Since the advent of Zionism a century ago, there has been one point of agreement between haredi Jews and the great majority of Zionists: The State of Israel has no theological significance. Although haredim generally acknowledge that they and their yeshivot have derived great benefit from the existence of a Jewish state, many still view it as an affront to divine providence, deserving of harsh punishment from God. And the mainstream of the Zionist movement, for its part, relates to the state as a humanitarian political undertaking aimed at saving the Jewish people from the danger of annihilation and gaining official recognition in the international community. This approach is often accompanied by a dismissive attitude towards traditional Judaism and its "diaspora mentality," and an express wish that Israel become a "normal" society-that is, a secular society along European and American lines. Thus, although the Zionist and haredi worldviews could not be further apart, they are nonetheless united in rejecting the State of Israel as a theological phenomenon.
In contrast to these two views stands religious Zionism, which seeks in many ways-some moderate, others more radical-to set the Jewish state within a theological context. Indeed, it often looks to religion to provide the basis for national policy. Yet although religious-Zionist parties are almost always in the governing coalition, they have never succeeded in becoming a dominant cultural force, and have not substantially influenced the opinions of either of the other two camps regarding Israel's religious significance.1