Ed Note–Putting aside the obvious over-focus on ‘climate change’, nevertheless a fascinating article that takes the fires that swept Israel as the starting point of a very interesting discussion on the Jews and History, the historical process, Judaism and Zionism.
As the title suggests, Jews do not recognize the Laws of Nature and, using religious terminology, the Jews do not recognize the Laws of God. Indeed, they only recognize the 613 commandments enforced upon them by their torturers: their rabbis.
Using a Nietzschean analogy, the writer explains how the Jews reject Nature, Life, Reality, only to live “wrapped up in a collective dream within a mythical world from which exit is almost impossible”.
Taking this further, we can trace back the Jewish attitude towards Nature, Life, Reality and, ultimately, to God back to the XVIth Century with one of their holiest and most important rabbi of all times: Isaac Luria.
Being obsessed with the Moshiach (aka, the Anti-Christ), the messianic times etc., he came to the conclusion that not only are the Jews at the centre of the universe (theme already developed by rabbi Abu-Lafia) but they are the only engine of History. They are the only shapers, the only makers of the historical process, they are the only factor influencing world events and as such, the only people with the power to undo past events such as, for example…. 70 A.D
With Isaac Luria, their moshiach and even God Himself are relegated into the background, being mere spectators of world events as they unfold, with no active role in it whatsoever.
There is no law of nature: they are Nature and they are the force behind the law of nature. And so it is no wonder that the next centuries saw massive revolutionary upheavals literally reshaping Europe. This is how the Sabbatean and then the Frankist subversion happened; this is how 1789, 1848, 1917 happened; and this is how 1948 happened.
Rejecting the now obsolete belief that the jews must patiently live in exile and wait for their moshiach to turn up and bring them back to the Holy Land, jews adopted Lurianic messianism. They will no longer wait for the King of the Jews to come up in his good own time, when God decides to send him: they will force him to show up (and this, by the way, is the ONLY point of contention between the supremacist jews of Naturei Karta and the other jews).
With this theory of the jews being Nature and the Law behind it, Isaac Luria redefined jewish messianism and brought it from a ‘passive expectation’ to an active and revolutionary act.
Gershom Scholem has summed it up best: “Jewish messianism is in its origin and by its nature – this can not be sufficiently emphasized – a theory of catastrophe. The theory stresses the revolutionary, cataclysmic element in the transition from every historical present to the messianic future”
When Israel was being swept by fires last month, left-wing journalists posted a map on social media noting other fires that had broken out across the entire Middle East region during the same period. Using NASA data from the Global Forest Watch website, the map indicated the locations of dozens of fires throughout the region – from the Nile Delta to the banks of the Euphrates in Turkey.
This regional viewpoint makes it clear that the fires in Israel were part of a broad phenomenon which meteorologists tell us related to the extreme dryness. In short, it turns out that the principal cause of the fires was not a wave of arson fomented by the enemies of the Jewish people, but extreme climatic conditions, which victimized large swaths of the region. The fact that November was dry and warm, and that winter and its rains tarried, created optimal conditions for fires to break out.
But data of this kind are unlikely to confuse the overheated opinion of the Jewish majority in Israel. Maps and satellite images are something for matriculation exams in geography, and macroclimatic data are of no interest even to Danny Roup, Israel’s iconic TV weatherman.
Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev preferred to depict the fires as the “pogroms of 5777” (referring to the Hebrew year). In her view, only the tyranny of political correctness prevented us from seeing the fires in their correct context – namely, the history of the pogroms “in Fez, Kishinev, Hebron, Hartuv and Be’er Tuvia.” Pogroms perpetrated by Russian monarchists more than a century ago are more relevant for understanding the events than fires that broke out east of Haifa. The relevant context is not spatial but temporal: the sacred history of the nation’s tribulations. Any other context is a misleading diversion of opinion.
In an essay titled “On Truth and Lies in an Extra-Moral Sense,” the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche argued that if we had the same dream every night, we would be as occupied with its content as we are with our daytime life. It is only because the dreams change every night that we differentiate between them and what we consider “true” reality.
According to Nietzsche, this holds equally for the collective. Certain nations are caught up in a collective dream, which visits them persistently – and therefore they are unable to differentiate between it and the waking world.
“Because of the way that myth takes it for granted that miracles are always happening, the waking life of a mythically inspired people – the ancient Greeks, for instance – more closely resembles a dream than it does the waking world of a scientifically disenchanted thinker,” Nietzsche wrote. Thus, for the Athenians, “as in a dream, anything is possible at each moment, and all of nature swarms around man”.
While Nietzsche cited the ancient Greeks as an example of a people living within a dream or collective myth, it seems to me that present-day Israelis are an even better example. The Israelis have never recognized the existence of an external world. In philosophical terms, this is not an ethical but a conceptual problem: We are completely wrapped up in a collective dream within a mythical world from which exit is almost impossible. Our world of life is the mythology whose beginnings are at Mount Sinai and whose end is the Netanyahu family. Nature revolves around us. And because the idea of nature refers, by definition, to what is external to humanity and history, Israelis in effect do not recognize the existence of nature. No empirical data will make us change our viewpoint, for the dream will always be more vivid and more powerful.
A scary thought. But it also explains why issues such as climate change don’t really interest Israelis. After all, how can there be a danger to mankind that is unrelated to our specific existence? Rabbis explained vast climatic events like Hurricane Katrina by intoning that “Bush was behind the expulsion from Gush Katif,” referring to the Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip that were evacuated that same summer in 2005. After all, there is no danger to humanity that doesn’t occur without being a reward for the people of Israel. God promised us that there will not be another flood, and therefore no new flood will occur. God promised us this land, so there is no reason for it to dry up as a result of some sort of imagined global phenomenon.
WAITING FOR JESUS
We shouldn’t blame only the rabbis. The general Israeli consciousness has not undergone secularization either, and is not close to “a scientifically disenchanted thinker” in any way, shape or form. Philosopher Hannah Arendt characterized modernity as the era after the discovery of the telescope, a period in which the human viewpoint turned to an external perspective, which views the world from an Archimedean point somewhere in space. To think in terms of the universe, “to use cosmic laws as guiding principles for terrestrial action,” Arendt wrote, constitutes the essence of the modern human situation, with all its magnificence and all its wretchedness.
But we Jews were never modern, never knew how to go beyond the viewpoint of our holy community. In this sense, it is particularly tragic that the astronaut we sent to view the Earth from space crashed and did not return home.
The way Zionism interprets history contributes to the closure of the Israeli consciousness into an ethnocentric, paranoid-megalomaniacal dream. Time and again, we find reinforcements for this take; only from within it are we able to vest events with meaning. But what’s even more incredible is that large parts of humanity are joining the collective hallucination and viewing Israel’s fate as the key to world events.
In a recent interview, Noam Chomsky noted that 40 percent of Americans don’t understand why global warming is a problem, because in any event Jesus will return in a few decades. These are the same Bible Belt Americans who are convinced that Jesus descended from heaven to the Holy Land and will on his return reign for a thousand years from Jerusalem, in the Kingdom of the House of David. Increasingly, they too are part of the messianic hallucination centering around the Jewish people’s return to its land. With that kind of thrilling show, who is even capable of taking an interest in the level of carbon emissions in the atmosphere? No one. It’s no wonder that the level of Israeli consciousness about climate change seems to be in regression.
After the huge Carmel forest fire in 2010, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted offhandedly that we are in “an age of planetary warming, an age of fires.” In the recent spate of fires, that subject was omitted. Why mess with the Americans? If they deny the forces of nature, we certainly have no reason to try and persuade them differently.
In these conditions, there is no reason to hope for a change in the Israeli consciousness. And maybe there’s no need. There is no point in trying to awaken the Jewish people from the exciting dream in which it has existed since the dawn of history. If anything, it’s far more realistic to enter its dream.