By: Tzvi (Quito) Hasson
Since the end of the second decade of the twentieth century, when Hanoar Hatzioni was born, to this day, 80 years have passed, filled with substantial and vital sequences of events within Judaism and the Jewish people.
Therefore, it is natural that our foundations and ideological positions had to face realities and challenges, setting our lines of action and education. Undoubtedly, the most influential events in the future medulla of the Jewish people, over the past 100 years are: The great tragedy – the Holocaust; a great indifference – assimilation; and a great hope – The State of Israel. It is interesting and “kabalistic” to highlight that in the Holocaust 6 million Jews were killed; in these 100 years 6 million Jews “disappeared” from the people’s ranks who assimilated and stopped feeling, acting and preserving their Jewish roots; and finally in our days 6 million Jews are gathered in Israel, becoming the largest Jewish community in the world, in its sovereign and democratic State.
When our movement was born in 1927, within the fertile Eastern Europe Judaism, the major components of our Jewish vision were:
- Fidelity to Jewish culture, the Torat Israel, tradition, morality, history and common destiny of Judaism. For us, then, Asher Ginsburg was not only “one of the people” (Achad Haam), but his general conception in relation to the “organic unity” of Judaism as a language, culture, tradition, religion, morality, and customs which linked together “Jewish spirituality” as the center of the Jewish existence, was adopted by our movement – as an integral and natural complement of Zionism, in his idealistic message and its concrete action.
This is not, in any way, to sanctify helplessly, Jewish spirituality and place it as a decorative component, but to adopt it, develop it, identify with it – along with the urgent need to act promptly and materially in order to arrive to the creation of the Jewish State in the Land of Israel.
- Then, at the dawn of the movement in 1928, we adopted the position to care for and promote the primacy of the Jewish general and national interests, above class driven ideas and terminologies, party affiliated or sectarian and internationalist.
- Hanoar Hatzioni defined then its total identification and action with the Zionist movement and the Herzlian spirit – looking forwards to the future Jewish state as a center core of the melting-pot of the diaspora (the concentration of the Jewish people in Israel) and the creation of a sovereign, democratic and Jewish State.
- Hanoar Hatzioni took the educational positions of the Scout Movement (created and realized by its creator and inspirer, Robert S.S Baden Powell) and the characteristics of informal education for young people, autonomous, renovated, which was spread into the young student arena in Europe (since the emergence of “Vander Vogel” – bird wandering German).
Today, 80 years later, our movement bases its ideological-educational path on five pillars that guide the life of Hanoar Hatzioni, and they are:
- Integrative and pluralistic Judaism
- Realisation Zionism
- Israel centrism – Jewish and democratic 4. Social Liberalism
Each of them subsists and still influences us, not in an isolated manner but as concentric circles in a close and regular relationship:
A. Our Judaism is Zionist and liberal
B. Our Zionism is Israel centric and deeply-rooted Jewish C. Our social liberalism is humanist
D. Our humanism is Jewish and Zionist
These five ideological and conceptual bases serve as the current educational foundations of Hanoar Hatzioni.
And, logically, taking advantage of the movement’s coming World Veida in August 2007 in Israel, we deliver a concentrated development of each of them.
- Our conception of Judaism: learn, study, understand and know-Feeling, share, teach and act – as members of the Jewish people – embody spiritually and physically – our being Jewish.
35 centuries of Jewish history are on our shoulders and our “youth backpack” will go with us on our educational path.
Hanoar Hatzioni seeks to learn, to know – feel and identify with the five periods in the history of the Jewish people:
A. The time of the first Temple, more or less since the 12th century b.c. until 586 b.c. B. The era of the Second Temple from 586 b.c. until its destruction in 70 a.d.
C. The time of exile, from 70 a.d. until 1948.
D. The Zionist era, from the precursors of Zionism, the first Zionist congress and Herzl.
E. The State of Israel until today.
Knowing the history of Israel over the centuries, the foreign conquests (Babylonians, Assyrians, Greeks, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Mamelukes, Arabs, Turks, Ottomans, and finally, the British mandate until May 1948).
Knowledge and understanding of how and why just for the Jewish people, over 35 centuries, Eretz Israel was the central national base- religious, cultural and spiritual, despite the exile and foreign domination.
The ideological foundations of our Judaism can be relocated as follows:
Judaism is presented, based and living, not only as a religious expression. Judaism is a very peculiar and particular national conception -ethnic-religious, cultural, historical, moral, language, and spiritual which gathered Jews and identified them throughout their breadth and pluralism, in their future and in their diasporas, and in their incredible (and sometimes incomprehensible) historical happenings, that stripped them of almost all primary elements that characterize a people, and they are: common territory, language and common culture, national destiny and common institutional life.
Nevertheless, they remained as a national-religious-cultural amalgam, which enabled the Jewish people to survive and return to their ancestral land, creating its sovereign State, all of this after 2,000 years of dispersion.
We do not see the religious elements as exclusive and exclusionary values to maintain Judaism. They are important and they have a very wide range of values of great importance to the Jewish people, but they are not exclusive or exclusionary.
Also, we see as central and fundamental to act rationally and freely in relation to the orthodox conceptions, reforms, conservatives, reconstructionist and of course, facing the secular Jews masses.
In our educational conception Zionism is not an ideology and action instead of Judaism. Zionism was born of Judaism (as expressed so brilliantly by Theodor Herzl: “Zionism is the return to Judaism, before returning to the Land of Israel”).
Only based on Jewish identity can a true Zionism be developed. Only the thirst of belonging and living Judaism leads to the Zionist way and Israel.
Our Judeo-Zionist conception sees as the central goal the gathering of the Jewish people in the State of Israel, and the latter as a Jewish and democratic state. But it is clear that after almost 60 years of Israeli sovereignty and 110 years after the first Zionist Congress, that the Jewish people has not yet been gathered mainly in Israel (today more than 50% of the entire Jewish people live as citizens of Israel and they are the largest Jewish community in the world).
In our movement it is very clear that the Jewish people outside Israel will keep persisting for many years.
Thus we see it as a critical mission to take care of and strengthen the existence and survival of our Jewish brothers in whichever countries they are and support them to continue strengthening their Jewish identity against the waves of assimilation and the pitfalls of anti-Semitism, in all its faces and attitudes.
Therefore Hanoar Hatzioni educates and acts:
By increasing Jewish education-formal and informal-on which to base Jewish identity.
- By increasing Jewish education-formal and informal-on which to base Jewish identity.
- By strengthening the relationship of the Jewish people with the State of Israel.
- To maintain and invigorate dialogue with the Jewish people outside of Israel and strengthen the Jewish fraternity.
- By broadening and deepening knowledge of the history, tradition, morals and the Hebrew language within the Jewish communities of the world.
- For a continuous and reciprocal solidarity of the Diaspora with Israel and the State of Israel with the Diaspora.
- For a continuous and active stewardship of the UNITY of the Jewish people against the dangers of extremism, atomization and personal, collective or institutional alienation within Judaism.
- For the Aliyah to Israel, as the broadest and deepest material expression of Judaism and Zionism.
2. Our Zionist conception:
“Zionism”, as with many of the typically Jewish creations, survived multiple divisions, adverse interpretations and classification of priorities. “Zionism” has been named with at least 10 “adjacent” prefixes according to political leanings, cultural or structural, sometimes with generous adjectives and sometimes with aggressive ones:
- Practical Zionism
- Political Zionism
- Synthetic Zionism
- Religious Zionism
- Spiritual Zionism
- Socialist Zionism
- Revisionist Zionism
- General Zionism
- Declaratory Zionism
- Philanthropic Zionism
Hanoar Hatzioni saw in Zionism’s message, content and action, a central core with two thoughts that defined it in the most pure and genuine Herzlian expression. They are:
- Zionism is, before the return to Israel, a return to Judaism
- The primary goal of Zionism is the gathering of the Jews in their National State, sovereign, democratic and Jewish.
These two bases are the essence of Zionism. All the additions and surnames that history and the Zionist action generated, cannot and should not deform or weaken it.
These two goals are our current Zionist conception, real and relevant also today.
50% of the Jewish people are still in the Diaspora and it is essential to strengthen, enhance, preserve and deepen their Jewish identity, personal and collective.
Realisation Zionism is committed and active, its personal and collective education is towards Aliyah, preparing for Aliyah, its Jewish-Zionist identity aims for the gathering of the majority of the Jewish people in its sovereign, democratic and Jewish State.
Our Jewish-Zionist inspiration is based on figures and their writings, among them are, T. Herzl, A. Haam, A.D. Gordon, Dr. Moshe Glikson and Professor I. Kaufman – who delineate the Zionist idea and action of Hanoar Hatzioni.
Facing waves of Post-Zionism and/or anti-Zionism, indifference or passivity on the part of the Jewish people towards the Zionist action, Hanoar Hatzioni aims to educate and inspire towards a Jewish Zionism, fulfilled, committed, active and purely Israel centered.
3. Israel Centrism -Jewish and Democratic
The educational ideological conception of Hanoar Hatzioni, our Judaism, vision and Zionist actions, are focused on the concept of: Israel centrism-Jewish and democratic. The creation of the State of Israel constituted a fundamental historical fact and generated a great hope, after more than 2,000 years, since the destruction of the Second Temple. Then, six decades ago, in 1948, it became the concrete basis for the return of the Jewish people to its ancestral land.
Judaism began its Israel-centered phase. Israel, the emerging Jewish state, became the material, national, spiritual and cultural life center of the Jewish people. Judaism began to revive its roots and return to its sovereignty. It started then for Judaism a vital phase that involved:
- To ensure the physical existence of the State of Israel.
- To establish its national bases, democratic and inherent in the 20th century.
- Adopt and adapt the Hebrew language, which had been buried in the past, among pleadings and prayers, and fully incorporate it in the life of a modern and dynamic State.
- Open the door to a large Aliyah- the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral Land.
- Reviving deserts and draining the swamps.
- Developing the cultural and educational life of a people who were speaking 120 languages and were concentrated in a melting pot of ninety cultures.
- Reviving and making contemporary the messages of social justice, morality, solidarity and fraternity in the social, economic, political and cultural life. Messages and heritage which were rooted in the Biblical history of Judaism and were inherent in it and in the foundations of the emerging state.
For the Jewish people in the Diaspora, the Israel centrism stage is an invigorating blast towards a people anchored in the past, beaten so bluntly in its diasporic future. This Israel centrism – which is the chosen educational path and the anchor of Hanoar Hatzioni in their educational tasks around the world – is the renewal basis of our Jewish and Zionist ideological baggage.
Israel-as a center of the Jewish people
Israel-as a center for the Hebrew language renewal
Israel-as national democratic establishment and social liberal State
Israel-as a cultural center, folk, artistic, literary, religious and traditional, innovative and creative Jewish, Israeli and universal values.
Israel – with all the values of the past, facing its dramatic present and with the vision and action to build a future of peace, solidarity, social justice and quality of life. Judaism in a National Democratic Sovereignty, which links every day their national renewal.
4. Social Liberalism dynamic and pluralistic
“The history of modern democracies is the story of the eclipse of the absolute values and historical goals and their replacement by more relative values… “.
Hanoar Hatzioni never built neither sanctified its particular pantheon of “teachers”, guides, leaders, inspiring, heroes or “gurus”.
However, it is clear and indisputable (and also historical) that our movement had adopted or had identified with philosophers, writers, leaders whether intellectual, political or educational figures who we considered close, and we identified with, who had inspired our conceptions of the world and life, and ideological counselors. But we never let ourselves be charmed and/or intoxicated by the “great leader” and his words and writings as the core of THE WHOLE TRUTH AND ABSOLUTISM, accurate and fanatical, when facing every question or situation.
The “place of doubt” and the “relativism of values” gave our ideas a broad and legitimate pluralism, which is also a sign of moral breadth and acceptance of ANOTHER – in the words of Martin Buber and Amos Oz, among others (in Buber’s I- Thou relationship terminology).
We appreciate the other, we respect the different, we recognize with human respect and morality, indisputable right of ideas … that we do not share.
Hanoar Hatzioni was not born and has not developed under the shadow of undisputed leaders, charismatic, revered, irreversible and unequivocal, accurate and absolute in their say and do.
That is also why we adopted (with some reservations) the lines of liberalism, as having a broad and deep social sensitivity.
Similarly to the process that occurred in the ideological and practical development of Marxism, when it collapsed, sectioned and divided into different expressions of it (communism, socialism, social-democracy, etc.), liberalism went through stages, already past, in its philosophical and political development, from an individualistic atomism in the nineteenth century, extremely minimizing the role of State, to the trends of social liberalism – which see the free man, as responsible for their peers, ensuring a wide margin of social responsibility. The state
Benefactor (Welfare State), which deepened and prompted British liberals (as Lord Beveridge and, before him, Hobson and Green) is an excellent example of the passage of the old liberalism to the social liberalism, without giving up the basic principles of individual freedom and property-located action and understanding of state intervention and the limitation of individual rights, as part of liberalism with sensitivity and social responsibility.
Liberalism renewed and current (to which we are very close in ideological policies) does not abandon its individualistic principles, but refuses to admit that individuality is something unsociable and atomistic.
As the Italian representative of this new liberalism, Guido de Ruggiero, wrote:
” … nobody could claim to be truly free, as it is not in a society of free men, and hence each bears the task of spreading and promoting the freedom of others, understood as concrete and effective opportunity to reach the common good and enjoy its fruits … “.
It is vital to understand that this is not a liberal socialist line (there socialism is substantive and liberalism is just an adjective) – this is a liberalism (as noun, the social as an adjective).
“Modern democracies lack the other, the others. In all national societies we still can find rich and poor – and also people living under extremely miserable conditions. The extreme inequality has settled in democracies. We are separated from each other … and also from ourselves, by invisible walls of selfishness, fear and indifference … “
True liberal democracy is founded on the broader human freedoms, pluralism and the annulment of the cohesions, and the responsibility and social sensitivity that is our liberalism.
The unrestrained freedom of the individual is an entirely negative phenomenon.
There is a need for controlled and planned intervention and limitation of the individual atomism, just as we need freedom.
The agenda of liberalism in the nineteenth century, says in one of its paragraphs, as follows:
” … Poverty, unemployment and social exclusion ruin the life of the individual and represent great dangers for civil society … Social policy needs to be activated for the ongoing fight against poverty of human beings. There must be created and maintained broad opportunities of education and employment, free and accessible. This is everyone’s responsibility, under the leadership of the State … “
The social liberalism in Israel is the way and enforcement action of the broader freedoms, and at the same time, an active struggle of the State, its institutions and citizens to eradicate pockets of poverty and to ensure the right of all citizens in education and social security, health, housing and retirement.
The social liberalism in Israel is the path and action to the social and cultural integration of the olim chadashim (new immigrants).
The social liberalism in Israel is a shelter of a Pluralism recognized for all streams within Judaism, without traces of cohesion or exclusion.
The social liberalism in Israel is respect for the law and National Institutions and the right to broader freedoms of expression and choice.
The social liberalism is to understand that all individuals are equal as human beings – but are different in their personal individuality.
Our social liberalism is inspired by Social Justice (which also emanates from the Jewish and biblical sources), social responsibility and freedom.
In opposition to Atomist Individualism – in discussion with the mechanistic materialism.
5. Humanism as a core value
Faced with the materialistic philosophies and theories, which mechanized the historical and social future, and transformed man into a small nut inside unavoidable processes (Iron Laws of C. Marx, for example);
Faced with the theories that were born and took flight between the 18th and 19th centuries, and were denominated atomists because they view the human being as an isolated and individual entity – with a number of rights and powers, absent from their peers and society. They originated and developed capitalist attitudes on the one hand and anarchists on the other.
Faced with these two poles – ideological and political – our movement adopted as a center of its concepts, the profile of liberalism, which states:
“The democratic and social liberalism places man at the center of the State, law and society. All individuals are equal as human beings.
All human beings are different in their personal individuality. There are differences of gender, nationality, color, ethnicity, social class. But we are all equal in our rights as human creations.
“Humanism is the understanding and moral and concrete commitment of every human being to allow his fellow men the right and the opportunity to give expression to their qualities, abilities, desires, capacities and HUMAN NEEDS, all in a framework of respect and the right to self-realization”.
“In other words, humanism is the understanding and action to develop as human beings, in a framework of freedom and individual autonomies that won’t minimize, obstruct or prohibit the development and their fellow human rights”.
Today, the four most important antihuman forces or ideologies that we are confronting are:
- Religious fanatic fundamentalism
- Antidemocratic totalitarian ideologies
- Darwinist-Capitalism, selfish and annihilating 4. Post-modern nihilism
We can specifically feel these four attitudes in our world today and they make up the political, social and economic quartet which Hanoar Hatzioni’s educational, formative and active humanist bases must confront and overcome.
The ideological leaders of Spanish human liberalism already predicted and explained in the early 20th century:
“… Human liberalism, pluralistic and democratic is:
A. To be willing to come to terms with those who think differently B. Not to admit that “the end justifies the means … “
“We say that human liberalism is an attitude of human thought, not a closed doctrine, but a trend, a spiritual force subject to continuous affairs …”
Humanism, rationally, locates at its ideological core – not a social class, not the state, not the charismatic leader and not an omnipresent, dominating and fanatic God.
Humanism sees as its center a free human being, democratic, responsible and in solidarity with their fellows, in the philosophical spirit of Martin Buber, Erasmus of Rotterdam, Thomas Moro, G. Bruno, J.O. y Gasset, Octavio Paz, Felix Welch and others.
Here, for now, we close this summarized and light examination of the ideological foundations relevant to the philosophy, world concept and life of our movement, summed up in five pillars:
- Israel centrism
- Social Liberalism
With the exposure of these, we wanted to arouse the interest and intellectual thirst to deepen, analyze, understand and address the root causes of our educational path.