This is a peculiar phenomenon considering the history of Germany, Turkey, Rwanda, Syria and Cambodia, to mention but a few of those nations whose moral misconduct has never called into question the legitimacy of their existence.
The question of Israel’s legitimacy and future has become an academic field in and of itself, and an entire genre of literature and film addressing the subject has sprung up over the past decade or so. The first serious academic research into Israel’s chances of survival in the near future appeared in 2009, when Belgian Jewish authors Richard Laub and Olivier Boruchowitch published Israel – Un Avenir Compromis (Israel – A Compromised Future) – a scientific attempt to predict Israel’s future. The authors ignore metaphysical questions, as the discipline demands, and yet, arrive at the conclusion that given the present surrounding atmosphere of irrational antisemitism, regional instability and an internal lack of unity, it is surprising that Israel has managed to survive until now.
But, particularly “for the last few years,” they write, “the way in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is perceived puts in grave doubt Israel’s right to exist.” Iran’s nuclear program and its tightened noose around Israel is unnerving enough to drive these two authors to despair. The Islamic Republic’s determination to destroy Israel, they say, coincides dangerously with the West’s delusional moral discourse that sees Israel as a pariah state. Realistically speaking, therefore, Israel can’t be expected to survive long amidst Western indifference to very real existential threats.
While Laub and Boruchowitch are largely concerned with the distorted sense of morality emanating from the West and the Muslim world, influential journalist Rino Tzror is worried that Israel’s own lack of morality will bring about its demise. In his new apocalyptic film Jews, Third Time, Tzror argues that the past heralds Israel’s future, and reaches the grim conclusion that modern Israel is following the exact same pattern that led to downfall twice before: Following the reigns of David and Solomon, and when the Hasmonean dynasty was destroyed. Both were the result of internal strife that Tzror sees as endemic to contemporary Israel, and which will ultimately bring down this “third Jewish kingdom.”
If we are doomed to repeat the past, then this third Jewish state, about to celebrate 75 years of independence, is reaching its time limit. The previous two Jewish sovereignties lasted for only 80 and 66 years, respectively. Tzror is convinced that conditions in modern Israel mirror those preceding the previous two downfalls. Israel’s institutions are collapsing, he says, and corruption, theft and sexual immorality abound. If Israel will not heed the warning signs, its fate is sealed. In his 2007 column in the daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot, from which the aforementioned film was eventually hatched, Tzror concludes with the words of Theodor Herzl, “If you will it, it is no dream,” meaning that the future of Israel is not dependent upon God as much as it is upon Israelis committed to a high moral standard.
Scores of like-minded Jews give Israel only a narrow passage of escape from an otherwise predictable end. They believe that Israel can be saved only if it ends the “occupation,” and only if Israelis somehow become an example of moral living. Whether or not this position is reasonable is beside the point. What’s important is that well-meaning, yet pessimistic Jews inherently believe that Israel’s future can only be guaranteed by fulfilling the call to be a “light to the nations.” This expectation is nothing short of remarkable.
But this pessimism is dispelled by yet another book, Israel – Island of Success (2017) by Adam Reuter and Noga Kainan. These two Israelis, whose expertise lies in the business world, are busy allaying concerns over the Jewish state’s future. The endless moaning and groaning, they write, simply does not reflect reality, but rather is driven by the distorted picture painted by the Israeli media. Contrary to Tzror, Reuter and Kainan have found no proof of stagnation, regression or deterioration in Israeli society.
The authors claim they are not in any way serving a political agenda. “The book surveys facts,” they insist, and do so “without being judgmental or biased.” The conclusion they reach is that “the State of Israel is an island of economic, social, cultural and environmental success.” The elements that allow Israel’s success, they predict, will continue to influence the nation long into the future.
“The challenges facing Israel,” they write in the book’s preface, “and the capabilities it develops to overcome these challenges can be seen in every aspect the book covers. The State of Israel struggles and wins. Even the name – ‘Israel’ – was given to Jacob after he overcame the angel of God.” Throughout the book, the authors compare living in Israel in the first half of the 20th century with the present. They wonder if it’s safe to live in Israel, and then provide data revealing that “security-wise, today Israel experiences the calmest time since its inception.”
Since the 1950s, Reuter and Kainan note, income per capita has grown by 2,400 percent, compared to just 800 percent in Egypt and 640 percent in Jordan. Israel is undergoing three revolutions, they observe: Water, energy and transportation. For the first time in its history, Israel has solved its water crisis by building massive desalination and sewage purification plants. Recent findings of huge off-shore reservoirs of natural gas and the development of renewable energy sources have also made Israel energy-independent. Though still underdeveloped, Israel invests tens of billions of dollars in its infrastructure. A new railway line from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will shorten the journey between the cities to a mere 38 minutes. A new subway for the Tel Aviv metropolis will soon be operative. And the list of successes goes on.
By every measurable parameter, Israel is a success, leading Reuter and Kainan to conclude that the modern Jewish state is here to stay. If the criterion “in which country would you have preferred to be born?” is an indication of the country’s wellbeing, a pretty secure future is guaranteed to Switzerland, Australia, Norway and Sweden, in which most people would have liked to be born. Of the 50 states included in the survey, Israel takes the 20th place, ahead of countries like Italy, Japan and Britain. Israelis, by and large, prefer to have been born in Israel.
Whatever one may think of the optimists and the pessimists, it needs to be mentioned that they have failed to take into account the primary motivation behind the rebirth of Israel – a two-thousand-year-old hope of the Jewish people to return to Jerusalem, and to the land of their forefathers. The word “miracle” appears countless times in the annals of modern Israel, and for good reason. To ignore the metaphysical aspect of Israel is to misunderstand everything – from the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the source of the celebrated Israeli ingenuity. Secular prophecies of bloom or gloom are speculative, at best. To know Israel’s future, one has to study the real, genuine prophecies of the Bible, which foresee a glorious future for Israel, but one that will be bought with the blood of countless Jews.
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