“In Israel, there was investment and building but no revolution,” I wrote here in 2010 in an essay titled “Israel before the revolution.” “There was no Nelson at Trafalgar to mark a day. No Washington at Yorktown, no Crockett at the Alamo. No David. But I have felt for a long time that it is just ahead for Israel and its definitive moment will come in the next 20 years, and possibly very soon.”
That moment is now. For Israel, this is the moment of awakening.
“This year, with God’s help,” Moshe Feiglin, a native-born Israeli leader, wrote in 2010, “there will be more Jews in Israel than anywhere else in the world. This is a sea change in the state of the Jewish nation and the first time since the First Temple era that the majority of Jews has resided in Israel. This summer we start the countdown to the end of the exile.”
“But I do not believe Netanyahu will ever be anything other than ambivalent,” New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote as recently as April 15, 2014.
Hard to imagine he is talking about the same man.
Feiglin has used the phrase “exile mentality,” which draws a distinction between Jews living in Israel and those living elsewhere. It could very well have been that those of the previous several generations had not made the distinction and perhaps until now there was no distinction. But that is the important distinction today and it advances with the current actions in Gaza. Israel has found its center and it is the Temple Mount. Feiglin has led the way.
“We’re not dealing anymore with your grandfather’s Israel, and they’re not dealing anymore with your grandmother’s America either,” Friedman continued.
It can be observed that the spirit that is Feiglin rises today throughout Israel, but given Friedman’s comment and observation, it is interesting that it appears to rise in Netanyahu as well. The Gaza action is the definitive act in the life of Benjamin Netanyahu. It is his defining moment as he asks himself, is he first an Israeli Jew, or a Jewish American from Philadelphia, and rises to a definitive “yes” to the first. The answer is liberating and for that he is now willing to sacrifice his life.
And here, American Jews, like lifelong friends my own age, will be asking themselves instead “Am I still a Jew?” And for these hyphenated Americans, the answer will be increasingly “no.” They do not support the actions in Gaza, like Friedman; they do not understand the generations rising in Israel; they just don’t get Temple Mount and the orthodoxy spreading even to Tel Aviv. “Who is a Jew?” asks Alana Newhouse, expressing these anxieties in a Times op-ed titled “The Diaspora Need Not Apply.”
Israel today demands dominion and will take it, with existential disregard for Britain, America, nihilist Europe, the antiquated UN or the decadent and anti-Semitic scholasticism of American and world universities. This is the first day in a “rite of entry” to a world awakening; a world begun by Jews and a world awakened by Jews once again.
Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.