Monday, May 14, 2018

It's Not Even Past #21 - The End of the Politics of Freedom? - A Bit More

I have no idea what to say about Israel except that I fear the very worst is upon us. All the adults have been removed from their ability to supervise and in their wake this corner of the world has been left in the hands of dangerous and savage children.

It seems a bit like this every time, but it must be said, this time feels very different. There is no Obama, no Rabin, not even so much as a Bush or a Sharon on hand to let cooler states of mind prevail. Hamas will continue to throw fanatical protestors straight into the bullets of the Israeli army, and the Israeli army will be all too gleeful to use them. This happens every few years, and the death tolls are usually somewhere around two-thousand, often with Hamas often finding a way to kill as many Palestinians as Israel does - knowing that Israel will be blamed and the murders on their hands will go unreported, but this time gives the sense it will be astronomically higher, and since there is no way to remove Hamas, the consequences will be unstoppable until such time as Netanyahu, indeed the whole Likud party with all their cabinet ministers whom given the chance would be still more toxic than Netanyahu, is removed from power. If Netanyahu can still remain Prime Minister after the last nine years, who the hell knows what his removal could possibly take - not just untold thousands of casualties on the Arab side, but untold thousands of casualties within Israel. All it takes is one missile with radioactive material on it, one chemical weapon from Syria strapped to a missile and detonated in the air, one small container of bioterror. 

And the truth is, there is only one person to whom Netanyahu owes the entirety of his continued reign, and he knows it. It's driving him insane. That person is the arch-nemesis of his mind, for his arch-nemesis was not Khaled Mashal or Ayatollah Khameni, nor any of the Leaders of Avodah - the Israeli Labor party. You know who I'm going to say before I say it, his arch-nemesis was Barack Obama. Period.  To the fanatic, the heretic is a much greater enemy than the non-believer. The man who occupied more of Netanyahu's headspace over his second Premiership was not the enemies who could lead to Israel's destruction, nor was it any rival who could unseat him, it was the man who had the potential to show that it was possible to be moderately critical of Israeli policy yet also be a very proud Zionist. Netanyahu categorically rejected that, and as such, so now he faces a left-wing whose Anti-Zionism is much, much larger than it ever would have been. 

When I lived in Israel on an ulpan - one day I'll have to explain what that is, though even now I'm not quite sure I know what an ulpan is, I had a politics teacher who made a sweeping declaration on the night Ehud Olmert was elected Prime Minister that The Age of Netanyahu was now over. What an idiot... I have not been to Israel since 2008, the year before Netanyahu returned to power. Everyone I know who's been back has told me the same thing - Israel is prosperous on a level never seen before in its history. 

Right-wing Jews can say that Obama stabbed Israel in the back all they want, but President Obama gave Israel more money than any president in history. The Great Recession shrank America's economy 4.6 percent, but Israel's shrank 0.2 percent. Anybody who thinks that Israel is capable of those economic numbers without American help is as delusional about the extent of Israeli power as any Anti-Zionist who thinks Israel is capable of anything more than the most minimal influence on American foreign policy. Jews think Obama negotiated a bad deal to get rid of Iranian nuclear capability, but if the deal is bad, then Obama gave Israel all the tools they could ever want to fight Iran - including the bunker busters and the iron dome even George W. Bush kept from them. Anti-Israel leftists always accused Obama of an accusation so low that surely such a slur could not possibly be true - that Obama is a closet Zionist, and yet they were exactly right. All Obama ever asked from Israel was that Israel pursue policies that allow it to thrive, because in the 21st century, the policies that allow Israel to thrive are the same that will give its neighbors the opportunity to do the same - should they ever, unlikely though it seems, be wise enough to take it. But too many Israelis, too many Jews, have demanded far more than that. They demand a lack of accountability for their actions, they demand they be allowed to chase a national security utopia in which all threats to Israel's security be eliminated, and so delusionally convinced are they of their potential invincibility that they refuse to see the truth that is obvious to anyone whose two eyes have not been taken in an eye-for-an-eye: that their actions endanger Israel all the more. There is no such thing, nor shall there ever be, as an Israel that is not permanently endangered. Israel's choices are these:

1. It must learn to live with daily terror.

2. It will die.

Enraging as it is, there is no third option. What? You say that no country can live with such terror? Perhaps you're right, but when has being Jewish ever meant anything but living with the possibility of daily attacks on our persons? This is what it means to live as a Jew, it is sometimes what it means to die as a Jew, and it has never meant anything else. The eternal insecurity of the Jewish position, eternal upstarts, newly prosperous in every civilization, means that the double standard will forever be applied to us. Seventy years into Israel's existence, it becomes ever more clear that the return from the Diaspora will never eliminate the threat of Jews getting killed, it only minimized the threat. To riff on an Eric Hoffer saying about Israel, the world expects Jews to be the only real Christians. As there have always been a disproportionate number of Jewish high achievers in civilizations that have always belonged to somebody else, there is also greatly disproportionate scrutiny, and, one might controversially add, also slightly disproportionate opportunities for us to sin before we are sinned against in manners far disproportionate to our sins. 

It was always a given that the Left's current pathologies would eventually take a bullseye aim at Israel. It doesn't take a genius to connect Israel's current policies to the policing tactics of American cities, or to tie Israeli prosperity to what they perceive to be the evils of capitalism and imperialism - which they obviously see as totally interconnected with each other, or to ally themselves with Hamas and Iran in precisely the way they ally themselves with self-parodyingly evil hard left leaders like Chavez, Castro, and once upon a time, much more famous dictators of the Left still far more evil than they. 

Israeli wars are always overdramatic events, with the stakes always feeling nothing short of existential when they're just the same teacup tempests as ever before. But I can't deny the sinking feeling that this is the long-delayed moment the hard left has been longing for when they purportedly unmask the Zionist enterprise for precisely the imperial/capitalist/police state abomination they think it is. I know, in my head, that this won't be anything like an historical moment in which a Hitler discovers he can whip people up into a frenzy by blaming it all on the Jews, but my protruding gut certainly feels that way. To know that many friends of mine in the next six months may fall for all this shit hook line and sinker, and to know exactly which ones of them it will be, and knowing, that as a Jew with no better options, that you to have to put your head down and not pretend like you don't think that this is indicative of an unspoken evil in the hearts of people you try to keep loving, is but a small part of the role we all must play in the ongoing slow burn of tragedy that is the eternal Jewish story. 

I'm not interested in rehashing the same old Israel/Palestine arguments for the fifty-thousandth time which every member of my generation has heard a hundred thousand times already. But I do want to emphasize, in case it's not clear, just how much Israel's presence has meant to the Jewish psyche. You cannot expect that a people who are, again and again, subjected the very worst of Western brutality by virtue of their proximity to the West for longer and harder than any colony will suddenly change on a dime just because the West decided on a dime that nationalism was evil the very moment when their most oppressed minority finally got a nation of their own. For two-thousand years, you didn't let us define the terms of who's the sinner and who's the saint, and we're sure as the hell you introduced to the world not going to let you define the terms of that debate from now on.

Israel is everything to us. It is worth dying for, it is worth killing for, it is worth hating for, precisely because you all have demonstrated, in literally every single era of recorded human history, that you are willing to kill us to a man, woman, and child, for the crime of being among you. There was once a place where we were relatively safe from your evil, and there is now a place where we are relatively safe from your evil again. You will have to kill us all yet again before we ever give that up, and we have clearly demonstrated that we will kill some people without overly much remorse to keep it ours.

But that word, some, is the key, the sum total, of the hypocrisy, the crocodile tears, the fanaticism and the dangerously diseased idealism that never stops infecting people from age to age. The demand for all wrongs to be righted, the demand for the world to be free of contradictions, the demand that the crooked timber of humanity to be made into something straight. The only direct line that seems to exist in the world is the line from believing that the world can be made into something peaceful and to embracing those people who would kill everyone to make it possible. True believers demand lives completely without indignity when every indication shows that the world is a prison, tailor made to humiliate us all. 

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