Would some Power the gift to give us
To see ourselves as others see us.
Election tomorrow. Like it or not, the results will send a clear message to the world. How will they see it?
As more of the same, refusing to make hard decisions on anything, whilst continuing to pile up the bodies and the scandals, expand the settlements and every so often take a chunk out of Gaza?
As more of the same, only more vicious and, to borrow a word, “unapologetic?”
As less of the same, more benignly-intentioned but not much more decisive or effective?
As willfully ungovernable, trending toward disaster?
Or something, perhaps, utterly unexpected and utterly brilliant?
And who are “they”? The Goyim and the Diaspora, all of them without exception? Or perhaps only those who might be amenable, or might want to be amenable, to what we might choose to become?
In our last go-round, I suggested that Israel might wish to be seen as ready to play her part as an ally in the global struggle against metastatic Islamism – a struggle that cannot be “managed” or “contained,” only won or lost.
But to send this message would require abandoning the traditional “It’s All about Us Gimme/Gimme/Gimme and We’ll-Do-as-We-Please” arrogance, so offensive to those who wish us well and so empowering to those who don’t. It also means an end to the eternal, infernal complaining.
Most of all, it means recognizing how we now might fit into the global challenge, as others see it and must be educated to see it.
Long-gone are the days when Americans could gabble, in words nearly identical to those of the “conservative” Arab states: If we could only solve the Israeli problem (How?) the Western and Arab worlds would have no disputes. We’re far beyond that now. But we’re also no longer the only, and far from the central front of the struggle. In truth, we’re more of a sideshow. How Islamism fares elsewhere is now far more important. In the oil regions of the earth. In Europe. In the United States. And yes, in Africa and in Russia and China.
In practical terms, doing our part as an ally might conceivably mean participating in the creation of a territorial bloc of relative stability and anti-Islamist sanity. Call it, in old-fashioned terms, an “Alliance of Four”: Israel, Egypt, Jordan and an independent, at least temporarily non-irredentist Palestine. Consider also an allied “Outer Circle” alliance of the above plus Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the small Gulf states as they crawl toward the dangerous decision to get out of their own Middle Ages.
Stranger things have happened. And history is very much the story of things that weren’t supposed to happen.
Now, there are no “laws of history.” Still, certain patterns recur across the centuries. Among them: The most perilous period is not when repression runs rampant. It’s when the transition to freedom begins and the pressure eases a little. From the French Revolution to the Arab Spring, that’s when the ruthless crazies with the guns try to take over. And often succeed.
Forestalling more of these disasters might well require that Israel becomes an alien, unloved but also active and positive part of Islamic civilization.
Perhaps doing what America with its disappearing suitcases of hundred dollar bills and preposterously powerful but rarely victorious or properly-employed military cannot do.
Help these people along.
Stranger things have happened.
However, sad to tell, there’s an ever more virulent revival of anti-Semitism throughout Western civilization. Might an Israeli offer to take our place in the world be spurned, for reasons ranging from individual and group pathology to the domestic political calculations of cowardly nations to misguided Realpolitik?
Might the Western world say, in effect, “Israel’s expendable”?
Far from impossible.
I recently found myself rereading three of the founding documents of Zionism. Pinsker’s Auto-Emancipation. Herzl’s The Jewish State. And Nordau’s Zionism.
All three men reached the same two conclusions. One was tragically on-target, the other tragically amiss.
Hatred of The Jew is eternal. They got that one right. But their belief that a Jewish State would solve the Jewish Problem – alas. Still, they weren’t wrong because they were deluded. They were wrong because they could neither expect nor conceive of how European civilization would self-destruct twice-over, or of the enormity of the descent into evil. At some level, they understood that when the respectable aristocratic and bourgeois types bring only futility and suffering to their nations, the radicals start looking good, and their anti-Semitism proves far more vicious than the respectable kind. And they could not conceive of the Muslim global expansion and the de facto linkages between Islamist Jihadi and radical Western anti-Semites.
These men never intended the Jewish State to turn into a global shtetl, no matter how powerful and prosperous. Herzl certainly stressed the opposite. The final peroration of The Jewish State today contains a breath-taking irony: “The world will be freed by our liberty, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness. And whatever we attempt there to accomplish for our own welfare, will react powerfully and beneficially for the good of humanity.”
It hasn’t quite happened yet. The trends are away from such ideals. But perhaps it still might. Perhaps it must.
So that possibility’s one very good reason why we should care how the Goyim and the Diaspora see us. In any event, we need them. And tey need us. More than they presently know.
Back in ten days or so. Books to wrap up, agents and editors to deal with, firmly. I’ve asked my wife, Erin Solaro, to fill in for me. TOI has agreed (or will, soon as she fills out the form and sends in the pic). Briefly, Erin’s a radical feminist, former US Army reserve officer, journalist veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, author, novelist, blogger back in the Old Country, and the real reason I made Aliyah after a mere forty years of pondering.
She said, “We go.” And, Barukh Ha’Shem, we did.