Messy Messianism

Israel, to a greater degree than most democracies, is a cauldron of animosities and a clash of civilizations. This is because of the devoutness and passion with which the opposing groups cling to their beliefs. It is often said that politics is the art of compromise. When political factions display diametrical intransigence, violence breaks out. In Israel the uncompromising followers of certain interpretations of the Torah and the Koran do not treat government with the premier respect that most people do. Instead, they treat it as a potential aid to the implementation of their biblical beliefs.

Although the Jewish and Muslim religions are incompatible, they can still peacefully coexist, just like they have done in many eras throughout history. I contend that it is both sides’ position on government that is the cause of much of the conflict in Israel. Not, as commonly thought, their differing biblical inclinations. I submit that there is a third religion that most people fail to take into account in their analyses of Israel: Statolatry, or the worship of the State.

As I have said elsewhere, those who support the State – any State – are religious rather than rational in their attitude towards it. The Muslim and Jewish religions can only peacefully coexist if neither has the ability to impose their ideology on the other – as the all-encompassing coercive proselytizer of the State allows. It is considered the mighty Savior, from whom everyone expects deliverance. As Frederic Bastiat observed, "The State is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else."

The prayer of statists is lobbying, and as Ralph Waldo Emerson noted, "prayer as a means to effect a private end is meanness and theft." It is not only criminal, but as Ludwig von Mises has delineated, it distorts the natural order in such a way that the general population loses out, and the many unforeseen consequences of the intervention will tend to lead to even more intervention later – a vicious cycle that spirals exponentially.

An example of prolonged conflict caused by lobbying government is the subsidizing of Israeli settlements on hotly disputed territory. Without government subsidizing many aspects of it, including defense services, living in such hazardous locations would be much less enticing. Not many people can afford the security presence that these occupiers require. It is only due to the taxation and intervention by government that such market distortions can occur. (It is true that a large proportion of Israeli government funds come from private donations, but once used by government they are no longer serving a legitimate private function. If they were, then it would not be considered a governmental activity). Adam Smith correctly called subsidies the equivalent of bounties; this is enlightening when you consider whom it is that offers them.

A Jewish homeland is an excellent idea, but why a Jewish State? The excuse that Jews have been persecuted so they need a government to ensure their safety is incorrect. It is absurd to say that a demagogic protection racket and monopolist of defense can do a better job than freely competing defense agencies. Zionism was not always a movement for a Jewish State.

It was not until Israel’s "miraculous" victories that many of the non-Zionist Jews came round to the Zionist position. They could not comprehend that their victory may be due to military prowess, rather than heavenly guidance. In biblical times when the Jews appointed a king so that they could say, "We got a king like everyone else," they were not trying to be Jewish. Their aim was assimilation. When the Jews violated God’s commandment, "There shall be no other Gods before me"; they were punished, but not when they practiced Statolatry. In 1 Samuel 8:11-20 there is a warning of the consequences of Statehood. The situation now is much worse. Since there are so many people with a fetish for democracy and constant military action, the State of Israel is safer and healthier than ever. As a result, its people will continue being crippled, and there will be no end to the conflict.

The popular call for a two-State solution is outrageous. For starters, it is only a compromise, not a solution. Furthermore, as Randolph Bourne trenchantly points out, "The State is the organization of the herd to act offensively or defensively against another herd similarly organized." Therefore, "We cannot crusade against war without crusading implicitly against the State." If the Palestinians do not have a clear and visible leader to victimize – rightly or wrongly – then the State of Israel will have trouble waging a popular war against it (the legitimacy of which is another issue). This would be the best strategy for the people of Palestine. After Arafat died it would have been best if no replacement had been chosen at all.

Instead of Palestinian activists embarking on suicide bombing missions or lobbying and negotiating with the Israeli government, they should ignore it as much as possible and commit themselves to peaceful relations like commerce. To trade, as Mises has shown, is to destroy the ideology that generates conflict. And it is the only way.