The country’s frequent election rounds have resulted in a myriad of new political parties blanketing Israel’s political landscape. While some of these parties are no more than a mild curiosity, others are undoubtedly dangerous.
One such party is Noam, a new nationalist ultra-Orthodox party which, at first glance, may look like your-run-of-the-mill racist, theocratic and homophobic ultra-Orthodox faction.
Upon further inspection, however, it turns out Noam is actually a party that opposes post-modernism, or views that criticize the perceptions of the modern Western world.
The party's leader and number 6 on Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionist party alliance, Avi Maoz, bashed the movement in an interview last week.
“Post-modernism says that what was true until a few years ago, including truth and falsehood, good and evil, family and no family, man and woman — does not exist today," he said. "There is an attempt to engineer our perception. Change our values. Until a decade ago, when you'd ask a child — what is a family? He would tell you it is a father, a mother and children."
Maoz's statement can be refuted by saying that two centuries ago, children would have told you the earth was flat, that the white man is superior to the black man, and that the Jews are responsible for the death of God's only son and are, therefore, cursed.
Meanwhile, the party’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Zvi Thau, described post-modernism in a similar, antagonistic manner, likening it to an enemy that the party must stand up to. "We have formed Noam to act as a bulwark against our most dire enemy, post-modernism," said Thau.
And while some may argue that the party’s philosophical-spiritual attitude is a breath of fresh air, I believe it is nothing more than an illusion.
Naom and its ilk do not oppose post-modernism, but simply oppose modernity and its values. The values of modern thinking, chief among them humanism, rights and liberty. The notion that man's mind is the source of his value and not God, in his primordial incarnation, is the crux of their struggle.
They oppose giving people the freedom to shape their lives according to their own individual values, and instead seek to impose on all of us an ancient codex of which they are the sole inheritors and interpreters.
“We will work against those who want to destroy [Israel] with post-modernist culture, destroy the Chief Rabbinate, desecrate the Sabbath in public and despoil the sanctity of Israel,” wrote Thau in a statement that is so blatantly anti-modernist.
One’s right to question rabbinical institutions, drive around during the Sabbath and practice whichever religion they see fit, are all values, concepts and rights that have existed centuries before post-modernism.
In Israel, the use of the word “post” raises trepidations due to the concept of “post-Zionism”. This is used by groups such as Noam to justify their use of the term post-modernism, even though they truly object to the idea of plain modernism.
Ironically, those who most staunchly support the right of traditional groups such as Noam to preserve their anti-modern way of life, even at the cost of oppressing the rights of other sectors, are some of the country’s post-modernist movements.
We are a democratic country, one can be anti-modernist and preach for the adoption of the Jewish law or Sharia as state law. But the issue is those who do so under the guise of fighting post-modernism, all while fighting to abolish secular rights, freedoms and intellectual independence.