ISRAEL, & WESTERN CIVILIZATION’S
PROBLEM WITH HISTORY, MEMORY, & SURVIVAL
by Dr. Eugene Narrett
From a lecture presented by the Root & Branch Association, Ltd.
We live in remarkable times. We are living in the midst of one of those critical conjunctions of events and attitudes that form, or deform, cultures; that shape the assumptions and political events, alliances, enmities, and economics; that form or deform the role of the state and the understanding of what it means to be a human being, -- how we all, as individuals, families, citizens or subjects understand our place, opportunities, rights: all this, the culture in which we try to live our lives is undergoing fission.
Our era, the modern era shaped by the Enlightenment that professed to enthrone reason as the faculty that would re-shape social and human relations; that would establish nature as the bedrock of knowledge and tolerance; that would create a "natural religion" for all people, a new world order as celebrated by Thomas Paine or Philip Freneau; the Natural Religion that is yet one more form of Replacement Theology; Natural Religion that led to Romanticism and its celebration of the passions and imagination; led to the dogmas of progress and technological innovation, -- shaped by the mania for a rationally regulated world state, is a time that is challenging, hurried, daunting. It glitters, astonishes with spectacles of every variety, it distracts, entraps, and numbs the mind with information, with the noise of the media, of the trivial, misleading, irrelevant or dishonest in which truth often lies buried like a jewel at the bottom of a mud slide.
As an instance of the paradoxes and crises of our time, consider the question of a prominent Israeli, a former Cabinet Minister and Prisoner of Zion who recently wondered why the world\'s democracies, led by America, are so keen to establish a new, anti-democratic, anti-American jihadist state in parts of Israel. This process and policy surely seem the height of irrationality and, in that sense, would seem to be the antithesis of the Enlightenment spirit that, with the Bible, gave rise to America and its culture. How is it that the powers of the West have gotten so deeply into a process that hacks at the roots of their own culture, in which the past is erased, the erasure is forgotten, and the lie becomes truth? Let the following broader discussion of how the West got to where it is provide context for such questions.
We live in remarkable times; times when it is incumbent upon one to be up-to-date and \'with the program\', the latest program, because they change so very often, and to know the guidelines for correct speech, a difficult, indeed impossible project since they change so often, are so ill-defined and often not defined at all. In this regard, and not only in this regard, our era is like that described by George Orwell in 1984 in which most of the professionals in the state, those not working for the police, work constantly at revising the past.
All media records are scrutinized daily by the white collar workers in the Ministry of Truth so that the past can be "rectified" to fit the ever-changing policies of the present; and of course, to keep everyone on their toes and preoccupied with fear. This state of affairs also means that there is no past that a person can know with any certainty; it means that there are no people whose activities, words, hopes and plans one can know with certainty, whose identity and life anyone can be sure even was lived because the past is constantly being rectified to meet the needs of real politik and the State, of raison d\'etat, of what politicians and mainstream pundits call "necessity" and "reality". And as John Milton observed centuries ago, "necessity [is] the Tyrant\'s plea", the justification for whatever the powerful feel like doing to others, including re-writing the past to de-legitimize, de-humanize and destroy entire groups of people or even a nation. If the State Department says American troops are in Mesopotamia to bring "democracy" to the place, than that is what is true. If Jewish homes are being destroyed and Jews expelled from Gush Katif it is a "disengagement, for peace". It all is necessary for peace...but there is no peace.
"Necessity" as Milton defined its relation to real politik is the condition & concept invoked by powerful groups unsatisfied with the power they have and who wish to equate their own designs, policies or impulses with facts of life, with acts of G-d. "Necessity", very often, is indeed "the Tyrant\'s plea". When invoked by politicians like Milton\'s Satan, it tends to mean violence and fraud.
In the remarkable, daunting, and hurried times in which we live, and which our parents and grandparents already lived and were startled by "the new", the world must go "forward" and the past forgotten. We are told repeatedly that progress is a necessity, and that progress means conditioning ourselves to think, feel, and act in new and "better" ways, to adopt values and habits, constraints on our freedoms, and intrusions into our privacy that are not only different from what we once held permissible but the opposite of what we had been taught, and believed, often still do believe and feel, is good and true.
The dogma of progress often is a bludgeon that acts not mainly or directly on the body but first on the mind and soul, generation after generation through schools, the media, political "ideas" and speech in which what is allowed becomes increasingly odd, from a traditional stance, and what is forbidden becomes ever more expansive; in which the process of estrangement from our roots and ourselves becomes ever more extreme; in which history is buried or radically revised. And so the modern age is the age of anxiety, the age of horror, the inevitable upshot of all the idealistic transgressions of Romanticism: scientific, social, ideological, and sexual transgressions.
Thus, the Enlightenment finally and inevitably is the age of terrors. For terror is what comes of attacking one\'s cultural roots, of rejecting or re-writing one\'s personal or national or cultural history; of basing reason on Nature and making of Nature a god in which each person is urged to read and write their own text. Modernism puts the individual in the place of G-d, saying, "do your own thing". How quickly such people will become ruled and terrorized by their appetites. How easy they will be for other people to rule.
"We will put the spectator in the center of the picture", wrote the polemicist F. T. Marinetti (Futurist Manifesto, 1910), and let him or her find their own way out, let the individual create meaning from the flux of surrounding sensations. "We will augment the primordial emotions....We will glorify war, the only true hygiene of the world. We will glorify the gestures of anarchism. We will destroy museums, libraries and moralism. We are the advance guard and will warm our hands at the fire made by our present books. When we are forty, let others, younger and more daring throw us into the wastepaper basket like useless manuscripts… for art can be only violence, cruelty and injustice".
Perhaps more than he intended, Marinetti was describing not only art but the Modern art of politics. Perhaps he might now be dismayed by the application of his ideas to culture. In any case, his paean to progress was a symptom and harbinger of the century to come. It is important to examine how such violent appeals to un-reason, how the glorification of sensation and the passions grew from the Enlightenment. It has much to do with the burden that the Enlightenment put on the individual mind and reason to reform and re-construct the world, to be as gods.
The West is lost and nearly consumed in bewildering terrors, to quote Psalms, and has been lost for many decades before the physical violence, the war that we now call "terrorism" appeared in the world. The "terrorism" that the powers now pretend to fight appeared previously as state terror against civilians. And the origin of this terror was bad ideas, "vain reason all and false philosophy", to quote Milton again.
Decades before what is called the "war on terror" our culture was characterized by world wars, nuclear terrors, the terrors of pseudo-science [the earth is burning up; no, it\'s freezing, etc]; terrorized by the ugliness and purposeful hostility toward society, tradition and ordinary people of all the \'isms\' of modern art; terrorized, shocked and dismayed by the aggressive arrogance and power lust of the ideological movements born of Modernism and progress: Futurism, Socialism, Communism, Nazism, and their numbing, seemingly innocuous and happy-face correlative, consumerism, seduction on a global scale.
As Aldous Huxley calls it in his prophetic novel, Brave New World (1931), "the conscription of consumption" to produce generic human beings who are conditioned to want and be happy with what "the market" is going to give them. And all of these terrors of Modernism have celebrated and continue to promote the "war between the generations" that was a sure sign that western civilization was decisively uprooting itself; a sure sign, it should have been, that Judaism and the Jewish People were on the chopping block because Judaism is a way of life, a path founded on respect for elders, and on establishing an unbreakable threefold cord between the generations by teaching history, by teaching habits of faith and memory; in which soul and mind work together, allies in the conservation of history, the past as the bedrock of the purposeful goodness of the present.
But the modern world, going back to the Renaissance, to the Enlightenment, the haskala, and especially in its various Romantic and Modernist sequels requires that one be malleable; that one live in the present, floating on a sea of sensation, preoccupied with products to buy, with happiness to buy, with other identities to become. It bids us taste the fruit of the forbidden tree: that by looking into nature, anyone\'s reason can find universally tolerant and joyous paths for the passions. Nature, red in fang and claw, somehow will teach us all to "just get along".
Modernism bids us forget the past because, we are told tens of thousands of times from infancy onward, "every body\'s happy now", or at least will be if they purchase and use certain medications, diets, products. And we are told, as in Brave New World, "every one belongs to every one else". Anyone or any nation who for whatever reason cannot get with the program is put outside the circle, ostracized, airbrushed from history, liquidated, vaporized, subject to what N.A.T.O. now calls, "humanitarian intervention" and re-arrangement (Tony Blair, 1999); subject to being expelled from their homes and the earth leveled behind them so that the official histories can say, "they never existed". And everyone else, the officially happy, can then get on with their orgy.
"Was and will make me ill", repeat the perfectly programmed minds and beautiful bodies of Brave New World. "I take a gram and only am". Does that remind us of anything? Medications dispensed with an open hand to smooth out the dissonance between today’s infantilizing brutality, emptiness and ugliness as against the dignity, commitments, faith and truths of the past. The State and the modern cult of "progress" require that one must not linger on the past. The past is out of date; it is incommensurate with the present. Therefore it must be rectified.
Those people at the roots of Western Civilization who by their very being and to the extent of their connectedness to and continuity with their teachings and land, who by their simple lives of work and gratitude give the lie to the pretensions and machinery of the progressive State must be brought to heel. They must be blotted from sight and mind. Already it is said that their Temples never existed; that they never existed. Soon, perhaps, they will not exist. And we will have the dawning of a new age, the Age of Aquarius in which the state will make sure we are happy as only it knows how.
Such is the demand and goal of progress and the progressive state. Some progress; it is the oldest story in the books:
"The nations take counsel all together, saying, \'come, let us blot them out from nationhood, that Israel\'s name not be remembered anymore\'". And in doing this, they of course "sign a covenant against You", wrote Asaf, they make a covenant against God because Israel is God\'s testimony and portion on the earth, and the cornerstone of His plan for dignified and joyous life abundant, life rooted in memory, gratitude, and land.
"For the Eternal One\'s portion is His people: Jacob is the measure of His inheritance".
There is no place other than a merely rhetorical place for G-d, the G-d of Jacob in the modern world. This by now, after Britain\'s thirty year betrayal of the Mandate, after the Evian and Bermuda conferences, after the shoah, the "displaced persons" camps, after decades of "land for \'peace\'" deals, should all be very clear.
The war on Gush Katif, the war on the Northern Shomron, on the heartland of the Jewish People, Judea and Samaria is a war on Israel and the most visible sign of Modernism\'s essential project: denying and rejecting the validity of the Hebrew Scriptures. Modernism is a war on Judaism. At its core is the rage to "solve the Jewish problem".
Anyone who attacks Israel attacks G-d and the concept of G-d; the understanding that we are created and contingent beings blessed with a divine soul and great challenges and abilities. Anyone who attacks Judaism is a de facto atheist, like "the wicked man who says in his heart, \'no G-d\'!" And that too is no small part of the thrust of Modernism: to say no to and to blot out the G-d of Jacob; to worship the earth and to efface the distinctions between human beings and animals just as Modernism levels distinctions between men and women, intimate and public matters, between childhood and adolescence, and between even early adolescence and adulthood.
Modernism means the effacing of distinctions, the very principle on which the creation is established, making fine discriminations between different forms of life and different people. Once all the traditional, G-d centered boundaries are effaced, Modernism, and its velvet-gloved iron fist, the State, will lay down new improved laws. Clearly, Judaism, the eternal nation and its Book of Books, the Word of G-d the Creator and His providence, will have to go.
But surely this obsession with Israel and the Jews is irrational! How odd that a civilization that prides itself on its rationality, efficiency and science should care so much about a small number of people which, even on its fully restored boundaries would barely be a middle-sized nation; and a very productive one, too, generating vast quantities of medical, electronics, communication, agricultural and other technologies as well as food. Surely progressive and rational societies would treasure such a productive member of the "world community". Of all nations, why must the world, not least the western world, the world of enlightenment and progress, be obsessed with compressing to extinction this nation and this People, the root of its own culture? Why would any civilization, especially a rational, "progressive" civilization ever want to destroy its own roots?
When one examines this issue we find that at the heart of Western rationality is something one can only call madness and compulsion, something the Scriptures refer to as the result of drinking the cup of stupefaction. And the measure of the depth of the madness is that this destruction, its modern form ongoing now for 85 years, is to be done in the name of "Peace". In our century we know what this is: this is called "the big lie". This already was its name 2600 years ago, "the covenant of death", a wall of lies and policies that supposedly would be a refuge against terrorism. But rather, as we see today, the lies empower and become the surging scourge of terror itself.
Lies and death; lies and alliance with death; this is the face of progress, but the contradictions should not surprise. A culture that has coveted, slandered, pillaged, murdered Jews and Judaism from its beginnings could end only in this way, consumed with bewildering terrors and calling murder, "peace"; calling "peace in our time" the way to solve the Jewish problem that more recently is termed the "cycle of violence in the Middle East" which again is to be solved by deporting or otherwise getting rid of Jews, not least in Israel.
The obsession of the leaders of the Western world with destroying Israel is irrational not only because it is like a branch attacking and cutting itself off from the tree from which it sprung and which gives it life but because the State of Israel, half-hearted as it is in respect of being a Jewish State, yet has been for six decades, and more so with every passing year, the great bulwark and sea wall of the West against the storming tides of Islamic imperialism. To a rational mind it would seem that surely, if only in its own narrow self-interest the west would support and encourage rather than betray and tear down the nation that long has borne the brunt of this war, the nation that has ministered to it in all spiritual things and which its own apostle instructed it to "minister in all material things".
And yet we have seen every Israeli victory, large and small followed by demands from the leaders of the West that it surrender its Land, including its heartland and holiest sites (what about religious tolerance? Apparently, it\'s not for Jews in their homeland) to the professed and proud enemies of western civilization.
During the Cold War, during the Vietnam War, during the struggles of the 1980s, \'90s and today, the one constant of western international policies since 1920 (or even earlier, since the British could not have defeated the Turks in the middle East without Jewish military and intelligence aid) was that the Jews were to be denied a state; that they were not to be allowed to escape the Holocaust in significant numbers; that if they belatedly fought to establish a refuge for their brethren they would be vilified as gangsters and hanged; that once they had succeeded, by the courage and self-sacrifice that elicits miracles, in re-establishing their State nevertheless, they were to be compelled by threats, bribes, and smooth talk to surrender all the Land and advantages won by their People.
Jews of truth would be vilified and derided while fools, liars and thieves would be exalted by the powers of the world. The past would be erased and in time, via plenty of spin, the erasure would be forgotten.
Israel is the touchstone for the viability of the Western world and the goals of its leaders. When their policies toward and treatment of Israel are examined, it becomes clear that this civilization of reason, efficiency, progress and peace is in fact clumsy, regressive, amnesiac to the point of being suicidal, hostile, and keeping the world in an endless war of attrition. That this dying stage of western civilization, the Greco-Roman and Germanic hulk that more and more rejects the Jewish stock into which it was somewhat cleverly grafted, creates not great works of cultural preservation but crises that must be "managed", never solved.
This culture that is so obsessed with beauty; so worried about comfort and perfection because everything in it is skin-deep and has no transcendent trust, having replaced God with self-consciousness insists compulsively on burying its Jewish roots. No wonder its own religion is in a long process of disintegration. No wonder it is consumed with terror; no wonder that, to forget and bury its Jewish origins and grace it consumes things in mad urgency to distract itself, alone as it is with the products of its ego.
This is not a civilization that will save itself. Rejecting its Judaic stock, it is a civilization not of deference and trust, but of pride, treachery, and terror; a civilization not of manliness and memory but of infantilism, appetite (like Esau), instant gratification and aggression. A civilization in which aging and becoming mature is a terrifying prospect. A civilization in flight from its past because it will not embrace its root; a civilization that despises parental teachings and inherited wisdom, in which the State more and more displaces parents and their teachings; in which it is not the experience or wisdom of gray hairs or beard that requires respect but the "totally buffed", airbrushed, androgynous bodies of pubescent or pre-pubescent wild children who are utterly lost before ever finding themselves.
In this context it is worth noting that Marxism was a form of Romanticism, a late stage of the west\'s rejection of its Jewish root. Marxism denies any spirituality in man; as a modern form of Greco-Roman arrogance it denies transcendence and divine, purposeful design as a part of existence. It prided itself on being a "scientific materialism", as if a human being could be understood as the sum of his or her material parts. Marxism\'s deification of matter and "science" (more often pseudo-science) grew not only from the Enlightenment arrogance of reason but from Romanticism’s deification of Nature which in 19th century writings more and more usurped the role of God.
During this period, in whose last stages we live, Nature fell from being a miraculously various, beautiful and abundant creation (see Psalm 104), the locus of G-d\'s special love and plan, to being the source of all creation itself, as Gaia and Ouranous, Earth & Heaven were for the ancient Greeks. Marching along with this renascent paganism, this seductive entrancement with the body and the impulses of the flesh and the appetites was feminism (Marx was a fierce feminist and hater of his father and fatherhood, as was Jean Paul Sartre, the most influential Marxist intellectual of the mid-20th century).
Ancient Greece had seen and suffered this trend in the cult of Dionysus, this rejection by women of the "hearth and the loom", this intoxicated identification with nature and its urges, with animals, with female supremacy, and it had suffered the consequences in de-population, abortion, and symbolic or literal slaughter of the generation of its sons, all lost without any certainty of who their fathers were; or inflated with unrealizable goals, having been told that a god was their father: "Son of Laertes but seed of Zeus, resourceful Odysseus".
The following excerpt from Euripides\' The Bacchae, the last classical Greek tragedy written (c. 401 B.C.E.) and produced, as they all were, in the amphitheater of Dionysus at the annual festival of Dionysus, the Dionysia, in the spring, makes clear the contrast between the Greek and Hebrew roots of our culture, the conflict that is the source of the west\'s instability and war on its roots, its past, and on memory itself.
"Filled with wine, suffering mankind forgets its grief. From wine comes sleep; with it, oblivion of the troubles of the day. There is no other medicine for misery. And when we pour libations to the gods, we pour the god of wine himself. Sown into the thigh of Zeus, he [Dionysus] is a god of prophecy. His worshippers, like possessed men, are endowed with mystic powers, for when the god enters the body of a man [or woman] he fills him with the breath of prophecy" [lines 280 -301, William Arrowsmith translation].
It is instructive that the devotees of the cult of Dionysus saw wine as "the only medicine" and wine itself as the body and blood of their god. From the passage it is clear that in their perspective, healing negates memory; that it is a vacation from the world; that it has nothing to do with a faith or practice, with completion of work that will enable one to live better, with strength, honor, dignity and truth to the past. There is resemblance between the "mantic worshippers" of Dionysus and the priests of Ba\'al confronted by Elijah. This passage makes clear the radical incommensurability of Greek theology and hopes with those of Judaism.
Dionysos symbolized not only wine, but the powers of nature, of raw animal life and vegetation; it was the life force permeating nature. And he symbolized the intoxication, one might say the stupefaction and forgetting, of the human and the emergence and satiation of the raw lust of nature and the overthrow of all deference and tradition that accompanies this overthrow. Thus, he also was the god and idol of female supremacists who have played so large and terrible a role in demolishing the last stages of western civilization, and so useful a role in uncovering its pagan, Greco-Roman character.
Here is another passage from The Bacchae that describes a rally by his female worshippers ("maenads"). The events are reported in the city of Thebes by a terrified shepherd who reports to the fatherless prince:
"Your mother heard the lowing of our herds, and springing to her feet, gave a great cry to waken the maenads from sleep...and they rose up, all as one, the old women and the young and the unmarried girls. First they let their hair fall down loose over their shoulders, and those whose blouse straps had slipped, fastened their fawn skins with writhing snakes that licked their cheeks. Breasts swollen with milk, nursing mothers who had left their babes at home nursed gazelles and young wolves and crowned their hair with oak leaves...one woman struck her pine wand against the earth and a fountain of wine poured out. Those who wanted milk scratched at the soil and white milk came welling up..." [689-710].
"We cowherds and shepherds gathered and argued about these fantastic things, but when we thought of hunting them for the king...they cried aloud, O Iacchos! Son of Zeus! O Bromius! Until the beasts and all the mountain seemed filled with divinity. And when they ran, everything ran with them" [715-728].
The following verses describe in graphic detail how the worshippers of Dionysus, the "Son of Zeus", born without labor from his father\'s thigh, ripped to pieces whole flocks of cattle until "scraps of flesh smeared with blood hung from the trees", an image with troubling resonance in our day. And then, "like invaders they swooped" on several towns, "everything in sight they pillaged and destroyed. They snatched the children from their homes...When the villagers took arms, the men ran, routed by women. The Bacchae then returned and the snakes licked away the drops of blood that speckled their cheeks" [734-768].
This was as far as the Greeks could go with their theology and world view: savage gods like super heroes or Hollywood stars and starlets who violate people and use them in their quarrels, all of them, filled to intoxication with the lusts of nature. And then, turning from this dead-end, their philosophers posited a totally impersonal cosmos, an eternal and supreme nature set in motion by a "Prime mover" who to their minds could remain only an abstraction without grace, love or purpose.
Consider for a moment further the relevance of the world view and cult depicted by Euripides in The Bacchae. After all, they could not do without this god, whatever its costs in destruction of homes, families, herds, social cohesion. After all, "if there is no god of wine there is no love, no Aphrodite either, no other pleasure left to mankind" [774-776].
Of course modern, like ancient feminism, its nature and goddess worship, seen in crude forms in modern mass media, is essentially and fiercely at war with not only with the family and with Jewish sexual morality, but with Judaism in its most basic orientation toward how people can live together, each family in a chain of memory, tradition and honor. Look at the wisdom of the holy tongue, Hebrew: zakhor zakhar, -- memory is manliness.
History, tradition, deference for teaching and for the elders as teachers, is essential to Judaism and directly countered by the modern world and its cult of "progress" which insists that the old must fall so that the young may rise. This is the civilization of Yavan, of beautiful Yaphet, a civilization that exalts the beardless, effeminate adolescent and the saucy, masculinized maiden, knowing what no true maiden knows.
This is the society whose mass culture is permeated with the coy transgression of many forms of gender confusion. This is the society that dreams that the past can be outrun, can be negated or forgotten. It is the tragedy of every Jay Gatz who thinks he can work and will himself into Jay Gatsby and who wastes his enthusiasm on a Daisy Fay ending like young Pelleas, suicidal, fierce, embittered by his misplaced worship of the fair Ettare [Tennyson, Idylls of the King, IX]. This is the deadly seduction of chivalric romance, one of many grand delusions from which the West has been a long time dying, straining to outrun its past and roots, to create itself, to be a god lost in goddess worship. This is a civilization of madness and sterility.
The lust for divine powers ("you shall be as G-d"), for overturning the divine order crafted to bring out what is best in man and woman and to help us suppress what is not, this lust is the oldest seduction and delusion of all. As from the first, its results are confusion, pain and worry; of losing one\'s way; the results are an imbalance between self-reliance and faith in which trust in the Eternal One yields to security schemes that because they try to efface the past (after all, are we not told, "yesterday\'s gone, yesterday\'s gone") yield only loneliness and fear. Like Victor Frankenstein, western civilization has been a long time crossing the border into regions in which no human being can cope or live well.
The quest to outrun the past and to achieve divine powers ends in ruin and death. And so the modern soul experiences again and again what the despairing Victor and self-deluding Kurtz discovered in the dark places of the world: "the horror, the horror" of its unearthly, ethereal ideals, the flip side of its violence, its gross sensuality, its nostalgie de la boue ("nostalgia for all things primitive"); its yearning to be rid of humanity and godliness and descend, as in the cult of Dionysus, back to the animal. The panther, as Kafka knew, has been displacing the "hunger artist" for a long time.
And so regression is called "progress", good is called evil and evil, good; the "war on terror" becomes the enabling of terror, ruinously expensive in every way. Amid it all, the branch that has attacked and continues to attack its root withers and dies, and as it dies, it lashes out with ever greater urgency to pierce again the culture and the People whose liturgy and monotheism it appropriated and deformed. The People whose humiliation, murder, and exile it has made the "proof" of its own creed.
There is nothing new under the sun.
It is much too late in the day to be anything but frank. By the time the Hashmonaim, the Maccabees, finished expelling the Seleucid Greeks from the heart land of Israel, Greco-roman civilization was moribund. Its older, more sophisticated Greek portion was centuries deep into skepticism and a turning away from cultural life and civic life as the sources and loci of meaning and fulfillment.
Private cults and disciplines, Epicureanism, athletics, gambling, institutionalized prostitution of every kind, sterile sex, a despairing stoicism were its ways of life. During this period, Rome was destroying the Republican institutions with the political and personal restraints that had made it a sustainable and honorable polity, a culture of obligations. By the late 2nd century B.C.E. Rome was well on its way to power lust, endemic civil wars, public depravity and an economy based ever more precariously on expanding the empire, on squeezing foreign peoples and disrupting their customs. The Rome based on private landholdings was gone.
As Rome neared the height of its military might and the limits of its vast geographic expansion, it was like a post riddled by termites. And behold, it found itself confronting a very ancient People that had absorbed the most powerful blows the ancient empires of the world had thrown at it and yet had reconstituted itself in its heartland, re-established the center of its national and individual life, and was thriving, a granary of the Mediterranean with a magnificent Temple, a large population and well-deserved reputation for military prowess underscored by the attitude summarized in that U.S. Navy flag whose motto is, "don\'t tread on me", as if it had been borrowed from the banner of the Tribe of Dan. Throughout the Roman Empire there was extensive and steadily increasing Juda-izing (see Dr. Peter Shaffer, Judeophobia: Attitudes toward Judaism and the Jews in the Ancient World, 1997). The Romans were intrigued, awed, and, sometimes, like the historian Tacitus, indignant, even enraged that "the conquered should give laws to their conquerors".
How else could it have been? Greco-Roman civilization had nothing to offer the humane in human beings; Judaism had everything to offer, and one need not even be Jewish. For the gentiles, its burden indeed was light: merely the Seven Laws of Noah. But this was not enough for the Greek and Egyptian Jew-haters, and their Roman patrons in the ancient world. No; after centuries of slander, invasion and occupation, they took the faith and ethics of the Jews, twisted their metaphors and texts, imposed their own theology on the Jewish body and slaughtered the Jews in the name of the new improved creed. They would begin the long desolation of the Land of Israel, as foretold in Scriptures. And from that point 18 or so centuries ago, it has been a straight line to the convulsions of our day, convulsions in which of course, attempts to blot out the name and memory of Israel figure prominently.
Western civilization, for all its magnificent accomplishments in agriculture, architecture, navigation, transportation, hygiene and the sciences nevertheless has been essentially the most extensive, clever, and destructive process of cultural theft the world has known. The cult of Dionysus, the dying and resurrected god of vegetation and nature was cleansed of its overt sex and violence (cf. Orpheus, Osiris, Damuzi and Adonis, the "god" who inspired was pursued and murdered, his flesh eaten and his blood drunk like wine for the communion of his followers) and became the cult of a superhuman messiah (in Greek, "christos").
"And when we pour libations we pour the god himself...and if there is no god of wine, there is no love, no Aphrodite either, nor other pleasure left to men" (Euripides, The Bacchae, 771-776). Here is the Greco-Roman, here is Yavan\'s approach to life in a nutshell: nature through wine, the dissolution of the believer in the godhead with the prime good, the delights of Aphrodite, not children but sensual delights, Aphrodite, born from the bloody foam and testicles of Ouranos castrated by his mother Gaia (the Earth goddess) in collusion with her son, Kronos as Hesiod describes in his Theogeny.
That is the world view of ancient Greece and much of the ancient world: the son conspires with the mother to castrate the father and from this destruction of his own roots, comes sexual pleasure (and constant oppression, paranoia and war). No wonder this civilization was dying. No wonder it needed a host culture on which to graft itself, a host that it would vilify, slander, rob, and murder, whose G-d and land and name it would fragment for after all, this was its relation to roots; a cult that takes the name of G-d in vain and desecrates it every time it professes to pray. It would be the beautiful youth who created himself by destroying his father. One cannot find a more striking contrast to Judaism than the culture by which it was appropriated and which continues to attack it.
So it is no surprise that when the Christian west took hold and began to cohere as a civilization in the 11th century there were five major cultural events that enable one to discern its unstable core: it began castrating boys to sing in church choirs; it decreed the celibacy, the symbolic castration of its clergy; it generated the cult of worshipping the "virgin", "god\'s" "mother", (nominally condemned as a heresy, Mariolatry, a couple of centuries later), and last but not least, as it began to sustain itself, the Christian west embarked on the first mass murders of Jews, the initial glory of the Crusades, serving, not incidentally, to enrich the crusaders and many churches. And it launched the first of the blood libels, the fantastic claim that Jews make matzo from gentile blood. With origins like this, it is plain to see the doomed course of a branch that rejects its stock.
So here we have the source, the fons et origo of Western civilization\'s irremediable problem with history, memory, roots and survival. Here we have the source of the West\'s race toward self-annihilation, into a state where memory and manliness yield to the passions of the moment, to forgetting as a way of being; where the truth of our contingency and our need for deference yields to the lie of self-creation and pride; where all distinctions and modest joy drown in a media-encouraged "orgy porgy".
Through Rome, Greece took its revenge on the Jews for humbling its tenuous pride, for being a culture of dignified joy and deference, of manliness and memory. Through Rome Greece took the God of the Jews and deformed him into a type of the Greek ideal, the youthful, effeminate, adolescent lying on Mama\'s knees with father in the background somewhere holding the burro, cuckolded by god in the pattern of all the Greek heroes: "son of Laertes but seed of Zeus, resourceful Odysseus".
This is the pattern of Dionysus himself, product of a divine rape of a mortal woman (rather like Rome\'s rape of "the daughter of Zion", that is, the Jewish People). No wonder the Fathers of the Church were as cynical as they were cruel and dishonest; no wonder they desperately needed the Jews and Judaism to survive as a broken culture; no wonder they hated and buried the People and the truth from whom they took everything: Land, faith, ritual, ethics, twisting it all into a war between body and flesh, heaven and hell, demeaning life on earth; twisting the path into a war between individual and state, secular and religious spheres that is totally alien to Judaism, the life-system of unity, integration, and wholeness.
Peace, -- shalom. Let us examine the language for it holds the truth of the present and the past of what has been done in creating the civilization that is now frenziedly undoing itself. Peace is wonderful and may seem the ultimate blessing. It is almost but not quite the heart of the matter. For the root of true peace is wholeness, integrity: shaleim.
After Jacob, the eponymous father of all the Children of Israel, the Jewish People, returning to his Land wrestled all night till dawn with the angel of Esau, he limped to Shechem, in the plains of Moreh, Elon Moreh, where his grandfather Abraham had made the first rough-hewn altar to God the Maker of heaven and earth, and where the Almighty had vowed to Abraham that through his chosen descendants He would give him all the Land, "a desirable, good and SPACIOUS Land" whose boundaries He would broaden.
When Jacob returned to this holy place, where now Joseph and Joshua are buried, he arrived shaleim, intact, complete, whole, with integrity, perfect. And the Almighty told all the Israelites then to purify themselves and ascend once more to Beit El where He again renewed the Covenant of the Land with them and declared that Jacob\'s offspring would "spread out mightily, north, south, east and west" to settle within their promised boundaries. That is the integrity on which shalom is and must be built.
Many people have thought that America was different than Esau and Ishmael. That this nation that alone among all nations on earth was founded as a non-denominational christian nation that welcomed and did not oppress Jews was therefore uniquely blessed (Genesis 12:3; 27; Numbers 24:9). One of the founding documents of American ideology and purpose, John Winthrop\'s, "A Model of Christian Charity" (1629) takes as its model the words of Moshe in Deuteronomy and of Isaiah. So for many reasons it has seemed that America must be that nation from the far west, from the uttermost ends of the earth, the nation that your fathers did not know that in various ways would bring to the Land and People of Israel "the wealth of nations"; that would carry their sons and daughters on their shoulders, so to speak, and nurse them as if by royalty. A nation that would in many ways bring to them all the riches of the fabled west.
And yet the riches we have seen are the horrors of assimilation to the toxic mass culture of the decadent western elites, and the homicidal blandishments of the "peace process", and its subsidiary "land for peace", that is, worthless promises of peace deals.
There are additional apparent designations of America as different from all the other nations that take counsel against G-d and His anointed ones, the Kings of Israel, the nation of Israel and the Jewish People (Psalms 83, 2, etc). In the Zohar\'s comments on Torah portion Va\'eira, from Exodus, it speaks of the End of Days as a time when "the sons of Esau and the sons of Ishmael will fight many battles over the Land of Israel. And the sons of Esau will win great victories, but the Holy Land will not be given over into the hands of wicked Esau". And then, "a nation from the uttermost ends of the earth will come and fight with Esau and smite him..." until Israel is restored. But the timing and means by which "the high holy ones", as Israel is termed by Daniel, the kedoshim and tzadikkim as they are termed by G-d and Moshe ("and your People, they are all righteous; the small shall increase a thousand fold and the least into a mighty nation", Isaiah 60:21-2) are to be restored is left obscure.
Yet another passage in the Zohar states that "toward the End of Days, Esau will attack Ishmael; Ishmael will run to Persia, and Persia [Iran] will attack the whole world". These comments are too relevant to need explication.
But it is unwise to expect America, or at least, the government of America, to play a leading role in the redemption of Yisrael Shleimah, of an intact and complete Israel. In the past fifty years since the Sinai campaign, and indeed, since the Evian conference of 1938, it should have become clear that the top leaders of American policy see no place in the world of the future for the Jewish People in so far as they are Jewish People sovereign on Jewish land. To them, it seems clear, the Jewish People, in so far as they are Jews living as Jews on their Land, are out of date, are an impediment, indeed the impediment, to peace and progress. Why else would all the suasion and pressures of the Executive Branch, regardless of Administration, be brought to bear to compel the expulsion and deportation of Jews? The writing is on the wall.
Has it not been for a very long time? Do not run to Egypt, do not turn to the idols of the nations, their plans and deals. "Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the womb from which you were dug", Jewish People. Look to the covenant, the only solid wall; this is the only sustainable constitution in the world. "For the dark places of Israel\'s exile have become full of the habitations of Hamas" (Psalm 74:20). And so long as Israel is not fully sovereign, these dark places will exist within her as well, to her very painful cost, and to the detriment of the world as well, if they only had the sense to see what becomes more obvious every week.
But because the name of the game of progress is power, and power, like "necessity", needs its excuse, the "war on terror" will continue as a war of attrition whose end recedes constantly from sight. That is, unless and until someone refuses to play by the rules of this mad and deceitful game. For the "war on terror", a term that will not stand scrutiny, is an excuse for the self-exaltation of the mighty of the world, -- from whose "progress" may G-d protect us.
Given the current status of Western leadership, one does not see this war being won anytime soon. Indeed, the officials of western states, on both sides of the Atlantic, increasingly tell their publics that the war will "go on as long as it takes". And since clearly they do not mean to define the war and enemy meaningfully, the war will go on forever. Just as Orwell\'s "Oceania" is perpetually at war (and said to always have been at war) either with Eurasia or with East Asia, and just as the traitor "Goldstein" stars as villain every day, year after year on the Tele-screens of the "Daily Hate", so will our own arch villains continue to flash across the screens, ever more dangerous, ever more elusive, ever more mythic, till they achieve the status of facts of nature, the friendly and familiar enemy we cannot live without. Or one should perhaps say, without which our governments cannot persist, cannot exercise their power over us.
And therefore "U.B.L." (Usama Bin Laden) will never be captured. If he did not exist (and at this point, who knows if he does, or, in the manner of 1984, if he ever did outside the fantasies and grand game of Whitehall & Foggy Bottom) they might have to create him. And who can say with assurance that they, in their wisdom, did not create him, in one way or another.
And therefore the only nation that can put an end to this world of constant war and terror, emotional terrors as much and more than physical ones, is the nation to which the Almighty entrusted this mission 3,700 years ago. When Israel settles in its place, intact, whole, in simple, dignified joy, it will be the keystone and cornerstone of a world peace based on the only text that is good for all time for it was not framed by human hands. The nations then, when they see Israel settled in its place, uninterested in "deals" or dubious alliances, will happily set down their rage, confusion, violence and schemes, will accept the very light yoke of the Seven Laws of Noah, and will be overjoyed to ascend with Jews on Sukkot to the House of G-d in gratitude, acknowledgment and thanksgiving.
That will mark an end to Western civilization and to the world\'s problems with history, memory, and Israel, G-d\'s firstborn son (Exodus 4:22) and His portion forever.
From a lecture presented by the Root & Branch Association, Ltd.