Democracy is not a suicide pact.
Civilization is more than its rules.
Law usually lags behind reality, especially when reality changes quickly.
An adversarial culture of cynicism and self-absorption can be as deadly as political malfeasance and corruption. As deadly, even, as a culture of brain-dead self-worship.
And Israel now has an opportunity to join the world fully as a nation, participating fully in the struggle against the hideous new threat now upon the world.
Provided we can stop pretending that it’s all about us, ratchet down the arrogance and kvetching, and become more persuasive by talking a bit less.
Maybe a lot less.
And by pursuing our national interest a bit more within the new global context.
Perhaps a lot more.
For the past few weeks we’ve been meandering around two questions. What are specifically “Jewish values” and how can Israel, should it so desire, take its rightful place among the nations of the 21st century? (Disclosure: I’ve been playing with ideas for my next book.)
Preliminary conclusions have proven as ugly as they are obvious.
Specifically “Jewish values,” and indeed the entire heritage of oppression, do not promote full Israeli participation in the world. If anything, they work against it. They have for millennia. What people do in their personal lives is, short of flagrant violations of secular law, their own business. But to the extent that Israel is influenced by and/or dominated by those for whom religion, their brand of religion, comes first, that stance, that obsession, renders the country offensive to the world.
And ridiculous. We may indulge the “Light unto the Gentiles” motif all we want. But the world’s reaction to the vanishing Angela Merkel, or to the equally inane contretemps over the Miss Israel/Miss Lebanon photo bombing, or whatever it’s called nowadays, has not been very respectful. No reason why it should be. And it’s always good to remember that just because something is important to some of us, no one else is required to go along with it for that reason.
Case in point: The Redemption of the Land. What some of us view as sacred duty, others see as oppression, imperialism, religious fanaticism.
(Ugly aside: If I wanted to “delegitimize” Israel, I wouldn’t even mention the Palestine issue. I’d report on domestic religious fanaticism, corruption, criminality in high places, and run a “Quote du Jour“section. Those who contend that when Jews discuss these things openly, they’re making a “Shande for the Goyim,” should remember that not talking about it simply empowers the perps and their accomplice/enablers.)
We reached a couple other obvious conclusions. Existence confers the right of existence. Israel exists because it does. Israel’s existence is also justifiable because of what Israel offers the world. OK, so we’re not a Light unto the Nations. How about an App? And it’s more than possible that as the climate changes, Israeli science, technology and medicine will play an ever-increasing role in surviving those changes.
But now, Israel has something more to offer the world – vital participation in the struggle against the violent Islamist assault upon world civilization, including the Islamic.
Should we care to offer it.
The last post ended with a not-very-optimistic assessment of the European and American roles in this struggle, and the fact that, in many countries, when the “respectable center” proves incompetent or worse, people look toward the extremes. True for Europe, true for America, true for the Islamic world.
True also for Israel?
So what’s to do?
First, go back to the 1930s. Some people, not many, understood intuitively that Nazism was not just an uglier version of traditional German attitudes and politics. Nazism was metastasis, and if you didn’t kill it, it was going to kill you.
Some people. But why so few?
There were the obvious reasons why people could choose to avoid the matter. War weariness. Cynicism. Economic collapse. A culture contemptuous of politics and politicians. Anyway, it’s all just a phase and if it works for Germany . . . why not?
And there were reasons why people could justify Hitler. Everything he did in the world until March 1939, until the occupation of the non-Sudeten rest of Czechoslovakia, any German leader would have wanted to achieve. Nazism’s odd tandem of corporative and unintentional Keynesian economics worked. Whatever else might be said of Nazism, it wasn’t Soviet Communism, an alternative tyranny that seemed to many, far worse and far more perilous.
And finally – I remember seeing a Nazi 1932 presidential election poster: a drawing of a somber Hitler above the words, Unsere Letzte Hoffnung.
Our last hope.
Back then, much of the world was down to its last hopes.
The Islamic world is, today. Europe and America are trending there. And as always when people start reaching that point, anti-Semitism helps the process along.
So – a world driven to extremes, rife with anti-Semitism, ever more hostile to Israel. And this is what we’re supposed to want to join, perhaps even to save?
And perhaps this is what the upcoming election is all about. Do we strive to join the world as it is? Or do we remain as we are? And if neither turns out to be possible, what’s our last hope?
To Be Continued.