The Battle For the “Soul” of Israel: Zionism is Not Enough

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A few months ago, a group of soldiers from Unit 8200, one of the IDF’s most elite intelligence units, sent a letter to their commanding officer refusing to be involved in the airstrikes on Gaza. The soldiers claimed that that the tactic was immoral and unethical.

The letter, as shocking as it was, reminded me of my own time serving in the IDF. As a Paratrooper 20 years ago, my unit and I were on a mission to uncover hidden ammunition caches used to attack Jews traveling to Gush Etzion. Our battalion was stationed in the Arab village of D’heisha, near Beit Lechem. As the mission intensified, we began conducting thorough house-to-house searches.

Over the course of our systematic raids, we met several elderly Arabs who claimed that they were unable to move. Following protocol, we removed them from their beds to ensure that it was not a ploy and that they were not hiding munitions under their mattresses.

Make no mistake, it was an incredibly uncomfortable mission. There was no pleasure in making a mess of people’s houses and forcing elderly people out of their beds. Yet, we understood the magnitude of our mission. We understood that we were acting on behalf of the State of Israel to protect its citizens, our fellow Jews. Beneath many mattresses, we found weapons that would have been used to kill Jews.

At one point during the mission, we removed an elderly Arab from his bed but found nothing beneath his mattress. A soldier in my unit broke down on the spot, threw his gun to the ground and began ranting about the ethics of our activities. He said he was not willing to serve in the army if he would be required to carry out this kind of mission.

Both these stories illustrate the dangers of promoting Zionism without Torah. Without Torah knowledge and a deep understanding of our culture, history and traditions, Zionist ideology is inherently flawed — it is a skeleton without a backbone. So, when soldiers who are raised on a Zionism devoid of Torah values face an ideological challenge, they collapse.

Religion and Zionism are innately intertwined and cannot be separated. It is essential that we educate our children and arm our military with a strong Jewish identity and deep connection to Torah values so that they will never question the historical, cultural or national importance and significance of the Jewish State, nor our right to protect our people in our land.

In one month, voting will end for the World Zionist Congress, which dispenses almost a billion dollars in programs, educational initiatives and aid in Israel. The decisions of how and what are funded are made through the elections.

Simply put, the more votes a party receives, the stronger the party’s ability is to direct funding to organizations that support its mission. By paying $10 every single Jew gets a vote in an election that may set the course for Israel’s future. Voting for the Religious Zionist Slate ( is a unique opportunity to safeguard Torah values and ensure that religious Zionist ideologies are put into practice in Israel and around the world.

Before we can concentrate on educating the world about the global importance of the State of Israel, we need to make sure that our own children connect with their birthright on a personal level and understand and believe in the necessity to keep our homeland safe, secure and undivided.

We need to all “Vote Torah” and constantly keep Israel’s Jewish soul in mind. Vote Torah today

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.