Forty years ago this week, just when it seemed that it would take nothing short of a miracle for Israel to survive the coming war, the betting here was that the miracle bank had run dry. Amid the pre-emptive grave-digging and the fraught goodbyes, this was a constricted, panic-choked, border-phobic gas chamber of a country - literally, the ghetto to end all ghettos.
When the miracle came, few stopped to recall the real motto of this nation: Be careful what you pray for.
From this distance, one could conclude that while the Jewish state survived the war, Judaism as we knew it - Orthodox Judaism in particular - did not. Rabbinic Orthodoxy, the Jewish people's sworn bulwark against change, would never be the same.
1967 was the war that would persuade rabbis that they could be generals - even, or especially, if they lived in Brooklyn. The taste of power being what it is, many rabbis would soon conclude that government - and occupation - were much too important to be left to elected officials.
This is from an op-ed piece in Haaretz.com, the online edition of an Israeli newspaper. The author, Bradley Burston, continues:
If absolute occupation corrupts absolutely, no group would be more corrupted by Israel's presence in the territories than rightist rabbis.
Of course, that's the last way they would see it. Cloaked in a shawl of ideological purity, spiritual erudition and lawyerly one-sidedness [you may ignore that last attribute, boys and girls], right-wing rabbis went to work utterly convinced that they were the one last incorruptible group of Jewish leaders.
With Messianic zeal, they set to dictating new commandments and enunciating new prohibitions, revolutionizing Judaism by casting the settlements as the building blocks of a Third Temple - all the while turning the settlement enterprise and territories as a whole into a new Golden Calf, a god to which the people as a whole would be forced to sacrifice.
If this isn't starting to sound like a group of people you know, boys and girls, you aren't paying attention. It's the Christian conservatives, of course. Paul Weyrich, father of the modern right-wing movement, makes no bones about the fact that the movement is a subversion of democratic principles:
Weyrich: “Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome — good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.
At the link—a link that Spotty got from A Tiny Revolution—there is a video clip of Weyrich that includes this quotation.
Katherine Kersten, our Katie, has been wailing about Muslim fundamentalists a lot lately. But what Katie is unwilling to see is the similarities between Muslim fundamentalists and Jewish or Christian ones. In fact, Spot says that the religious fundamentalists of various stripes have more in common with each other than they do with moderates or liberals of their own faith.
Update: Spot decided that he should tell new readers about his idea for a new "reality" series on the teevee: Survivor: Fundamentalist Island.