June 21, 2004
The Big PictureBy Rachel Neuwirth
Genesis 12:3 in the Hebrew Bible contains a brief statement by the G—d of Israel: 'I will bless those who bless you, and to him who curses you I will curse; and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.' This brief statement has profound meaning today for the Jewish Nation and for humanity in general.
This statement is a translation from the original Hebrew in the holy Torah as given to Moses at Mount Sinai. G—d makes an eternal promise to Abraham and to his descendants plus another eternal promise describing how he will judge the nations. The statement has three (3) parts and each part is addressed below.
(1) '...and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.'
This clearly implies that the Jewish People will be a blessing to the nations, and history certainly bears this out. In every country where they have lived the Jewish community has contributed to the well being of the host nation in a disproportionately large degree. The following few observations will illustrate this.
'The Jews have done more to civilize men than any other Nation. They are the most glorious Nation that ever inhabited the earth. The Romans and their Empire were but a bauble in comparison to the Jews. They have given religion to three—quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of Mankind more, and more happily than any other Nation, ancient or modern.' — John Adams, second president of the United States
Without the Jews and Jesus there would be no Christianity. Without the Jews there would be no Arab nation, which descended from Abraham through Ishmael and through Esau, brother of Jacob and grandson of Abraham. The Arabs became Moslem through Mohammed, who was also influenced by Moses and the Hebrew Bible. Today 2 billion Christians and 1.3 billion Moslems comprise over half of all humanity.
Jews have long enriched the world with secular talents, spiritual teachings and the prophetic vision — as Jesus put it: "Salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22) — and did this even while being persecuted. One way to approximate only the Jewish intellectual contribution to society is to consider the total number of Nobel prizes that have been awarded from 1901 to 2002 and who won them.
The world's 6.3 billion people have won a total of 844 Nobel prizes. The world's 1.3 billion Muslims have won 8 of that total (including one for terrorist Yasser Arafat). The world's 14 million Jews have won 159 of the 844 Nobel prizes.
Jews with 0.22% of the world's population have won 18.8% of the prizes or 85.4 times more than what their population would suggest.
Moslems with 20.6% of the world's population have won 0.95% of the prizes or 21.7 times less than what their population would suggest.
Comparatively, according to statistical probability, a Jew is 85.4 X 21.7 = 1,850 times more likely than a Moslem to win a Nobel prize.
(2) 'I will bless those who bless you. ...'
The list of nations that have blessed the Jews is rather short compared to those that have cursed the Jews. In modern times it was mainly America and the American people that offered a haven and opportunities to large numbers of Jews, (however much certain individuals, groups, and even government officials or agencies have held negative attitudes about the Jewish people.) Nevertheless, America has grown in two centuries from a former British colony to the most prosperous and most powerful nation in history.
President George Washington expressed his support for the Jewish community of his time, and American Jews reciprocated with support, such as the Jewish merchant Chaym Salomon providing generous funding for Washington's army. The relationship between Jews and America has been reciprocal. To the degree that Jews found a large measure of freedom and opportunity in America they have contributed in disproportionately large measure to the up—building of this nation in every manner. In peace and in war, in the arts and in science, in business and in philanthropy, in government and in law, in culture and in the spiritual domain, the Jewish contribution has been and remains prodigious. American Jews peaked at 4% of the population decades ago and now comprise only 2% of the general population. Of course no large group of individuals is saintly, and there have been Jewish criminals, traitors, and other villainous characters, too, as with any American ethnic group.
(3) '...and to him who curses you I will curse;'
The Bible teaches that the punishment should fit the crime, but that divine reward and punishment may come much after the event. This is to encourage free choice by reducing any obvious connection between reward and punishment which could make people act insincerely. By delaying the full punishment, evil people then feel immune from consequences and continue to follow their true inclinations to do evil and to accumulate ever greater sins for the day of ultimate punishment.
Most of the great empires of antiquity, and many of those of the recent era, have acted against the Jews. We can see how they all went into decline. The Greeks, the Romans, Ancient Egypt, the Nazis, the Communist empire, the British Empire, The Arab Caliphate, the European colonial empires, etc. have all either vanished or have fallen into steep decline. China, the one historic empire with no history of persecution of Jews, for all the misfortunes of dynastic cycles, Nineteenth Century Western domination and then Twentieth Century Communism, has remained intact into the modern era.
But much of the world continues to attack Israel and the Jewish People. And the final punishment, as prophesied in the Bible, was reserved for an end time when there will be a final settlement for all past sins. Both Christendom and Islam have done great harm to the Jewish people. Christian persecution has cost an estimated 7—10 million Jewish lives during the 2,000 years of the Diaspora, culminating with the Holocaust of another 6 million Jews inside Christian Europe. The Arab Muslims supported Hitler, opposed Jewish immigration, waged repeated wars against Israel, deny Israel its rightful territory, and now mount a global jihad to finish Hitler's goal of total extermination. And much of the world remains indifferent or even offers support.
The punishment, according to the Bible, must fit the crime and this crime against G—d's people has extended over many centuries. The prophets predict that the punishment will be awesome. The Jews gave the world the greatest spiritual gifts, including monotheism, the moral law and the prophetic vision. The world responded with the Inquisition and Auschwitz — and they are still at it!
Today we can see the world proclaimed to be going into multiple crises such as never been experienced before. There are more problems than ever which seem more daunting and intractable. Society is claimed to be losing ground in coping with them, and many people, feeling overwhelmed, are going into nihilism, denial, tuning out, or seeking distraction from reality. While there have always been Cassandras warning of imminent doom, an unusually large menu of unappealing potential disasters is available today, and there are many who willingly trumpet alarms about them. Whether or not the individual hypotheses have merit, the fact that so many willingly embrace apocalyptic visions tells us something important about the public consciousness. Perhaps there is an underlying uneasiness related to the knowledge of having trespassed against the laws of G—d and nature.
—Some think that global population at 6.3 billion will continue to surge toward 9.0 billion within the next 50 years, while also consuming more and more resources per capita. They say that the global life support system is already stressed cannot long support such a burden.
—The U.N. has warned that deserts are expanding globally at an accelerating rate.
—There is a growing world shortage of potable water.
—Species are going extinct at an accelerating rate, according to some studies.
—Parts of the oceans seem to be becoming dead zones.
—Greenhouse gases are claimed to be higher than at anytime in the past 400,000 years, and alarmists theorize that they are due to double in coming decades. This is said to be able to destabilize the global climate, which is already claimed to be showing extremes of heat and cold, droughts and floods and more violent storms.
—Industrial society remains heavily dependent on oil, while global oil reserves are not keeping pace. The remaining oil is progressively more expensive to extract while daily demand is rising from the present 75 million barrels toward 100 million.
—Many industrial countries, led by the U.S., are expanding their money supplies, possibly setting the stage for a global economic meltdown.
—Islamo—fascism continues to metastasize globally with no end in sight, manifesting growing sophistication while seeking weapons of greater destructive power.
—The target countries, including the U.S., have no visible clear strategy to rapidly halt and disarm this threat.
—The United Nations continues to ignore major human rights violations and threats to global survival. The U.N. concentrates most on attacking Israel while ignoring all manner of Arab crimes, such as the mass enslavement and slaughter of black Sudanese Christians and animists by Arabs.
In addition to the above, the United States is a special case because it is the keystone of Western civilization. If America falters the gaps will be quickly filled by China, Islamo—fascism, Russia and the anti—democratic, anti—Semitic European left. Progress towards democracy will halt and the world will start sliding towards a new global totalitarianism, probably accompanied by economic and social disasters.
But America is showing signs of trouble that are listed below.
—Nearly three years after 9/11 America still cannot control its borders. Millions of outsiders are illegally streaming into this country. Most disappear, and we do not know who they are, where they are, what they are doing or the dangers they may pose.
—Despite a fortune spent on homeland security America remains internally exposed and vulnerable in many areas. It is impossible to completely defend against internal terror.
—American society is in a moral decline where it seems more and more people are selfishly opportunistic. Politically the country is bitterly split with great animosity that threatens our ability to sustain a long—term defense burden against militant Islam.
—A decline of nationalism, and the concomitant problems of a lack of a common language, common values and common culture negatively affects America's ability to protect itself. If there is little nationalism, there is little appreciation and gratitude for the liberties we have and a lack of conviction that they are well worth fighting for.
—Economically our budgetary deficits, foreign trade deficits and unfunded liabilities are immense and growing, with no sure plan to gain control before encountering economic misfortune that may result.
—The health of the nation is in trouble, with at least 1/3 seriously obese, and our national health bill being the worlds highest at 15% of GDP, and growing, while the entire medical system is already sagging under its many burdens.
—We remain increasingly dependent on imported oil, which can be interrupted abroad, causing a spike in prices that could injure our economy.
—America is 4.6% of the global population but we consume about 25% of the world's energy. This may be unsustainable and we have no sure plan to cope with this.
—Most alarming of all is the failure of national leadership to recognize our awesome problems, design bold solutions and mobilize the nation in a supreme effort to cope.
Some or all of these alleged threats are subject to fierce debate, as to their importance, or even existence. But no one can deny that we live in a world where potentially devastating problems can appear rapidly, as if out of nowhere. Despite the undoubted achievements of modern civilization, and the improvements to lifespan, wealth, and access to information, huge threats and challenges remain on, or just over, the horizon.
These threats will not manifest as the simple summation of separate elements. Rather, the impact of each threat makes it more difficult to manage other threats. There is the real potential of the domino effect causing multiple breakdowns in rapid succession once a critical threshold is crossed.
All of this fits into the Biblical warnings, in which widespread evil against the Jewish people has also blinded those same nations to their other evils. And some believe those evils are now threatening global civilization as never before in recorded history. People can certainly deny any Biblical connection but reality will march on.
Only time will tell whether mankind's endless capacity for invention will outrun mankind's endless capacity for shortsightedness and, indeed, for evil. If goodness and mercy are to prevail, we will need all the help we can get. Perhaps even more than we are capable of providing by ourselves. The last thing the world needs to do is antagonize the the Giver al all that we have, by disregarding the clear warnings we have been provided, since ancient times.
Let us pray