Wednesday, September 19, 2012
STILL THE 'PILOT GROUP'
In this post I put a new spin on history as I look back and then point out a thing or two about the present and future importance of, and necessity for, the resurrected state of Israel. That most people who don't deliberately blind themselves to inconvenient facts agree on the necessity for a place where Jews can be organized to defend themselves against the next outbreak of hatred against them is hardly worth debating anymore. But there's more than that in favor of the necessity of Israel. Allow me to begin with some interesting (I hope) observations about the earthly time of Jesus and ramifications arising therefrom:
1) The Maccabean theocracy begun 150 years before Jesus's birth degenerated with remarkable speed. A rabbi I spoke with said it happened in about 100 years. The Sanhedrin were a vestige of that theocracy with mostly 'ecclesiastical' powers by Jesus's lifetime. I mention it because I think it can be argued that Jesus was a victim, albeit foreordained, of the evil known as the religion-state connection. And the following idea (for which I expect to be clobbered from a number of quarters) is directly related to that: from the time of Hadrian to the re-establishment of a Jewish state, Jews had no power to enforce a religion-state connection, except (maybe) for the time of the Khazar empire being a Jewish state. If anyone knows more than I do about how long the Khazar state lasted and how far conversion was extended and by what means, feel free to inform me further. Just cite your sources so I can check them.
In any case, my point is that Jews had next to no power to enforce what both Christians and Muslims could--and did, often ruthlessly, enforce: the religion-state connection. As has been the case before, G-d may have tried something new with Jews first--in this case, taking a separation of religion and state some steps further than had been the case in ancient Israel where there was a separation of priests from both prophets and judges. Christendom has now done so to a great extent from our Bill of Rights forward, although we also still have fools who refuse to understand that separation is indispensable for the health of both the state and honest religion. Who was it again that said, 'A man cannot be convinced when his salary depends on him not being convinced'?
And the separation of religion from state, for the better health of both, is in my opinion the linchpin of the task of modernization before Islam. Ataturk began it, with (it seems) limited success which the current Turkish government is attempting to undo. Frankly, they're going in the wrong direction. Islam also probably needs to resurrect the Mu'tazilites as well. Modern Israel yet has a thing or two to do in this respect, too: neither Conservative nor Reform Judaism are recognized as separate groups in Israel.
2) Someone told me once (although I haven't been able to verify it yet) that Annas and Caiaphas had to work to convince Pilate that Jesus's expelling the moneychangers was a mere internal dispute and NOT the start of a revolt against Rome. I think it's safe to say that they, and their 'party' in the Sanhedrin, were pretty frightened men, don't you think? There are some lines in the Gospel of John which indicate this.
3) Most of us know the story (not in the Gospels, though) about how Nicodemus learned of Jesus's trial only by accident and how he hurried there and found it to be a 'rump' Sanhedrin session--no one who agreed with him and Gamaliel (who, btw, was the Sanhedrin's president then and also not present at Jesus's trial) had been summoned; only those of the Annas/Caiaphas party. To me Jesus's 'trial' sounds a lot like the Wisconsin state senate ramming through last year's anti-labor bill! I thought that then and I still do.
Anyhow, the point of all this is that most Jews had NOTHING to do with Jesus's trial and crucifixion AND that, among those men who railroaded him, I'd say that Caiaphas & co. and Pilate were pretty equal partners. The writers of the Gospel did do a certain amount of toning down the Roman part in that--but then, they also believed Jesus's return was right around the corner. That is, they never thought the consequences would be as far-reaching as they were, and still are.
And so, for eighteen centuries or so, the Jews have been almost completely innocent--yes, that's right, all you b*****s and sons thereof, I said innocent and I mean exactly that--victims of Christians and Muslims, some of whom now have the chutzpa to pontificate on the Jews' 'vocation for suffering' and lament how the existence of Israel may mean that the Jews will lose this oh-so-precious vocation! Easy to say, when it's not your vocation for suffering, or that of your people, being granted and/or tested, isn't it? Nearly all of you, at least corporately, still have innocent blood on your hands--much of it Jewish--and somewhere inside yourselves, I say you know it! Apply to God directly for absolution, not to Israel--and remember Jesus's words from the cross and ask yourselves if you can be included in those for whom Jesus asked forgiveness as you knew not what you or your ancestors did!
Jews will never be easy to f**k with anymore and the rest of you sorry lot better get used to that!! And as long as Israel remains an effective democracy, I think it safe to say that it won't lose the spirit of compassion that, since Biblical times, G-d has taught first to ancient Israel, then to the Jews and, through the Jews in general and one in particular, to the rest of us. The extent to which we've learned such lessons is, will continue to be, and indeed should be, always open to debate. But I see no reason to doubt that the Jews continue to be the 'pilot group' whenever G-d has something new to teach us all. Much of which is now happening in Israel--especially as regards 'green' technology, renewable energy and desalinization of seawater, to name but a few items. And if and when there is peace between Isaac and Ishmael (Arabs) we can expect to see the Middle East transformed for the better!