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THE OTHER SIDE
The Question of Inspirational
Freedom, and the Spirituality of Statism
New Life, Melbourne, March 20, 1997 , p.1
It is here reported that the Israeli parliament recently gave "preliminary approval" to a law prohibiting any literature or advertisements containing:
"any inducements to religious conversion"...
Punishment: one year in prison.
The bill, it is stated, specifically prohibits POSSESSION, PRODUCTION, REPRODUCTION or IMPORTATION of literature to persuade individuals to change their religion.
This, we read, goes now to committee, was passed in a tiny 21-7 vote, is then to be re-submitted to Knesset, where it must pass 3 readings before becoming law. It is claimed by some Jews that this "contradicts Articles 19 and19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights" to the effect that there is a right to "freedom of thought, conscience and religion... to hold opinions without interference and to seek, retrieve and impart information and ideas through any media."
As noted in this Web site elsewhere, one cannot approve this international contrivance of the UN as a general phenomenon, in this, that it presumes to direct morality: per se. However in this instance, the question needs careful and rational attention, with or without any international censor.
One can, first of all, understand a natural Jewish reaction in this field. It appears one organisation last year posted an evangelistic booklet to one million Israeli households...
1. It is understandable
Where, the citizen might ask, where am I free from harassment, from intrusion, from locking horns with others ? Is it not enough that for nearly 2 millenia we were without our homeland, where we had days of fame and name and place and grace ? Is it not sufficient that we lost about one half of all our people in a European holocaust, of a grisly gracelessness which makes pagan ferocities pall ? Is it not a satisfaction yet, that the British turned back some of our boats in which the afflicted, diving from Europe's horror, sought in the immediate post-world-war II years, to gain a foothold in the ancient homeland ? Is it not yet sufficient that the tens of millions of Arabs and Muslims have thrice attacked our peaceful shores from their vast terrestrial estates, to the thrill of rhetoric at times, in a desire to remove us from our tiny sliver of the earth, where we have at best a precarious hold... Does it not suffice that they did this in 1948, 1967 and 1973 - not to mention bouquet bombs from Iraq during the Gulf War, at which time we were reminded by its leader, that war remained in a permanent state with us since 1948 ?
Must we now suffer this post, this literature campaign ? Are we to be the butt, in our own land where our toil has adorned the soil and made roses to bloom and the desert to blossom, and the oranges to mount to the skies, while the woodlands grow in grace, as the Bible predicted would be the case, from years over a millenium ago: are we then to be the butt of this unwanted intrusion into our lives, by those seeking... what ? now our souls.
One can assuredly understand some at least of the reaction to this. However, to understand is not always to agree. It may be to sympathise; it is not always to concur.
2. It is not inspirational
There is another side. Jewish minds have often been remarkable for originality and enterprise in music, in physics, in culture. Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller merely exemplify a profound contribution in science, as does Felix Mendelsohn in music. The size of Israel on the one hand, and on the other, its science, elaborate technical advances and provisions for students in this area in Israel, its agricultural advances much prized by the world, as its vigour in defence, speak well of its initiative. Free thought and the zestful exchange of ideas and forwarding of issues have been no small feature of the Jewish persona in history. Deliberative acuity in social or political issues is shown abundantly, for example, in Ben Gurion's "Israel" .
Is this thrust of freedom of thought now to be severely compromised by a tight control of dissemination of information, so that the law will intrude upon the accesses of the scholar, the liberties of young and old alike, as if they were to be in a prison, rather than a state, wards rather than workers, detainees more than citizens ? Of this what would Athens of old have said ? Perhaps, in the end what it said to Socrates! But then, this was not its moment of glory, was it ?
Is the national emblem of Jewry, of Jewishness to be a state of arrest ? at the deepest level of which the human soul is capable of action ? It would be sad if this were to be so. Is the reality of truth to be determined or sought not by evidence - and there is none as great as God in the provision of evidence (cf. Isaiah 43,41,48), not by personal and individual interchange freely, but... by control. Did not Hitler seek this ?
Does not the State, too encouraged, soon come to value its authority more than it might, setting aside liberty of understanding more than it should, so that not what is demonstrably wrong is condemned, but what is simply not desired. Is not such authority a danger in the most general terms, to extremes that would grow accustomed to... the face of power ?
Oh of course, Hitler in particular used brutality, more than one year's imprisonment, it is true. Far more. This is utterly genteel by comparison. This is undoubtedly true. Nevertheless, the direction of flow here ? ...
3. Wisdom is better
A man slow to wrath, we read in Proverbs, is of great wisdom.
What then is better ? Than this, it would be better to examine the exact nature of what is deemed the offence, and to remove that, rather than the glories and stimuli of freedom, personal responsibility and free interchange for all people.
If the difficulty is INTRUSION, and what may be (rightly or wrongly) deemed a certain UNCOUTHNESS, a certain pushy advance into privacy, a tearing at the unprepared young and so forth: then that is easily taken care of. Then, instead of removing liberty in the interests of liberty, one could do this: make it clear that persistent or chronic or sustained attention to people's souls and minds in this area, may perhaps become an offence. When ? when DESIRE TO BE LEFT ALONE HAS BEEN SHOWN, ON HEARING OF THE NATURE OF WHAT IS IN MIND, THEN IT MAY BE REGARDED AS AN OFFENCE. Then it is for the party concerned to decide. Then there is not such an imposition. Then offence against liberty is restrained in the name of liberty, a far more ingenuous proposition.
After all, what is that one is to protect ? Adults from their freedoms, or citizens from misuse of their time ? Wards of State from life itself, or the people of the land from intrusive harassment ? Jews from the Jewishness of Jesus, from a Jewish matter in fact, or from alien intrusions, militantly pursued in the face of desire to the contrary, individually expressed as the time suggests to the conscience and to the heart of the one concerned ?
Does a letter molest ? does a printed offer harass ? Perhaps if it continues AFTER one has asked that it be stopped, this may become so. But the proposed law goes far beyond that: it would make children of adults and State wards of children... (if the report to which we are attending, is a just and true record of it). Perhaps it is precisely THIS which is harassment! At least for a long time in England, greater liberty than this has been available - yes, and in particular, to the Jews there abiding.
If then any violence to expressed wishes is in order, as each citizen individually may express him/herself when others make approach on these issues, that is one thing. If however an exclusion on the part of ALL from any approach on the part of ANY in such fields is to be thrust on the people by the State, not merely is this to treat them as if immature; it is worse. It treats them as State directed - and Statism is always rank and always dangerous as few should know much better than do the Jewish people, who surely have suffered much under it in many places, over may centuries.
And children ? If their parents approve, are they not to be available for approach; and if their parents do not approve, can they not say so ? Is it not a family matter ? Are all children to be so treated because the parents of some (and because some who themselves may in fact have no children) so desire it ? Is the State to become the father of fathers, and the mother of mothers ? censor and arbiter of all ?
After all, as expressed elsewhere with reason, and with Biblical challenge to all of all nations, there is an answer: it is in rationality unique, though it is not rationalistic. It was essentialised in a person born into the Jewish race. He indeed became the criterion. If it is not so, why is this not shown ? and if it is so, why is it not done.
It therefore appears that the solution to this problem is not merely a solution to a vexatious issue within Israel: it holds in its kernel, the solution to the problem of Israel itself. Legislation which in part would be directly against the mere free approach in the name of Jesus Christ, to be dropped if not desired by any party, this would do nothing to liberate the Jewish people. As with Statist people, in this they would then be in chains, but alas those of their own making. Like all people, are they not then free to decide each for himself/herself; and family by family as shown in the Jewish prophet Zechariah 12:11-14 ? ...
This includes these words:
"And I will pour on the house of David
and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication:
then they will look on Me
whom they pierced.
Yes, they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for his only son,
and grieve for Him as one grieves
for a firstborn.
In that day there shall be a great morning in Jerusalem..."