The Gush-Emunim movement has always been a major factor in forming the ideological foundation of the West-Bank settlements concept and was a key contributor toward achieving this goal:
Written By Prof. Gideon Aran
Gush-Emunim helped forge some of the settlement plans along the way, secure the necessary financial resources as well as the support of the Israeli establishment and the Israeli public, organize and represent the settlers in front of the decision makers and even when it came to training the settlers and as well as motivating them – Gush-Emunim was there. However, the people behind Gush-Emunim weren’t the only ones responsible for this ambitious and decisive project.
Apart from Gush-Emunim there were other people and organizations working with or without Gush-Emunim in making the Judea and Samaria settlement dream come true: Among those responsible we ought to mention the Israeli governments that helped the settlers both officially as well as under the radar for many years. In addition, most of the people that were involved obviously followed their own financial or social interests: From building contractors to those looking to improve their quality of life.
The Haredim who settled in Beitar Illit, the Russian immigrants from Ariel or the Middle-East Jewish decedents who settled in some of the Gush Katif towns designated for further development didn’t necessarily possess the same exact political consciousness people from Gush-Emunim had. Moreover, they didn’t necessarily share their ideals and yet the GE block played a key role by providing the spirit and the energy they needed as well as the moral and practical leadership and also by serving as their de-facto representatives in front of the Israeli public and decision makers.
It was long before the GE has exhausted its own resources, and by that I mean their own “home court” settlers who identified with their ideology completely, that they have reached the conclusion according to which their success depends first and foremost on their ability to bestow their legacy upon the politicians, the public and the market forces.
In the seventies, somewhere during the period of disillusionment and dissatisfaction that followed the Yom-Kippur war, I was a research student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and so I decided to examine a new social phenomenon looming on the Israeli horizon.
Written By Gideon Aran
I was drawn to it because it seemed exotic and somewhat charismatic, perhaps even a bit somnambulistic, all of which perfectly suited my initial intention of specializing and focusing on quite radical sects.
At first, I thought we are dealing with a temporary phenomenon and therefore I first intended to witness its rise and its decline altogether. However, over the years my object of contemplation turned into a prominent and influential religious-nationalist movement that became known as “Gush Emunim” (From now on will also appear as “GE” – Translated from Hebrew: Bloc [of the] Faithful). What could have been considered a curiosity at first has proved itself to be an historic phenomenon of enormous significance.
The GE has to be grasped and understood as a religious movement
This is in fact one of the main arguments this book is set to prove. In Gush Emunim you can find elements of both religious regeneration and revival. Furthermore, the religious significance of the block competes with its own political significance, and finally the influence it had on Judaism as a whole is not less important than the its political influence on The State of Israel. For example, this book examines the great role Gush-Emunim has had in transforming the Israeli identity in terms of both the Judaization of Zionism as well as the Messianism of Judaism.
I believe that the Messianism of the religious Judaism is necessarily linked with its own Zionization. The members of Gush-Emunim do not adhere to both Zioniem and the Torah as usual but rather believe that their Religious and Zionist views are one. The faith-based transformation of the Bloc’s supporters can be briefly summarized as a transition from religious Zionism to a Zionist religion. Inspired by Gush-Emunim the Israeli Jewry became of a more Zionist and a lot more Messianic nature. It was only just recently when it seemed that each of these radical orientations is losing its might and potency, and mainly that the combination of the two has lost some of the hegemonic grip it used to have before.
Listen to Professor Gideon Aran interview about his book “Kookism”: