Some people still think that the reason that our national train continues to speed down the Oslo track is because of the people at the helm. Begin surrendered the Sinai Peninsula because he was tricked. Netanyahu hugged Arafat because he is pliable. Sharon destroyed Gush Katif because he is corrupt. And the list goes on. But the truth is just the opposite. The Right continues to slide down the slippery slope of the "peace process" not because of the weakness of its leaders but despite the fact that its leaders are eminently capable. Who can compare to Menachem Begin's dedication to the Nation of Israel? Who is a greater war hero and builder of the Land than Sharon? And can we really compare the human gallery that the other parties have to offer to the talent of Binyamin Netanyahu? Netanyahu likes to boast of the achievements of his ministers, and he is right. The executive arm of this government is functioning well and Israel enjoys one of the most professional and effective governments that it has ever known.
We should not be searching for the failure of the Right in its chosen leaders, but rather in its ideology. The ideology of the classic Right must ultimately drag it to destruction. For the political Right is the right hand of Zionism. And Zionism's current creed, that it "has no connection to religion" is really much more appropriate to the Left than to the Right. That is the root of the reason why Zionist legitimacy remains with the Left despite the fact that the majority of Israelis are rightist and traditional.
What was the idea, the tremendous force that established the State of Israel against all odds? What was the spirit that restored the Nation of Israel to history? It was the shaking off of religion that was considered – justifiably – to be the noose hanging the Jew above reality, never allowing the Jewish Nation to connect with the ground under its feet.
And here I must provide a short explanation for those readers who have raised an eyebrow: When the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, the national Jewish connection to reality was sundered. The Temple, the perfection of the world in the Kingdom of the Almighty, is the ultimate purpose of our national existence; it is also the axis around which the daily lives of the individual and the collective revolved. The Temple provided a timeline, the thrice yearly ascent to Jerusalem, an entire annual cycle of life.
Jewish sovereignty without the Temple is like a state without a capital, a parliament, national holidays – without anything. Religion in its present configuration was the most successful start-up in history; the virtualization of the Nation of Israel; it was the preservation of its national existence outside reality until its return to Zion and the building of the Temple.
But in the course of 2,000 years the virtualization became an existential consciousness. The Lamentations that we recite on the 9th of Av have their set place on our bookshelves, ready and waiting for the next year. The Mashiach has been transformed from the symbol of vibrant Judaism interacting with every level of reality into a non-intrusive Santa Clause who makes no demands. And who is also the greatest delayer of the coming of the Mashiach.
The Zionists who cut the religion umbilical cord suddenly felt the earth under their feet; they sensed it responding to the national flexing of muscles. Suddenly, we were a normal nation. A monumental redemptive energy that was suppressed for 2,000 years burst forth after the disconnection from religion. That energy carried the Zionist revolution on its back. It inflated the sails of the ship until after the Yom Kippur War, Entebbe and the Right's victory in the 1977 elections - and that was the end.
It was only logical that when the Zionist spirit dissipated, it was specifically the Right that led the great retreats. For while Begin did retain the strong nationalism of Jabotinsky, what connection did he have to the Sinai? Not the Left's plow and not the Bible. He hurriedly called upon Laborites Moshe Dayan and Ezer Weitzman to join him so that he would enjoy legitimacy for the move that looked like the end of Zionism, but was really its natural outcome; the actualization of the dream of normalcy. The self-destruction mechanism built in to Zionism was triggered. IDF bulldozers destroyed an entire chain of settlements in the Sinai. Now they are on their way to Ulpana Hill. Moshe Dayan was replaced by Ehud Barak, Weitzman by Shaul Mofaz – the principle was determined then.
When the floodgates were opened by Begin, the Left had nothing to do but to become more and more radical. So in a right-left-right-left movement – the right hand dismantling and the left hand pushing and pulling - Zionism was pushed closer and closer to the edge of the abyss.
In truth, when G-d is outside the game, this is the only possible outcome. We can consider ourselves great heroes, real "killers" who will always defeat the entire world. But there is a limit to how much the lone sheep can continue to live surrounded by all the wolves.
Much more important: When there was (Zionist) spirit, the pre-State Palmach fighter thought that he would always prevail – and he was right. But when Zionism melted and G-d remained outside, the only thing that brings the people out into the streets is the lower price of Israeli chocolate in London, normal and comfortable existence and nothing beyond that. When no alternative leadership holds up a vision of destiny, the only thing the public can expect from the leadership is to calm the situation at any price; to sustain its connection to the world; to preserve normalcy; to neutralize any landmines that may smear our uniqueness right back into our faces. Simply put, the public expects its leaders to retreat, retreat and retreat from any possible battlefront. Ulpana Hill, security prisoners, Ahmadinijad, the Shalit deal: Without destiny, all that is left is to retreat to the constantly shrinking remnants of existence.
Now we have the broadest coalition ever in Israel searching for meaning. It wants maximum governability and minimum destiny; maximum economy and security and minimum international legitimacy.
It is not the leaders of the Right. It is much bigger than them. It is the spirit that is missing. We must progress from the Zionism of existence to the Zionism of destiny; from Zionism of Holocaust memorial Yad-Vashem to Zionism of the Temple.