Israel and higher education

The Ramchal exemplifies the ideals of Jewish statesmanship.
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Despite 9/11, world-wide Muslim terrorism, and the serial bungling of the self-professed Muslim President  Barack Obama, it was reported on September 11, 2016 that 60 percent of American people would support the election of a Muslim President  –  and this, despite presidential candidate Dr. Ben  Carson’s correct opinion that Muslims do not share American values – an obvious understatement.

America and Israel have the same problem

The American people have been stultified by the university-bred dogma of moral relativism or equivalence, which is sanctified by the exclusion of religious qualifications for office under the First Amendment of the Constitution. The academic doctrine of moral relativism also permeates higher education in Israel.

For example, as reported in The Jerusalem Post on April 3, 2011, a Dahaf Institute study of the attitudes of Israeli citizens, ages 15 to 24, only 26 percent of the Jewish respondents deemed Jewish nationality most important. Surely this is a reflection on the predominantly secular character of Israeli education, both in the public schools and in most universities. This secularism bodes ill for a country engaged in a protracted conflict with Muslims animated by a “we love death” mantra.

To identify the basic cause of this fatal malady, allow me to recall Caroline Glick’s experience at Israel’s secular universities. In an article posted in The Jerusalem Post on December 26, 2003 entitled “Of Human Bondage,” Ms. Glick referred to a speech she gave to some 150 political science students at Tel Aviv University, where she spoke of her experience as an embedded reporter with the U.S. Army’s Third Infantry Division during the Iraq war.  Any person uncorrupted by moral equivalency or relativism would favor, as she did, the United States over the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Yet the general attitude of her audience was expressed by a student who asked, “Who are you to make moral judgments?”

Now ponder this exchange between. Glick and a student who spoke with a Russian accent:

Student:  “How can you say that democracy is better than dictatorial rule?”

Glick:  “Because it is better to be free than to be a slave.”

Student:  “How can you support America when the U.S. is a totalitarian state?”

Glick:  “Did you learn that in Russia?”

Student: “No, here.”

Glick:  “Here at Tel Aviv University?”

Student:  “Yes, that is what my professors say.”

Ms. Glick spoke at what she described as five “liberal” Israeli universities. She learned that all are dominated by moral relativists who indoctrinate their students and ban “politically incorrect” publications. The deadly consequences are clear. She cites a survey carried out by the leftwing Israel Democracy Institute on Israeli attitudes toward the state: “a mere 58% of Israelis are proud of being Israeli.  Ms. Glick concludes:  “Is it possible that our academic tyrants have something to do with the inability of 42% of Israelis to take pride in who they are?” Obviously not, having been indoctrinated in moral and cultural relativism.

s doctrine has also stultified the mentality of prominent and powerful Israeli leaders, as I have shown in my books and articles. It should be borne in mind, however, that even if an Israeli prime minister is not a moral relativist, he imbibes the polluted atmosphere in which relativism thrives. Thus, Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Michael Oren, a cultural relativist, as Israel’s ambassador to the United States. Both endorse a Palestinian state.

Clearly, multicultural more relativism cannot but erode wholehearted dedication to Israel’s cause. I mean a dedication that would inspire a prime minister, undeterred by the media or by acanemia, to uphold Israel’s cause in Jewish and Biblical terms, and not merely in the trite or politically safe language of “security,” which thus far has proven utterly futile.

Higher education compromises national pride

In view of what I have just said, it should be quite obvious that what is most lacking in Israel is a truly proud as well as learned Jewish prime minister, a person possessing steeled confidence in the justice of Israel’s cause vis-à-vis the pathetic West in general, and the arrogant Muslim world in particular. Required is Jewish national pride and fortitude.

Every general knows that without national pride or morale a well-armed army is worthless.  But I wonder how many generals in Israel take serious steps to bolster the national pride of their soldiers?  General George Washington had the Declaration of Independence, a theologically inspired document, read to his soldiers, and he assigned chaplains to lead them in daily prayers.  History records that his ill-clothed and not very well-armed soldiers crossed the freezing Potomac River and defeated the well-entrenched and heavily armed Hessians. The same Washington presided over the Philadelphia debates on the American Constitution, which William Gladstone (1809-1898), one of Britain’s greatest prime ministers, called “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”

Can we speak of “greatness” in colleges permeated by moral relativism?  Alas, I can cite statements of general Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon indicating that Israel’s Command and Staff College was tainted by moral relativism suggesting that this acanemic doctrine influenced their defeatist policy toward Israel’s enemies.

Do not wonder that Israel continues to limp from crisis to crisis with apologetic prime ministers compulsively engaged in public relations battles with murderous, Janus-faced Arab leaders – successors of the Nazis. Has it ever occurred to Israel’s ruling elites – politicians, academics, and journalists – that despite all their boasting about Israeli democracy, worldwide anti-Semitism is thriving, and that their secular democracy, despite its principle of one adult/one vote, and despite its treacherous Arab Knesset Members, is called an “apartheid state”?

A noble cause for Israel: independence

Israel needs to take pride in this document and all it stands for.

Open Torah scroll. Photo: Lawrie Cate on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic License

What is lacking in Israel, besides a Washington? Lacking is a noble cause, one that transcends peace, which today means nothing more than comfortable self-preservation.  Washington and his soldiers fought for self-government. Washington envisioned the creation of a Republican Empire. The first step was independence from Great Britain. The Americans severed the umbilical cord that tied them to their mother country.

Israel is still tied by an umbilical cord to America, and it must sever this cord if it is ever to achieve real independence. But severing that cord requires Jewish national pride, the kind of pride that animated the fifty-six Christian statesmen who signed America’s Declaration of Independence.

In the Peroration of that revolutionary document, those statesmen appealed to “the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of [their] intentions.” They expressed their “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.” And they concluded that spirited Declaration saying, “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred honor.”

They signed the Declaration knowing death would be the cost if captured. Five were indeed captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships in the American War of Independence. Israel has such courageous men. Lacking only is a leader worthy of their devotion, a leader inspired by a noble goal, the establishment of a genuine Hebraic Republic.

Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, Protestant and Catholic scholars referred to the Hebraic Republic of antiquity as the wisest and most just in history. In May 1775, with the battles of Lexington and Concord still smoldering and British rule over Massachusetts-Bay abandoned, Harvard president Samuel Langdon called the civil “polity of Israel … an excellent model of government.” The same opinion was held by Yale president Reverend Ezra Stiles, a man learned in the Mishnah and the Talmud.

Let me also mention the Reverend John Witherspoon, signer of the Declaration of Independence and president of Princeton­. When he died it was said that a “great man had fallen in Israel;” – in Israel, mind you. I’ve examined Princeton’s eighteenth-century classical education; nothing now equal to it. American higher education once produced great statesmen. James Madison graduated Princeton; Alexander Hamilton and John Jay graduated Columbia; John Adams graduated Harvard.

But what is most remarkable is that Hebraic study of the Bible was a pre-eminent part of higher education during America’s colonial and constitution-forming period. I show in one of my books that the ideas and institutions of the American Republic resemble, in significant ways, those of the Hebrew Republic of antiquity. The ideas and institutions of that ancient Republic can teach us much of what is now called American Exceptionalism.

I am suggesting that American Exceptionalism is rooted in Hebraic Exceptionalism!  Israel needs a prime minister with enough courage and learning to make this a cardinal message of his government. But this message must also be emphasized in Israeli education: in the public schools, in the yeshivas, and in the universities. I dare say that at stake is Israel’s survival. Her future depends not on nano-technology so much as on spiritual greatness, and if this is not cultivated in academies of learning, Israel will remain nothing more than an apologetic client of the United States.


*Updated transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, April 5, 2011.

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