Monday, September 13, 2004

Ideology and Idolatry (Part II)

So what has all this to do with idolatry? Just this. In the introduction to her classic popularization of Greek and Roman Mythology, Dame Edith Hamilton noted that the Greeks fashioned their Gods in their own image. In other words, Greek religion was heavily narcissistic.

Western ideologies, too, have a tendency to be tinged with narcissism. Specifically, an ideologue cannot see any reality outside of his own ideologically structured reality. In the case of the debate over the disengagement from Gaza, the thing that strikes me is that the proponents of the idea express absolutely no compassion for the thousands of people who are going to be put out of their homes. Irrespective of one's politcal stance, it is incomprehensible that this is not an issue. Many proponents of Disengagement refer to the residents of Gush Katif as parasites, gangrenous or cancerous growths (and so on). These individuals have absolutely no compassion for their fellow Jews being ripped out of their homes where they've lived for three generatins, or more. (Never mind the shock to Jewish collective memory that the sight of Jews marching out iof their shuls with Sifre Torah under Jewish guns.)

So, that's why it seems to me to be idolatry. Unyielding worship of one's own ideas leaves no room for morality, for compassion, for even seeing the other person. Dehumanization and diabolization are tools of totalitarian regimes, which are themselves secular forms of idolatry. Whatever the outcome of this disengagement debate, PLEASE, for God's sake! Just as Abraham smashed the idols, so his children are known to be merciful. The two are mutually dependent. So are all Israelis.

(Of course, someone will be sure to say that the settlers don't 'see' the other side. That, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is not generally true. There will be no significant violent opposition. There is no real diabolization of the Left in settler circles (aside from some crackpots who get highlighted on TV). The settlers keep appealing to their fellow Israelis as brothers. It's Yossi Sarid who said that they are not his brothers.)

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