Monday, February 15, 2010

Israel, Moshe Feiglin and the two American mainstreams

By Bernie Quigley

- For The Hill on 2/15/09

As it is with Sarah Palin and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, writing about Israel always brings strong responses. Possibly each brings something direct from the “collective unconscious” – a term Jung and Toynbee used – creating a “disturbance in the Force” – Obi-Wan’s term - which changes the way we see things and practice our lives. They portend real and fundamental change, not novelty or distraction. And in real life change is always unwanted as it renders our life-long experience and conditioned reflexes in love and work to be suddenly irrelevant.

One writer expressed the point that Israel is about to undergo fundamental change with the election of Moshe Feiglin and his Jewish Leadership faction within Likud which he says are on the verge of taking control of Likud at the upcoming Central Committee election. This will be the next to last step in moving Israel toward a Jewish State and independence from America. Feiglin would become the first religious/Zionist Prime Minister of Israel.

But what I want to know is about the “independence from America” part. Whose America? The current, transient New York City zeitgeist of dark wing late-night comics like David Letterman and Tina Fey, NYT’s lifestyle columnists such as Frank Rich and Manhattan’s reining avatar, that great, aging emperor penguin Bill Clinton? Or the America of Nobel laureate and survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, Elie Wiesel, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Pastor John Hagee of the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas? Because of attitudes in America today toward Israel these are the two mainstreams.

Attitudes of support for Israel vary on a spectrum from planting trees on a kibbutz to make mother happy to invasion, so as to aid and abet the coming Armageddon. Probably most are in between, like Thomas Friedman’s, the New York Times columnist, who supported the invasion of Iraq to the point where he suggested American boots on the ground in Israel and throwing France off the UN Security Council to amend the invasion. Then he changed his mind not long after and started talking about India.

Pastor Hagee’s America is a different place and it is an alienating and unacknowledged place for the Letterman/Fey/Rich/Clinton (plus the missus) spectrum. Hagee sees war to Armageddon. Passing through the cable TV channels recently I saw both Elie Wiesel and Rick Perry sitting on his couch at different times.

As journalist Max Blumenthal writes (on 10/29/09): “On October 25, while an overflow crowd of 1,500 poured into the first convention of the progressive-leaning Israel-oriented lobbying organization J Street, Elie Wiesel, addressed a crowd of 6,000 Christian Zionists at Pastor John Hagee’s ‘Night To Honor Israel.’ According to the San Antonio Express News, while Wiesel sat by his side, Hagee trashed President Barack Obama, baselessly accusing him of ‘being tougher on Israel than on Russia, Iran, China and North Korea.’”

Classic regional antipathy here. Hagee believes non-Christians go to hell. Not unlike the Slayer, of Los Angeles’ Hellmouth neighborhood, who saw an archetypal Southern preacher as an agency of The First, the primal source of all evil. Tit for tat.

Change coming to Israel parallels new political changes coming to America. Possibly relating to the rise of the new initiatives and attitudes developing in the Tea Party Movement and to Scott Brown and Sarah Palin. I see Perry as a figure of rising importance here as he openly supports Hagee. A new Israel could find a new America by 2012.