Ilan Pappé Reveals Origins of Religious Zionism in Israel – Palestine Chronicle

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By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

In his latest article for The Palestine Chronicle, Israeli historian Ilan Pappé retraces the main stages of the evolution of religious Zionism through an analysis that examines the legacies of two rabbis, Avraham Itzhak Kook and his son Zvi Yehuda Hacohen Kook.

The phenomenon of religious Zionism “originates in the teaching of two of the most respected Zionist rabbis, a father and son, belonging to the Kook family,” Pappé wrote. 

“This messianic, racist, and fundamentalist ideological stream is now growing in terms of presence and influence among Israeli political elites, who are trying to follow religiously the teachings and visions of Rabbi Kook and his son, Zvi Yehuda Hacohen Kook (1891-1982).” 

‘Tempering with God’s Will’ 

Avraham Kook, Pappé said, was the first rabbi to preach that “the right of the Jewish people to Palestine is God’s will and that rabbis should do all they can to persuade Jews around the world to come and colonize Palestine.”

His view challenged the Orthodox Jewish view, which, according to Pappé “maintains that Zionism is a secular attempt to tamper with God’s will and, therefore, should not be supported.”
If Avraham Cook was important from a theoretical point of view, being the first one to plant the seed of the nationalization of Judaism, it was his son Zvi who implemented this notion from a practical point of view.

“Zvi Kook was the true ideological father of the messianic movement Gush Emunim, which carried out the Judaization of the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip after the war of 1967,” Pappé wrote. 

‘The Hitleryugend’ or ISIS Israel: The Two Kooks who Nationalized Judaism – ILAN PAPPE


“As the years went by, this movement moved from the margins of the Israeli political system to the center. In fact, some of its members became important ministers in various Israeli governments,” Pappé added.

The most extreme manifestation of Kookism, according to Pappé, is the Noar Ha-Gevaot, the ‘Youth of the Hills’. 

This movement is responsible for the so-called Tag Mehir, Price Tag, “particularly unprovoked vicious attacks on Palestinian farms, cars, businesses and fields.” 

Moreover, according to the Israeli historian, the members of the group stormed cities in occupied West Bank and in Palestine 48, as well as holy sites, particularly Al-Haram Al-Sharif. 

“The Youth of the Hills became even more of a menace after the November 2022 elections as the two political parties that fully support them, Ozma Yehudit (Jewish Power) and Haziyonut Hadatit (Religious Zionism) significantly increased their representation in the Knesset,” Pappé wrote.

The Neo-Extremists 

“The representatives of these extremist parties are now ministers in the current cabinet, with Bezalel Smotrich becoming the finance minister and Itamar Ben-Gvir – who used to be the defense lawyer of these vigilantes – becoming the national security minister,” he continued.

Pappé also explained that Ben-Gvir and Smotrich are not part of the “small war cabinet created after the events of October 7. Consequently, they have little impact on the ongoing genocidal policies carried out by the Israeli army in Gaza.”

“However, they will be crucial in determining Israel’s next move, which aims at bringing Jewish settlers back to the Strip,” Pappé added. 

The Israeli historian concluded with a quote by Moshe Zimmerman, Israel’s leading historian of modern Germany, to explain the extent of the extremism of this movement: 

“There is a whole sector in Israeli society that I contend without hesitation that it is a copycat of the Nazis. Look at the children of (the Jewish settlers in) Hebron, they are exactly like the Hitleryugend…They are indoctrinated from the cradle about the bad Arabs, antisemitism, how everyone is against us. They become the paranoid supremacists, precisely like the Hitleryugend.”

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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