From Modern Hatred to Biblical Prophecy

Article excerpt

FROM MODERN HATRED TO BIBLICAL PROPHECY Israël peut-il survivre? La nouvelle règle du jeu (Can Israel Survive? The New Rules of the Game), by Michel Gurfinkiel, Editions Hugo & Cie, 201 1, 304 pp.

Reviewed by Michelle Mazel

Following the 2008-2009 Cast Lead operation in Gaza, French bookstores were suddenly flooded with books about Israel, most of them accusing and condemning the Jewish state. This prompted Jewish writers, both newcomers and seasoned authors, to pen essays and books defending Israel. They bemoaned the perils threatening the country and hinted at a catastrophic future for it.

Thus, in A State Too Many,1 Fabien Ghez notes that today it is more and more widely believed that, if Israel were to disappear, the world would be a better place and peace would break out. In Israel: A Future Compromised, Olivier Burochowitch and Richard Laub openly ask whether the demise of the Jewish state is inevitable.2 In A Name Too Many: Is Israel Illegitimate? , with a foreword by Pierre Andre TaguiefF, Jacques Tarnero wonders why so many people want not only the elimination of Israel but even of its very name. 3 TaguiefF himself recently published Israel and the New Jewish Issue} These and other books highlight the miracle of Israel's renewal and accomplishments as well as the mendacious and virulent campaign against its very existence.

Even in this context, a new book by Michel Gurfinkiel, his seventh, is of special interest. A former editor of the French weekly Valeurs Actuelles and an occasional contributor to the Wall Street Journal and Commentary, Gurfinkiel is the founder and chairman of the Jean Jacques Rousseau Institute, a conservative French think tank on political issues. As he said in an interview to a Jewish website, he had been asked so many times whether Israel could survive that he decided to write down his thoughts about it.5 He also said in the interview that he believed in Israel's ultimate survival. The book itself, however, is not totally optimistic. Indeed, the opening paragraph is gloomy enough: "The twelfth war of Israel will not happen. Such is the hope of the Israelis. They are preparing for it. They know that, should it break out, it will be difficult. And murderous."6

Gurfinkiel discerns two main themes in the accusations against Israel. First, Israel is indicted for being

a colonial state; an artificial state that came into being through arbitrary decisions... having been founded... at the expense of another state - a natural one - Palestine; having expelled the Palestinians in order to settle a new people, the Israelis; persisting in tricks and illegality while pretending to maintain at all costs a Jewish national identity. The Shoah would be the one extenuating circumstance. It cannot, however, excuse everything. Nor can its value last forever. (31)

One by one, using lengthy historical arguments, Gurfinkiel refutes these charges in what is by far the most persuasive part of the book. He then turns to the second theme and to his main thesis. The real reason, he contends, behind the implacable hatred directed at the Jewish state "is not so much the Middle East state called Israel.. .as a transcendental and metaphysical Israel, that of the Bible, of which the state, whether it wants it or not, whether it assumes it or not, is the heir and the last carrier to date" (153). The emphasis here is less on Christianity - though it is significant as there are still some Christians who view Israelis (Jews) as a people of Christ-killers - than on Islam. The latter religion, Gurfinkiel suggests, rejects the very notion of a Jewish state because, first, there is an inherent theological conflict between Islam and Judaism, and second, there can be no infidel state on what was once a territory under Islamic rule. …