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.