2017: Cycles and Food for Thought

I am not one given to prognostication; I have seen too many predictions fall flat on their face. But next year, 2017, will be the anniversary of a number of major historical events concerning religion and the Mideast. That these would all converge on year is surely cause for speculation and remembrance, even if nothing comes of it.

Anyone who ever took higher math knows that when waveforms are added together the result can be something altogether unexpected.  For example: the addition of certain harmonic sine waves can produce a square wave.  From smooth curves one can create catastrophic change.

Of course, the concept of cycles in history is suspect; but some cycles are accepted:  the classic boom/bust cycles of economics or the cycle of tyranny to liberty to prosperity to dependence and thence again to tyranny.

While history is progressing -- something the West asserts, but which is not so accepted in Eastern philosophy -- there are those who would assert that even this progression is the result of regular cycles or patterns.

Maybe so!  Maybe not!

But next year 2017 will be the anniversary of some major world events, which give pause for thought.

500 years ago, in 1517, Martin Luther started the Reformation with his nailing of the 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Church Door. Luther was not the first Western Christian to break from Rome, but he was the first to get whole nations involved. Within a few decades, almost half of Europe was on board.

North Germany, the Netherlands, England, Scandinavia -- all would all join. For a while, it looked like Poland, Austria, and France might join. Hungary would retain an elite Reformed minority.

What saved Catholicism was the Counter-Reformation. While not accepting core Reformation doctrine, the Catholic Church was forced to make some radical changes under fire, lest the whole institution collapse from rot. Modern Catholics may not fully appreciate how deteriorated Catholicism had become. Even to those who remained Roman Catholic, the Reformation forced the Vatican to clean up a lot of its act. Of course, there were vicious religious wars, and no one can diminish the crimes of the various Inquisitions; but let us not exaggerate them either. Nor should one forget that that the Reformed side was also capable of crimes. Still this is a signature event in history.

2017 will also be the 500th anniversary of the Ottoman Turkic victory over the Egyptian Mamluks, which gave the Turks -- a non-Arab people -- control over the Middle East for 400 years.

2017 will also be the 120th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress in Basel Switzerland in 1917.

Of course, there had started to be a noticeable Jewish return to Israel even before the First Zionist Congress. Jews had started returning since the 1880s; but the First Zionist Congress sought to establish Zionism under International Law; to formalize it.  Whether or not Israel can be defended under International Law is regularly debated in the world press; but no one can deny that 1897 is when Zionism made its first formal declaration to the world; and when Zionism started to become a force.

2017 will be the 100th anniversary of America's entrance into World War I, when America first became a true world power.  Prior to that, America was the envy of the world for her prosperity, but considered mostly a side player, not a central actor.

However, 1917 would not close before the Balfour Declaration was issued, when Britain recognized the setting up of a Jewish Homeland as a war aim.

There are some who conflate the two.  Some have averred that the British placed enormous belief in the power of Jewish bankers to persuade America to enter the war, and save Britain from defeat. These historians see the Balfour Declaration as payback for America's involvement.

The single motive uniting all of the makers of the Declaration was the desire to harness Jewish support for the war effort, particularly in Russia and the USA. ... Jewish influence in these countries was thought to have been important for the British cause. (snip)

Behind this policy were two erroneous assumptions. The first was the misconception that Jews held a powerful influence in Russia, the USA and elsewhere. (snip)

The idea that world Jewry wielded tremendous influence, as believed by Balfour, Lloyd George and others in the Government, derived from widespread antisemitic prejudice within the British Establishment.  -- Jewish Quarterly

What is clear is that the dating of the Balfour Declaration was intended to persuade a war weary Russia to remain in the war.

Britain’s leaders hoped that a formal declaration in favor of Zionism would help gain Jewish support for the Allies in neutral countries, in the United States and especially in Russia, where the powerfully anti-Semitic czarist government had just been overthrown with the help of Russia’s significant Jewish population.  -- History.com

It did not work! Within a week, the Bolsheviks overthrew the pro-Allied Provisional government; and the Bolsheviks would release the secret details of the Sykes-Picot agreement and other arrangements -- which had promised Constantinople to Russia -- to the world. 

If the British had assumed the Jewish leadership among the Bolsheviks would get on board the Allied team because of the Balfour Declaration, they were soon disabused. Though the Bolshevik leadership was disproportionally Jewish, they were not Frum Jews.

The revelations were a scandal, which the Arabs soon picked up to accuse the Jews of a dark conspiracy. How much of the Balfour Declaration came from genuine Zionist influence, British Evangelical Millennial religious sensibilities, and general antisemitic prejudice that ascribed too much power to Jewish influence is still up to debate.

2017 will be the 100th anniversary of Allenby's December 1917 entrance into Jerusalem, ending Turkish rule over the area after 400 years of Ottoman tyranny.

2017 will be the 70th anniversary of the UN General Assembly Partition vote on Palestine. While not fully legal (it never went to the Security Council for ratification), the vote carried the veneer of moral authority that the Jews had a right to a homeland.

Ironically, while Israel holds the 1947 partition vote as a definitive statement (it was a start, but again was never ratified by the Security Council), Israel subsequently has been careful to insist on Security Council affirmations when the UN General Assembly votes against Israel. In the Security Council, Israel has depended on the US veto to sink such resolutions. Ironically, like the Arabs’ states of 1947, Israel regularly rejects UN Resolutions as not binding.  Ironically, the Arabs now say they are.

Still, irony notwithstanding, 2017 will be a notable 70th anniversary.

2017 will also be the 70th anniversary of the Benelux Agreement, from which the Common Market and later the European Union would emerge.  It was ratified in 1947, became came into force in 1948.  Oddly, just like Israel, which was voted on by the UN in 1947; but did not come into being until 1948.

2017 will be the 50th anniversary of Israel's re-conquest of Jerusalem.  The Arabs are already making hay about that, albeit in a negative way.  Still it is a Jubilee Anniversary, which has to have religious significance to the Jewish people.

2017 will be the 40th anniversary (a biblical generation) of the first Likud victory.  For the first time in Israeli history, a right wing government was elected.

500, 120, 100, 70, 50, and 40.  An odd occurrence of anniversaries, top-heavy with either religious, historical, and/or Zionist implications.  Of course, this could all be mental fluff; and come to nothing; but it is interesting. It will be interesting to see if the cycles produce a smooth wave and nothing happens, or a square wave with catastrophic consequences.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish in high school, lo those many decades ago.

I am not one given to prognostication; I have seen too many predictions fall flat on their face. But next year, 2017, will be the anniversary of a number of major historical events concerning religion and the Mideast. That these would all converge on year is surely cause for speculation and remembrance, even if nothing comes of it.

Anyone who ever took higher math knows that when waveforms are added together the result can be something altogether unexpected.  For example: the addition of certain harmonic sine waves can produce a square wave.  From smooth curves one can create catastrophic change.

Of course, the concept of cycles in history is suspect; but some cycles are accepted:  the classic boom/bust cycles of economics or the cycle of tyranny to liberty to prosperity to dependence and thence again to tyranny.

While history is progressing -- something the West asserts, but which is not so accepted in Eastern philosophy -- there are those who would assert that even this progression is the result of regular cycles or patterns.

Maybe so!  Maybe not!

But next year 2017 will be the anniversary of some major world events, which give pause for thought.

500 years ago, in 1517, Martin Luther started the Reformation with his nailing of the 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Church Door. Luther was not the first Western Christian to break from Rome, but he was the first to get whole nations involved. Within a few decades, almost half of Europe was on board.

North Germany, the Netherlands, England, Scandinavia -- all would all join. For a while, it looked like Poland, Austria, and France might join. Hungary would retain an elite Reformed minority.

What saved Catholicism was the Counter-Reformation. While not accepting core Reformation doctrine, the Catholic Church was forced to make some radical changes under fire, lest the whole institution collapse from rot. Modern Catholics may not fully appreciate how deteriorated Catholicism had become. Even to those who remained Roman Catholic, the Reformation forced the Vatican to clean up a lot of its act. Of course, there were vicious religious wars, and no one can diminish the crimes of the various Inquisitions; but let us not exaggerate them either. Nor should one forget that that the Reformed side was also capable of crimes. Still this is a signature event in history.

2017 will also be the 500th anniversary of the Ottoman Turkic victory over the Egyptian Mamluks, which gave the Turks -- a non-Arab people -- control over the Middle East for 400 years.

2017 will also be the 120th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress in Basel Switzerland in 1917.

Of course, there had started to be a noticeable Jewish return to Israel even before the First Zionist Congress. Jews had started returning since the 1880s; but the First Zionist Congress sought to establish Zionism under International Law; to formalize it.  Whether or not Israel can be defended under International Law is regularly debated in the world press; but no one can deny that 1897 is when Zionism made its first formal declaration to the world; and when Zionism started to become a force.

2017 will be the 100th anniversary of America's entrance into World War I, when America first became a true world power.  Prior to that, America was the envy of the world for her prosperity, but considered mostly a side player, not a central actor.

However, 1917 would not close before the Balfour Declaration was issued, when Britain recognized the setting up of a Jewish Homeland as a war aim.

There are some who conflate the two.  Some have averred that the British placed enormous belief in the power of Jewish bankers to persuade America to enter the war, and save Britain from defeat. These historians see the Balfour Declaration as payback for America's involvement.

The single motive uniting all of the makers of the Declaration was the desire to harness Jewish support for the war effort, particularly in Russia and the USA. ... Jewish influence in these countries was thought to have been important for the British cause. (snip)

Behind this policy were two erroneous assumptions. The first was the misconception that Jews held a powerful influence in Russia, the USA and elsewhere. (snip)

The idea that world Jewry wielded tremendous influence, as believed by Balfour, Lloyd George and others in the Government, derived from widespread antisemitic prejudice within the British Establishment.  -- Jewish Quarterly

What is clear is that the dating of the Balfour Declaration was intended to persuade a war weary Russia to remain in the war.

Britain’s leaders hoped that a formal declaration in favor of Zionism would help gain Jewish support for the Allies in neutral countries, in the United States and especially in Russia, where the powerfully anti-Semitic czarist government had just been overthrown with the help of Russia’s significant Jewish population.  -- History.com

It did not work! Within a week, the Bolsheviks overthrew the pro-Allied Provisional government; and the Bolsheviks would release the secret details of the Sykes-Picot agreement and other arrangements -- which had promised Constantinople to Russia -- to the world. 

If the British had assumed the Jewish leadership among the Bolsheviks would get on board the Allied team because of the Balfour Declaration, they were soon disabused. Though the Bolshevik leadership was disproportionally Jewish, they were not Frum Jews.

The revelations were a scandal, which the Arabs soon picked up to accuse the Jews of a dark conspiracy. How much of the Balfour Declaration came from genuine Zionist influence, British Evangelical Millennial religious sensibilities, and general antisemitic prejudice that ascribed too much power to Jewish influence is still up to debate.

2017 will be the 100th anniversary of Allenby's December 1917 entrance into Jerusalem, ending Turkish rule over the area after 400 years of Ottoman tyranny.

2017 will be the 70th anniversary of the UN General Assembly Partition vote on Palestine. While not fully legal (it never went to the Security Council for ratification), the vote carried the veneer of moral authority that the Jews had a right to a homeland.

Ironically, while Israel holds the 1947 partition vote as a definitive statement (it was a start, but again was never ratified by the Security Council), Israel subsequently has been careful to insist on Security Council affirmations when the UN General Assembly votes against Israel. In the Security Council, Israel has depended on the US veto to sink such resolutions. Ironically, like the Arabs’ states of 1947, Israel regularly rejects UN Resolutions as not binding.  Ironically, the Arabs now say they are.

Still, irony notwithstanding, 2017 will be a notable 70th anniversary.

2017 will also be the 70th anniversary of the Benelux Agreement, from which the Common Market and later the European Union would emerge.  It was ratified in 1947, became came into force in 1948.  Oddly, just like Israel, which was voted on by the UN in 1947; but did not come into being until 1948.

2017 will be the 50th anniversary of Israel's re-conquest of Jerusalem.  The Arabs are already making hay about that, albeit in a negative way.  Still it is a Jubilee Anniversary, which has to have religious significance to the Jewish people.

2017 will be the 40th anniversary (a biblical generation) of the first Likud victory.  For the first time in Israeli history, a right wing government was elected.

500, 120, 100, 70, 50, and 40.  An odd occurrence of anniversaries, top-heavy with either religious, historical, and/or Zionist implications.  Of course, this could all be mental fluff; and come to nothing; but it is interesting. It will be interesting to see if the cycles produce a smooth wave and nothing happens, or a square wave with catastrophic consequences.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish in high school, lo those many decades ago.

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