By Gilad Atzmon
Before the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana, the Hebrews are commanded to make an audit – an overview of their standing in the world. Haaretz, the paper of the so called ‘thinking Israelis,’ followed that Mitzvah, polling Israeli Jews on their attitudes toward Jewishness, Judaism, God and ‘the Jew.’
The Jewish God
The Jewish God is, without doubt, a spectacular invention. He (she or it) was invented by the Jews to love them especially. The Jewish God comes across as a jealous and vengeful character. He engages in genocidal projects, using WMDs of chemical and biological warfare as the early Egyptians could testify. Clearly the Jewish God would stand no chance at The Hague, but Jews seem to love their God, or more likely, are fearful of their own invention.
One may wonder why the Jews invented such an unpleasant deity. Couldn’t they contemplate a merciful and kind father instead? Initially, Zionism was a secular nationalist Jewish movement that tried to separate Jews from their evil God, to make them enlightened people. With that in mind, it is fascinating to examine what was missing from the Zionist secular ‘promise.’
Not a lot apparently.
According to Haaretz’ poll, “54 percent of Jewish Israelis believe in God, and another 21 percent accept the existence of an undefined superior power other than God.” These results resemble the American attitude toward God. A poll published by Pew Research a few months ago found that 56 percent of Americans believe in the original God of the Bible and another 23 percent in a superior force. It is worth noting, however, that unlike the Jewish god, the American God is largely Christian - kind and merciful.
Haaretz’ poll reveals the intimate relationship between right wing politics and Judaism. 78% of the Israeli right believe in God. Only 15% of the left are believers. This means that as Israel becomes more religious, the fate of the Israeli left is sealed. This is hardly surprising. Left is a universal attitude. Judaism is a tribal precept. Left Judaism is a contradiction in terms, the tribal and the universal are like oil and water, they do not mix. The Israeli left is destined to die out (assuming that it isn’t dead already).
For the Jew not the Many
The poll reveals that “Slightly more than half of Jewish Israelis believe that their rights to the Land of Israel derive from God’s divine covenant in the Bible.” I guess this doesn’t leave much hope for peace. “56 percent believe that the Jewish people are chosen people.” This leaves even less hope for peace. And to remove any possible doubt of a peaceful resolution anytime soon, Haaretz reveals that “Seventy-nine percent of right-wingers believe that God singled out the Jews… Seventy-four percent of right-wingers believe that Israel holds a divine deed for its land.”
The vast majority of Israelis appear to adhere to a rigid Judaic notion of choseness that is translated into an entitlement to someone else’s land.
I wonder what the 13% of Israeli ‘leftists’ who see themselves as ‘chosen’ understand left ideology to be. Is ‘for the Jew not the Many’ how they interpret social justice?
The Jewish Deity
In my latest book, ‘Being in Time,’ I argue that a cultural study of the Jews and their many religious precepts (Juda-ism, Athe-ism, Zion-ism, Holocaust-ism, Moral Intervention-ism, everything-ism etc.) reveals that Jewish religions can be characterised as a set of ideas that facilitate entitlements. The holocaust, thought by some Jewish scholars to be the most popular Jewish religion, is attached to a list of entitlements that are cultural, political and, of course, financial. Zionism, another popular Jewish religion, holds that it was the ‘God of Israel’ that promised Palestine to the chosen people. But Jewish entitlement is not just an Israeli or Zionist attitude. When Jewish anti Zionists offer their political positions, they first declare their unique ‘Jewish entitlement’ to their beliefs. ‘As Jews we are there to kosher the Palestinian Solidarity movement.’ Many of the same Jews who ‘legitimised’ the Palestine plight, are busy these days giving a kosher stamp to Jeremy Corbyn. In general, the Jewish left’s entitlement has been exercised by disseminating ‘kosher stamps’ that paint ‘the Jews’ in a positive, humane light.
Israel seems to be divided on religious issues but the trend is clear. With 51 percent believing that the Jews’ right to Israel stems from God’s promise, regional reconciliation probably isn’t the next project in the ‘pipe line.’
Darwin didn’t make Aliya
The poll suggests that Israel is separating geographically and culturally: “eighty-five percent of Jerusalemites believe in God, compared with only 44 percent in Tel Aviv and the central region. Only a quarter of Israeli Jews fully keep Shabbat, but 66 percent keep it in Jerusalem as compared with just 15 percent in Tel Aviv or Haifa. Thirty-seven percent don’t believe that humans and apes share a common ancestor – a disturbing finding – but in Jerusalem the anti-Darwinians enjoy an absolute majority of 81 percent while in Tel Aviv they're in a distinct minority ‘of only’ 27 percent.”
Israel is getting “Jewier”
Haaretz notes that “the most startling gaps are generational. In Israel in 2018, the younger the Jew, the more likely he or she is to be more religious, observant, conservative and willing to impose his or her beliefs on others. Sixty-five percent of the population would let supermarkets and groceries operate on Shabbat, but that position is supported by only 51 percent of people between 18 and 24, compared with 84 percent of those 65 and older.”
Haaretz points out that that the religious shift of young Israelis “stands in stark contrast to current trends in the United States and Western Europe, where millennials are ditching religion in droves.” In Israel, “younger Jews go to shul at twice the rate of their parents and grandparents, while in the United States and Western Europe the opposite is true.” In other words, “Israel is getting Jewier, at least for the time being.”
These results indicate that Israel is drifting away from enlightenment. Zionism promised to modernise and civilise the Jews by means of ‘homecoming,’ but the Jewish state has achieved the opposite result. While Israel has transformed itself into an oppressive dark ghetto surrounded by humongous concrete walls, it is actually the young diaspora Jews who are ditching the ghetto.