The Hope Index: Israel among the Nations


              Anyone in the mood for hope?


             None would be faulted for despairing due to the ongoing murder campaign of Arabs against Jews in Israel, or the predictable machinations of terror gangs openly readying for the next round, or the looming threat of newly enriched Iranian dissemblers with sublimated nuclear weapon ambitions. Beyond these issues, we are still living in an intellectual moment when the march of ideas has been replaced by a parade of ideologies so vapid and inane that they deserve not even to be abused.


          On the bright side, inroads are being paved by Israel among neighboring Arab nations with whom even strategic relations were once unthinkable. Public interaction with Israeli officials, such as recent Saudi Arabian website interviews with MK Michael Oren, Foreign Ministry Director Dore Gold, and Minister of Absorption Ze'ev Elkin, is no longer uniformly taboo. Even the moustachioed Mongrel of Ankara, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been howling a softer ditty as of late. Connatural interests have a way of reorienting even the most strident demagogues.


          At the notorious United Nations, usual site of the choleric hectoring of Israel, the Jewish state has recently joined the UN Committee on Space Affairs, proving Israel's clubbable status, and emissary Danny Danon has acquitted himself admirably in reversing the standard obloquy, setting the record straight and holding General Assembly and Security Council members to account when it comes to double standards for and hypocrisy against Israel. By criminating the nations with inexcusable moral and ethical wrongs against Israel, Danon has rightly shamed Israel's callous accusers, and those among them with consciences will be unable to forever controvert clarity.


          Yet, in the absence of game-changing actions, the Arab-Israeli impasse abides while conflict resolution stagnates. The fundamental issue is not that there is no perfect solution to the problem; rather, that there are two perfect solutions mutually exclusive of one another. Both Jews and Arabs exalt their halcyon days, respective Golden Ages that are irreconcilable because each entails political sovereignty over the Levant and religious primacy as expressed in holy sites on Temple Mount.


          Another way of framing the situation is that a consistently affirmative people is at loggerheads with a consistently negative people. Jews say YES, whether at Sinai or to the UN; the Arabs say NO, as in the three NOs of the Khartoum Resolution, or endlessly negating the resumption of peace negotiations without preconditions or one-sided goodwill gestures.

          Historically speaking, the view may seem grim. Israel's overtures are perpetually met with lackluster responses. The nations repay the Jews for their exceptional contributions with flagrant ingratitude, a world replete with Egyptian chief butlers and neophytic pharaohs who somehow "forget" Joseph and his sterling services rendered.


          Nowadays, Israel's unreciprocated utility and unrequited kindness are conspicuous when we consider the myriad medical, scientific, and technological advances produced in Israel and shared around the world, in return for which the world routinely pours scorn on the Jewish state in international fora and media with neither scruple nor compunction: the Gentiles bite the hand that feeds them. In our contemporary, post-postmodern malaise wherein morality is outmoded and secularism conventional, it's a case of killing the priest to defy discipline and shirk the sacred -- even when the priestly people supplies modern marvels.


          What will it take for the nations to embrace Israel in their midst with genuine warmth and affection? When they suffer as Israel has suffered, and therefore can identify with its existential plight? When Israel attaches appanages (e.g. modest demands for more favorable voting patterns within UN bodies) to its ingenuity and savoir-faire? Several factors are likely to be involved, only some of which will reside within Israel's purview.


          But study the long scroll of Jewish history carefully, and stumble upon a remarkable insight: Jews are the burning bush, incinerated yet unconsumed. While adverse winds bluster every which way, the Jewish People endures. And both previous Jewish commonwealths, although conquered militarily by foreign imperialists, still lasted approximately 600 years. Our Third Commonwealth, extant less than 70 years, will hopefully attain and surpass the centuries of its predecessors.


          To that end, Israel's recent if subtle commercial shift away from America and instead toward emerging markets in India, China, Greece, Cyprus, Kenya, South Africa, and many other countries helps reduce its traditional heteronomy vis-à-vis the USA. This longstanding subservience to a foreign power has been no more than the modern iteration of the Kingdom of Israel's and the Kingdom of Judah's submissiveness to Egypt, Assyria, or Babylonia in ancient days. As in days of old, though, the more independent Israel is from external control, the more self-sufficient, sovereign, and empowered.


          Increasing momentum in this direction requires a bold generation of young leaders immersed in Jewish identity (not just Israeli identity, not just jingoistic Zionism), educated and self-respecting as Jews, and possessed of a robust fund of common sense. The germinal stage of this generation might already be noted in the likes of certain incumbent ministers, deputy ministers, and MKs such as Ayelet Shaked, Miri Regev, Tzipi Hotovely, and Sharren Haskel, wide-eyed women who have left their male colleagues in the dust when it comes to asserting the primacy of Jewish heritage and sensible governmental measures in the Jewish state. Benjamin Netanyahu would do well to internalize their dignified example. In time he might realize that one single, sensible law or prudent action in Israel -- one simple deed that saves even a single Jewish life -- is worth 1,001 eloquent speeches and photo ops abroad.


          Admittedly, this new leadership crop represents merely the first shoots of hope, and their efforts the incremental steps towards a brighter future for all Israelis and Jews. If their achievements to date remain humble (largely resulting from an inhibiting governmental/juridical system), they are nonetheless long overdue degrees by which the stooping Jew of yesteryear straightens his or her back.


          Perhaps it is asking too much for Israel to be openly fêted at soigné soirées across the globe; perhaps it is aspiring for too little to disown the possibility. It's sometimes astonishing what the hopeful perceive emerging on the horizon.