This Hanukah 2011 is characterized by days of darkness. Israel sinks further into the mire of authoritarianism. It increasingly resembles the police state Yeshaia Leibowitz warned it would become after the euphoria of the 1967 War ended.
Democracy, if not dead is on life-support. The Zionist far right, which used to be considered the marginal untethered extreme of Israeli politics, now runs the asylum. They’re keeping an enemy’s list just like Nixon did, but they have far more power to ruin people’s careers, livelihoods,and lives than Nixon did.
Hanukah in Zionist nationalist terms has always been a militant holiday for which I’ve had little use. I prefer to see it as a traditional winter festival coming in the deepest throes of cold and darkness. It serves to remind us that there is hope and light even then. That spring will return. That the tyrants of cold seasons and societies will eventually fall. Think Arab Spring, which was preceded by the long winter of Arab dictators.
I’m sorry I can’t offer you as much hope for Israel right now. Though the J14 movement did shower Israel with a sense that social justice still resonated in a nation decimated by corruption, power elites, and cries for blood and war; old habits and loyalties die a long, slow death. Israel’s leaders seem to be willing to walk the plank on behalf of their delusions. Their constituents seem willing to watch as they, and the nation does it with them.
But Jimmy Cliff sang: “The harder they come, the harder they fall.”. The nationalist Israeli far right and their settler power base will eventually fall. It will be a hard fall. One that will be immensely painful for many Israelis. The longer this political mafia stays in power the harder the fall will be.
But I’m a believer in the power and truth of Jewish spiritual values, and they tell me to believe in light amidst darkness. No matter how deep the darkness and how freezing the cold.
On a separate note, fourteen members of the UN Security Council unanimously condemned Israeli obstructionism as the primary obstacle to a viable peace process. They also condemned the U.S. as Israel’s major enabler (though not specifically by name).
This is a new development. I can’t remember a near unanimous Security Council denunciation of a fellow member. It will mean little to Israel. But Obama makes a pretense of sharing liberal values and may be at least moderately embarrassed by this.
My prognosis for the period up until the presidential election is bleak. Obama plans no new initiative nor will he invest any serious energy in the issue. The only thing that may change that either before or after the election is a major disaster like a war, an outcome that is entirely possible. This too was the only way to get Bill Clinton off his duff (cf. Rwanda and Serbia). The difference between the two is that once he was committed, Clinton actually delivered. When Obama commits to something there’s no guarantee he can deliver. But let’s be hopeful, shall we? What is the alternative? If we try to keep his feet to the fire and things get bad enough, he may surprise us.
This article appeared at Tikun Olam