Organized Orthodox religion has made immense inroads. The official Israeli definition of a Jew is exclusively religious. All matters of personal status, like marriage and divorce, are ruled by the Rabbinate. So is the menu of most restaurants. Public transport, on land and in the air, is halted on the Shabbat. Non-Orthodox Jewish religious denominations, like the "Reformists" and the "Conservatives," are practically banned.
In a scandal that is rocking Israel at the moment, revolving around a Qabalistic rabbi, it appears that this miraculous person has amassed a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars by selling blessings and amulets. He is but one of many such rabbis who are surrounded by tycoons, cabinet ministers, senior gangsters and senior police officers.
Herzl, who promised to "keep the rabbis in their synagogues and the professional army in their barracks" is surely turning in his grave on Jerusalem's Mount Herzl.
BUT THESE are still relatively superficial symptoms. I am thinking of much more profound matters.
One of the basic convictions of Diaspora Jewry was that "the whole world is against us." Jews have been persecuted throughout the ages in many countries, up to the Holocaust. In the Seder ceremony on Passover eve, which unites all the Jews around the world, the holy text says that "in every generation they arise to annihilate us."
The official aim of Zionism was to turn us into "a people like all peoples." Does a normal people believe that everybody is out to annihilate it at all times?
It is a basic conviction of almost every Jewish Israeli that "the whole world is against us" -- which is also a jolly popular song. The US is concluding an agreement with Iran? Europe turns against the settlements? Russia helps Bashar al-Assad? Anti-Semites all.
International protests against our occupation of the Palestinian territories are, of course, just another form of anti-Semitism. (The Prime Minister of Canada, who visited Israel this week and made a ridiculous speech in the Knesset, also proclaimed that any criticism of Israeli policy is a form of anti-Semitism.)
Does this mean that in Israel, the self-proclaimed Jewish State, all the old Jewish attitudes, suspicions, fears and myths are coming to the fore again? That the revolutionary Zionist concepts are disappearing? That nothing much has changed in the Jewish outlook?
As the French say: "The more things change, the more they stay the same."
Or, as Ecclesiastes puts it in the Bible (1:9): "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be, and that which is done is that which shall be done, and there is no new thing under the sun."
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