The Return of the False Messiahs of Peace

As long as peace is a prisoner of those who call the darkness light and the light darkness, the suffering of those who yearn for a possible peace will only grow.

Many Chabad Hasidim believed that their rabbi, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, was the King Messiah. After he died 17 years ago, a significant faction of these Hasidim denied his death, because the messiah is supposed to be immortal. The members of this faction continue to seek advice from their Admor ‏(an acronym for master, teacher and rabbi‏) about both general and personal matters via self-proclaimed intermediaries.

Coming to terms with the death of a messiah entails a cognitive dissonance − a destruction of one’s emotional and spiritual world − with which they are were unable to cope. Where can they turn? So charlatans take advantage of their naivete, reply to their questions, and promise them that soon ‏(just like in Christianity‏), there will be a second coming.

This week, a secular text was published that rivals the messianic wing of Chabad in denying reality. The people behind the Geneva Initiative − who, thanks to foreign governments that like meddling in Israel’s internal affairs, don’t lack money − published giant advertisements with the messianic conclusions they derived from internal Palestinian Authority documents published by Al Jazeera this week.

“The Al Jazeera documents reveal that there is a partner,” the disciples of this messianic peace proclaimed. “The gaps are small. An agreement is possible.”

But, they added, once again using messianic terminology, something is missing. This missing something is preventing the longed-for outcome and delaying the redemption. “What is missing is courage.”

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert − as everyone knows from his conduct, and as was clearly revealed in the documents − was faint-hearted. He did not give up all of Jerusalem ‏(except the Jewish Quarter‏), he did not inform PA President Mahmoud Abbas that Israel would vacate most of the settlements under a peace agreement, and of course he did not offer the Palestinians parts of sovereign Israel in return for the “settlement blocs,” because he was afraid.

It’s the world turned upside down. While Abbas’ cowardice is evident for all to see − as he utterly denies every concession attributed to him in the documents and frantically organizes violent demonstrations against Al Jazeera to divert fire from himself − it is Israel’s leaders who are being accused, by Israelis, of lacking courage. When will the Jews also be blessed with strong, glorious leaders like the Palestinians have?

The documents indeed contain a great many revelations. They reveal, among other things, that the Palestinians did not budge an inch from their obdurate positions, except perhaps in their “concession” of the Jewish Quarter − which they denied. They did not deviate one bit from their demand for Ma’aleh Adumim, which is part of the Israeli and even the international consensus ‏(“the settlement blocs”‏). Or from their demand for ownership of the Western Wall.

Yet despite all this, Abbas is seen by his people as a traitor. His pictures are burned in city squares, and Israeli security forces are helping to guard his life and thwart attempts to topple his government. That is how the Palestinian public reacts when the yearning for peace burns in their bones.

Only those of little faith, who do not see the light of peace bursting forth from the Palestinians’ reaction to the documents’ revelations, can deny the false-messianist claim that “there is a partner, the gaps are small, an agreement is possible.” And the messiah is about to come.

Peace, like the messiah, does not associate with false prophets, with those who distort reality, who say that good people − their own countrymen − are evil, and because of them there is no peace. And vice versa. Especially vice versa.

A few questions for Yossi Beilin ‏(who has recently voiced quite a few strange ideas in other areas as well‏), and for all devotees of the temples of peace in Geneva: If indeed there is a partner, why did he repudiate his agreements with Olmert and flee them like the plague? Why did the leaks strike him like an earthquake? Why did Palestinians in Nablus, Jenin and Hebron ‏(and not merely in Gaza‏) rise up against him and accuse him of treason? After all, he reached a “possible agreement” with Olmert, something no other leader, including Yasser Arafat, ever did.

The life’s work of these ‏(intentional‏) alchemists is sinking in a sea of facts, but they are still chanting their mantra: “There is a partner, the gaps are small.” It’s hard to believe.

Actually, it isn’t so hard. Because after all, personal, political and economic interests − and I only wish I were suspecting the innocent − are concealed in the messianic industry, just as they were in the days of Shabtai Zvi, the 17th-century false messiah. Thousands of people, in many dozens of organizations, are being paid to arouse our love. Even if it is totally unrequited.

And when the messiah doesn’t come − and for more than two years already, hasn’t even telephoned − they blame their public and their leaders for not doing enough to make him come.

The messiah or peace: Which is closer? With all my heart, I hope it is peace. But just as is true of the messiah, peace will only grow more distant as long as deceivers take its name in vain. As long as it is a prisoner of those who call the darkness light and the light darkness, the suffering of those who yearn for a possible peace − which will never be perfect, and certainly not messianic − will only grow.

But even the way to a peace of this kind, as the documents prove, is long and tortuous. And that is not the fault of the Jews.