be a fable’ is still true.