Breaking the Spell:
Thoughts On Self-Respect
By Eugene Narrett
The February 08 death and subsequent glorification of King Hussein of Jordan focuses several key deceits about the Middle East purveyed by the world's ruling political culture, including its Israeli nodal points. Hussein has been all but deified as man of compassion and peace, a visionary statesman and "Israel's best friend in the Middle East." Such bromides are the customary anesthetic of diplomacy and indicate to those still awake that major illusion building is underway. The problem that most concerns those who recognize Israel's life-giving and renewing purpose in the world is the degree to which its politicians, its ostensible leaders are complicit in these dangerous illusions. The long-term beatification of Hussein and defining "Jordan" as a friend and savior highlight the self-deceptions by which Israel colludes in its own destruction. These tendencies also raise questions about why Israel does so and whether this must continue.
King Hussein was a petty despot, an adroitly self-serving pawn of the mighty of the earth. One would never know this from the flatulent eulogy by Prime Minister Netanyahu who called Hussein "a historic figure, one of the giants of the 20th century an apostle of good will and maker of peace with Israel." As several commentators observed, Hussein presided over a lavish and hedonistic court while most of his subjects suffered grinding poverty. As for "good will" and "peace," in 1967, he called on his subjects to "kill Jews wherever you find them. Kill them with your hands, with your nails, with your teeth." He ordered his troops to murder Jewish civilians between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. This "loyal friend" of Israel oversaw the destruction of 56 synagogues in Jerusalem, the desecration of Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives and of Jewish holy sites in Hebron during Jordan's imperial occupation between 1952-67. Hussein acquiesced in violence against Jews attempting to pray at the Western Wall. Jordan-occupied Judea and Samaria served as a base for terrorist attacks on Jewish civilians in the 1950s as do the PA areas today.
This hosting of terrorist groups perhaps made the accolades Hussein received from Israeli media and politicians particularly offensive and inapt. "The people of Israel will never forget his visit to the bereaved families of Beit Shemesh," intoned Mr. Netanyahu. Indeed, Jews should remember how Hussein prompted the slaughter of the seven schoolgirls at Naharayim with a vitriolic letter a few days prior, condemning Israeli "intransigence." Translating that slaughter into praise for Hussein's "spirit of reconciliation" epitomized the suicidal style of Israel's approach to the Arabs. As did Netanyahu in his eulogy, in spring 1997 many Israelis lauded Hussein as a peacemaker and man of grace and compassion. The ugly truth is recorded in pictures of Hussein grinning into cameras in the homes of bereaved Jewish families whom he exploited for photo-ops dutifully disseminated by the global media and transformed into "history" and "proof" of his "devotion to peace and reconciliation." It is not only shameless politicians toadying to the global establishment, not only a leftwing media at war with its own nation and people's history and culture that can explain the gruesome phenomena of Hussein's undeserved popularity. But let us defer that issue to the end of this essay.
Prime Minister Netanyahu cited Hussein as "the creator of modern Jordan." Despite quibbles about what "modern Jordan" is, the fact is that the two main creators of the pseudo-state of Jordan have been, firstly, the imperial administration of Great Britain and, secondly, the governments of Israel itself. In this age of television, forgetting and the de-construction of history few know that "Jordan" was created in 1921. Within a year of formally receiving the mandate of Palestine from the League of Nations for the purposes of creating "a Jewish national home," Britain severed "Transjordan" from Israel and banned Jews from buying or reclaiming their land there. Israeli politicians from Yossi Sarid to Benny Begin accept the expulsion of Jews from Morocco to Pakistan while insisting that Arabs devoted to the destruction of Israel vote for the Knesset. They accept that Arabs can live throughout Israel while Jordan and parts of (or all) Judea and Samaria can be cleansed of Jews. The same media-political-judicial establishment that accepts the exclusion of Jews from Arab countries prevents Jews from praying on the Temple Mount. Observing this creed, it is natural that they sanctify King Hussein.
The "good will" of Hussein is a lie; the state of Jordan is an historic imposture. So is Syria, a product of Franco-British squabbling and intrigues during the First War and at Versailles. The name of Asad's fiefdom implies the ancient empire of Assyria, but that state was based on the Tigris in what now is northern Iraq, another of the pseudo-nations (like Lebanon and Saudi Arabia) hatched by "the peace to end all peace." The only nation amid this region with any historic, cultural and religious legitimacy is the one that the Arabs and the powers of the world seek to destroy, - Israel. Indeed, they wish to destroy it because of this legitimacy. Israel's nationhood is a pattern for all distinct nations (all 70 of them) and this makes it obnoxious to the ambitions of those who tear people from their history to establish and rule a global state. The global technocrats hate and fear Israel even more because it testifies to the authority of a Power whose moral code rebukes Babel, Darwinians, relativists and Amalek. The potential (and promise) that Israel will awake to be what it is meant to be terrifies the powers that mean to put themselves in God's place.
In retrospect, the wars of 1967 and '73 can be seen for the failures they were. Through faith, courage and grace Israel stepped to the door of its destiny and its 'leaders' turned it away. (A nation whose leadership cannot face down a Henry Kissinger, James Baker or Madeline Albright will not live). The events of 1970 in Jordan may show even more clearly the grotesque strategic errors that have led Israel to mortal crisis. In that year the Palestinians (a non-nation whose very name is an imperialist imposture by Emperor Hadrian in 137 CE) sought to overthrow Hussein and seize Jordan for themselves. Syria sent armed forces to assist in re-establishing the "Southern Syria" of Hellenistic and Roman times. This was a perfect opportunity for Israel to do right by itself in the name regional stability. A leadership interested in reclaiming its patrimony and weakening its mortal enemies would have let Syria become enmeshed in the Hashemite vs. Palestinian fracas then entered decisively to smash and subdue them. Most of the lands of Menashe, Gad and Reuben then could have been reclaimed and subsequently populated and farmed by those to whom they belong. Let this be a lesson for next time.
How Hussein must have laughed in astonishment as Israel's 'leaders' rushed to solve his Palestinian problem for him. Instead of them driving him back to Saudi Arabia, he watched Israel embrace the Palestinians in an act of suicidal harlotry. It is to be hoped that this mania will exhaust itself before destroying the Land. Even some otherwise acute observers of Israel's situation now speak as if its main task is to shore up the Hashemite Kingdom. Whether this "mixed multitude" state is ruled from Ramallah or Amman it remains a theft of Promised Land, an ally of Baghdad and a mortal danger to Israel.
Mr. Netanyahu is a man of rhetoric, of words rather than deeds. But one of his current campaign slogans, "a strong leader for a strong people" focuses the core issue of Israeli survival: whether self-contempt will smother promise, honor, uprightness and life. The main point is no longer that Netanyahu is a master of confusion and disenchantment; that is settled. The issue is that this utterly sane and self-respecting appeal to strength elicits howls of reproach from all the usual suspects. As David Wilder noted, many in Israel prefer Jewish men who are weak, ashamed and mediocre. Such Israelis worship Hussein, accept or approve the treachery of Ezer Weizman and would be appalled by the Prophet Samuel's dispatch of Agag.
Hatred of one's own strength, grace and history is a form of decay and suicide and the essential issue is whether Jews take the Torah seriously. Will they worship modernism, liberalism and feminism, or will they choose the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? The British Foreign Ministry betrayed the mandate; they have betrayed many peoples, including their own, but it is fruitless now to hate or fear them or Paris, Moscow, Washington, Cairo or Damascus. All the other nations of the world have indeterminate borders leading to endless dispute. Israel's borders are clear and finite, "from the Sea of Reeds to the Western Sea, and from the [Arabian] wilderness to the [Euphrates] River" (Exodus 23:31; and Genesis 15:18). 'Realists' who mask their terror by claiming this goal is impractical scurry to buy the privilege of Israel's armed forces to train in Turkey and seek to placate Arafat by calibrating how far to retreat from the hills that are Israel's innermost heartland and last line of physical defense. What has this realism wrought in thirty years? The deification of King Hussein, a Nobel for Arafat and a nation in which Jews can neither worship on Har HaBayit nor drive to work or school in Judea without wondering if they will be murdered on the way. The preaching of helplessness and shame has fattened the heart of too many among the people. Their ears and heavy and their eyes are sealed. Must it again be until the cities are uninhabited and the Land desolate?
The reclamation of Israel's heritage and rights cannot be accomplished overnight (one cannot presume a miracle, only act so as to merit one). But Jews must set their sights and steps on the paths leading upward. The path of moral relativism and "realism" has led to the State's President shaking hands with Marxist murderers of Jewish children (as he previously gloated over the charm and tactical skill of Anwar Sadat, a fan of Hitler) and to an Arab army already in the hills. No one reading these lines may live to see the Temple rebuilt and a Kingdom of righteousness established in the center of the Earth, but we must at least begin to "pave the road" and to "remove the obstacles from the path" marked out for Israel. "Behold, I send My angel before you to protect you on the way and to lead you to the place I have prepared for you" said Hashem at Sinai (Shemot 23:26-33). "Little by little shall I drive them away from you till you become fruitful and make the Land your heritage." Israel will be what it is meant to be or it will be destroyed by those allowed to be "pins in its eyes and thorns in its sides." As for the "peace process," it is as Moshe said with his last words, "your foes will try to deceive you, but you shall trample their haughty ones." Wake up, Israel! Assert your claim. Stand up and live!
Eugene Narrett is a Professor of English who teaches at Boston University.