It Pays to Be Jewish

T. Belman. Although this was written 18 years ago, it is more relevant today because it deals with calls for a Jewish state and defines it.

Just look at the affinity of the Christian Right in the US for the Jewish settlers and their fight to keep the land.

By Ted Belman (first published in 2005)

As far back as the seventies, my Orthodox father-in-law used to argue that Gentiles have more respect for authentic Jews than for assimilated Jews. There is something attractive about a people or person who is proud of his heritage and lives by its precepts. As you know, this idea ran contrary to the prevailing view held by progressive Jews that the more they emulated the Gentiles, the more they would be accepted. He was right. Just look at the affinity of the Christian Right in the US for the Jewish settlers and their fight to keep the land.

Paul Eidelberg makes the same point in his important book Jewish Statesmanship:

“Contrary to the expectations of Jewish politicians and intellectuals who, out of fear of anti-Semitism, mindlessly portray Israel as a democracy so as to endow it (and themselves) with legitimacy and respectability, it is precisely this lack of Jewish national authenticity, this adulation of decayed democratic values, that underlies the international contempt for Israel.”

He characterizes this contemporary democracy as upholding “indiscriminate egalitarianism and unrestrained libertarianism.” Israel’s embrace, without question, of this form of contemporary democracy has lead to Arab Israelis who are PLO surrogates, and thus, enemies of Israel, being elected to the Knesset. It also leads, among other things, to the PLO being permitted their own press in Jerusalem, where they mightily contribute to anti-Israel propaganda and incitement. In other words, this slavish adherence to these contemporary democratic values threatens not only the character of the Jewish state, but its very existence.

Instead, he argues that Israel’s statesmen should emphasize Israel’s raison d’etre, as a Jewish State, and that this necessitates that democracy must be assimilated to Judaism. It means that an authentic Jewish Commonwealth should embrace the supremacy of Torah and not of democracy.

The Left in Israel and around the world considers this to be a sacrilege, at least for Israel, while at the same time, it recognizes that democracy must be accommodated to Islam and Arab culture in the Arab states.

Prof. Eidelberg argues that Western normless democracy is inferior to Judaism. Such democracy is “little more than a random aggregation of individuals and groups pursuing their own aims and interests.” The result, he argues, is “eccentric pluralism and multiculturalism, fortified by the doctrine of moral and cultural relativism that dominates every level of education in the West. Lacking in contemporary democracy are not only unifying norms of human conduct, but any rational basis for national loyalty. Being normless, contemporary democracy denies the existence of universally valid standards by which to determine whether the way of life of one individual, group or nation, is intrinsically superior to that of another, superior in the sense of being more conducive to human excellence or to domestic and international harmony.

“In contrast, Judaism is a nationality and a prescribed way of life.”

He goes on to describe the conceptual differences between Judaism and contemporary democracy, noting that Judaism has a different conception for democracy (replacing the considered judgment of the majority subject to the Torah for the will of the majority), freedom (freedom to serve a higher purpose rather than freedom to do what you want) and equality (everyone’s life is equal to another’s, but their rights may vary, i.e., more is expected of a learned man than an ignoramus).

Yet, the Left worries that Israel would become a “theocracy”. By this, they probably mean a state ruled by priests or mullahs or rabbis. If so, then Israel could not be a theocracy, because in Judaism, the rabbis don’t rule. “There is no Church in Judaism, neither theologically, since there is no mediation between G-d and the individual Jew, nor institutionally, since there is no ecclesiastical hierarchy. But, if ‘theocracy’ means the rule of G-d, then Judaism is theocratic, for G-d is the ultimate source of law and authority.” So, what does this mean operationally?

In Judaism, “only publicly tested scholarship can lay claim to any validity regarding the laws of Torah.” Thus, scholarship is the highest value of Judaism and any and all Jews can pursue it. A Jewish Israel would be ruled by the most learned people in the Knesset and in the courts, much the same way as it is in Western democracies, but with the added caveat that they are all subservient to the Torah.

Jewish law has developed and governed the Jewish people for thousands of years. It consists of laws between man and man (mishpatim) and laws between man and G-d (hukim). The former are based solely on reason and thus must be changed or administered to reflect new factors. The secularist need not worry about mishpatim. As for hukim, that’s between man and G-d. Since the secularists have no fear of G-d, they need not worry about hukim, either.

Eidelberg: “Strange as it may seem, secular Zionists in the pre-state period recognized that Israel’s national renaissance and the rebirth of its national consciousness required the restoration of Jewish Civil Law, otherwise known as mishpatim. As early as 1909 they declared:

“‘Our law is one of the most valuable assets of our national culture and a unifying force [among Jews] throughout the world. The Jewish People have developed and maintained a remarkable system of law whose foundations were laid at the dawn of our national existence: hundreds of generations have toiled over it, perfected it and adorned it, and even today, it retains its power to renew its youth and to develop in a manner appropriate to the outlook of our time. During the thousands of years of the existence of our nation, this law was influenced by many material and spiritual factors. It absorbed religious and ethical concepts; it reflected cultural, economic and social values; and it can still faithfully reflect the life of the people throughout the future.'”

Unfortunately, over the last century, Israel has moved away from the primacy of Jewish law to embrace the law as it exists in the Western democracies. As Prof. Eidelberg and many others points out, this represents a greater existential threat to Judaism and to Israel than do the Arabs: “Severed from its own laws and constitutional history, a country’s political, economic and social history will be largely unintelligible. Its legal heritage will cease to have practical relevance. Fewer and fewer people will understand their past, the way their forefathers related to each other in daily life, the conditions under which they lived, their way of thinking; without such knowledge, Israel will forget its world-historical mission.”

This loss of mission leaves Israel defenseless before the onslaught of the Muslim mission to recover all the lands of Palestine. Rather than pursue our rights to the Biblical land of Israel, which are both historical and religious in nature, we abandon such rights and only pursue an illusory peace. We hear a great deal from the governments of Israel and the USA about protecting our security, but nothing about protecting our rights to the land. It’s as if we didn’t have any rights.

The peace process should not be a contest between their rights to the land and our right to security as enshrined in UN Resolution 242, but between our rights and their “rights”. The more we assert our Jewish rights to the land, the more support we will have for our cause. We could then argue that truth and justice are on our side. As it is, by default, the world considers that we are occupying Palestinian land and therefore must give it back. With Jewish leadership, this would change.

August 28, 2023 | 9 Comments »

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  1. Posted on Elder of Zion today. A 10th century Muslim historian refutes today’s Palestinian “Temple denial” (Unknown), 30 Aug 04:45 AM

    It really is quite absurd to see today’s Muslims insist that there was no Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, and that somehow Al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock were always there. Especially when one of the Arabic names of Jerusalem is “Bayt al-Muqqadas” – which comes straight from “Beit HaMikdash,” the Hebrew name for the Holy Temple.

    I’ve previously mentioned a 15th century work by Jalal-addín that goes into detail about Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem.

    But if you want an earlier Muslim historian, we have al-Masudi – a 10th century Arab historian and geographer who has been called “Herodotus of the Arabs.”

    Al-Masudi’s works are quoted in the 1890 work by Guy Le Strange, who translated a number of medieval Arab historians and geographers in “Palestine Under the Moslems.”

    Al Masudi clearly admits that Al Aqsa is on the site of Solomon’s Temple:

    Every literate Muslim knew this quite well – until the 20th century, when hate of Jews reached a level high enough to see Muslims and Arabs deny their own most famous and best historians.

    * * *

    * * *

  2. TED- (typo-The San Remo Accords were 1919, not 1929)

    My beloved mother, born in 1894, told us all as children the very same thing. I’m sure she got her concepts from her parents, so this saying has been long known and used in Yiddishe circles. I maintained/maintain the same concept myself, and have quoted it during discussions. In fact I have had Verbrente Catholics saying the very same thing to me.

    So although 1970 is a “latecomer”,it is none the less, accurate.

    In Canada I’ve had converted Jews trying to argue me into their “Christian” belief several times, and found during discussion, that on each occasion they had “seen the light” at age about 15.
    This struck me as very odd, perhaps unsupervised kids are more susceptible at that age, perhaps they were gulled” into it. But I believe that all , about 5-6, did the dirty at age 15

    There was one guy, who scraped acquaintance (cunningly-pretended to be an insurance salesman), whom I found had been “sicced” onto me by my potential father-in-law, a leader of the Plymouth Brethren, A ratty little sallow faced nebuchal named Nessim, quite sleazy. He was Egyptian, and had a wife with the largest breasts I had ever seen.
    Although NO mensch, he had a good “eye”. I think it helped him in his “work”.

  3. Bockner email:

    I believe your argument is well put.
    A couple of things:
    – Prof. Eidelberg must have made Aliyah in 1976 not 1776. I think his assessment is dead on.
    – It could be pointed out that Israel is being held to current “progressive” Western values which are antithetical to a real nation state. That is because the leaders of the Western world no longer believe in the validity of nation states. Their philosophy is universalist in order to promote One World Government. A nationalist Israel gets in the way of their plan. Their acolytes in Israel, the “progressive” secular left, has for decades infiltrated all facets of Israeli society- academia, IDF, Supreme Court, etc.
    So the Supreme Court is now a tool to denationalize Israel- meaning the undoing of its Jewish character. If Israelis fail to recognize this they will soon be second class citizens in their own State.
    This is what liberal whites are learning in the U.S.

  4. Nussbaum emailed me:

    The extremist secular Israeli Left is currently displaying a panic-stricken, emotional, political tantrum because absent the “Judicial-aucracy,” their ability to govern and control Israel is likely gone forever, because about 70% of the country are traditionalists who experience discomfort to abhorrence to the extreme Left values and lifestyle being pushed by the openly traitorous leaders on the minority Left.

    However, the kicker is that the secular Israeli vision of the State of Israel has no justification in international law. The San Remo Accords of 1929, the Keagolue of Nations (LON) precursor to the U.N.General Assembly vote ratifying the establishment of the State, was clearly written and intended to “reconstitute a National Homeland for the JEWISH PEOPLE in their Ancestral Homeland.”

    Nobody ever talked about a Secular Democratic State emerging de novo. So they deep down know that their aspiration for some EU styled “Democracy” ruled by self-appointing lawyers is just a sham. And even worse illegitimate under international law, as the LoN never sanctioned a secular EU pseudo-democracy in the ancestral land of the Jewish people. No wonder they approve of giving away land for an illusion of peace with “peace partners” whose charter call for the destruction of Israel and annihilation of the Jewish residents “From the River to the Sea.”

  5. Understanding Israel means understanding the tribes in it. Basically divided into four tribes more or less. To truly have a feel for this one needs to have lived in Israel an extensive time and speak fluent Hebrew.

    Israeli Jews identify with one of four categories: Haredi (commonly translated as “ultra-Orthodox”), Dati (“religious”), Masorti (“traditional”) or Hiloni (“secular”).

    Being an avid reader of Israeli articles from the diaspora will not suffice. Many of the current political disputes, over reactions from one of the tribes for fear of being dominated by an opposing tribe stems from the identity issues and divisions of the population.

    Discussions and fierce arguments about judicial reform are a symptom of the tribal and identity divide and not the underlying issue.

  6. Torah-true and democracy, if the meaning of “democracy” is properly understood, are not incompatible. The problem is that the actual meaning of democracy– “rule by the people” in classical Greek–has been distorted by the left over the years.

    John Locke, the seventeenth century British philosopher who is widely regarded by historians as the father of the modern democratic idea, and was so regarded by America’s founding fathers (the Declaration of indpendendence closely paraphrases what Locke wrote in his “Second Treatise of Government,”) wrote that democratic rights should belong only to the owners of the land. Both the Jewish scriptures and the League of Nations mandate document make it clear that the owners of the land are “the Jewish people.” Non-Jews are entitled to civil and religious rights. Only Jews, however, can consider the Land of Israel, or Palestine, as their “national home.” Israeli law should be based on the mandate document, and Israel’s own Declaration of Independdence, as its constitution. Arabs and others can never be allowed to rule over Jews in a genuinely Jewish state.

    Another important principle of Locke’s Second Treatise of Government is that those who are at war with the state are not entitled even to civil rights in the state, even if they live inside it. And Locke defines being at war with the state as being as having a “permanent settled design” to destroy it, even if they are not engaged in violence against it every minute, or even every year. But if they support violence against the state and are prepared to use violence themselves when and if this is necessary to achieve their destructive goal, they are enemies of the state and are entitled to no eights whatever in it.

    Obviously, in contemporary Israel, this applies to most, although perhaps not all, of the Arab population “between the River and the Sea.” It also applies to some Jews as well.

    What Israel needs is government that accords with both Torah and Lockean-democratic principles.

    We also should keep in mind that the Left’s notion of democracy is not majority rule, determined by free, fair and honest elections, but rule by a self-appointed elite that claims to represent the “oppressed” communities and to dedicated to the disenfranchisement of the “oppressors.” jews have no obligation whatsoever to accept this definition of “democracy.”

    Both from a propaganda point of view and from a philosophical point of view, it is a serious mistake to characterize a Jewish state, and Judaism itself, as inherently incompatible with “democracy.” On the contrary, both Torah and Judaism are fully compatible with democracy, once the meaning of this word is properly understood.

  7. “The more we assert our Jewish rights to the land, the more support we will have for our cause. We could then argue that truth and justice are on our side. As it is, by default, the world considers that we are occupying Palestinian land and therefore must give it back.” This is right on! This is why I keep emphasizing in comments on the Internet that the Jews were in the Holy Land in the 10th-century BCE, long before the 7th- century Muslim invasions from the Arabian Peninsula. It was in recognition of this long Jewish history that Palestine was designated for the Jews by the 1922 Mandate for Palestine. Although Britain as Mandatory lopped off Eastern Palestine, giving it to an Arab ruler and leaving only the tiny area of Western Palestine for the Jews, legally Western Palestine belongs to the Jews. It is the Arabs who are occupying Jewish land. Not the other way around.

  8. Good article. I am not Jewish but lived in Israel years ago and was impressed by the tenacity of the Israelis.
    To me it is very confusing to see many contemporary Jews supporting groups like “Peace Now” and voting Left.
    I have argued on Israel’s behalf on many online forums over the years. I found that 95% of the people who are anti-Israel are from the Left.
    I don’t think most Jewish people realize this. If they do then I am more confused than ever.