ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | False Messiah X 2 27.8.05

False Messiah X 2

27 August 2005

By Yisrael Ne'eman

Some five years ago, both at Camp David 2000 and at Taba 2001 the secular, messianic “peace” hopes of the Israel Left went up in flames. The Palestinian low intensity war/terror offensive even erased the “peace at all costs” pushed by those negotiating in the name of then PM Ehud Barak’s collapsing Labor government. Negotiator Yossi Beilin and others like him had turned peace into the ultimate value instead of seeing it as a status between peoples. An undisclosed amount of Palestinian refugees (most likely tens, if not hundreds of thousands) would be allowed to return and Israel would compromise on its security in order to guarantee a peace agreement signed by the alleged peace champion Yasir Arafat. Since then the “peace camp” of the Israeli Left barely exists. Its leading faction, Meretz, has but six seats in the 120 member Knesset and most have little interest in hearing what any of them have to say.

This past month the religious right saw its messianic fervor disintegrate as the State of Israel proved itself sovereign over national interests when “disengaging” from Gaza and northern Samaria. The rabbis claimed there would never be a Disengagement. It just could not happen. Well it did. When taking cultural cues, one understood very well that God Himself stood firmly against Disengagement and no power on earth could change that. The Greater Land of Israel Messiah fell after being an object of worship. Over the years all other issues were secondary, including social welfare, equal rights, education, economic development and of course attempts at conflict resolution with the Palestinians.

The rabbis, most of whom are identified with the National Religious Movements have found their niche in history as collective false messiahs. Furthermore there are those residents and young activists who have begun to openly ask the question, “Why did the Disengagement happen?,” and conclude, “Maybe it was God’s will.” Others have concluded that someone did not tell them the truth, accusing both the rabbis and the Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) Council of misleading them. Or maybe these two leadership cadres really did believe they could overcome both a government and Knesset decision. By the end, and especially after the violence at Kfar Darom (spilling acid on the police) and Neve Dekalim, these two groups helped to facilitate a non-violent evacuation, especially when dealing with the activist orange clad youth.

But the rabbis and the Yesha Council misled their constituents either unintentionally through a true messianic commitment or they deceitfully played politics and used their followers to advance political goals. The first is not only naïve, but infers a dual sovereignty where the rabbis and God rule on earth in the expectation of messianic arrival. The latter is a rationally thought out policy whereby the foot soldiers are sent out to sacrifice themselves and pressure the government not to be involved in any more disengagements, or at least to limit their scope as much as possible. Could the rabbis and the Yesha Council really be that cynical? Let’s hope so, because the former alternative would be a disaster leading to a break of faith.

Neither a blind faith in a peace with the Palestinians nor a retention of the Greater Land of Israel with its Biblical reinforcement are going to herald the coming of a messianic age, whether secular or religious. The Messiah either exists or not, and if so, will arrive when he is ready.

The “Great Reconciliation” is in order. The Left messianists would do well to take a hint from the young members of the security forces who fought a five year anti-terror war against the Palestinians over their supposedly “humanist” and “peace-loving” objections even when the bombers were blasting public transport, restaurants, etc. The Right messianists could not have helped but seen the example of the religious and secular serving together while implementing the law of state during the evacuation. Threats of sending everyone to hell and calls of “Nazis” did not deter them from beginning the job of disentangling the Jewish and Palestinian populations through the Disengagement.

Over the past five years the enlisted youth in the Border Police and IDF have borne the brunt of both the Left and Right messianic failures. Their courage, unity and social cohesion are examples of the attributes necessary for Israeli society at large to face the security and political challenges of the future.