Archive for BELIEFS & PERSPECTIVES

Peace Now: The Greatest Enemy of the “Palestinians”

Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, August 24, 2009.

To understand why Peace Now is the greatest enemy of the Arab “Palestinians” (other than their own rulers, we must dare ask: “What is in the best long term interests of these Arabs—indeed, of Muslims in general?” Conversely, what are these disciples of Muhammad most in need of?

First, they need to overcome the monopoly of power of the Arab regime that oppresses them. Accordingly, they need a constitution that limits the powers of government. This requires a division and separation of the legislative, executive, and judicial functions of government.

Second, they need to develop a civil society. Crucial for developing a civil society among Islamic regimes is the introduction of a market economy. Such an economy would decentralize the corporate power of the regime, generate a middle class, and raise the living standards of Islam’s poverty-stricken masses. A market economy would hasten the development of civil society by creating private and social institutions to counterbalance the power of government. In other words, civil society requires a variety of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that serve as a buffer between the government and the people.

The NGOs would include a variety of professional associations consisting of scientists, teachers, engineers, doctors, lawyers as well as various groups such as manufacturers, labor unions, political parties, social service agencies, various news media, etc. These organizations can protect private citizens and private groups from discriminatory legislation or abuses of the bureaucracy. But this is not all. » Continue reading “Peace Now: The Greatest Enemy of the “Palestinians””

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The American & Anti-American Revolution

Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, August 17, 2009.

The monumental significance of the American Revolution is articulated in the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration teaches that to merit obedience, the laws enacted by any State must be consistent with the “laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” This “Higher Law” doctrine provides grounds not only for civil disobedience, but even for violent revolution if the acts of the State evince a design toward tyranny. Not the State but God is the ultimate source of authority.

Such is the profundity of the Declaration that it was incorporated in most of the thirteen original state constitutions. Abraham Lincoln regarded the Declaration as the credo of the American people and the political philosophy of the American Constitution. Thus understood, the Constitution is based on certain immutable ethical and political principles. Most fundamental is the primacy of the individual, from which follows the principle of limited government. Limited government requires separation of legislative, executive, and judicial branches. This produces institutional checks and balances to prevent majority as well as minority tyranny. The Constitution thus prescribes institutional means to safeguard the individual’s rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

It may shock you to learn—but some scholars believe I am the first political scientist to reveal—that the seed of the anti-American revolution was planted by Woodrow Wilson. Influenced by German historical relativism, Wilson rejected the natural rights doctrine of the Declaration of Independence. Instead of immutable “laws of nature” he posited evolutionary laws of history. He originated the idea that the Constitution must evolve with the changing circumstances of society. The Supreme Court must therefore interpret the Constitution not according to the intentions of its Framers, but according to the progressive opinions of the day—the opinions of the “enlightened” members of society ensconced in academia. » Continue reading “The American & Anti-American Revolution”

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Three of Israel’s Basic Flaws

During the past three decades, patriots of Israel—religious and non-religious—have been bewildered by the political instability and political ineptitude of Israel’s government. Anyone who has studied the great classical political scientists, above all Plato and Aristotle, would have detected three basic flaws in this so-called Jewish state.

First and foremost is the country’s lack of clear, consistent, and constructive foundational principles. As everyone knows, Israel was founded by political Zionists who, at the same time, were Labor socialists influenced by Marxism. Therein is the first contradiction. For whereas political Zionism is a form of nationalism, Marxism is a form of internationalism. Indeed, this internationalism is the seedbed of the post-Zionism or anti-Zionism evident in Labor Party leaders such as Shimon Peres, Israel’s president.

Thus, if anyone is wondering why Israel does not have a clear, consistent, and constructive goal, the great political scientists will tell you: “Your state was ill-founded.”

Israel’s second basic flaw is this: Its universities, so far as concerns the social sciences and humanities have failed to produce leaders who possessed an adequate understating of Israel’s Jewish heritage on the one hand, and of the true nature of Israel’s enemies on the other. » Continue reading “Three of Israel’s Basic Flaws”

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The Grave-Diggers of Israel

Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, August 10, 2009.

In her August 7 Jerusalem Post column, Caroline Glick rightly says: “for the past 16 years [since the Oslo Agreement], the greatest champion of the view that Israel is a strategic liability rather that a strategic asset for the US, and that the US gains more from a weak Israel than a strong Israel, has been Israel itself. Successive governments in Jerusalem, from the Rabin-Peres government to the Barak, Sharon and Olmert governments, all embraced the Arabist view that regional stability and hence Israeli security is enhanced by a weakened Israel.”

For reasons of her own, Glick does not mention Benjamin Netanyahu in this list of flawed prime ministers. She knows, however, that Netanyahu has adhered to Oslo and has therefore made Israel appear more as a strategic liability than a strategic asset. What could make this more obvious than his supporting a Palestinian state in Israel’s heartland?

But there is a deeper flaw—nay, a western, cultural pathology that emasculates the governments Glick denounces. This pathology underlies the defeatist policy of “territorial for peace” which all Israeli governments have pursued even before Oslo. The pathology I am alluding to is cultural or historical relativism. Spawned in Europe, this doctrine permeates higher education in Israel and in all levels of education in America.

Relativism infected the mentality of Jewish leaders even before the founding of the state. » Continue reading “The Grave-Diggers of Israel”

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The Two-State Solution: A Sacrifice of the Intellect

Whatever else one may say of the “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is fascinating example of how intelligent men can sacrifice their intellects to a mantra.

Rather than discuss the mentality of men like Benjamin Netanyahu, let’s go back almost twenty years to Mr. Yossi Sarid, then a leader of the Meretz Party with experience on the important Knesset Committee on Defense and Foreign Affairs.

Anticipating Netanyahu’s current position, Sarid had long advocated negotiations with the PLO and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Hence he was taken aback when Yasser Arafat, along with Arabs in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, supported Saddam Hussein's rape of Kuwait. He was all the more discomfited when Israel's own Arab citizens applauded the Iraqi dictator.

In view of these politically embarrassing developments, Sarid felt compelled to “reassess” his position. » Continue reading “The Two-State Solution: A Sacrifice of the Intellect”

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From Martin Buber to Michael Oren

What does Martin Buber have in common with Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States?

In response to the Obama administration’s objection to settlements, Mr. Oren is reported to have said: “Settlements are not the issue.” “The issue is the recognition of the mutual legitimacy of these two peoples, the legitimate claim to these two states [the Jewish state and the projected Arab state].”

Underlying the words I have emphasized is a mode of thought that has long influenced the mentality of Israel’s political and intellectual elites: historical or cultural relativism. I discuss the pernicious influence of relativism in my book Israel and the Malaise of Democracy, written shortly after the Israel-PLO Agreement of September 1993. Here are some key passages:

“Because it cannot transcend [cultural relativism], the government [of Israel] is psychologically incapable of asserting the preeminence of Jewish [over Arab] rights to Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. Note the subtle influence of relativism [and subjectivism] in this statement of Dr. Eliahu Ben-Elissar, [once] Likud chairman of the Knesset foreign affairs committee: ‘In our eyes we have a right to this land’ (The Jerusalem Post, June 5, 1992, p. 5a, emphasis added).

“We see in Ben-Elissar the shallowness of the Likud’s political Zionism…. » Continue reading “From Martin Buber to Michael Oren”

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The Particularism that Nurtures Universalism

Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report. Israel National Radio, Aug 3, 2009.

Today’s report is based on my forthcoming book, Toward a Renaissance of Israel and America. The subtitle is The Political Theology of Rabbi Eliyahu Benamozegh.

Unlike Christianity and Islam, Judaism unites Particularism and Universalism. This unique quality of Judaism is developed in depth by the Italian Rabbi Eliyahu Benamozegh, a philosopher and theologian whose magnum opus, Israel and Humanity, was posthumously published in 1914.

To begin with, Rabbi Benamozegh mentions some of the ethnic and parochial aspects of the Mosaic law, such as those that depend on the seasons and geography of Eretz Israel. For example, the Passover is linked to the Israel spring, and the Great Sanhedrin can only function on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Moreover, God promises that He will establish His dwelling place in Eretz Israel, where the Jews would obtain salvation. But what about the salvation of the Gentiles, who are also created in the image of God? » Continue reading “The Particularism that Nurtures Universalism”

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Iranian, American, and Israeli Grievances: A Question of Revolution

Iran’s fraudulent presidential election of June 12, which kept Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power, was enough to trigger a revolution—not civil disobedience Israeli style. Many Iranians lost their lives in violent protests against the fraud. The revolution is not over. Report has it that even Iranian soldiers are helping opponents of the regime.

“No taxation without representation” was the clarion call of the American revolution of 1776. The Americans were fed up with protests and civil disobedience. Ponder these words of the American Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; » Continue reading “Iranian, American, and Israeli Grievances: A Question of Revolution”

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What is a Jew and What is a Jewish State?

Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report. Israel National Radio, July 27, 2009.

In a recent article, I referred to Raphael Patai’s The Jewish Mind. Such has been the assimilation of so many Jews since the Enlightenment, so varied are the attachments of most Jews to Judaism, that Patai concludes that “a Jew is a person who considers himself a Jew and is so considered by others.”

In contrast to this subjective and vacuous definition of a Jew, I will argue that what is most distinctive of Jews is that which has preserved them as a people, the Torah and the Talmud.

Turning to specifics, I will mention only two unique characteristics of the Jew — and without disparaging countless Jews who do not exhibit these characteristics. The first is this: The Jew relates every question concerning thought, passion, and action to the Torah and regulates every facet of his life to the laws thereof—say the Halakha. If he is not learned in the Halakha, he consults his rabbi and defers to his judgment. And every rabbi has a rabbi.

It needs to be emphasized that the Talmud, rooted in the Torah, is more than a collection of laws. » Continue reading “What is a Jew and What is a Jewish State?”

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Israel

One should not identify Israel with the State of Israel. Since Israel was created as the God-bearing nation, it is infinitely more than a state—one of some 200 states represented in the United Nations. The State is a secular concept. It denotes the sovereign power within a political society.

As a secular entity, the State of Israel, in contradistinction to Israel per se, is a temporary phenomenon. This conclusion may be inferred from the thoughts of Rabbi Avraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935), Israel's first (Ashkenazi) Chief Rabbi who, in addition to being an extraordinary Torah scholar, was a profound philosopher of history.

Referring to secular Zionists of his own time, in whom he saw some semblance of Jewishness, Rav Kook admonishes them, saying:

The denial of our “Thou hast chosen us” vocation and singularity is a fatal blunder. Set apart from the Gentiles, as evident in our incomparable history, the Jewish excellence and nobility surpasses that of any other nation. » Continue reading “Israel”

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