THINK-ISRAEL

HOME May-June 2011 Featured Stories Background Information News On The Web


 

CHANGING THE LANGUAGE OF PUBLIC DISCOURSE

by Professor Paul Eidelberg

  

Israel is trapped in the defeatist and self-effacing rhetoric of contemporary public discourse. I am happy to report, however, that with the help of some very talented and politically astute colleagues in Israel and America, I have founded the Israel-America Renaissance Institute, and one of its functions is to overcome this lethal character of contemporary public discourse. What's wrong with it?

It's boring, its weak, and it allows the enemy to set the terms and rules of engagement. Its rhetoric of "peace," "security," and "democracy" is self-effacing. The word "peace" appeals to the weak, people who fear violent death. Fear of violent death is most prominent in regimes that have forsaken their spiritual ideas and ideals — regimes steeped in materialism where the Mall and the sports arena have taken the place of the church.

The "peace" people seek in such regimes means nothing more than comfortable self-preservation¬≠ — security plus commodious living. Peace and security have become the shibboleths of the declining secular democratic state.

Israel's government fixates on security. Its timid and pedestrian politicians emphasize security because there's nothing controversial or distinctively Jewish about this mantra. Security is the legitimate concern of any country. You don't have to think out of the box. But has Israel's fixation on security made her more secure? Has it elevated and energized Israel's morale — the first ingredient of a nation's ability to defend itself? I don't think so.

Security is not a defining national goal, one that distinguishes Israel from any other country. It's not a positive goal that inspires people with national pride. It doesn't strengthen our ancient faith and fighting spirit.

The one thing lacking in Israel is a goal that systematically invigorates the nation's collective memory and political creativity, that enhances her identity as the world's one and only Jewish commonwealth — the nation that gave mankind the Book of Books, the Torah. Yes, it was the Torah that liberated men and nations from idolatry and paganism. It was the Torah, by its lapidary sentence in Genesis that man is created in the Image of God that elevated humanity and proclaimed the moral unity of the human race denied by Islam. This should be Israel's message, conveyed quietly, as on cat's paws.

While Islam's arrogant leaders trumpet Allah, Israel's leaders should unpretentiously refer to God's sacred Covenant with the Patriarchs and quote the benign teachings of Isaiah and other prophets. They should softly remind Jews and Gentiles of the centrality of Eretz Yisrael, both in God's Covenant with the Patriarchs and in the teachings of the Prophets, and they should project a partnership of Jews and Gentiles in building the Jerusalem Temple. Nor is this all.

Israel's leaders should speak and act in a manner that does justice to what Gentile scholars and statesmen have said about the Jewish People, for example by Harvard graduate John Adams, the second President of the United States and perhaps the most learned of America's Founding Fathers, who fondly declared: "The Jews have done more to civilize men than any other Nation. They are the most glorious Nation that ever inhabited the earth. The Romans and their Empire were but a bauble in comparison to the Jews. They have given religion to three-quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of Mankind more, and more happily than any other Nation, ancient or modern."

Of course this praise should be said to Jews, but it will be heard abroad, and it will inspire Israel's Christian friends and perhaps make Muslims stammer and stutter.

Further, Israel's leaders should sometimes quote the presidents of America's colonial colleges, such as Ezra Stiles of Yale and Samuel Langdon of Harvard, who were learned in Hebrew, conversed with Rabbis, and regarded the Hebraic Republic of antiquity as an excellent model of government. In fact, prominent Catholic and Protestant Hebraists in Europe praised the laws of the Hebraic Republic as the wisest and most just in history. The great English polymath and Hebraist John Sheldon proposed that Britain scrap its parliament and substitute the Sanhedrin!

Surely discreet references to such historical facts would enhance Jewish national pride on the one hand, and disconcert Israel's enemies on the other. And it will also bolster Christians in America harassed by the politically-motivated atheism currently sweeping that country — with the encouragement of a post-American president whose left-wing supporters are undermining the American Constitution and trashing what Lincoln deemed the heart and soul of America — her theologically inspired Declaration of Independence.

I have virtually finished a book on the subject, showing that Christian Hebraism profoundly influenced America's foundational documents, and I believe Israel owes it to America to help her restore her ancient faith. This is a major purpose of the Israel-America Renaissance Institute (I-ARI) mentioned earlier and which I am currently heading.

We shall have more to say about our Institute in future articles. But I want to reiterate one of its goals: to change the subversive language of contemporary public discourse, as we have begun to do in this article. We want to encourage Israel and America to go on the ideological offensive against the enemies of our God-given rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness — immutable rights proclaimed in America's Declaration of Independence whose authors were educated in colleges that emphasized Hebraic studies in order to better understand the Bible of Israel.

PART II

The Israel-America Renaissance Institute (I-ARI) has commenced a series of articles intended to change the feeble and funereal language of contemporary public discourse. Israel's quest for peace, inaugurated in the Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles of September 13, 1993, also known as the "Oslo Agreement," has been called the "greatest diplomatic blunder in history." As a consequence of this "blunder," some 10,000 Jewish men, women, and children were murdered, maimed, and traumatized by Arab terrorists commanded by the PLO-Palestinian Authority.

This "blunder" was sanctified by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on June 14, 2009, the day he officially endorsed the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, the historic and strategic heartland of the Jewish people. This was the culmination of Israel's policy of "territory for peace." This policy, mindlessly pursued by one Israeli prime minister after another during the past two decades, must also be understood as the result of a corruption in the language of public discourse, a corruption so pervasive that it did not matter which Israeli political party, Left or Right, was at the helm. Nor did the mounting number of Jewish victims of Oslo halt this fallacious "peace process" and alter the language of public discourse.

Words have consequences. They are the vehicles of ideas, and ideas shape behavior. That's the difference between human beings and brute animals. This means that the language of public discourse is of fundamental importance in evaluating the "greatest diplomatic blunder in history." That blunder begins and ends in the language of "territory for peace."

This language favors the Arabs and harms the Jews, and for a very simple reason: territory is tangible, peace is intangible. Territory and peace are not equivalent. As Anwar Sadat boasted in a New York Times interview of October 19, 1980: "Poor Menachem [Begin], he has his problems ... After all, I got back ... the Sinai and the Alma oil fields, and what has Menachem got? A piece of paper."

Israel should therefore change the language of public discourse in such a way that it favors the Jews, not the Arabs. Bur this goes against the grain of the most fundamental principle of modernity, EQUALITY. This principle has led to the reign of moral equivalence under which Israel, a democratic and civilized regime, suffers vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority, a despotic and barbaric regime. It is precisely the principle of equality that underlies and drives Prime Minister Netanyahu's policy of "reciprocity."

It should be emphasized that equality, as Alexis de Tocqueville explains

in his classic, Democracy in America, is the paramount principle of democracy, desired more fervently than freedom. Has not America become the land of entitlements? Has it not allowed Muslims to establish mosques that preach hatred of Jews and Christians with impunity — another manifestation of moral equivalence?

So what can the "Chosen People" do in the face of this indiscriminate egalitarianism, the ideology that equates the Holy Land with an unholy peace, that places Jews and Muslims on the same moral level to avoid the canard "racism" even though Muslims call Jews and Christians "dogs" and "pigs" — an ideology that proclaims "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter"?

This corruption of the language of public discourse is a formidable obstacle to the Jewish people, the people that gave mankind the Book of Books that changed the language of public discourse such that evil was no longer called good. Yes, the Torah liberated mankind from the caves of paganism to which many people of the secular democratic state are returning — caves in which university-educated politicians may engage in negotiations with well-attired Arabs on the basis of reciprocity — yes, and where evil is again called good.
 

Professor Paul Eidelberg (Ph.D. University of Chicago), is a professor of political science at Bar Ilan University and the author of many books. He is President of the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy. Contact him at paul@i-ari.org and visit his website at http://www.pauleidelberg.com/.

 

Return_________________________End of Story___________________________Return

HOME May-June 2011 Featured Stories Background Information News On The Web