Monday, January 06, 2014
Turn off the Light Unto The Nations
Turn off the "Light unto the Nations" – What nations was Israel to “enlighten?” The Muslim states who enable and endorse jihad while subjugating their own populations with unendurable Sharia laws? The members of the European Union for whom Israel’s existence and success are anathema? Or is it the United Nations, that cesspool of moral turpitude? I would suggest we drop the plural from nations to nation and that Israel focus on being a light unto its own nation–the Jewish nation.
by Ruth King
Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion proclaimed: “History did not spoil us with power, wealth, nor with broad territories or an enormous community: however, it did grant us uncommon intellectual and moral virtue, and thus it is both a privilege and an obligation to be a light unto the nations.”
Where did that hubris-fraught term originate? From the Book of Isaiah. There are three references.
“Yea, He saith, ‘It is too light a thing for you to be My servant, to establish the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the scions of Israel, and I shall submit you as a light unto the nations, to be My salvation until the end of the earth’ (Isaiah, 49:6)
“I the Lord have called unto you in righteousness, and have taken hold of your hand, and submitted you as the people’s covenant, as a light unto the nations” (Isaiah, 42:6)
“And unto your light, nations shall walk, and kings unto the brightness of your rising” (Isaiah, 60:3)
The notion mesmerized those who aspired to become a utopian, agrarian, virtuous, socialist model to the world. It even lured some realists who wanted the nation to be admired, respected and looked upon as a role model.
In the early post-independence years, the “light” bearers of Israel were depicted as super heroes–farmers/scholars who made the desert bloom and could turn their plough shares and pruning hooks into rifles at a moment’s notice to defend their nation, yet remain devoted to the goal of achieving peace with their neighbors and eager to make sacrifices to obtain it. Who would not be delighted by this image, coming as it did only three years after the Holocaust? How comforting was it to see them as models to illuminate a dark and venal world?
But Israel’s implacable neighbors sought only to destroy it and the price of survival became a seemingly endless series of wars, which sat ill with the utopian image.
Nonetheless, the afterglow of the “light unto the nations” continued and subsequent Israeli leaders continued the destructive fantasy and self-righteous preening. A good example is the egregious comment from supposedly tough Golda Meir: “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children.”
What hogwash. Did Meir not understand that she was creating a moral equivalence between barbarians who kill children and those who must take harsh measures to stop them? There is a direct line from her statement to the abominable movie “Munich” which draws parallels between the perpetrators of the murderers in the Munich Olympics and those who sought to find them and bring them to justice.
Israel’s adversaries also took up the ‘light unto nations” rhetoric as a weapon against her. In a speech to the Jewish Theological Seminary in November 1984, Nobelist Bishop Tutu declared that Israel betrayed its status as “a light unto the nations” by losing its direction and becoming unfaithful to its calling.
Defending the nation became an abrogation of Israel’s supposed role as the light unto the nations and Israel’s detractors have had a field day voicing their disillusion and prodding for more appeasement, surrender, and abnegation.
What nations was Israel to “enlighten?” The Muslim states who enable and endorse jihad while subjugating their own populations with unendurable Sharia laws? The members of the European Union for whom Israel’s existence and success are anathema? Or is it the United Nations, that cesspool of moral turpitude?
I would suggest we drop the plural from nations to nation and that Israel focus on being a light unto its own nation–the Jewish nation.
It has enough to gloat about. It is a shining, thriving democracy with outstanding humanitarian, academic, scientific and cultural institutions which has never lowered its standards to those of its genocidal neighbors. It has wonderful people in the brave settlers of Judea and Samaria and countless patriotic citizens and soldiers. There are clear-seeing and speaking academics like Moshe Sharon, Steven Plaut, Emmanuel Navon and the Nobelist Robert J. Aumann. There are legislators past and present like Naftali Bennet, Aryeh Eldad, Michael Kleiner, Yoram Ettinger, Danny Danon, and Moshe Feiglin. There are journalists like AFSI’s own William Mehlman, Sarah Honig, Ruthie Blum, David Hornik, Caroline Glick, Martin Sherman.
They buck international political pressure (and Israel’s own still active destructive light unto the nation moral preeners) to declare “this land is my land and we are the only ones with the right and legitimacy to define its borders.”
In his Independence Day speech in May 1948 Menachem Begin spoke far better than Ben Gurion. He said: “Our God-given country is a unity, an integral historical and geographical whole. The attempt to dissect it is not only a crime but a blasphemy and an abortion. Whoever does not recognize our natural right to our entire homeland, does not recognize our right to any part of it. And we shall never forego this natural right.” He ended:”God, Lord of Israel, protect your soldiers. Grant blessing to their sword that is renewing the covenant that was made between your chosen people and your chosen land. Arise O Lion of Judea for our people, for our land. On to battle. Forward to victory.”
And that victory in Israel’s War of Independence was a light unto Israel, to Jews everywhere and to all people of good will, that shines to this day, and illuminates the path to freedom for all the Jews in the Diaspora who are oppressed.
Thank you Nurit Greenger