by Gil Ronen, INN
[..] In a Rosh HaShanah interview with Arutz Sheva, Ronen Shoval, 29, chairman of the movement, expressed his belief that the movement and others like it could be doing a lot more to save Israel if only Jewish donors begin to think differently. Donors, he said, are used to buying houses from Arabs in Judea and Samaria or eastern Jerusalem, and settling Jews in them. That is important, but they should also be thinking about shaping public consciousness.
“The question is,” he explains, “do facts on the ground create public consciousness, or is it the other way around? The Jewish approach” he feels, “is that the universe was created through words: that is to say, consciousness creates reality.”
“Throughout the history of Zionism, these rival approaches competed with each other and complemented each other. Herzl believed in shaping consciousness and asked the world’s powers for a charter to settle in the Land of Israel. The Hovevei Tzion movement, meanwhile, believed in buying ‘another dunam [area of land,ed.] and another goat.’
“These two great streams collided in the summer of 2005, in the Disengagement. The settlement movement thought that it was creating facts on the ground in Gush Katif – but it turned out that without proper consciousness, one government decision was enough for all of the communities there to be destroyed. It won’t help us to buy another house in eastern Jerusalem, and another one after that, if they decide to hand over eastern Jerusalem to the Arabs in the end.”
“The other side understands this but the nationalists continue to think in terms of material, not spirit. That is why we lose touch with the nation of Israel. The nationalists invest in buildings, not books. Do we have one publishing house? One theater? The entire cultural world is controlled by one side. We used to comfort ourselves and say that ‘the dogs bark but the caravan passes,’ but this no longer works. If we do not wake up – the entire Zionist venture is in danger.”
“We must invest in thinkers, in culture – and not just in yet another outpost and another useless caravan. What is it good for? If the public consciousness is not there, it will be seen as an illegal outpost and torn down. But if the public consciousness is primed, it will be seen as part of the Zionist settlement ethos and a great mitzvah.”