Friday, February 10, 2006


Talking to a friend about Amona. The whole thing makes me sick and terrified at heart. Not only that Israeli police would brutalize citizens, which is in itself appalling, but this as the latest blow to religious Zionism as a movement. How long can it go on, when it finds itself so alienated from the government that it pledges itself to support? And even more so, how long can it last as a...(to be biased)- a sane movement? A lot of my fears, I expressed in my post during the heat of the disengagement. Thank G-d, the nathion and the movement managed to survive that, and I had begun to hope that they had recovered, come back. And then Amona.
It scares me, it really does. As E-Kvetcher discusses in his Fox/Hedgehogs posts, raw idealism is one of the most frightening forces in the world. It is also one of the most beautiful. It is at the same time heart-breakingly innocent and entirely merciless. You can't argue with people who think that they know G-d's will, and you can't ask them to be moderate. You can try to show them that they are mistaken, and you can try to convince them that their means aren't the most efficient. But why should they believe you? I don't want to make this analogy- it makes me sick to make this analogy- but they have the same hard, cold-eyed, fiery, irrevocable certainty as the Moslem extremists. Thank G-d, the beliefs that they hold so certainly are not a tenth as despicable, but they are as firmly held. And to make things worse, I hold many of the same ideals, feel much of the same passion, long for much of the same things.
And then-and this is the really sneaky thing- even this terror of certainty hoists us on our own pitard. If we are to be open-minded, must we not ask ourselves, like Chamberlain in Killer Angels (20 points if you get the reference)- it forces you to ask, "What if I am wrong?" What if my own faith in uncertainty is false, and these idealists have caught the truth? What if theirs is G-d's cause, and I, in my stupid open-minded doubtfulness, am missing it? What if I am not wiser, but more cowardly?
I don't believe this. I cannot believe it. But I must entertain the doubt.
I don't have answers for this. I can only hold to what I think is right, and pray, and worry about the future of the idealists.


Irina Tsukerman said...

It's interesting thought, and you know, it makes me wonder, what happens when two types of idealism clash. When neither side wants to compromise its ideals? In the end, the ideals are only as good as far they get those whom they are serving somewhere. What I mean is, look at the French Revolution. They had positive ideals - but they took them to the extreme. Is it possible to be an idealist without becoming an extremist?

Tobie said...

I think that it is possible, but only if one also has ideals that condone levels of moderation. For example, there are many people who are idealistically Zionistic but would still never become extreme or violent because they also value tolerance and moderation as part of their philosophy. It's when there are idealists who believe that their ideal is more important than any other value that things start to get really scary. And if there are two opposing sides of these....