The Nation-State Law, a constitutional showdown with postmodernism

It’s a painful ritual that we’ve experienced many times before. Or is this time different?

By YECHIEL M. LEITER
August 16, 2018 23:04
3 minute read.
MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) at the Knesset August 8, 2018.

MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) at the Knesset during a discussion on the Nation-State Law August 8, 2018.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 
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Condemnations of Israel’s new Nation-State Basic Law are rolling in from the usual international chorus of Israel’s detractors, and Israel’s advocates are summarily rushing to the front lines in her defense. It’s a painful ritual that we’ve experienced many times before. Or is this time different?

By constitutionalizing Israel as the exclusive homeland of the Jewish people, a special majority of Israel’s elected representatives have functionally and fundamentally changed the terms of engagement on the battlefield of Israel’s struggle against her ill-wishers. In doing so they have potentially changed, much for the better, the future of Western civilization. 

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Sound overly dramatic? Not really.

Around the same time Israel was defending herself from annihilation in 1967, a group of French academics, intellectual heirs to the unrepentant Nazi advocate Martin Heidegger, created postmodernism, an idea that has since engulfed in entirety the world of academia, the news media and much of Western political life.

The horrific events of the 20th century were interpreted by the postmodernists as the result of the failure of modernity. Radical Enlightenment had replaced faith exclusively with the capacity for human reason. And after Auschwitz, the Gulag Archipelago and Mao’s killing fields, it appeared that reason alone was not the answer.

So, while for many social movements the response was to put faith back into the moral equation, the response of the postmodernists was to remove reason as well.  

With faith and rationalism both gone, everything was now deconstructed. Reality turned subjective, words rendered meaningless, fact and fiction morphed into one, law became literature and history became poetry, the self was decentralized, the traditional family dismantled and society fragmented into multicultural divisiveness. 

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For the postmodernist, Marcel Duchamp and Leonardo da Vinci are both artists, Nicki Minage and Amadeus Mozart are both musicians,  Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu are both national leaders, and Palestinian terror organizations and the Israel Defense Forces both bear arms.

But that was only the first stage. It didn’t stop there because extreme relativism can’t just keep things on par. In the next phase, postmodernism elevated toilets above the Mona Lisa, twerking above The Magic Flute, Abbas above Netanyahu and Palestinian terrorism above the IDF.

IT IS IN this phase, too, when Palestinian spokesmen can perniciously label Israel a racist and apartheid state ad nauseam. Israel, where a sitting Arab judge on the Supreme Court can send a sitting Jewish president to jail for seven years for sexual misconduct, and Arab Knesset members can lead a demonstration in Tel Aviv where Israeli Arab citizens chant “With blood and fire we will redeem Palestine.” Yet the media shamelessly and continuously recycles the racism canard.

The Israel advocate goes to the front lines and speaks truth to lies without realizing that for his interlocutors truth is relative and facts are subjective.

What’s more, he speaks in historical terms and doesn’t understand that for the postmodernist, nothing is worse and nothing is to be rejected more forcefully than grand historical narratives. “Simplifying to the extreme” wrote postmodernist Jean-François Lyotard, “I define the postmodern as incredulity toward metanarratives.”

Now where is one to find a greater metanarrative than the story of Israel? And what forces incredulity (a function of reason?) toward postmodernism more than the people of Israel returning to the Land of Israel, speaking the same language, celebrating the same holidays and honoring the same capital?

“Simplifying to the extreme,” nothing engenders incredulity more than the success of Zionism. It is an unparalleled metanarrative of three-and-a-half millennia, now formally ensconced in Israel’s fledgling constitution.

Had the legislation not been passed, Israel’s constitution would have emerged as an inchoate listing of humanistic platitudes devoid of distinguishable essence, ultimately endangering the country’s very raison d’être.   

Israel’s new Nation-State Basic Law forces an objective point of reference. It declares that there is indeed a national identity that matters, that words matter, that history matters, that culture matters, that both faith and reason matter.

The law breathes new life into Israel advocacy because it defines and clarifies the fault lines of debate. The issues must no longer be seen as intermittent and localized but constant and enveloping of all Western civilization.

Israel’s Nation-State Basic Law should serve as a source of encouragement to all those who have been struggling against the scourge of postmodernism’s deconstructionism to build the requisite social constructs that will create a new Enlightenment, one far better than the first.

The writer is a senior fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum and president of the Veresta-Group

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