by Ted Belman
As far back as the seventies, my Orthodox father-in-law used to argue that Gentiles have more respect for authentic Jews than for assimilated Jews. There is something attractive about a people or person who is proud of his heritage and lives by its precepts. As you know, this idea ran contrary to the prevailing view held by progressive Jews that the more they emulated the Gentiles, the more they would be accepted. He was right. Just look at the affinity of the Christian Right in the US for the Jewish settlers and their fight to keep the land.
Paul Eidelberg makes the same point in his important book Jewish Statesmanship:
- “Contrary to the expectations of Jewish politicians and intellectuals who, out of fear of anti-Semitism, mindlessly portray Israel as a democracy so as to endow it (and themselves) with legitimacy and respectability, it is precisely this lack of Jewish national authenticity – this adulation of decayed democratic values – that underlies the international contempt for Israel.”
He characterizes this contemporary democracy as upholding “indiscriminate egalitarianism and unrestrained libertarianism.” Israel’s embrace, without question, of this form of contemporary democracy has lead to Arab Israelis who are PLO surrogates, and thus, enemies of Israel, being elected to the Knesset. It also leads, among other things, to the PLO being permitted their own press in Jerusalem, where they mightily contribute to anti-Israel propaganda and incitement. In other words, this slavish adherence to these contemporary democratic values threatens not only the character of the Jewish state, but its very existence.
Instead, he argues that Israel’s statesmen should emphasize Israel’s raison d’etre, as a Jewish State, and that this necessitates that democracy must be assimilated to Judaism. It means that an authentic Jewish Commonwealth should embrace the supremacy of Torah and not of democracy.
The Left in Israel and around the world considers this to be a sacrilege, at least for Israel, while at the same time, it recognizes that democracy must be accommodated to Islam and Arab culture in the Arab states.
Prof. Eidelberg argues that Western normless democracy is inferior to Judaism. Such democracy is “little more than a random aggregation of individuals and groups pursuing their own aims and interests.” The result, he argues, is “eccentric pluralism and multiculturalism, fortified by the doctrine of moral and cultural relativism that dominates every level of education in the West. Lacking in contemporary democracy are not only unifying norms of human conduct, but any rational basis for national loyalty. Being normless, contemporary democracy denies the existence of universally valid standards by which to determine whether the way of life of one individual, group or nation, is intrinsically superior to that of another – superior in the sense of being more conducive to human excellence or to domestic and international harmony.
“In contrast, Judaism is a nationality and a prescribed way of life.”
He goes on to describe the conceptual differences between Judaism and contemporary democracy, noting that Judaism has a different conception for democracy (replacing the considered judgment of …read more