Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Tuesday, February 22, 2005  

Things I Don't Understand

I have a Jewish heritage on my mother's side, but we were never a part of the Jewish community in America, and so I never developed any sub-cultural traits or characteristics that have made so many comedians famous for poking fun at them.

Yet, I have always supported the existence of Israel (although I also wonder why any one should be especially attached to any piece of land in this world as if they had some special right to it), but I fail to grasp the Israeli method of securing their freedom and survival.

For example, these two items:

- Israel freed 500 Palestinian prisoners in a good-will gesture Monday, a day after the government gave final approval to a pullout from Gaza and a revised route of the West Bank separation barrier that would encompass at least 6 percent of land claimed by the Palestinians for a future state.

JERUSALEM - Israeli police plan to confiscate the arms of some militant Jewish settlers ahead of a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio on Tuesday quoted the public security minister as saying.

Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra was quoted as saying that the police and the internal Shin Bet security service had information about "dangerous" settlers, and that there were plans to take away their weapons ahead of the pullout. Ezra could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Israelis want to disarm their own people, and release dangerous criminals back to the Arabs. Make much sense to you? No Second Amendment rights in Israel, I guess (although many people are armed).

Israel is always making concessions to the Arabs for a peace they cannot have. Their people - women, children, old folks - get blown up on the street and what does Israel do? Next to nothing in terms of retaliation. You'd think that they care more about the idea of peace than in saving and protecting their own lives.

The liberalism of the Jewish community in Europe, here and in Israel is proverbial, and you have to wonder if the Leftism of so many Zionists has permanently damaged the body politic, for Israel seems pathologically incapable of exerting the kind of force that would effectively crush the terrorists and make the world act on behalf of the Arabs so that someone might make them citizens of an actual nation with a future in a functioning society.

It is ironic that world opinion seems to mean a great deal to Israelis when one of the observations that people often make about Israeli traits is a stereotype of them being arrogant, rude, and obnoxious jerks. Not so different than the way Americans think of New Yorkers as fast talking, ill mannered, know-it-alls.

Whether this stereotype is accurate or a matter of prejudice, I can’t say. The few Israelis I met in Crete years ago seemed to confirm that impression; they definitely had an attitude problem, and a chip on their shoulder as if they expected to be disliked and were ready to sneer; but when a great deal of the world hates you for existing, traveling among hostile populations can’t be all that much fun and would make one defensive.

Another irony is that Jews/Israelis pride themselves on being an especially compassionate people, bearing the tradition of the Prophets even when they are secular. In fact, you might call it the religion of secular Jews (see Marx and Engels among others). The irony here is that truly compassionate people are humble, not militantly proud. (If you ever witnessed an argument with a liberal Jew vs. a conservative Christian or such, you will likely hear the conservative told he has no compassion while the Jew, of course, overflows with so much feeling for the down trodden that he wants to give them all your money to save them.)

So Israelis find themselves in a weird bind. On the one hand, they wish to act in the world with an exalted sensibility because they bear, after all, the superior philosophy of life as a Chosen people; while on the other hand, the need to survive calls upon a people to do things which seem cruel and extreme, and cause them to be judged as evil by many others.

How to reconcile these things? Well, by vacillating and appeasing while threatening to lose their temperis how Israel seems to do it.

Many of us thought PM Sharon and the Likud Party were hardliners, and yet haven’t more Israelis been killed under their government than any other time apart from actual war?

It was once thought that the lesson of the Holocaust insured that Israel would never allow Jews to be slaughtered again, or lose a homeland where they might be safe or at least safer to live in freedom. But the softness of Jewish liberalism and leftist utopianism seems to insure instead that Israel shall gradually lose its initial resolve and make concession after concession until there is nothing to concede anymore.

This won’t happen quickly, but the drip, drip, drip of Arab hatred and intransigent will to reclaim the land may very well accomplish in the long run what it can’t take by force in the short one.

It is a matter of Israeli pride not to become like their enemies, cruel and merciless, but I think it is better to become worse than your enemies in the short term if one wants to survive. Why go into a knife fight when you can bring a gun? To be fair?

Cruelty and harshness do not have to become a way of life (as it seems to be in many Islamic and Third World countries). A nation may be civilized, but act mercilessly in a crisis. The same with individuals.

So the question for Israel, perhaps, is which will occur in the long run - that Arab culture will transform into something less barbaric and vicious preferring peace and negotiation, or that Israel will lose energy and will to withstand the continuous assault upon its life and national psyche, and melt apart?

I wish Israel well, but I find it frustrating to care about the nation and people when they do not seem to want to protect the lives of their children by being severe enough to crush barbarians and their vicious will to harm them.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 9:18 AM |