March 21, 2006

Final Frontier

Academia strikes again! Two Harvard professors have published a scathing attack on the power of the American Jewish lobby, AIPAC, which they accuse of subverting US foreign policy to ends that are contrary to US interests. (An abridged version of the report can be read here).

The anti-war credentials of these two professors are well known. Whether their motives are also anti-Semitic is an open question. Let’s assume they are not. Let’s assume they are entitled to their point of view that Israel’s struggle should not necessarily be America’s too.

These professors would probably subscribe to the widely held view of common naïveté that without Israel the world would be a better and safer place.

Judging by the pique of their attack on Jewish influence in America, I strongly suspect that at least one of these profs has a Jewish grandmother somewhere in his lineage. (It’s the sort of stuff you would expect to come out of an Israeli newspaper.) If so they might do well to visit Jerusalem and stand where I stood this morning. The Western Wall of the Temple Mount, known to the faithful as The Kotel.

For all of its different names and all the history and mysticism that it stirs up, there is one stark staring fact about that wall that really impacted on me today. It is without doubt the front line in the current war on terror and the clash of civilisations. On our side are the Judeo-Christian values of freedom, equality and the sanctity of life. On the other side lie the fundamentalist forces of oppression, the enslavement of women and the glorification of death in the name of religion.

These professors must be smart enough to realise that throwing Israel to the wolves will only mean the front line moving closer to Europe and the US. Not for nothing do the Jihadists refer to America and Israel as siblings in the family of Satan.

Most striking about the Kotel are the hundreds of notes stuffed between its cracks, each bearing its own special plea for divine help. Sometimes just a simple prayer. Thinking about them this morning, I was curiously reminded of an old Star Trek episode in which the ship encounters a fiery ribbon stretched across the blackness of space. All the instruments go off-scale and, in a flash, the captain and senior officers are ‘beamed-up’ and immediately replaced by doubles. But these doubles are brutal psychopaths; just the opposite of the decent men they had replaced. Meanwhile, the ‘good’ captain and officers found themselves on an identical ship, but one that was filled with consummately evil passengers and crew.

They had interchanged with a parallel universe through a rip in the cosmos. A world where everything was the exact opposite. Love supplanted by hate and compassion replaced by brutality. Bodies filled the decks as the degenerate crewmembers used murder to advance their rank.

Today I felt very strongly that the Kotel represents the dividing line between such parallel universes in our time. It happens that Israel stands at that frontier and that the free world remains safe for as long as that line is held. The Harvard professors are fortunate that they are on the right side of that divide. That is why they enjoy the freedom to write articles, however misguided they may be. That is why their wives are free to work, study and to dress and live life as they please.

And then I think about those notes. All those hundreds of pieces of paper pressed hard into the cracks of the wall. Almost as if to seal gaps through which something evil might escape into our world.

What better way to seal those cracks and insulate us from a parallel universe of hate than with the prayers and pleas of all people who share our simple values.

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