Jaffa Orange Republic: Towards the Ontogeny of Jewish Statehood in the 21st Century
Maturation in Jewry’s Third Commonwealth will be signaled by conspicuous shifts in attitudes and approaches in diverse areas. The prevailing state of affairs – a state fraught with existential tensions – will display symptoms of adulthood first and foremost by dispensing with the entrenched exile complex that causes the nation to stoop when it should straighten its back and rise manfully to its full height.
Having been a congregation without a country then a people without a polity, Jews today find themselves in a position less precarious if more curious: as an autonomous nation in possession of a sovereign state that yet acts as a client state in vassalage to a suzerain. This continues the precedented pattern first instantiated when Israelite tribes were in serfage to feudal Egypt, when the Kingdom of Israel was in thrall to Assyria, when the Kingdom of Judah was alternatingly obliged to Egypt and Babylonia, and when Judea was under the Seleucid thumb or Judaea beneath the Roman heel.
In many ways the State of Israel behaves as an obsequious client kingdom within the American imperium, though no such empire exists and American interests often do not coincide with Israeli interests despite shared values. Even America’s Republican administrations have often maintained strategic aims rather afield from those of Israel, exasperating Israeli prime ministers and ambassadors while highlighting the general need for Israeli self-direction and self-definition – even if this means divergence from, not merely resistance to, foreign positions.
A sea change in Israel’s attitude and posture must begin at the beginning: intimacy with identity. When as a people you know who you are, where you belong, and what belongs to you, statecraft is subsumed within a continuum incorporating the past and charting a course for the future. This would be specifically evinced in revamping an outdated and cumbersome electoral system, forgoing adventitious remnants of Ottoman law, establishing a Torah-informed national constitution, repositioning governmental policies to align with historical (not only biblical) rights, recalibrating talking points and terminology employed in domestic and foreign fora as well as in media relations, and more prescience in the aims and means of warfare.
Internally, maturation means applying Israeli sovereignty throughout Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and the western half of Menashe and equitably resolving the status of Arab residents of these territories. There are at least 3 articulated options that are all imperfect improvements over the status quo: a tripartite arrangement affording Arabs permanent residency in Israel and citizenship in Jordan, where Israel provides basic services with Jordanian remuneration; a system of independent Palestinian Arab emirates; and population transfer to neighboring Jordan or elsewhere with full financial compensation.
Externally, maturation means executing defensive wars against terrorist aggressors with determination, decision, and finality, with a will to win and finish the job instead of sparring in pugilistic rounds ad infinitum; it also means speaking candidly to allies and adversaries alike with a mien of self-respect and a strong sense of ethnic identity. Autochthonous peoples, self-aware and proud, should represent themselves to the world with all the firmness and gravitas inherent in their heritage and history. Israel’s defensive mentality and sheepish pose – its prevalent imperative to explain itself (hasbara) – do nothing to convince outsiders of Zionism’s righteousness.
Nothing is as impressive and persuasive as taking definitive actions in line with national aspirations and historic justice. This is the basis for the world’s execrable encouragement of Palestinian Arab unilateral measures at the UN and elsewhere. A fake “people” from a non-existent “country” may rely on foreign pats on the back for motivation, but Israel’s cause is supported by eternal verities whose practical application can be implemented at any moment by a government with the will to act. Israel’s destiny lies neither in UN resolutions or reports nor in European corridors of power, but in the capable hands of the citizenry, government, and armed forces of the State of Israel.
In addition, adopting the fabrications, misnomers, and prejudicial conventions of the Arabs only inculcates Jews with misinformation. For example, why are the Arabs referred to as “Palestinians” when this term included Jews as recently as in the first half of the 20th century? This only obscures the transparent falsehood that “Palestinians” are a people distinct from Arabs anywhere else. Why is the Waqf still in charge of Temple Mount and suffered to excavate its ground, dispensing with Jewish finds with impunity? Why do Jewish and Israeli leaders do little in the face of the standard Arab mythomania with its straight-faced claims that there were never any temples in Jerusalem, that Arabs are native to the land instead of its conquerors from Arabia, and that Arabs in the Land of Israel are direct descendants of the extinct Canaanites?
In the court of public opinion – i.e. in the arena of flagrant ignoramuses bereft of rudimentary historical knowledge – noncontestation indicates admission and surrender. Unchallenged lies with the admixture of time achieve a patina of legitimacy, leaving strewn in their wake the facts as casualties. Every Arab fallacy about Jewish non-indigeneity to the Middle East or of Israeli misconduct in wartime is Jewry’s opportunity to unabashedly blazon the truth in print and on camera, to repeat it from the rooftops and reassert factual truth as the only narrative worth entertaining for outsiders with short attention spans and prone to rash judgments.
A people in its natal land, hemmed in by hostile entities, cannot afford to dwell as ingathered ‘complexiles’ unsure of their innate purpose and wherewithal. At 67, Israel should no longer play the complaisant ephebe commencing manhood, a Jaffa orange republic dependent on American handouts and thereby beholden to American ultimata, which means to the ideology of the incumbent in the Oval Office. American exactions are demonstrably detrimental to Israel and do not serve Israel’s fundamental or strategic interests. For example, restraining Israel when scores of Iraqi missiles were raining down on its terrain, pressuring Israel into releasing bloodstained terrorists (who resume their whilom ways) just to stimulate peace talks with PA terrormongers, or urging Israel to apologize for its self-defense to Turkey are all misguided external demands that diminish Israel’s well-being to no great purpose but with very real negative ramifications – for Israel and for Jews the world over. The trammels and impositions of a feudal lord on a serf as often as not merely amount to a power trip, a sober reminder of extrinsic control.
There is a problem with the power dynamics of the American-Israeli alliance deriving from the reality that influence follows affluence. For its acute defense needs Israel remains on the American dole, in receipt of annual financial aid and military hardware, even ammunition. A mature nation would not rely on foreign stockpiles during domestic emergencies. Intrinsic to the fact that the United States has to munition Israel in wartime is the monition that such supplies can be – and have been – withheld at the POTUS’ pleasure.
Never more than during troublous times do identity and self-respect serve as a ballast against the blustery storm. In the abominable Age of Obama, sharp disparities between traditional allies underscore for Israel’s leadership the necessity of acting in the best interests of one’s constituents, not one’s confederates. It is in Israel’s national interest to not only allow daylight between itself and America but to effect a respectful disjunction from its benefactor abroad so as to greatly augment self-reliance. The State of Israel declared its independence 67 years ago; it’s high time that worthy actions followed-up on fine words.