Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Quiet Revolution

I'm a big believer in looking at things from the perspective of (what Annales Historians call) 'la longue duree.' Even in the midst of a war, living from bulletin to bulletin, it's important to keepone's ears and eyes open for deeper trends that find expression in these difficult times. Obviously, the power of Islam (and the desire to ignore it) is a central issue, but I (and Richard Landes and Danny Pipes) have written about that at length.

Instead, I have to admit that I'm deriving a lot of personal satisfaction that my observations about the deepening of Jewish identity (and, more specifically, religious devotion) in contemporary Israel are being confirmed. This brings with it the Gotterdammerung of the old, secular, Ashkenazi elites whose parents and grandparnts built the state and now think they own it (and can try to de-judaize and destroy it.)

The first point was made by Jameel:

10:07 PM Have you noticed something about the pictures of the war?
I read this comment on a newsite today...did you notice that one of the most predominant aspects of the pictures of this war -- more than ANY other war in Israel's history -- is the abundance of Jewish religiousity evident in the IDF today. While there was the one classic poster of the IDF soldier in 1973 holding a lulav and etrog ontop of his tank during the Yom Kippur war -- today there are literally hundreds and hundreds of pictures of IDF soldiers praying with tefillin, talitot, holding sifrei Torah, reciting Tefillat HaDerech -- Judaism abounds, proudly. Granted the saying goes that "there are no athiests in a foxhole," yet I find it telling that not only is there such a wave of religion going on at the front lines, but that it's getting so much positive publicity as well.

The second is made by an avowedly leftist journalist, Eliezer Yaari, in today's YNet. A few tidbits:

Into the third week of the second war in Lebanon, a small revolution has taken place, a swift and decisive one, one whose end will bring about a change in the country's rule.

An important social sector has raised its head as a result of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's slip of the tongue, whether intentional or not. It has pounded on the table and forced its stand on the cabinet and its leadership, without negotiating teams or settlements distributing the spoils.
And what did Olmert say? He said that in his opinion this war would strengthen the need for his realignment plan. Two hours after uttering these words he received an ultimatum: if this issue is still alive, said the West Bank settlement representatives in the Knesset, we shall call our people home: from junior to senior officers, those in the standing and reserve army, as well as the people of Eli, Itzhar, Beit El and Ofra. These are the spears with which you have embarked on this war, and he who controls these spears cannot permit himself to threaten them with the destruction of their homes. That's what Knesset member Benny Alon said in a statement that is an explicit threat calling for rebellion, unheard of in the region since the War of Independence.

And indeed within 12 hours, Ehud Olmert folded, as no prime minister has folded since Benjamin Nethanyahu vis-à-vis the Khaled Mashaal affair.

This event, which was almost washed away in the blood of the innocent, precedes the new reality that will set in when the war is over: a political, civilian earthquake, whose statement by the settlers' representatives in the Knesset will sound the first note.

In the second phase of this development, a determined home front will direct everything it has towards a conflict with the cabinet in its bid to hold it accountable.
They and their brothers from the peripheries, along with Jerusalem's bus passengers, the heroes of Nahariya and Carmiel, the underprivileged from Tiberias, the farmers at Mrar, Saar, Dovev and Shtula, the bus drivers, the firefighters from the north, the Nahara\iya hospital staff and the welfare people at the Tiberias city hall, will all demand to be heard.

Therefore, it is unacceptable, that these voices, including those of the settlers and new immigrants, will not be represented at the cabinet. The intermediate phase will be, how surprising, the establishment of an emergency cabinet, in order to heal the wounds and to cover the leaderships' hides.

Those who remained silent throughout the war will have to start looking for jobs, because they will have to make room for representatives of the people. And the prime minister, who himself is a role model of political survivability, more than alluded this week, that he understand the new rules of the game.


Anonymous said...

I fear that point #1 is damagingly misleading. It wants to demonstrate the religiosity of Israel when the sources are highly subjective and not at all representative. At the very least, this is the military in wartime, not daily life. And these pictures are stirring for even many/most of the irreligious, and people around the world. Let's keep perspective.

I do not understand point #2.
Do you think Alon's call for military rebellion/mutiny will actually be carried out and followed through? It hardly worked a year ago in Gaza.
Do you really think that the soldiers from the settlements are that crucial to this war? This is a small country, but the 'orange' contingent is a small fraction of it. The disillusionment of self-importance is part of what shocked them in the Gaza withdrawal (some still are refusing to recognize their mistakes...).
If Olmert has any brains, he will drop discussion of hitkansut/concentrating Jews until after this bloody business in the North is finished. He should wait a while, and then start it up again. Not that I think his hitkansut is a good idea, but that would be the most effective way to go.

Jeffrey said...

I disagree on both points.

The comment about religiousity is borne out not only from media sources but from reports I've received back from the fighting. In addition, as I wrote,it's only an intensive expression of a long standing trend that has no received its due in the media or academia.

As for the second point...If you read Yaari, his point is that the 'silent majority'is finally excercising its voice. It's parallel to the Jacksonian revolution, when the Virginia aristocracy was put in its place. The settlers are only part of the trend.

Nachum said...

More than just praying: I've noticed the high number of kippot in the pictures.

Ben Bayit said...

I have to disagree all around. The religiousity just reflects the higher proportion of religious soliders in the fighting units - reserves as well - in the army.

When all is said and done, they will send in the Yasam to do the Hitkansut and Eli Sadan will tell the widows and orphans of Eli that the State is more important than the yishuv and they will all leave (sure a few will throw a brick or two but that's all)

Yaari - and Dan Margalit's - words will be long forgotten. The Jerusalem Post editors who have done a mea culpa on disengagement will support the new "plan". The Shalem Center gurus will fall behind it once again. The Bibi's and Livnat's will once again hem and haw to stay in power. Nothing will change

I say this based on what I hear from the front - as well as what I see in the hi-tech work place and academia. Very little has changed.

Ben Bayit said...

I wanted to add that I specifically mentioned Eli Sadan b/c in his latest screed (Mayaneii Hayeshua, VaEtchanan) he specifically says that the "shas type" chazara b'tshuva (i.e. what you call religious devotion) is "not enough. what is needed is daat" and he says that he is correct in focusing on the "elites" (he used a less nice word, frankly not befitting someone calls himself a rav). Aside from the covert racism in his remarks (typical of a certain strain of the national religious sector - both mamlachti and anti-mamlachti groups I'm sorry to say), it also indicates that he is still stuck in his quasi-fascist relationship to the State; and as Elites=State as far as they are concerned, there is little relevance if everyone else puts on tefillin. The State is uber-alles in the minds of Eli Sadan, Shlomo Aviner, Moti Elon, Herr Oberst Gerhson von Cohen and his brother Re'em HaCohen in otniel. These are the people that influence our youth.

So it's going to take more than a few mea culpas on the (aging) left to change things. our camp has to do its own bedek habayit as well.