All of us are watching with horror as the Mullahs continue to head towards their goal of nuclear capability generally, with their eye on you know who specifically.Â
Yet I still meet Jews under the delusion that we have the upper hand, or at least a playable one.Â That Iran and others can be intimidated or even defeated.Â Defeated without first inflicting a body blow either to the Jewish State or the Jewish people, or– more likely– to both, as well as prepping the lab for others to finish the job.
They fail to comprehend how dire our situation truly is, and how rage, resistance, and resentment to both the Jewish state and how the perception perceived disproportionate Jewish political, cultural, and of course, economic power, is threatening to continue to escalate not only dramatically but exponentially.Â
Once again, as in many generations before us, we are increasingly the central character in an ever precarious geopolitical conflict, and as always in such dramas, we are assigned the role of the antagonist.
If the situation continues to escalate, do we think we are going to brush off the actions of the “neocons” as distinct from ourselves forever? Do we think the Islamic world will truly be mollified with a withdrawal to pre-1967 borders?Â
Do we really think most people are still going to give a hoot about racism, Seinfeld, or Schindler’s List, if and when shit goes down in a big way because of The Jews? In the aftermath, do we really think a press release of condemnation from the ADL will keep our enemies at bay?
Our religious left insists that our narrative is one of Tikkun Olum, in which the role of the Jewish people is that of the activist, promoting the rights of the oppressed.Â
The Zionists insist the Geula has begun.Â This third attempt is a guaranteed keeper.
But these modern narratives were hastily constructed, and half-baked, like the matzos of Israelites leaving Egypt, andÂ no more genuine than a Prada handbag bought in Chinatown.
The classic narratives I have read are much less comforting.Â The role of the Jews is not primarily about improving the world at large through activism, but to grow through suffering, and continuing to function.Â
The birth of the Messiah is not generally predicted to come through a gradual improvement of Jewish life or secular society, but through greater and more frequent violent contractions.
If we follow the news on occasion, you can only stare blankly at Jewish naivety, and wonder how the Jews expect anything else except the dominant dark prophecies of the end of days.Â From where I’m sitting, the most fantastic aspect next to the promise of Mashiach himself is the allowance for the possibility of a full 6,000 years of a Jewish civilization.
But most of the Jewish weeklies throughout the U.S. seem much more hopeful, if not quite positive, about the Jewish condition. Â But in many ways, they are all the same newspaper.Â TheyÂ take directives from the Federation Zionists to service their readers through the hypnotic massage of repetitive thematic chant on national and Israeli issues.
But unlike most secular or ecumenical Jewish weeklies, the Forward is not under Federation control or influence.
The Forward writes,Â Â
How compelling is the military option against Iran? Jack Straw, the foreign minister of Great Britain, our most reliable ally, has for months been calling the idea “inconceivable.” This week, after the reports of escalating war plans began surfacing, he went a step further and called it “completely nuts.” And that’s our closest ally.
Another highly respected European foreign minister, speaking last week on condition of anonymity, told a small group of Jewish community leaders in New York that the idea of an American attack on Iran would produce “a catastrophe — an absolute calamity.” He was speaking at a convivial dinner party, lubricated with wine and good cheer, until he was asked about the prospect of Iran war. At that point, his face turned white.
“Imagine the current situation in Iraq,” the minister said, ticking off the unwinnable quagmire, the collapse of a strategic nation into chaos, the turning of Iraq into an incubator for global terror and growing worldwide rage against America. “Then multiply it by 25, by 30. The implications are almost unimaginable.”
There’s one more consequence that the foreign ministers might have added, if not for considerations of tact. Consider, they might have said, the growing tendency in the West, including America, to blame the worsening world situation on Israeli and Jewish conspiracies. Just a decade ago, such talk was heard only on the far reaches of the lunatic fringe. Over the past three years, since the invasion of Iraq, it’s become de rigueur in the finest circles. It’s claimed with growing frequency, from leading magazines to the floor of the Senate to Harvard University, that the war was foisted on America by Jewish and Israeli pressure.
Given this war’s disastrous consequences, its growing unpopularity even among Republicans and the hopelessness of any decent exit, anger is building. The anger is misdirected, of course. The very notion that this war was fought for Israel’s benefit is a delusion. But it is a popular notion.
The looming war against Iran is a different story. This time, Jerusalem’s role is not fantasy. Israel’s sense of alarm has been at the center of the story from the get-go. Both The Washington Post and The New Yorker reported this week that Israeli strategists and intelligence experts were playing a serious role in building support for war. President Bush himself said in Cleveland last month that Israel’s safety was a central concern, if not the main one, in assessing the Iranian threat.
What will they say when the Iran war turns sour — multiplied by 25, by 30?
Let us be fair. It is possible that a surgical strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, executed with competence and precision, could avoid the worst of these nightmares. But that assumes a competence in Washington that we know, based on the record, is absent. Nothing is more certain than that.
The world faces terrifying choices right now. No options are good ones. Some carry a high risk of calamity. Others carry a certainty.
Resistance may be futile. There is no reason to believe we are in charge in any meaningful way.Â It is time to look within, instead of banking on high-risk gambles or clinging to Pollyannaish and adolescent modern narratives.Â That is what our faith has always demanded, but we have frequently preferred not doing so. Too bad, since our machinations may fail in the end, or backfire terribly.Â They frequently do.
At least if we look within, and don’t expect that our political and activist solutions will salvage our situation, the surprise will be a little less intense, as well as the disorienting fear and bitter sense of betrayal.Â Let us hope, work, and pray for the best.Â Let us allow for the possibility that we don’t decide what is best.Â That we don’t decide period.
The survivors are almost all gone.Â There may only be a few years left, if that, until the next massive, excruciating contraction.Â
At least one some level, we should prepare for it.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â