A Zealot is a Zealot

Jim ShipleyBy Jim Shipley

In 1951, the Longshoreman / philosopher Eric Hoffer published The True Believer where he postulated that all extreme philosophies and movements were pretty much the same. Whether called Communism, Fascism, militant Islam or the Settler Movement, their tactics, extremism and lack of common sense are pretty much the same.

Hoffer said “a dissenting minority feels free only when it can impose its will on the majority. What it abominates most is the dissent of the majority.” So, we see militant Islam killing many, many more Muslims than Christians, Jews and agnostics together. We see the same tactics in Stalin’s Soviet Union as in Hitler’s Germany. Stalin, by actual count killed more Jews than Hitler and was accepted as our ally in the war.

You cannot shake the true believer. He is dedicated to a non-existent past or a long gone concept or something that never existed in which to become involved so that he is not alone. He does not listen to reason. He is not interested in reason. There is no shaking him. He can quote chapter and verse to prove his thesis. He is stalwart. Much like the true non-believer that felt if God wanted man to fly he would have grown wings on him.

The True Believer can always quote some scripture that proves his point. Never mind the accuracy of the quote or the bona fides of the person they are quoting. The guy on the corner of the intersection with the sign proclaiming “The End is Near” is pretty well harmless. As the traffic thins and the lights go out, he will retreat to his hovel and be back the next day. But, he does not disrupt traffic; he does not toss a bomb into the crowd to get their attention. The True Believer on the other hand, must convert the rest of us. Because, we are obviously missing the point. The Settler Movement draws most of its financial support from those thousands of miles away who have no skin in the game. They send checks as their participation in this particular True Believer Movement. Interesting. Hoffer said if you start in the center and bend equally the far left and the far right, the two philosophies will meet at the bottom of the circle where they may interchange place cards.

Was there a time when Israel controlled from the Litani to the Euphrates? Perhaps. There was also a time when there was no sacred and holy Land of Israel, before our forefathers followed God’s dictum and “came into the land to possess it”. And while it is true that The People of the Book are back in the land of the Book never to leave, ever again, we live in the real world. We have to make accommodations. Be cool if we did not have to, but reality is reality.

Therefore, there is little to be gained and a ton to be lost by ripping up olive trees and defacing mosques. And it is an act of treason to attack an army base of your own country. Yes, these are a few zealots and do not reflect in any way the majority of Israelis, left center or right, and that is just the point.

They are the True Believers, nothing you can do or say will sway that belief. Any more than you can talk reason to the 18-year-old Arab strapping the suicide belt on his chest as he prepares for his 72 virgins on the other side. No, we do not in our heritage qualify killers as “martyrs”.

The Ultra-Orthodox classify as True Believers. But, like the guy on the corner with the sign, they too are pretty much harmless. Yes, they tend to throw stones at cars driving on Shabbat, they dress like they are at a never ending costume party, but they do not create mayhem.

More wars are fought, more people die because of religion than any other reason. To burn Jews at stakes, to create a Holocaust; the perpetrators, be they priests, kings or mad dictators must be true believers.

To throw away the generations of work spent in re-inserting our people into the Middle East you have no regard for history, the future or the consequences of your actions.

The Israelis are divisive, passionate and dedicated to the survival and flourishing of the State. They will not tolerate missiles from Gaza, suicide bombers on their busses or random stabbings in the Old City. And, they cannot tolerate a militant minority bent on recreating a time before the world was as it is today.

Unfortunately, the Israeli political system is designed to give too much power to tiny minority parties, who can in fact, bring down a government. Religious groups like Shas can be bought off by using government funding to allow their adherents to spend a life studying at the expense of the State. No such tactic will win over militant Settlers. They know that God is on their side. So do the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

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