Published by The Freeman Center
The Maccabean Online
Political Analysis and Commentary
Jewish Hope & the West: a Tale of ‘Nobility’ from 1948
Eugene Narrett, PhD www.israelendtimes.com
The Jewish hope is “our hope to be a free people in our land, the land of Zion; Jerusalem.”
No people has trudged a more difficult path, from so early a date and arrived in modern times intact to the degree of the Children of Israel. Slandered, oppressed, murdered and betrayed, their practical faith stolen, deformed and used to sentence them to death, they have embodied not only the hope of their great anthem, a song as beautiful as it is short, sweet and poignant but the climactic lines of a famous epic:
To suffer woes which hope thinks infinite; to defy Power which seems omnipotent; to love, endure and hope till hope creates from its own wreck the thing it contemplates i
And it is no coincidence that another great English poet, beloved and widely read to this day in no small part because he had no faith, not even nature, which he loved, and was a kind, good man, at the end of his short life said of himself, “if ever there was a person born without the faculty of hoping, I am he.”ii How sad that the irrationalities, punitive and imperial aspects of the churches drove to despair and fear so many people who by ingrained cultural habit could not begin to see the simple dream and practice of Israel; after all, only a minority of Jews sees and does it to this day, such is the damage of exile.
In the way of Judaism, hope in inextricable from faith and faith is something practiced and built; as etymology teaches, it is an art, training in belief put into action that changes character. This intertwining and the self-sacrifice it teaches is Jewish nobility, an internal development given in one’s deeds and to one’s ‘brothers.’ It differs from the noble gestures of the nations that make for dazzling art and tend to intertwine death and glory, a love for, glorification and beautification of death, the great last act. In the poems of Keats, in the epic of Tennyson, the history of Spengler the “wish for death” and the romance of death, of “regression to the mud” increases with “enlightenment” since the West is based on a lie and identity theft; guilt, rage and power lust drive it on, trampling humanity in its wake and leaving a nightmare world of masks and shadowsiii. In derekh Yehudi, the last act is in the broadest sense comedic: about integration and life abundant, about the sanctification of the smallest and most metaphysical of matters.
Terror and bad faith define “the West” from its inception and now explode from pop culture, politics, geopolitics and finance. “Credit” in Hebrew is cognate with faith; it is its root; it is artisanry, acquired by practice of Torah. The financial panic of which the world is dying is a matter of amun ra’ah, evil credit-faith that does harm, purposely, breaking nations, defying all Torah teachings of just weights and measures.iv
This is another facet of the confusion filling the minds of the kings in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings: “Who am I” they ask when they are not maddened outright by despair. “Do you believe in your king?” No one can believe, except by unsustainable blind faith (which therefore must ultimately be coerced) when the culture that produced them invented its own king to displace and discredit the Creator Who is a King only in metaphor; and this is what “the West” has: replacement metaphors straining to impose themselves as ideological and geopolitical facts, masks and shadows, bubbles and dreams. Even the poet of hope turns his back on the world, declaring of his society and its idea of freedom: “cold hopes swarm like worms, within our living clay.”v Nightmares fill the vacuum in which the simple, realizable dreams of Israel are buried; the world loses its glory and splendor and becomes a charnel house of hope, delusion and strife.
And Europe is run from a city a great English novelist termed “a whited sepulcher” by a nation with whom it has fought fiercely destructive wars to determine who would rule the West; an enemy the English elites empowered in a vast game of breaking of the vessels of sovereignty. “The abrogation of national sovereignty is a duty” for the ecumenical churches to impose on the nations: internationalists like Philip Kerr (Lord Lothian” have worked their way since 1910 toward “a world community” and “a world state” an “international order” in which “Western Liberalism is the political husk of Christianity” which must have its kernel of “love” restored.vi
The West is enchanted, literally, filled with the songs, rhetoric, conceptual framework and spirit of despair, and its power-mad masters inculcate their people in the ‘glory of despair’ the better to break their spirit, possessions, and relationships and reduce them to peonage. “The days have gone down in the West, into the shadow; how did it come to this,” is the refrain of the despairing heroes of Lord of the Rings which absorbs the segula (“precious”) of essence of Israel and bond to the Creator into a magical object of power; the Jew into a golem, withered by his precious Torah which has to be destroyed so Nordic and elfin peoples can live in peace to reproduce, perhaps, by budding. How can they believe in their kings, how can their kings believe in themselves when there is no Creator but only wizards, magic, and a depraved image of the Jew? “Empire is located in catastrophe, in rise and fall” a novelist of liberal but not postmodern stance writes. “By day it pursues its enemies,” real and imagined for it lives in the cloud of its fantasies. “It is cunning and ruthless…it feeds on images of disaster: the sack of cities, the rape of populations; pyramids of bones, acres of desolation. A mad vision [and] a virulent one”: to dissent is to be “terror-stricken,” to rule is to contend as in a dream with phantoms of terror by “a new science of degradation that kills people on their knees, confused and disgraced in their own eyes.” vii This results from its deformation of Jewish materials and its contempt and guilty hatred of Jews whom the Creator commands, “fear not.”
Thus the West is uprooting itself and since the early 1930s has had its subcontractors firmly installed in the Promised Land to keep the Jewish people from establishing strong roots that show a different way to life, a lasting and simple, non-imperial way to abundant life. We live in a time of global uprooting; of destruction of boundaries, memory and tradition especially the memory of Israel which is rooted truly only in its land. The English have used America and its system of accountability, balanced powers and modest government to sell their idea of “Freedom” to the world while destroying the lives and freedom of Israel for “plants with weak roots do not withstand wind and rain” and they intend the reborn Israel, a semi-Jewish State to wither and be absorbed in one of their federations. So a great fighter for Malkhut Israel, considering the failure within the superficial success of 1948 wrote, “we must dig deeper; we must place our people’s roots deeper in their culture…deepen their roots in a complete world view…from the wellsprings of Uri Zvi Greenberg’s poetry” and the truth of the Holy One of Israel, the Creator.viii
The God of Israel is the Creator of freedom for with His gifts of language-thought and free will He enables human beings to know Him, to know their potential, gifts and roles. Jacob’s ladder teaches many lessons, among them that human thoughts, speech and deeds especially have a diffuse, multi-faceted, indirect effect on the heavenly forces and that “nothing is forgotten before the throne of God” or, as Shakespeare often shows, the wheel will come full circle”; “there is a divinity which shapes our ends, rough hew them as we will.”ix Heaven and earth are intertwined through the Jewish vision of the Eternal One and the orderly laws and distinctions by which heaven and earth are established in kindness and faithfulness, a lesson of the Exodus, the paradigmatic liberation in order to serve the Creator and model the ideal commonwealth and true freedom. Again Jews must go into the wilderness of this breaking world or, rather, world whose coherence is being broken as they must return to their entire world and restore all its waste places.
This can be done; indeed, it will be done for HaTikva is rooted in the souls of all Jews, even those utterly lost in the dazzle and emoluments of “the West.” The desert and the ruin to which Israel was reduced and in which much of it still suffers, is “conducive to anava [humility, the distinctive trait of Moshe] which frees the mind from distractions and opens it to Torah’s eternal and inexhaustible truths. “When Israel received the Torah, the entire nation became a Yeshiva Academy” and Torah study became the greatest virtue because all arts, sciences, and rules for daily conduct are in it and integrated. Thus the Jews have never had minstrels, ballads, theatres, tournaments, circuses, the idolatry of “the Queen of Beauty,” orgies, gladiators, sport-industry, masquerades, hunting for ‘fun,’ bullfights” and such forms of idle idiocy and communion that conduce to fascism and all but require a cult of Statex.
With its exile, Israel became permeated with Western notions of “nobility” and self-sacrifice that wind up being cruel to the kind, although this is not the intention. We must know our roots, to avoid this lethal confusion of Edom with Israel which has been the play of “the West.” A salient example of this confusion, one that undermines and endangers all the Jewish people, and the world, to this day, is the subject of this essay. Given the confusion, the Hebrew nation, those from “the other side”xi of the world’s tendency to nature worship and subsequent darkness has become a seesaw toyed with in a contrived dialectic of attrition rather than a lever to release the human capacity for true freedom, to know our contingency and true boundaries.
This is a story and a lesson from June 1948; the things that did and did not happen and the hopes that almost were fulfilled as told by a great spirit that was there and striving for redemption.
The tale shows how the modern State of Israel and pre-State Yishuv suffer from a perversion of the second forefather, Isaac. Avraham embodies chessed, “kindness” based in his knowledge of the Creator and of “His” unfathomable, father-like kindness in giving human beings a coherent world. Yitzhak, Isaac embodies Gevurah, strength, self-preservation, independence as well as self-restraint in service of these goals within the knowledge of the Creator. But the Labor establishment, the client regime or undertakers have perverted Gevurah by alienating its essential component of insistence on boundaries self-preservation and independence and emphasizing a degenerate form of “self-restraint” (havlaga) which in their praxis means that Israel will never initiate war but only respond after many violent provocations, many violations of its borders and integrity by its enemies. Because of this perversion of Yitzhak, the link between the forefathers, because of this self-serving limitation of Gevurah by the subcontractors Israel cannot truly be Israel (“he commands the powers” of the Creator), the honorary title of Jacob because Israel is a synthesis of the chessed of Avraham with the rigor, boundaries, independence and strength of Yitzhak. Thus the client regime has deformed Yisrael, which is their job: to prevent it from being itself, from being Emet, truth. Israel suffers from a perversion of Gevurah which in turn suppresses its truth and brings disaster rather than awe and respect to the nation.
The following review of salient history indicates this perversion and illuminates its current costs.
As Amalekites descend upon Israel like birds of pray upon the covenant, demanding that it give yet more hundreds of trucks filled with food every day to those whose mission and joy is to murder Jews, it is pertinent to review events from 1948 that cast the lines, already laid out on which the State would seesaw toward attrition and calamity led, by tragic error by the best and malice by those who undertake the bidding of the powers.
Some people know that the ship filled with arms, equipment and Jews ready to fight for Jerusalem, a ship sunk off the beach at Tel Aviv on June 23, 1948 at the orders of Mr. Ben Gurion was named “the Altalena.” Some know that this was the nom de guerre of Zev Jabotinsky, originally the friend and ally and later the target of Chaim Weizmann (“the Englishman”) and David Ben Gurion the communist leader of all the leftwing elements that coalesced into the British-favored establishment of the Jewish community in pre-State Israel. It is this regime of quislings that rules Israel to this day; that then, even during the shoah and in its immediate aftermath “declared a holy war to protect the British” even when it cost the lives of its own cadres in the Haganaxii
Eldad recounts how Jabotinsky chose the name in error, one that seemed harmless and mildly amusing. “I did not yet know Italian well enough and thought that [the word’s] translation was ‘lever’; afterward I was told that its correct translation is ‘seesaw.’”xiii
Perhaps one brilliantly gifted in languages and the nuances of words and languages as was Jabotinsky should have known that names and words have a way of creating facts. The struggle of the Underground, inspired by the teachings and love of Jews by ‘Jabo,’ the Rosh Betarxiv and the teetering the State that emerged from the suppression of the Revolt by the caretakers has been, as Eldad wrote sixty years ago, “a seesaw and not a lever” meant to pry up the oppression of millennia and make place for a new nation and Temple.
In discussing the terrible events of that day, June 23, 1948 Eldad writes that he cares least “to write of the main criminal: the artillery regiments under their Mapai, Mapam and Palmach flags.” He understood the hatred and projected hostility of those who reduced “themselves to the level of being dogs for the British secret police.” He knew that the Underground’s choice, only a month earlier, to disband and enlist in Labor’s Hagana that informed on, caught, and tortured members of the Underground did not diminish the hatred of the “dogs” but increased it, “because it left their desire for revenge unfulfilled.” Revenge for what? “For all the many humiliations we caused them simply by existing during the Underground years” and showing them that there was a true-blue Jewish alternative to collaboration and begging for crumbs, to “self-restraint” and “purity of arms” that continues to bring contempt and hatred upon Israel to this day.
The destruction of the Altalena and its armaments to enable the conquest of Jerusalem which BG had no intention of permitting (a trusted subcontractor is emplaced to do a job) was “Ben Gurion’s Struma” Eldad writes, referring to the ship filled with nearly eight hundred British refugees from Europe that was torpedoed off the coast of Turkey in spring 1942. While there had been no intention to conquer Tel Aviv or topple the client regime, initially, he adds “such an order was justified after Ben Gurion ordered the murder of those on the ship” adding plausibly, “when such an order is given, the moral and civil foundation upon which a government rests is undermined.”xv
The main quarrel and questions posed by Eldad, the great polemicist and force behind the struggle for Jewish independence concern his dear friend and comrade, Menachem Begin. Though they disagreed at times on principles and tactics, by 1946 Begin saw that British imperialism was the main enemy and that the issue of Jewish sovereignty was the center of the dispute.
Why, Eldad asks, was Menachem on the ship, offering himself like a sitting duck since he had no intention of attacking Tel Aviv or the establishment? There was no logic to this danger and potential loss to the entire struggle. Secondly, why the restraint in the face of the homicidal liberticidexvi by the left? He notes, in lines that resonate to this day, “if one side refuses to stop at the border called, ‘shedding brothers’ blood’ while the other declares night and day, ‘anything but a civil war’ and ‘we do not seek power’ then not only is the latter side not preventing bloodshed, but just the opposite: it is inviting bloodshed.” It is the same with “self-restraint” (havlaga) in response to Arab violence, save it long since has become a cynical method for binding and humiliating Jews and crippling the State of Israel which was supposed to represent their sovereignty, special mission and dignity, all of which include their lives and land.
Eldad continues the thought, so relevant to the sorrow and the pity of the expulsion from Gush Katif, and not only from that failure of love and determination, “if the artillery commanders knew that Begin was going to respond in kind, they would never have given the order to fire…They bombarded the ship because they had repeatedly been promised from its decks, ‘we will not return fire.’” Thus they knew they could kill with impunity for there would be no consequences to their hegemony or personal health. “The self-restraint of the ‘Seesaw’ gave Ben Gurion more power than any vote…a victorious murderer and a restrained, surrendering murder victim” like Israel to this day that fights only enough to save the regime of unilateral surrender and subservience to the powers.
He criticizes himself and the entire Underground leadership, too, for “not immediately launching a quick sharp maneuver by sea and land and unloading the arms.” But he spends most of his time on the social and spiritual effect of Begin’s tear-filled speech in response to the atrocity. “Ultimately, pity has an effect opposite that which the one arousing the pity assumes it will have,” again, just as during the decades to this day, at least since June 1967, explaining the injustices, describing the double standards and pleading for fair play only evoke contempt and further demands for surrender. Begin, the Commander of the Irgun Eldad writes “was obligated to weep, privately but that night he was obligated to strengthen hearts, not to soften them, not to break them. ‘We are broken’ one of the Etzel commanders told me the next day when I went to headquarters.
“The murderers washed their hands with these tears and said, ‘indeed, it was not pleasant, but it was worth it.’” As their political descendants said, the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif would be carried out, “with sensitivity and determination.” Eldad explains the main point: “weeping shocks but accomplishes nothing. Laughter is much more potent…and Menachem never learned the powerful laughter that causes enemies to tremble. He never learned it though his teacher Jabotinsky taught it…Jabotinsky would not have responded by weeping. He was made of true steel…”xvii
“Altalena should have been a lever as Jabotinsky originally thought. Under the artillery bombardment it became a seesaw with a broken body. Ben Gurion was unable to take its soul; its soul was lost with Begin’s weeping... not courageous enough to break the cease fire even when it comes to the armaments of salvation…[this] incompleteness led to self-abasement even before the state [and now] when its Presidents are yesterday’s collaborators.” This was written sixty years ago; its ripples spread today: the tree unfolds from the seed. The failure of the “Jewish Leadership” within the Likud is one ripple.
But the weakest of those fighters were tough; that night they met, arranged to gather all their forces and travel to Jerusalem to proclaim and win a free Judea. But it was too late: the client regime and its armed cadres preempted most of the re-deployment as they later were to preempt the capture of the Old Cityxviii.
“I will stay with my soldiers” Menachem had said about being on the Altalena. “The same noble Menachem,” Eldad writes. “The last romantic among the world’s freedom fighters…what kind of heroism is this? They had to carry him off the ship against his will. The subject is worthy of a glorious epic; greatness of spirit has not passed from the world. But do we need material for epics or leaders to direct the Hebrew Revolution?! ‘Take him out of here,’ I said. ‘Take him out of here by force…’”
And then the end, the end of the beginning of the last stages of rebirth that began with Yair as rooted in the Aaronsohn group, Herzl, the Ohr Ha Chaim and Ramchalxix; with the sages of Tzfat, Yehudah Ha Levi and those waiting for him…a rebirth that will not stop until its branches blossom fully from the river to the river and the simple dream sings gladly from the ashes of sterile imperial schemes, their dazzling spin and many forms of autocratic magic: “we will be like dreamers, our mouths will be filled with laughter and our tongues with glad song…” It is as it was in the summer of 1948 and beyond, “every child in the city knows: if fighting starts, nothing will stop the army of Israel from passing over the walls; and after the walls, the Temple Mount; and afterward there will be no more border, not in Ramallah, not in Shechem, not on the Jordan River. Jerusalem is the last line of foreign rule in this country.” So it was, and so it is.
Blair, Mitchell, Clinton, Jones, Freeman, Braddock, Baker, all the Emperor’s horsemen and all of his men and female-males working overtime to defend their death state from the Jubilee of Israel.
Only those with strong roots will withstand wind and rain. “He whose works exceed his wisdom, his wisdom will endure.”
i The epigraph is from the national anthem, HaTikva out of which singing and doing the modern nation of Israel was born. The quoted passage in text is from Prometheus Unbound 4.1.570-74 by Percy B. Shelley (1819). Having had so much of its unique history, themes, ways and metaphors appropriated, it is apt to adduce these lines from an epic on a Hellenized hero of Enlightenment pantheism and return them to the Jewish people who exemplify and have pioneered them.
ii John Keats, Letter of Mrs. S. Brawne, 24 October 1820, Letters of John Keats (Oxford 1970, ed. Robert Gittings), 395-6; Mrs. Brawne was the mother of the young woman Keats loved to distraction but who never promised him her sole affection or engagement; his unrequited worship of this ordinary person shows the crippling residue of the “Queen of Beauty” pattern, the Hellenist goddess worship that cripples the West, generating much of its self-destructive energies and, in many case making a mockery of the British claim to have the unique “idea of freedom” that will unify and save the world.
iii This is the horrific vision Shelley relates in his last poem, an Inferno titled ironically, “The Triumph of Life” (1822) with the “Triumph” modeled on the imperial trionfi of pagan Rome when conquered peoples and their treasures, like the golden menorah and silver trumpets of the Kohanim as seen on the Arch of Titus, were paraded through the streets of Rome to demonstrate the might of the “imperial city.”
iv It cannot be coincidence that this “evil faith” and “bad credit that does harm” is a homonym for the name of an Egyptian god-king. “Panic and Terror” are the offspring of Aphrodite whose “birth” and substance is an act of sexual perversion and violence, and Ares, the god of War who now rules with his consort in a “War of Terror,” an endless war of shadows and contrived dialectic attrition; see Hesiod, Theogeny 91-245
v Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Adonais: an Elegy on John Keats” (1821), 342-356 passim. Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Early Childhood,” Coleridge’s “Dejection an Ode” express similar grief and contradiction; life is a progressive loss, not a blessing. The imagination that displaces faith in the Creator and respect for his people generates images of loss, ruin and bewildering shadows; nature once worshipped as glorious becomes a “prison-house” for those whose freedom is parliament, “free speech” and “the rule of law” whose essence in times become preference and power, antitheses of Torah.
vi William Paton, “World Order,” The Church and World Order (London 1941)l Lionel Curtis, Civitas Dei (1937); Toynbee quoted by Curtis in “World Order,” International Affairs, 1939, Volume 18, #3 (London May-June 1939), journal of the R.I.I.A. quoted in Martin Erdman, Building the Kingdom of God on Earth: the Churches Marshaling Support for World Order and Peace, 1919-45 (Oregon 2005), 60-81 passim
vii J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians (Penguin 1982), 133, 95, 108, passim; cf. Shelley, “Adonais,” “we decay like corpses in a charnel, cold hopes convulse us and consume us day by day…and in mad trance strike with our spirit’s knife, invulnerable nothings”; in the West grim hope sits on despair.
viii Israel Eldad, The First Tithe (1950, 1963 2nd edition; Jabotinsky Institute, Tel Aviv, 2008 English translation, Zev Golan), 408-09; Eldad echoes Pirke Avot 3:22 on Jeremiah 17:6 and Tehillim 1; one’s work in sanctifying the everyday matters and in acknowledging the Creator is the greatest wisdom and “he whose work exceeds his wisdom, his wisdom will endure.” Eldad urges the work of memory and honor.
ix Shakespeare, King Lear 5.3. 176, 304-06; Hamlet 5.2.10-11; Ramchal, Derekh Hashem 2.3-9
x Avigdor Miller, Rejoice O Youth (NY 1968) quoted in Dr. Paul Eidelberg’s Judaic Man: Toward a Reconstruction of Western Civilization (1996), 70-81 passim, an essential text.
xi “Hebrew” is English for the word “Ivri” (first applied to Abraham, “a prince of God,” “blessed of God the Most High”); it means “the other side” geographically, northeast of the Euphrates, originally, and in knowledge and practical faith on the other side of all the nations of the world which, in the UN, have again gathered against Jerusalem; it is uncanny or, one would say, providential.
xii The First Tithe, 318-25 ff; Dr. Golan will tour America April –May 2009, contact him for lectures.
xiii Op. cit. 387-400, “A Seesaw, not a Lever” in the chapter, “For the Three Crimes of the Altalena…”
xiv Betar, now a medium-sized city in central Israel west of Jerusalem in ancient times was the site of the last stand of the Jewish people against Rome under Shimon Bar Kokhba in 135. In the 1920s, Jabotinsky founded a national renewal movement for youth under the title Betar which also was understood as an acronym for Brit Yosef Trumpeldor, the former Russian army hero who was killed by Arabs as he, with a small group of fellow Jews, defended the settlement of Tel Chai in the northern Galilee in 1920.
xv Eldad, 390-1
xvi The word was coined by Shelley in his sonnet, “England in 1819” written in response to the “Peterloo Massacres” and partly to inspire a revolutionary change of mind and tactics among the people. Unlike Keats, Shelley was at heart a Puritan displaced in the post-Enlightenment age, seeking always for the “Unseen Spirit” throughout his major poetry, “the awful [awesome] and unseen power” that resides in darkness and that in late poems he termed, “the One” or “the One Spirit”, “the Unborn and the Undying” (“Hymn to Intellectual Beauty,” June 1816, “Adonais” May 1821, “Hellas” October 1821). Radical in principle, his allegiance was, as he put it in a letter of fall 1819, “always on the side of liberty and the oppressed” but he had lessening faith in “the people’s” ability to free themselves from their materialism or “mind-forged manacles” (the phrase is that of William Blake one of the most unusual replacement types of all time). Trapped in a decadent Church of England context, Shelley could never get closer to truth than an other-worldly Neo-Platonism and a grim refusal to ‘join the crowd,’ wanting life sanctified but unable to see a way given that his framework was the church model whose irrational theology and cheap ‘faith,’ clubbiness and punitive nature he hated almost as much as he hated the authoritarian Roman church.
xvii Eldad, 392-3
xviii Samuel Katz, Days of Fire (NY 1968), 263-72; Eldad 397-409
xix Rabbi Chaim ben Attar led his congregation from Italy to Jerusalem in 1735; Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato made aliyah two years later from Holland; Rav Yehuda Ha Levi from Spain in about 1140. See Samuel Katz, Battleground (1983, 3rd edition) chapter 4 for a readable summary of the continuous presence of Jews in the Land. For a fascinating and erudite discussion of the qualities and potential that will ensue from restoring Israel my works and those of Dr. Eidelberg, above, are helpful. Only know that “the West,” a fabrication or “text” from the first is undoing itself in its elites cynical lack of faith and contempt for Hope and that the renewal of humanity will come from restoring and fulfilling the lessons of the Torah.