In the biblical narrative, local nations recognize that the nation of Israel had transformed, having received the Torah and being in covenant with God. Yet, one person seemingly does not – Balak, king to Moab, who hires Balaam to curse the “nation coming out of Egypt.”
The failure to recognize the transformation to Judaism 1.0 served as impetus for conflict. This theme is repeated after Judaism transformed to Judaism 2.0, and today as it transforms to Judaism 3.0.
For the thousand years following the time of Balak, Judaism was anchored in the Temple, the ritual of sacrifices and its physical presence in Judea. When an invader from Europe destroyed the Temple and expelled the Jews, Judaism lost its organizing principle. While other nations, including Balak’s Moab, disappeared, Judaism survived by going through a historic transformation. It adopted a new organizing principle, Rabbinic Judaism: The synagogue replaced the Temple, the structured prayers replaced the sacrifices and the ritualistic yearning to return home to Zion replaced the physical presence in Jerusalem. The religious aspect of the exiled Jewish nation-religion became its anchor.
This transformation to Judaism 2.0 was not recognized by those who sought to harm the Jews, and a new form of opposition emerged, based on religious concepts such as Replacement Theology. Today, clergy acknowledge that this is not core Christian theology. Rather, European Jew-haters had hijacked Christian theology to mask opposition to Judaism through religion.
This “excuse” was an enabler for Europe’s unimaginable abuse of the Jewish nation for 1,800 years: Deportations, murder, liquidation attempts, reproduction restrictions, vocational restrictions.
The good news: According to much of the Western European establishment of the 19th century, this abusive European behavior toward Judaism was coming to an end, as Europe became secular. Moshe Hess wrote in his 1862 book Rome and Jerusalem that the declining power of the Vatican and the pope would lead to the end of the exile: “With the revival of Italy, will come the revival of Judea.” (This was nearly 80 years before such revived Italy partnered with Germany to commit genocide against the Jews.)
Theodor Herzl, who took Hess’s book with him when he traveled from Europe to Jerusalem in 1898, considered similar views in his early years, but quickly realized that European opposition to Judaism is incurable. It evolves as European and Jewish circumstances change. Just as he realized that if many Jews convert to Christianity, the derogatory term “Jewish pig” would simply change to “baptized pig,” he also recognized that the decline of European religiosity is no cure for chronic European Jew-hatred. Indeed, during his time, a new European movement emerged that funneled opposition to Judaism through secular national terms. That movement was given a name toward the end of the 19th century: antisemitism.
Today, the organizing principle of Judaism is shifting from its religious aspect, Rabbinic Judaism (Judaism 2.0), to its national aspect, Zionism (Judaism 3.0). As discussed in this column, Zionism has become the most relevant aspect of Judaism and the primary conduit through which both Jews and non-Jews relate to Judaism – in positive and negative alike.
Just like with Balak’s biblical opposition to Judaism 1.0, and European Middle-Age opposition to Judaism 2.0, haters of Jews today must stay in the earlier version of Judaism in order to mask their opposition: Not anti-Jewish, merely anti-Zionist.
The Israel-bashers’ nightmare is a broad global recognition of Judaism 3.0. This would rob them of their starting point, that Judaism is merely a religion. The Europe-led “conflict-Industry” must stay in Judaism 2.0, and so does the populous Western movement of Occupationalism, which has hijacked the Palestinian plight.
Incitement has been a staple of European geopolitics for a long while. While historians have yet to pinpoint the cause of World War I (and its sequel, World War II), a possible explanation was offered by the film Wonder Woman: The European human trait of incitement and fueling of hate.
Herzl, a Europhile and Francophile, understood this chronic European behavior. He wrote: “In the first 25 years of our existence we need, for our development, some rest from Europe, its wars and social complications.”
“In the first 25 years of our existence we need, for our development, some rest from Europe, its wars and social complications.”Theodor Herzl
European occupation of Palestinians
Balak’s behavior reemerged more than 3,000 years later. As discussed in a previous column article, Balak was not likely a Moabite, but a Midianite-affiliated ruler, given his Midianite-associated name, the way he is described as king to Moab, and him acting against the Moabite interest – inciting Moab into war against Israel. This is right after Israel eliminated Moab’s arch-rival, the Ammonites, who occupied northern Moab. Moab’s interest is to partner with Israel as it proceeds to Canaan, but the Midianite interest was different. (See expansion in: ParashaAndHerzl.com).
Same today with Europe’s aggressive incitement of Palestinians against Israel. The core merits of the Israeli-Arab feud may not be as deep as that of other conflicts, such as the Spanish-Catalonian, Italian-Tyrolian and the expanding European-Islam conflict. Yet, it is over-conflictizied to the tune of billions of euros.
Europe is the occupier of Palestinians – of the Palestinian mind, development and true character. By creating debilitating dependencies on the conflict and on Europe, as well as in cruelly blocking Palestinian employment and mentorship in Jewish-owned business, Europeans are exploiting the Palestinians to promote their own basket of interests (see previous column articles in: EuropeAndJerusalem.com).
Like the Moabites, it is unfeasible for Palestinians to emancipate themselves from the bear-hug of Europe and partner with Israel. After all, just as the Bible describes natural affinity between Israel and Moab back then, there is today natural affinity between Israelis and Palestinians. This is in sharp contrast to the zero-sum game emerging in Europe between so-called “native” Europeans and Islam, as expressed in horrific images of armed French police ordering Muslim women on the beach to take off their tops, in intra-European roadblocks “for Arabs only” during the 2019 immigration wave, as well as by the European Commission creating seemingly supremacist structures such as “promoting our European way of life.” (For some, interpreted as childlessness, promiscuity, secular fundamentalism and zealous anti-theism.)
Arab divorce from their European occupiers
A broad recognition of Judaism 3.0 would release the Arabs of the Middle East from debilitating European dogmas that have occupied their true character for the last 100 years. It would indeed give Arabs some rest from Europe, its wars and social complications. This in turn would allow Palestinians and other Arabs to regain their own character, which unlike “the European way of life,” bears respect to Jewish nationalism. After all, it was the Emir Faisal who lobbied European powers for a Jewish state in Palestine and was a staunch Zionist himself.
This is already happening. The 2020 Abraham Accords are a reaffirmation of Zionism and of Arab particularity. There was immediate engagement: travel, business partnership, trade and friendship. Indeed, a broad global recognition of the transformation to Judaism 3.0 would bring back the Israel-Arab dialogue to an organic, local and truthful form, which in turn would make peace all but inevitable.■
The writer is the author of the newly released book Judaism 3.0 – Judaism’s Transformation to Zionism. Judaism-Zionism.com