Monday, December 26, 2005

On Standing for Nothing...

I strongly believe that the reason that Israel has found no peace since her establishment has only minimally to do with the Arabs and more to do with ourselves.

From the very beginning of the establishment of the State of Israel we have been a confused people. We have never, collectively figured out who it is that we are, where it is that we are aspiring to reach, what exactly our national goals are - and as a result, we are beset, both within the State of Israel and without, with challenges that threaten the continued existence of Israel.

A few recent examples:

* FM: Likud willing to make concessions in talks with PA
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom... refused to elaborate on what he called "painful concessions" in a potential settlement with the Palestinians, but added, "it is certain that we won't take an extreme route that that says 'no' to every proposal meant to promote peace."

Shalom also said that "it is inappropriate to declare red lines before negotiations begin, because as far as the Palestinians go, negotiations start there."

Granted, I will admit that I am not in favor of there being any negotiations with the "Palestinians", but if you are going to enter into negotiations, how can you not know at the outset what your red lines are? How can you not know what your limits and goals are? It's not enough to simply state that peace is a goal; peace is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.

The "Palestinians" know very clearly what there goals are, and what their lines are. What meaningful concessions have the Palestinians ever made in negotiations with Israel? Israel keeps ceding territory, releasing terrorists, providing weapons, allows Hamas (and other terrorist organizations) to run in elections, relinquishes sovereignty in Jerusalem, and for what? For continued promises that the "Palestinians" will stop incitement and crack down on terror - as if that doesn't get old after a while.

* Trend: Israeli envoys marry non-Jews
At least 20 ambassadors, consul generals, and security officers are known to have married Christian women in the countries they serve in... The principal argument is that Israeli diplomats are supposed to strengthen the bond between Jewish communities abroad and the Jewish State... “It doesn’t look good. Which message is this sending out? If Israeli representatives are marrying Christians, how are we to convince our youths to marry Jews?”

(For an insightful analysis of this issue, check out Yehudi Yerushalmi).

The first time I read this article, I was genuinely bothered by this trend, but the more I thought about it, I said to myself, "why not"? After all, what's so bad about these consular & embassy officials marrying non-Jews while abroad? Would it be any worse if they married them while living in Israel? if not, then why shouldn't they be able to do so while abroad?

Who are we? Are we Israelis or Jews?

What was the purpose of the re-establishment of the State of Israel? Was it meant to be a Jewish State or a state (nation) like all others?

What are our ultimate values? Are we a Jewish State or a democratic one? If both, then which takes precedence and priority? Western, liberal, progressive values or Jewish ones?

What are our national goals? Peace? Redemption? A new Middle East? Secure and defensible borders? To be "one nation in the Land"? To create an "ideal society" that will serve as a "light unto the nations" and "to perfect the world under the Kingdom of Hashem"?

Until we can, as a nation, answer these questions, the Jewish People and the State of Israel will know not of peace nor tranquility.

Anyone have any ideas as to how to arrive at the answers to these questions, and what those answers should be?



4 Comments:

Ze'ev,

we all have plenty of ideas - the point is we do not agree on the answers.

I would take particular issue with a few of the things you said.

You said:

"peace is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself."

Really? In which Jewish tradition would that be - not in the tradition of the Nevi'im, or the Sages of Israel surely? Tevakesh Shalom V'radfehu, sound familiar to anyone?

Later you asked:

"Are we a Jewish State or a democratic one? If both, then which takes precedence and priority? Western, liberal, progressive values or Jewish ones?"

You assume that to be a Jewish State contradicts a democracy, and that we must choose one to take priority over the other. Is this a true distinction? Is France not both French and a Democracy? Is America, not both American and a Democracy?

And then you seem to imply that Jewish values can not be western, or liberal, or Progressive. Now - as for western, I guess that is subjective - if one lives in India, or China, as much of the world's population do, then I guess, Israel, where "Jewish values" originated is to the west. But if you live in Morocco, which is to the west, then I guess Jewish values are eastern, but geographic origin of ideas is a difficult concept to grasp - so let's see what you are really saying - for you Jewish values are un-liberal and un-progressive. But is that Jewish Values, or Orthodox Values? Or Pharaseic Values? Or the values of Galut? Because I can understand that when in Galut, the primary objective is to preserve - to conserve to stop change, but was Avraham Avinu, anti-Liberal, anti-Progressive, anti-change? The first ever Oleh was anti- Change? Was the defender of Sdom and Amorrah anti-Progressive? Was the man who put an end to child sacrifice anti-liberal?

Or maybe you are talking about Moses as the archetype of Neo-Conservatism who represents true Jewish values? The radical leader of a slave rebellion, who could not countenance discrimination and repression - perhaps he would support the occupation or the closeting away of women in Orthodox society?

Maybe it is king Solomon of the thousand wives who you think is the Neo-Con leader of the Jews?

Ze'ev - Judaism is a liberal progressive tradition, and freed of the weight of exile, it will continue to be.

Their is no contradiction - Israel wants to be and will be a Jewish, Democratic, liberal, progressive country.

H

By Anonymous H, at Mon Dec 26, 05:11:00 PM GMT+2  

Hello Ze'ev! I have been reading your blog, but not commenting. (Now I am taking some good advice and commenting! ;)

Seriously, why do they send unmarried people to be ambassadors to foreign countries? Are they all young? Or is it that Israelis with children do not want to relocate?

By Blogger westbankmama, at Tue Dec 27, 10:31:00 AM GMT+2  

WBM, thanks for commenting and I hope the advice was helpful.

I can tell you from 1st hand experience, having worked for one of these Israeli institutions while living in NY that was primarily staffed by emissaries from israel - that many are not there for zionistic / ideological motivations.

All too many are posted in these positions b/c they know the right people, and they view it as an all expense paid trip out of Israel - what could be better, right?

Sad, but true.

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Tue Dec 27, 11:45:00 AM GMT+2  

Ze'ev,

No response?

Wishing Mrs O all the best in her recovery,

H

By Anonymous H, at Tue Dec 27, 12:17:00 PM GMT+2  

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