Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Jewish 800-pound gorilla

March, 2011

What does your crystal ball tell you about the Middle East and Israel?

Are the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, etc, harbingers of freedom and democracy awakening in the Arab world?
Or, are they signs of a coming Jihadist storm about to sweep through the Middle East?
Which of these scenarios will be bad for Israel?
Can you tell?
You had better pay attention, because the Left and Right are fighting over your crystal ball—and they both have it wrong.
They miss the point.
 The Israel Left seems to think that, because we are looking at the birth of Arab freedom, we are also looking at the best chance for a two-state solution between Arab and Jew. We must not lose this opportunity, they declare. We must surrender land for peace, now, before changes in the Arab world would make peace impossible.
The Israel Right sees the opposite. The Right sees danger ahead—and possibly war. The Right worries that making agreements with authoritarian or unstable regimes can lead to disastrous consequences. With upheaval simmering all around Israel, the Right cautions, peace now could be a disaster.
Anyone who reads about the Middle East has by now seen multiple variations of each of these themes. The Left lines up over there—on the Left—for peace;  the Right lines up opposite—calling to become prepared for war.
But there is one position we have not seen: that of religious Zionism.  I would suggest to you that If you are a political pundit looking for inside information, or if you’re just an ordinary citizen thinking, ‘crystal ball’, this is where you might start; it may also be where your search will end.
You know about religious Zionism? It’s the 800-pound gorilla sleeping in the corner, the one everyone is afraid of, whom no one wants to talk about.
I suggest that religion—specifically, Judaism—will in the end become the key to Israel’s future.  This does not appear obvious. It is not what political pundits see. It is not in anyone’s script. But it is the center of your crystal ball--if you can see it.
 There’s just one problem:  religion-and-Israel is the last subject anyone wants to talk about as a positive force in our national future.
Look at the world before us:
The Left is not interested in religion.  They have no time or consideration for Judaism because for most of them Judaism is the true apostasy.  Their future Israel will be devoid of Religion. When they speak, it is to savage the religious with loud and angry attacks.
The non-religious Right, on the other hand, does not appear to speak at all about religion on the Israeli side of the Arab-Israel debate.  Unlike the vocal Left, they are silent.  They seem to ignore this 800-pound gorilla. Of course, silence is always difficult to analyze. Does it mean they profess to know little about religion, and therefore respectful, wish to say nothing? That is a reasonable conclusion. But this is Israel. Knowing little or nothing about a topic has never stopped anyone in this country from talking.
I have an idea about this silence. I believe I know what the silence is: fear.
When you are afraid—well, that’s when you say nothing. That’s when you shut up and hope that the thing you fear doesn’t wake up.
The Right that is not openly religious feels strongly for Israel. In fact, it is they who may carry the major burden of defending Israel against the Left. They are articulate and strong. We rely on them. They are our front-line warriors. We need and appreciate them.  But they are already—in early March, 2011-- back-peddling because the Left is on the offensive: Land for peace. Land for peace. Land for peace. Every week, another reason for land for peace.
Even the Rightist Likud government seems to agree to land for peace.
It’s done deal, right?
There are those on the Right who resist this apparent inevitability. They struggle to hold back what seems like the inexorable movement of history. But if the English-language press in Israel in any gauge, their struggle may be losing ground.
Israel, it seems, appears destined to give up land in the Jordan River basin for a peace with those who hate the Jew.
If there is anyone out there who disagrees with this assessment, he certainly remains muted and silent, except for those few brave souls on the secular Right who stand up.
Their struggle is daunting, and this non-religious Right—our heroes-- understands clearly what the nations of the world will say if someone in Israel said, no land for peace.
This Right struggles to defend Israel, but it understands the context within which their struggle unfolds—a hostile UN, the efforts to delegitimize Israel and the PA working behind the scenes to sign up and publicize those nations which declare for a Palestinian state.
This Right also understands what the Arabs will say if someone stands up in Israel and says, the Arab is not ready for peace; and  they understand that you don’t wave a red flag in front of a bull-- you don’t talk, ‘Jewish religion’.
They struggle. They fight. They believe that the land of Israel is ours. They believe that we have spilt too much Jewish blood to secure this land, and we will surrender none of it. But can they stop what some say is the inevitability of history?  Everywhere they turn, they are shouted down; pulling any kind of ‘religion’ card now, in this environment, would be like throwing gasoline onto a fire; the Right’s position is simply not strong enough to argue ‘religion’; and since many in this sector of the Right are not themselves strongly religious,  pushing religion onto the international stage at this moment could  appear foolhardy and self-defeating.
Can you blame them for their delicacy on the matter of religion?
So the picture appears clear: the Left moves forward energized by their view of the end-game, and  the Right struggles, seemingly  frustrated and increasingly impotent.
Who remains, unspoken for?
The religious Zionist. These are the religious ones, all right,  those who are hated by the Left because they believe in an alien and repulsive religion—Judaism; and who are ignored by the non-religious Right, because talking about religion just now seems like the last thing Jews can do, given our standing in the international community.
The religious Zionists, however, will not speak about religion either.  They, too, are silent. They see how the Left—and the police-- feel about them. To speak out now could mean arrest, harassment or imprisonment. Is this the moment for religious Zionism to push its Rabbis to prison?
There is another consideration for the religious Zionist to remain silent: it could be too early to speak.
What the religious Zionist has to say about Israel and the Arab and their individual  futures is serious—and permanent.  What the religious Zionist has to say will not be fun.
For the religious, the challenges before us will require courage.  A lot of courage.  If the timing is not right for speaking out, the results could be painful; and if their timing is just right, the results could be even more painful.
Do you blame them for their caution?
The world knows about Jews and their religion. But right now, all the world seems interested in is condemning, isolating, even delegitimizing Israel. Their attitude towards Israel seems closer to a feeding frenzy than a peace-fest. No one appears ready to hear the message of the Jewish religion; and the religious zionist himself may not be ready to speak it.
We may have to wait.
So the 800-pound gorilla remains sleeping in the corner. Everyone—including the Arab—knows he is there. And everyone also knows that, one day, he will wake up.
We read the newspapers: Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Iran, Bahrain and perhaps Jordan. The Arab world is aflame. Are those the fires of freedom—or failure?
As the nations around Israel become white-hot—and the UN turns hostile-- Jews feels the heat and wonder, what will happen to us?
The 800-pound gorilla. Is he stirring?
Perhaps there is a reason everyone remains silent about religion and Israel.  Perhaps they are  afraid— for good reason; and yet, there is irony here, for while it may be reasonable for all to be afraid to mention religion, the truth is that our religion-- the key to our survival and our ultimate strength—will be at the center of everything that will happen.
 History and religion will converge. Over time, our future will come into focus.
So in the face of all the turmoil around us, we should suddenly become afraid?
As the future unfolds, we will see many such ironies.  They will crowd into your crystal ball. They will then show us-- through the choices we make-- how our future will develop.
Naturally, some readers will refuse to believe this. So let’s put it this way: just about everything the Jewish canon says will happen to the Jewish nation, has already happened.
You still doubt the rest of the story?
Check your crystal ball--and if at first you don’t succeed, try again.

No comments:

Post a Comment