Obama, Israel and a higher power

In mid-April, a piece by longtime New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman appeared which suggested a major turning in the history of Israel, the United States and probably most important, the history of American dominance of whom it considers to be friends abroad in the post-World War II era.

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"We're not dealing anymore with your grandfather's Israel, and they're not dealing anymore with your grandmother's America either," he wrote. "Time matters, and the near half-century since the 1967 war has changed both of us in ways neither wants to acknowledge."

Time matters, and generations come and go, even to The New York Times as we are seeing this week. But it is not true that Israel does not want to acknowledge this change. The popular Israeli columnist Caroline Glick writes openly about it. Everyone in Israel is aware of it.

What is happening is that a new political generation is arising in Israel which is taking Israel, in the most important sense, to psychological independence.

"Israel, from its side, has become a more religious society — on Friday nights in Jerusalem now you barely see a car moving on the streets in Jewish neighborhoods, which only used to be the case on Yom Kippur — and the settlers are clearly more brazen," Friedman writes.

It is President Obama's worst nightmare. Israel is turning to the "higher power," as they call it in Alcoholics Anonymous. They are putting their faith in "faith" instead of America. The demands we make of our satellites worldwide are legal and democratic. Faith brings an existential challenge to America's global vision. Israel heads now perhaps in the direction of a Torah-oriented society, a society which finds deeper meaning to its existence.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), take note. What occurs today in Israel suggests the early libertarian days of Rand Paul and Rep. Ron Paul's (R-Texas) rise. Possibly America is too big for President Thomas Jefferson's notion of a holistic cultural state advancing upward from a constitutional matrix. Possibly Israel is just the right size for freedom.

Moshe Feiglin, a new Knesset member who has long called for Israel to be "a Jewish state" instead of a "state for Jews," is one of the leaders in Israel rising.

"I don't compare myself to the right or left of others," Feiglin said in a recent interview. "I bring to the picture a combination of identity, freedom and meaning, which is not a question of just left or right; it's much deeper than that."

Recently, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) spoke at a dinner in support of Israel which echoed some of Feiglin's positions.

"I don't believe Israel even needs the United States of America," she told the roaring crowd. "Israel can be strong on her own."

This is the key to awakening in Israel and must come to pass as Israel comes into its own. But something else she said is of great existential importance to Americans. Today she would "stand even against my own president if my president is standing against the Jewish state of Israel."

Because today, Americans are asking questions about their own places: California, Wisconsin, Texas, Vermont. Does a centralized, globalized American vision today stunt our own awakening? Does it inhibit and deny higher power which could bring us greater fulfillment as individuals and groups?

It is the most important question each individual will have asked since 1776: Do we "stand even against [our] own president" if that president and her policies thwart the richer, fuller life; the fullest and richest life intended for all peoples?

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at quigley1985@gmail.com.