When discussing the breakdown processes of different societies and cultures, typically, two theories serve as examples. These are the "70-Year Syndrome" of the Israeli people or the "Five Stages" by the 14th-century Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun. What parallels exist between these theories, and how does Hamas fit into this equation?
Twice in history, Israel existed as a sovereign state. The first was during the days of the First Temple, where King David reigned in Jerusalem for 33 years and his son Solomon for 40 years. Subsequently, Rehoboam, in his folly, paved the way for the kingdom's division into two separate entities, which were later exiled from the land.
A similar phenomenon occurred during the Hasmonean kingdom. Simon was crowned high priest in 140 BCE, followed by John Hyrcanus, Alexander Jannaeus, and Salome Alexandra until 67 BCE. Their descendants struggled among themselves and against each other for control of the land until they lost to the Romans.
Ibn Khaldun was not an ordinary historian but more of a "historiographer." He aimed not only to document historical events but to understand the processes leading to their occurrence. Khaldun identified a recurring pattern in the rise and fall of different powers, composed of five stages: conquest, social cohesion, expansion, consolidation, and decline.
He explained this as follows: Farmers developed irrigation systems, enriched the land, and were conquered by nomadic tribes arriving from the desert, who coveted the newfound property. The success of these conquering tribes, resilient in seizing and managing the new property, relied on their surrounding themselves with factions. As the descendants of these tribes, born mostly on fertile and rich land, began to assume leadership positions, they were less rigid than their fathers, less connected to the consolidating ethos, and less aware of the possibility of losing the entire property to another tribe that could come from the desert. A gradual decline ensued, leading eventually to downfall, as per Ibn Khaldun, witnessed by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and so forth.
Examining the decline of faith in the dominant elites in modern Israel and their descendants' recent conduct, solely due to disagreeing with the elected government's direction, reveals defiance within top military ranks, widespread among officers, physicians, and combat pilots. They demanded fund cuts and aimed to harm the local currency. They blocked major roads, discredited Israel's government worldwide, and further exacerbated an already tense situation. It is easy to apply theories of disintegration to modern Israel, the '70-Year Syndrome,' starting the countdown backward.
However, Hamas suddenly emerged, filling a void in a generation unfamiliar with scarcity, certainly not an existential threat. They struck at the heart of reality, carving into the nation's soul and inflicting a terrible national trauma. Constantly, social networks echo the word "Holocaust." The Holocaust is a story we, as third-generation descendants, grew up hearing. Some of us heard the stories firsthand from our grandparents.
The Holocaust era instilled not only a sense of horror in direct survivors but also in Jews who lived at the time and were not in danger. They understood that true horror can indeed occur. That a merciless and sadistic destruction machine, beyond Jewish imagination, could act with full force. A machine of mass and sadistic murder that Jewish consciousness cannot fathom.
On Shemini Atzeret, we experienced the most terrible of all, and we still suffer from it. 155 kidnapped are still in the hands of the barbaric murderers.
There is nothing more terrible. But if one tries to find a glimmer of hope in all this darkness, it is a fact that the hourglass has flipped again. Because a generation experiencing a situation where everything could collapse for them will take things less for granted. They will connect much more to the unifying ethos and, most importantly, understand its practical significance.
It will not happen overnight because it takes time for things to shake and bring change. But the overall direction is set, even if in a negative direction.
Suddenly, the third generation carries a burden similar to that of the first generation. Suddenly, it understands that the fortress's role is not only to protect the person, but the person's role is to protect the fortress.
Matan Peleg is the Chairman of the Im Tirtzu movement and the author of the book 'A State for Sale.'