Monday, January 17, 2011

Reason For Hope?
Is Lieberman an Instrument of God?


There is a meme going 'round that things in Israel are about to break, and break for the better.

To be sure, I am mostly hearing this from "Liberal Zionists", people who are both fiercely committed to the necessity of a Jewish State and who are equally aghast at the reality and direction of present day Israel. So maybe this is just wishful thinking on their part. From where I sit I am not so sure. But neither am I convinced they are wrong.
The gist of this meme can be summed up by Lenin's maxim "the worse it gets, the better it gets." - meaning that the more oppression and misery there is the more obvious it is that that the ancien regime is untenable and the sooner the revolution.
Rabbi Dov Marmur, in an open letter from Jerusalem writes:
Kol Haneshama (the Reform synagogue in Jerusalem) was born [in the 1980's] in the home of its spiritual leader Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman and gained prominence when, having moved to a public hall, the local Orthodox rabbi came with other thugs
to physically attack it one Simchat Torah because women were dancing with the Torah. The mayor, the late Teddy Kollek, was so incensed by this attack that he gave the congregation a piece of land that enabled it to grow. Today, it’s the largest non-Orthodox congregation in the country with an international reputation second to none. ...
The fact that the success of Kol Haneshama is at least in part due to an act of
bigotry and violence that propelled it into prominence may also be a clue to the theme of the demonstration in Tel Aviv. According reports, Avigdor Lieberman [was] ... considered to be an even greater menace from .. than Iran... The fact that the foreign minister’s latest rant, this time against human rights organizations in Israel,
has created such a reaction suggests that, instead of delivering a blow to democracy, he has in fact invigorated its exponents – just as that rabbi who attacked members of Kol Haneshama achieved the very opposite to what he intended.
Bradley Burtson, writing in Haaretz, in an article entitled Think Israel's a lost cause? Ten reasons to think again, goes further.
Something's started to happen here, and for the first time in a long time, something good, the decency that still somehow informs people here, has a chance of taking wing....
On Saturday night, the weather stone cold and threatening, Israelis who had no expectation that anyone would show up at an underpublicized Tel Aviv street march
- a demonstration, believe it or not, in favor of democracy and groups working for social justice and Israeli-Palestinian peace - decided to show up anyway.
The turnout was shocking. Marchers filled the broad square by the Tel Aviv Museum and swelled into the adjacent Shaul Hamelech Blvd., a sea of flags and signs, Jews and Arabs, young and old, spilling over to and lining the long wall of the Kirya, Israel's Pentagon. Well over 10,000 people, maybe as many as 20,000, blown away by the turnout, blown away, as well, by a sudden sense of hope.
Nafal, as they say here, davar b'yisrael. Something crucial, shattering, game-changing, is happening here. ....
Burston goes on to list among other causes for hope, the disgust among large elements of the population with Avigdor Lieberman's attacks on Israel human rights NGOs, public revulsion with the letters of the racist rabbis, and the recent break-up of the Labour Party over the stalled "peace process".
The right has over-reached, and the decent center has finally woken up. That is the gist of Burston's piece and of Rabbi Marmur's and several other similar articles in the Israeli press and blogosphere.
I am not so sure, though I hope it is true.
If so, it might mean that Avigdor Lieberman, is an instrument of God! At least that's the view of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (founder of Reconstructionism Judaism.) Writing in 1937, about his idea of God as the "Power that makes for Freedom", in the context of commenting on Passover and on the human contradictory impulses of seeking safety in doing nothing and seeking betterment by taking action, he says:
... in spite of man's desire to be let alone, there is a Power within man and above man that gives him no rest. That Power deprives him of the security for the sake of which he is all too ready to surrender his soul, and thrusts him out into the wilderness where he is compelled to achieve his freedom and reclaim his soul.
How does this come about? By means of that inner contradiction which develops within human bondage. Those in the master class over—reach themselves in their desire to exploit their slaves for purposes in which the latter have neither share nor lot. Before long they fail to afford them even that minimum security for which their slaves forego their freedom It is then that those in the slave class are compelled to rise in revolt and strike out for freedom. In ancient Israel they had a term for that inner contradiction which gives rise to the dialectic of freedom. They spoke of it as "God hardening Pharaoh’s heart.” ...
Such is the inertia produced by security on the human spirit, and such its wish to be let alone, that if the master class would supply the minimum needs ... to those whom they hold in thrall, human society would become crystallized into the type of organization that exists among bees and ants. Mankind would remain permanently divided into higher and lower classes of human beings; the caste system would remain iron-bound and unalterable. Such a caste system would exclude forever the vast multitudes of the human race from the possibility of salvation or self-fulfillment. But apparently there is something of the divine in every human being which does not permit mankind to reconcile itself to so dire a fate. That divine urge utilizes the Pharaonic tendency of the oppressors and exploiters to over-reach themselves, as a means of frustrating their most carefully devised schemes.

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