Voting in Israel, Part 3: Candidates, Stand Up!

To the candidates on all sides - tell us what you stand for, defend and posit meaningful positions, the kind Jews have always been able to represent.

Prof. Paul Eidelberg

OpEds Paul Eidelberg
Paul Eidelberg

Why have eminent Gentiles, down through the ages, admired the Jewish people even when Jews were stateless, dispersed, and persecuted?

What did these pathetic Jews have that inspired the high regard of Gentile philosophers, statesmen, and poets?

Was it their freedom, their wealth, their military power?

It has been said that one of the basic goals of Zionism was to restore Jewish national honor. Has Zionism achieved this goal?

What is Israel today most proud of? Is it the country’s freedom, its wealth, its power?

What did King Solomon ask most of God? Was it freedom, wealth, or power?

Moses said of the Torah: “She is your wisdom in the eyes of the nations.

Alas, many Jews have ignored these words. So let us hear from Gentiles.

Numenius, a Syrian philosopher, regarded Moses as the first and greatest of the philosophers

Aristotle's successor at the Lyceum, Theophrastus, called the Jews "a nation of philosophers."

Christian historian Eusebius (circa 300 CE) said of the Jews: "For of all mankind these were the first and sole people who from the very first foundation of social life devoted their thought to rational speculation."

Turning to modern times, Harvard graduate John Adams, the second president of the United States, expressed the conviction of many18th century American educators: "The Jews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. They are the most glorious Nation that ever inhabited the earth. The Romans and their Empire were a but a bauble in comparison to the Jews. They have given religion to three-quarters of the Globe and have influenced the affairs of Mankind more, and more happily than any other Nation, ancient or modern."

British historian and statesman Thomas B. Macaulay also admired the Jews. He told his colleagues in the House of Commons: "In the infancy of civilization, when our island was as savage as New Guinea, when letters and arts were still unknown in Athens, when scarcely a thatched hut stood on what was afterwards the site of Rome, this condemned people had their fenced cities and cedar palaces, their splendid temple, their schools of sacred learning, their great statesmen and soldiers, their natural philosophers, their historians and poets."

Poet Matthew Arnold said: "As long as the world lasts, all who want to make progress in righteousness will come to Israel for inspiration …"

Leo Tolstoy has written: "The Jew is that sacred being who has brought down from heaven the everlasting fire, and has illumined with it the entire world. He is the religious source, spring, and fountain out of which all the rest of the peoples have drawn their beliefs and their religions."

Friedrich Nietzsche (a paradoxical anti-Semite) writes in "The Joyful Wisdom": “Wherever the Jews have attained to influence, they have taught to analyze more subtly, to argue more acutely, to write more clearly and purely: it has always been their problem to bring people ‘raison.’”

In "Beyond Good and Evil", Nietzsche writes: “In the Jewish ‘Old Testament,’ the book of divine justice, there are human beings, things, and speeches in so grand a style that Greek and Indian literature have nothing to compare with it.”

Now I put it to the Zionist parties competing in the forthcoming January elections, please stand up and tell us about your vision of Israel. Tell us that Israel will have something more than a “place among the nations.” Tell us you envision an Israel worthy of praise comparable to that showered upon the Israel of old by such Gentiles as Theophrastus or Numenius or perhaps Eusebius or John Adams or Thomas B. Macaulay—or by that notoriously incorrect German, Friedrich Nietzsche.

Stand up; stand up; for heaven’s sake stand up for something more than the absence of conflict which you call “peace and security.”

(For part i click here; for part 2, click here.)