Kookism Epilogue – Part 3

The crisis of both followers and faith has to do with a radical change the Kookism is going through – a change that draws us near to its own decline and end. Yeshayahu Leibowitz once sarcastically noted the following when criticizing Gush-Emunim: “When the messianic bubble of Kook, Levinger and Porat will burst, they will leave the land of Israel and will follow ‘that messiah’ (Jesus)”.

Written By Prof. Gideon Aran

Professor Gideon Aran

Professor Gideon Aran

In other words, Leibowitz asserted that the frustration they will experience upon realizing that some of the territories ought to be evacuated will make them abandon both their Zionism as well as their Judaism.

When we take a closer look at the implications and consequences of the peace agreement with Egypt, and later on at the results of the agreements with the Palestinians, it becomes clear that Leibowitz’s harsh prophecy hasn’t realized. We don’t know of any settlers who gave up their citizenship or address, nor converted their religion or decided to live secular lives.

On the contrary, as the cognitive dissonance theory suggests, at first they even deepened their own national and orthodox commitment. The crises of Yamit and those of the Intifadas quite surprisingly lead the members of Gush-Emunim to an even increased a much more enthusiastic level of involvement. They remained very Zionist and also very religious and yet the strong bond between their own Zionism and their religiousness now belonged to the past. The Zionist religion once again became religious Zionism.

The downfall of the Kookism did not cause the followers to abandon its basic components: the religious and the Zionist. The crisis I refer to is manifested first and foremost by the separation between them with each component standing nowadays for itself.

Upon the decline of the Kookism, the religiousness of the followers is no longer integrated and closely tied with their Zionism and vice-versa. From now on, the members of Gush-Emunim no longer pretend to seem more religious than their partners-competitors the Haredim or even more Zionistic than other hawkish-nationalists – the secular population included.

Thus, the Mystical-Messianic element has lost its might and its validity as the glue bringing together Orthodoxy and Rabbi Kook’s concept of “Mamlachtiut”. And so we get a somewhat conventional religiousness with a slight harshening tendency when it comes to the fulfillment of the commandments mentioned in the Old Testament, and a somewhat conventional Zionism characterized by a hawkish political tendency.

In conclusion, the Kookistik synthesis fell apart and so the return to an era in which both foundations co-exist separately side by side also had to do with the obvious decline of the activism impulse. In other words, the revolutionary energies that were manifested by radical politics, operational franticness and missionary efforts eventually calmed down.

Taken from Kookism: The roots of Gush Emunim, Jewish Settlers’ Subculture, Zionist Theology and Contemporary Messianism

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