Rabin - The proverbial messenger?
Photo: Meir Fartush

New religion is born

Socialism’s disappearance, Zionism’s untimely demise give rise to ‘peace religion’

For several weeks now, the Israeli public has been taken aback by the memorial ceremonies for assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Not only do these ceremonies refuse to die down, every year we see this phenomenon growing, thus creating great puzzlement among the public, which finds this difficult to digest.


Therefore, perhaps we need to view these events from a different perspective. The approach I’m suggesting argues that we are in the midst of the creation of a new religious sect within the Jewish people.


How are religions born? Well, people’s need for a spiritual dimension is a basic psychological need. In this context, it appears that socialism’s disappearance and Zionism’s unfortunate and untimely demise created a huge ideological-spiritual vacuum. Against this backdrop, we have seen a new god, referred to by its believers as “peace”, starting to establish itself in the Israeli pantheon.


Similarly to the God of the three great religions, this too is an abstract god that has no body. This too is an impassioned god that requires its believers to make sacrifices. And still, despite its strength, this new god was unable to establish itself among its congregation without the most important component in Western religions – a messenger.


As we know, due to technical problems, God does not reveal Himself to believers at once. In order to do that, he requires a messenger who is flesh and blood. Therefore, in most religions the messenger role is played by a regular guy: Modest, shy, stuttering at times, but still authoritative and charismatic. Here too it is hard to ignore the similarity to other religions.


More accurately, followers of the “peace religion” chose to adopt the Christian doctrine here. In both cases, the messenger and his tragic death are a constitutive event which the new religion is premised on in the future.


Yet this is not the only resemblance to Christianity, which similarly to the “peace religion” is not a religion of laws as much as it is premised on ceremonies and symbols. In addition, similarly to the “peace religion”, Christianity sanctifies forgiveness and reconciliation. This can be seen in the following passage: “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39).


Yet as it turns out, reality is quite different. In practice it appears that both religions emphasize their hostility to the others, which they perceive as competitors.


Rabin’s killer viewed as Satan

The “peace religion” also shares the idea of Satan with Christianity. The attitude to Rabin’s killer and his family is characterized by a mystical approach that combines primeval fear and deep hatred to the person perceived by the believers as the ultimate evil. The murderer, his family, and most of all, his son, are perceived by followers of the “peace religion” as a demonic character responsible for all evil in our world.


Yet Christianity is not the only one influencing the peace religion. Another common attribute to all religions is the effort to erase characteristics that another religion finds holy and convert them in favor of the new religion, in order to mark its supremacy over the previous ones. The Christians acted this way when they turned Jerusalem’s mosques into churches in the wake of the first Crusade, and this is what the Muslims are doing on Temple Mount these days.


This is precisely what the “peace religion” did when it erased the memory of Saul, David and Solomon, the kings of the old religion, when it renamed Tel Aviv’s “Kings of Israel Square” as “Rabin Square.” And as is the case in the creation process of a new religion, we are seeing the emergence of a literary epos around the messenger, Rabin; a mythology whose formulation will probably only end in a few years.


Paradoxically, the negative trends in the process may ultimately serve to balance Israeli society. Acts that today arouse the fury of the new religion’s followers in face of what they perceive as desecration of their religion may serve to achieve social balance in the future.


Up until now, the equation was unbalanced. One side, which was devoid of religion, did not show any sensitivity to the religious feelings of other groups - even when those groups were hurt by seeing pork sold openly or bread openly eaten during Passover. Yet suddenly, this community has turned into a devout

believer in its own religion.


Now that we are seeing the emergence of balance, we can expect a “status quo” between the two blocs. Both sides have something to gain and lose, a situation we have not seen in the past. Therefore, I believe that ultimately the tragic murder may give rise to an opportunity to maintain our society in a tranquil and balanced manner.  


פרסום ראשון: 11.15.07, 00:28
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