by Avi Davis
Around the world this week Jewish communities are celebrating the 60th anniversary of what is surely one of the greatest achievements of modern history – the rebirth of a Jewish state. I add my voice. The existence of the modern State of Israel is a true phenomenon – a world leader in high technology, a democracy afloat in a sea of dictatorships and a country governed by the rule of law. After enduring seven wars by neighboring countries, Israel’s sophisticated military, its abiding respect for the sanctity of human life and its ingathering of the exiles– are all worthy of celebration.
and yet……..all is not well in the Jewish land. While millions of Jews and Israel supporters may be applauding the economic successes of the Jewish state, I am in despair, deeply worried about its future and wondering why things have gone so terribly wrong. The questions that filter through my thoughts are at times overwhelming:
# How could it be that during the recent slaughter of Yeshiva students in Jerusalem, secular Jews interviewed in Tel Aviv stated that they felt no sympathy for the young boys murdered because their religious lifestyle or ideology differed so markedly from their own?
# How could the government have destroyed the once vigorous and flourishing Jewish communities of Gaza, resulting in many cases of unemployment, family breakdown, drug addiction and loss of hope for the former residents- while receiving nothing in return save an escalation in the Palestinians’ war against Israel and the daily bombardment of Israeli villages and cities?
# How could the government ignore the tactical defensive weapons that are available in the United States (such as Northrop Grumman’s Skyguard laser system) for a relatively inexpensive price that could have effectively shield the south and the north from continuing rocket and even mortar attacks?
# How could the government turn so violently against West Bank settlers, characterizing them as the virtual equivalent of the same Palestinian terrorists and suicide bombers who indiscriminately take Jewish life? Whatever their political positions, are the settlers not also Jews and Israeli citizens?
# Why has the government so cravenly accepted the existence of a demographic threat from Palestinian population growth when independent studies have proven conclusively that the Jewish population growth rate actually doubles that of the Arab population?
# How could government leaders talk again about dividing Jerusalem and earnestly promote the creation of a Palestinian state, when all indicators point to that state becoming merely an additional launching pad for daily bombardments of Israeli population centers?
# How could it be that with a booming economy and a growth rate the envy of the Western world, 33% of Israel’s population still lives below the poverty line?
That Israel faces a crisis of leadership and vision should come as no news to anyone. And of course it is easy to lay the blame for this mess squarely at the feet of Ehud Olmert and his band of do-nothing acolytes. But their corruption, bureaucratic bungling, political incompetence and absence of vision reflects far deeper societal problems. The Jewish state is afflicted by a malignancy which has now swept all western democracies – an insistence on advancing individual liberties and personal freedoms at the expense of communal responsibility or social cohesion. The Israeli citizen, much like his counterpart in the United States and Europe, no longer places much emphasis on his duties, role or responsibilities as a citizen, but instead demands that the State protect and advance his individual rights and needs. The social compact that once bound the State together – the universal agreement on the need and desire for a Jewish homeland; the sense of mutual destiny and linkage to a 3,000- year- old tradition and the stubborn insistence on defending the land at any cost, has been dramatically eroded.
While it then might then be argued that the modern democratic State of Israel is in no imminent danger of physical collapse, the whole notion of a Jewish state certainly is. No amount of economic success or military sophistication can protect a citizenry uncommitted to the cause for which they are ostensibly fighting.
As Nobel Prize laureate Yisrael Aumann strikingly notes: “The problem is not with our neighbors, the problem is with us – with our impatience and the selfishness that developed within us. Our national agenda has been disrupted and the collective interest has been pushed to the margins in the face of personal interests.”
Students of Jewish history will recall that the ancient Kingdoms of Samaria and Judea collapsed internally before being swept away by outside forces.
Is it all about to happen again?
Avi Davis is the Senior Fellow and Executive Director of the American Freedom Alliance and the originator of the Collapse of Europe? and Identity Crisis conferences held in California and Italy.