It is not inconceivable that any form and vision of globalization — Marx’s, Hamilton’s,
the Democrats’, the Republicans’, Obama’s, Clinton’s, Bono’s, Lady Gaga’s, Osama
Bin Laden’s and the churches of Paul, John Paul and John, Paul, George and Ringo
— will be considered totalitarian in the millennium ahead. It has been my creeping
awareness in almost seven decades’ application to life as soldier, writer, farmer,
stone-wall builder, husband to one and father to four. Sometimes the priest, like
Bono, accompanies the conquistadors. Sometimes the conquistadors follow the priests.
The mad obsessions to conquer the world this time around only started some 500 years
ago when they discovered the big gaping, empty space between Europe and China. But
we could well be at a turning. We had seen at my birth the death of the world. But
this year I am seeing the world begin again in Israel. And Israel asks only for
a small place, not everyplace.
Change that: She will no longer ask. There is no one left to ask. She will demand it. She will take it.
These past weeks the veil has lifted. It came as no surprise to anyone that the phony peace talks failed. Success was never an option. ’Twas all a drama. A single line on the three-by-five cards they gave to Hillary and Obama when they dressed them up and pushed them onto the stage. You will need to get the Middle East Peace Talks merit badge if you want to go on to be president or president of Harvard. It makes no difference if you fail or succeed. We’re not judgmental like that.
But it matters this time in Israel, especially to the dynamic youth movement known as Kumah and the aliyah revolution. It matters this time because the old generation is finally finished with its failed and faithless drama. The new generation can finally rise to the world.
As one writes on Kumah’s website on Sept. 26, 2010, at the end of “the Prime Minister’s appeasement campaign”: “Tonight is the end of the Judea and Samaria building freeze . . . For 10 months, the Prime Minister of Israel subjected the 250,000 tax-paying professionals and residents of Judea and Samaria to an unconscionable and humiliating freeze of their rights. . . And tonight, we celebrate the un-freeze of building as a sort of achievement. As if we were entitled to anything less. . . . As I was driving home from a wonderful Shabbat in a Judean town, it occurred to me that tonight’s building (yes, people are getting started the minute the building prohibition goes out of effect) is properly juxtaposed to a night of destruction which took place so many years ago. In memory of the destruction of Jewish life and surge of fear which was indelibly etched in our minds as Krystallnacht (lehavdil), I dub this night Bauennacht — Building Night. May we never know shame or fear again. And may we all grow accustomed to the good life, in the good land.”
I am not a Jew and do not belong to any religion. In my life the most significant observation arrived from the singular British bard who imagined there to be no heaven, no country and no religion too. It has usually been interpreted as anarchistic or nihilistic by the poisonous bitch culture of the kind which trails poets. I’d say it speaks to what Taoists call the “wu chi” — the undifferentiated state which comes at the end of the world and the beginning, the gap between worlds we have traversed since the 1930s. From the wu chi comes the tai chi, the yin and the yang, and from the tai chi come the 10,000 things which make the world again.
People my age were born at the end of the world. It is possible now to sense the beginning. And not for the first time, the world begins again in Israel.