The Israeli economic miracle, together with its backbreaking army budget, is loaded upon the backs of some dozens of thousands talented workaholics, who spend their spare time in reserve service; why not fleece them? It is not yet clear which of the chimeras is more malignant: “peace now” or “communism now,” and the amusing thing is that both ideas, which demand God’s kingdom on earth immediately, easily get settled in secular heads that should seemingly be more disposed to a sober view of reality.
This reality does not herald anything good. In a matter of half a year, the seemingly stable Arab regimes have collapsed; the revolutions were followed by their indispensable fellow traveler – chaos, which will be followed by hunger and poverty. In comparison, the pre-revolutionary period (also not exactly all milk and honey) will look like paradise. And the culprit is at a stone’s throw. The mythology of world Caliphate will then be the only thing to stifle the masses’ discontent.
The Soviet masses were successfully fed with the world revolution myth for seventy years, but that was “world revolution,” a slapdash, slipshod mythology, while Islam is a religion with a thousand year tradition, so it cannot be treated off-handedly. It could be made possible if the colonial system was quickly restored, sparing millions of human victims, but the West has neither the energy nor confidence in its rightness for such a solution.
So what is there to do? Not to hide our heads in the sand but to see things as they are. King Lear, who recovered his sight, is a tragic figure; the Lear, who complacently divides the kingdom between his daughters, hoping for a peaceful old age – is foolish, useless and pathetic. Only the seeing ones can rise to a tragedy. Pay attention that in every culture a cheated husband is a laughing-stock. This attitude to a cuckold shows not only a nasty cruelty towards weakness, but also a reasonable contempt to a voluntary blindness, a reluctance to see what is going on under one’s own nose.
My previous Soviet experience caused me to feel a permanent aversion to any ideology, both rightist and leftist; I feel sickened by bombastic phraseology and propagandist babble. Amos Oz in his Tale of Love and Darkness tells the reader how he, a young man from a respectable Revisionist family, in the twinkling of an eye lost his right wing beliefs. The grandiloquence of the rightists made him feel esthetically disgusted. I understand what he wanted to say, but it is less clear to me why the leftist demagogy does not produce the same effect on him.
I remember very well that an alliance of philosophy with politics always leads to a bad result, from Plato to Heidegger. Thought needs no other cause except itself. It would be so good to forget the reality, to get fenced off from the burning problems of the day, but as Friedrich Gorenstein wrote, you can isolate yourself from an ideology, but you cannot run away from your own nose. The lives of these noses’ owners remain no more safeguarded than they had been before the state of Israel was founded.
I wish I could think of Rashi, Maimonides, Descartes and Einstein instead of today’s burning issues, but I cannot seal off my mind from the slaughtered Fogel family. With all that, it is no easy task to keep hate from flooding the soul. Israel is by far not the safest place on the planet, so why live in it? Being a Jew who observes Shabbat, I should place my hand on the Bible for an answer, but I want to quote an unusual source – Eugene Wigner, a Nobel Prize winner in Physics:
“The present predicament of mankind horrible and menacing as it is, is as the mathematician would say ‘not new in principle.’ Our situation is essentially the same as that of our forefathers… If our situation is similar to that in which our forefathers found themselves, we should act in the way we wish our forefathers had acted… They did not run away from a conflict if they knew that by running away they only postponed the conflict and would have to face it tomorrow under more adverse conditions… Our culture is committing a sin by covering our eyes against the realization that none of us will be here always. As a result, we do not prepare for the inevitable last hour, we do not realize that having leave in peace, the way we die, whether fighting evil, or having abandoned by our friends, and being abandoned by them in turn, delivered to our enemies – is a decisive element when we consider the success of the whole life” (E. Wigner, Convocation Address, University of Alberta).