Why Bilaam? Unable to defeat Israel in battle, the king of Moab paid his prophet to destroy the enemy by word of mouth. The plot failed, spectacularly. Thanks to Divine providence and his donkey’s powers, the hired prophet heaped not curses on Israel but profuse blessings and praises.
Plots and characters in the bible are said to portend what history will have in store for the Jewish people. If so the Great Author, via the Bilaam narrative, foretold the anti-Zionist plot: if war could not bring Israel down then cursing would. Hence in their varied guises and shades of extremism, enemies of Zion embarked on their plan to curse the Jews out of existence. By levelling all manner of crimes, and trusting that a few would stick, they set out to paralyze Israel to the point where it stands alone and vulnerable among the nations, a meek prey for waiting wolves.
Who’d dispute that the course of events seems headed where anti-Zionists want them to head? World powers that once ‘had Israel’s back’ – nay America itself, if Obama’s envoy Kerry is believed – seem set to leave it to the wolves. Curses have stuck, and one above all others, ‘foreign occupier – thief of Palestinian land’ has been the proverbial straw that broke Israel’s back.
What shall we say? Where the patriarchal curser Bilaam was stymied, the enemies of Zion have had more success. Or have they?
“How beautiful are your tents, oh Jacob, your dwelling places, oh Israel.”
Ah Bilaam. Your tongue was tripping, gadget of fortune and misfortune, bridge to your soul, mouth organ of militant curses, master of talking donkey, plotter of Israel’s downfall. When the Hebrew God famously told you, of all diviners, to shut your mouth you should have listened. Day and night, horn-templed, fork tongued, you laid your traps; and everything that happened, happened because of unwitting praise. The nation whose downfall you plotted took strength from your words and flourished.
Could this not be also the boycotter’s lament? On their maligned target Israel’s antagonists have ruffled scarcely a hair. If anything, the harder they tilt at the windmill the more furiously – infuriatingly – Israel’s milestone metrics go by: economic, scientific, social, and cultural.
Certainly the Church arm on the enemy front has recognised the problem. Breathing the fire of wrong prophecy, offended clerics glare at the Jews returned to a homeland from which their God had expelled them. What baleful looks! What translucent thoughts! How did St Augustine get it so wrong? Your destiny, you unchosen people, was never to come back and make the desert bloom; to build a Tel Aviv of Manhattan skyscrapers; to win Nobel Prizes by the wheelbarrow full; to boast a bustling high-tech economy with a currency stronger than Europe’s. The pores of anti-Zionist clerics leak not envy but error – the faith-losing error of dogma. Thanks to Israel the plot is spoiled, the icon shattered.
But there is still the Diaspora. The divine umbrella, it would seem, does not protect Jewish life outside the borders of Israel. The enemies of Zion have made life uncomfortably hostile for communities from Asia to Europe, from Australasia to the Americas, and even down to the tip of Africa. And worse may be to come. No one can dispute that anti-Semitism is trending upwards. Even the most sober of commentators talk of conditions that could eventually make life for Diaspora Jewry untenable. The yellow star is making a comeback.
Hitler’s henchmen would have found a modern feature quite delicious – the enthusiastic involvement of Jews. The world over, Jews are boycotting the Jews, and being paid for doing that. European and American funders practically fling cash at Jewish boycott bodies, so that tiny Israel ends up with more human rights protectors per square mile than anywhere on earth.
Then there is a fraternity that should know better. Anti-Zionist lawmen seem more than out of place. To find international lawyers punting for the Palestinians is to feel that human nature has crashed. Why, even the rights of children, used for cannon fodder and propaganda, are routinely violated in that camp. Professors of law are the last group you’d expect to pull the wool over people’s eyes.
Yet there is Richard Falk the UN lawman for Palestine, and the other professor who came before him, John Dugard. Both twist a political wish-list idea into a fake legal entity: ‘Occupied Palestinian Territories.’ And on top they hide a problem of logic. Egypt and Jordan lost the territories to Israel in their 1967 defeat, at a time when the Palestinians were a year away from being born. So when exactly did title pass to Palestinian hands?
‘Anti-Zionist lawyer’ could be an oxymoron – a contradiction in terms. Or perhaps not. Recall the Einsatzgruppen - Nazi execution squads that roamed Russia to exterminate Jews city by city, village by village. It had lawyers, brilliant minds, in its ranks. One Nazi commander was Otto Ohlendorf who had a doctorate in jurisprudence.
But the prize for the most unlikely enemy of Zion must go to Israelis. For a citizen to hate his own country! Think of a Greek who hates Greece or a Scot who hates Scotland; and not just with some idle hatred but one that rules his waking moments, and out of which he crafts a career. Or try to imagine a Greek or Scot who toils to see Greece or Scotland dismantled, and prizes that goal above his own welfare.
We do not have to pose the question ‘why?’ to learn from the anti-Israel Israeli. On their own his alliances and subterfuges yield points of interest. But whilst that curiosity labours to make his own country an outcast among nations we cannot hope that he finds rest finally. Nor would that be on my wish list. For without the contortions of the pathological self-hater my work would not be half so engaging.