Thursday, April 26, 2012

Israel, A Nation Once Again

Sultan Knish

Israel's Jewish population is approaching six million. If current birth rates hold steady that significant milestone will be reached in time for next year's Independence Day. If there is to be one.

In the sixty-four years that the revived country has existed, there has been a dramatic population shift. Western and Eastern Europe and Russia, where the majority of Western Jews once lived, now hold a  fraction of the Jewish population. The Muslim world, former location of the majority of Eastern Jews, is barely worth mentioning.

Globally the Jewish population is divided between Israel and the United States. Israel is the home of the majority of the world's Jews, but the combined Jewish Anglosphere is still larger, not so much because of the United Kingdom, but because of North America, which holds the largest number of Jews. In a development that would have been all but incomprehensible a century ago, the majority of Jews in the world speak English or Hebrew. Smaller numbers speak French and Spanish, but in a generation hardly any will speak Russian or Arabic. The majority of Jews live in the American Hemisphere. If we subtract Israel, the Eastern Hemisphere would barely muster up ten percent of the Jewish population because its Jews have for the most part either moved to the Western Hemisphere or to Israel.

Israel is the last Jewish outpost in the Eastern Hemisphere. The last significant Jewish populations there are either in the far west, in the United Kingdom and France or legacy populations in Russia and the Ukraine. The latter have no future and the former are dwindling under pressure from the growing Muslim population in Europe.

Over the last century, Jews have been moving West, though not quickly enough to outpace the Nazis and the Communists. The migration has gathered up Middle East Jews and Eastern European Jews, leaving a handful scattered on the Western shores of Europe, while the majority have either rebuilt in Israel or moved on to America, Canada or Latin America.

Jews have often been referred to as the 'canary in the coal mine' and accordingly Jewish migrations may foreshadow Christian migrations from the Eastern Hemisphere.

The Christian populations of the Middle East appear to be going the way of the Jewish population. In thrall to Muslim propaganda, the media blames Israel for the vanishing Christians of Bethlehem, but how does one explain a comprehensive regional Christian decline and exodus?

The fall of Egypt into the hands of the Brotherhood, Turkey into the hands of the AKP Islamists and the strong likelihood that the Brotherhood will take Syria and Hezbollah will take Lebanon, along with Muslim control over Gaza and the West Bank represent the end of the remaining centers of Christianity in the Middle East. It is not difficult to foresee a near future where Israel is the last remaining safe place in the region for Christians.

What is happening to Middle Eastern Christians is what has already happened to Middle Eastern Jews. Unlike the Jews, the Christians have no regional state of their own. The closest thing to it is Lebanon, which serves as an ugly example of what the binational Jewish-Muslim state that some called for and are still calling for would truly look like.

Had Christians turned Lebanon into a Christian Israel, then they would have been able to survive in the region. Middle Eastern Christians are on average better educated and more successful than the cult of a mass murderer that has colonized the region. A Christian Middle Eastern state would have stood head and shoulders above its Muslim neighbors, in every sense of the word. But instead coexistence was tried and it failed. Just as it is failing in Europe.

The migration of European Christians is happening at a slower rate, but it is happening as well. A Times poll found that 42 percent in the UK would like to leave. It is a safe assumption that the 42 percent does not come from the ranks of the bearded asylum seekers and the dole-hounds in the East End. The UK is seeing the largest emigration numbers in recent history, as many as three a minute leaving the country, the majority heading out to more distant corners of the Anglosphere.

Not all Europeans have the same linguistic support system of former colonies making emigration more difficult to contemplate. Emigration from the Netherlands has hit an all time high, headed to most of the same places, either outside the hemisphere or to distant Australia and New Zealand. The Portuguese are heading to Brazil, and the Spanish, Greeks and Italians are also hitting the exit doors. While the process doesn't seem all that drastic now, it is the opening round of a migration that will drastically accelerate as the Muslim colonization of Europe, with its accompanying violence goes on.

European Christians are following the path of European Jews, just as Middle Eastern Christians are following the path of Middle Eastern Jews, seeking stability, safety and opportunity outside countries that are on the path to becoming unlivable for anyone who doesn't preach in a mosque, sell drugs or rob tourists. Most are not leaving because they are aware of the problem, but because they are aware of the consequences. 

Had Europe not imploded so badly in the twentieth century, the history of the Jewish State might have been quite different. Israel's Second Commonwealth didn't manage to attract a majority of the Jewish population from Babylon and the various Greek states. Israel's Third Commonwealth was in better shape, despite the tiny borders and constant threats, but it is doubtful that it would have the population that it does today, if Jewish life in the Eastern Hemisphere had not become so impossible.

To survive the hostility and chaos of the Eastern Hemisphere, Jews crossed the ocean to the Americas and rebuilt a fortified republic in their homeland. In the natural course of events, the republic would have mainly picked up idealists, nationalists and the devoutly religious. It would have been a viable country, but a smaller one, with more in common with Ireland than its energetic overcrowded self.

Israel's composition is a fossil record of various periods of persecution, Russian Jews, German Jews, Middle Eastern Jews and then Russian Jews again. Its politics, its technology and its religion have taken second place to its need to protect itself, and the intellectual, the commercial and the religious had to make way for the military. Israel has been defined as much by that external pressure as by the idealism-- and that combination is perhaps the truest summary of the Jewish experience.

An Israel at peace, without constant assault by enemies and a storm of hatred thundering against it would not have truly reflected who the Jewish people had become over the millennia. It is the external pressure which has forced the Jews to find ways out of traps, to survive impossible situations and to accept constant change, while holding on to the things that mattered.

Its founders may have dreamed of a Hebraic European state, with short work weeks, plentiful cafes and vigorous debates over philosophical questions and social justice. But Israel was unable to escape its Jewish destiny, instead it became a country of Jews, a national diaspora, alone among the nations of the world, fascinating, repulsive, beloved, hated, but rarely ignored.

The Jews had defied history, instead of all flooding into the American Hemisphere to take up careers as fair-minded liberals or inhabitants of self-made ghettos, they made a last stand amid the ruins of the Middle East. They built a successful state, defied their enemies and have outlasted the best European efforts to compromise them into oblivion. They survived every Muslim army that came at them, won wars against impossible odds and held on in a region where the one thing that everyone could agree on was that they should be gone. And being Jews, they spread their hands and wondered why they were hated.

Israel is a non-Muslim country in a region where after centuries of conquests there aren't supposed to be any non-Muslim countries. It is an indigenous minority trying to fly the flag in an Arabized region and it can only survive by succeeding at everything it does. It has managed to defy the odds, like the Armenians, it has proven that it is possible for an indigenous minority to build a successful state out of a diaspora and defend it against Muslim aggression. Those ignorant of history might call it colonialism, but it actually represent indigenous peoples rolling back Muslim colonialism.

If worst comes to worst for Europe, perhaps one day Americans and Australians will resettle England and Scotland, the way that Jews resettled Israel. But the larger question may be who will resettle Australia and America? Retreating across the ocean to another continent is no real solution. Not in the age of the jet plane that can just as easily carry thousands of Muslim settlers, as be hijacked by its Muslim passengers and rammed into major landmarks and centers of government.

Israel may be civilization's last stand. Even if it fails, it was a nobler effort than pretending that nothing was wrong while heading out the door to other continents where it would take longer for the Jihad to reach their grandchildren. It is not an ideal state, founded by European Jews, it suffers from most of the afflictions of Europe, it has the labor relations of Greece, the political malaise of France, the intellectual culture of a bygone Germany and yet it also has a military that combines the best of England, Switzerland and Ancient Israel. And most of all it has Jews.

Jews are a peculiar people, there is a great deal of talk about them, good and bad, but like most of the peoples of the world, they simply are. They exist and have gone on existing to the irritation of that part of mankind which was aware of them. There are prophecies about them, in their blood runs the veins of the prophets and kings whose words and deeds are on the lips of even those who hate them. But still they go on living their day to day lives until it seems as if there is nothing particularly special about them, and then unexpectedly they do something extraordinary, cure a disease, unlock the mysteries of the universe or build a country that stands as a bulwark against all the rage and hate of the East.

Few eyes turn to Israel on its Independence Day, not unless there are stories about rock throwing Muslims or outrage over another Jewish house going up in Jerusalem. Even many of the Jews on the other side of the ocean have closed their eyes and their hearts to it. In synagogues those who recognize the new miracles of the Lord, rather than only the old, give thanks and praise for that day. For most it is only another day.

As each of our birthdays reminds us that we are still alive, so too Israel's birthday reminds us that it is still here. It won its independence as an infant, at 19 it defeated seven armies. At 40 it launched its first rocket into space. At 44 it made a terrible life decision that it has still to recover from. It is 64 now, and yet booming with life, with anger, love, doubt, fear and a thousand other human tremors. It has gathered to itself the dead lost in the ashes and seen them born again amid its rebuilt ruins. It has stood on ancient mountains and reseeded the land and made it green again. It has reclaimed a legacy of a lost people and a lost land better than even its dreamers and visionaries could have imagined.

Who knows what it will do next?

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