There is an unmistakable similarity between the Stalinist society laid out by Koestler in his Darkness at Noon and post-Zionist Israel. The defining characteristic of Stalinist society was the suppression of common morality now for the sake of attaining high ideals later. The ideals have to be sufficiently abstract so that the people won’t be able to evaluate whether the ends justify the means; besides being shiny, the ends are not clear. So in Israel. Zionists plunged to the depths of immorality, such as by hunting their fellow Jews (Kach, for example), without ever clarifying what they wanted to achieve. Just as their Russian counterparts spoke of the ultimate “worker’s state” while robbing and denigrating those same workers, Zionists declared the goal of a Jewish state without ever clarifying what “Jewish” means to them. Russian bureaucracy usurped power in the name of the workers; Zionist bureaucracy usurped power while pushing religious and nationalist Jews into the society’s persecuted fringes. Communists and Zionists were unable to formulate their goals because they had no clear goals. A short logical argument immediately demonstrates that a planned socialist economy benefits the state rather than the workers, and socialist Zionism opposes Judaism and Jewishness.

Koestler convincingly shows how the good communists were persuaded to submit to the evil communists because the evil communists had at that time the best chance of furthering the goals of communism. And so in Israel. Common Israelis believe the top political echelon, though corrupt and treacherous, works to uphold Zionist goals, and they submit to its rule. Take, for example, the case of Baruch Goldstein. It is evident that he could not have shot 150 Arabs with four cartridges. The guards, however, were persuaded to retract their testimonies so that the government could blame Goldstein for the “massacre” and disband the Kach party he belonged to. In another episode, many people in the sterile zone saw Rabin standing up and walking to his car after being “fatally shot” by Amir; dozens of medical personnel in the hospital knew that Rabin was fatally shot in the surgery room. All of them kept silent. It is impossible that all of them are cowards, submitting to Shin-Bet’s threats. Just like during the Soviet witch-hunt trials, all of them were persuaded that temporary injustice justifies the shining ends of Zionism. Probably, just like the Koestler’s hero, they were offered an escape for their conscience: the possibility that at some remote date the truth will be allowed to stand and the innocent acquitted. The Israeli establishment can now afford to acquit Amir or Goldstein: Kach is dead, and the image of right-wingers stained irreparably. Indeed, they are all but formally acquitted: a majority of Israelis, polls show, don’t buy the official version of Rabin’s assassination. They still don’t vote for the smeared right-wingers, however. Decades from now, Kahane and Goldstein will be national heroes, just like today David Raziel and Avraham Stern, hunted by Zionists during their lifetime, became the official heroes; dead heroes don’t threaten the establishment.

Russian communists like the Koestler’s hero worked for the system. To rebel against the system was to admit that one’s entire life’s work was wrong. That was too much to bear. And so in Israel. Israelis suffer for the system from an early age. They risk their lives in buses, on the streets, and in the army. They see their dear ones killed or maimed. They suffer heavy taxation and international hostility. For common Israelis, to doubt the system is to admit their lifetime sacrifices are futile.

Just like communism, Zionism evolves. One notion having been discredited, the ruling clique embraces another. From a Jewish state to a state with many Arabs to a state with a looming Arab majority. From socialist state to atheist state to the state were the Supreme Court and the government direct rabbinical affairs. From a zealously Jewish state to a state with affirmative action for Arabs and police pogroms in Jewish religious neighborhoods. It’s never possible to prove that the rulers betrayed their own goals because the goals are continuously adapted to their ongoing treachery.

Russia has never abandoned its Stalinist stature. Common Russians were silent in the face of their government blowing up houses in Moscow to instigate the war with Chechnya. They accepted transparent lies by the government just like their grandfathers accepted the ridiculous witch-hunt trials. So does Israel. Jews were silent when Ben Gurion’s agents killed Arlozoroff or sprayed Altalena with bullets. Israelis, even conservatives, didn’t protest the government murdering Kahane or Zeevi.

Both communists and Zionists scored early successes by mobilizing near-free labor for ideologically inspired economic projects. Russian industrialization and Israeli agriculture leapfrogged due to selfless labor efforts. But ideology quickly exhausts its economic potential as societies grow, become diversified, and economic activities evolve and become too complex for straightforward planning. Initially more efficient than conservative market-oriented economies, ideologically driven economies quickly fall behind, burdened by systemic distortions and lack of economic stimuli. Artificial ideologies are dangerous not only to minds, but also to pockets.

Israel has to abandon shining Zionism for old-fashioned Judaism. The only alternative is communal death.