Light and Darkness Unto the Nations

Maybe the new Shin Bet head should concentrate all his efforts to the order of the day (and night). Most of it has to be kept in the darkness, even when it is done to ensure my safety. It is mostly rather dirty work. It cannot be adorned be lofty words.

Haaretz reported on May 16 that "The Be'er Sheva District Court ordered the Shin Bet security service yesterday to reveal its evidence against Neria Ofan, who was placed under administrative detention a week ago." Security Services refusal to reveal its reasons to detain a person is one of the reasons - not the main one - that they earned, here, there and everywhere, the dubious distinction as being "instruments of darkness."

In the news story adjacent to the one above, on the same page, Haaretz reported that "The new head of the Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin, took over from Avi Dichter yesterday in ceremonies that were open to the media for the first time." Diskin, in his speech, said that "the Shin Bet must `ensure that the legitimate internal differences do not degenerate into a war between the forces of light and the forces of darkness'."

The name of the head of the Shin Bet was once a closely kept secret, and his face was not to be seen by the public. Even his words were not to be repeated, let alone printed. Even today nobody - those who were there excepted - knows what really happens in the Security Services interrogation rooms. The imagination, and movies, bring to mind the agent directing a blinding beam of strong white light into the suspect's blinking eyes, just seconds before he resorts to moderate physical pressure, as worded in Justice Landau's report.

The instruments of darkness do not rule our lives anymore, at least partly due to the existence of a free press. "People do awful things to each other. But's it worse in places where everybody is kept in the dark. It really is. Information is light. Information, in itself, about anything, is light. That's all you can say, really." (From "Night and Day," Tom Stoppard's play about the press and newspapermen).

Here, here. But it makes one wonder why, when the new head of the Security Services has to speak in public, he has to be so poetic in his choice of words. His mission is, after all, a very prosaic one.

On his first day in office, God divided the light from the darkness, and since that day people of many nations and denominations believe that light is good. He who follows the path of righteousness will see the light, and we are, after all, a light unto the nations. Not by accident did Satan become the prince of darkness, and he rules over a kingdom of evil. There is darkness even in the white of his eyes.

One should be grateful that the new head of the Security Services is aware of the limitations of his power, and merely asserts that his troops will stand like a fortified wall to ensure that the public debate should take place according to the law and democracy. In the eyes of the law, like in the eyes of its civil servant (those are the Security Services), darkness and light are equal. But who are the forces of evil and who are the sons of light? Are we all in a twilight zone?

I'm not sure that Diskin meant it, but one of the scrolls found in the Qoumran caves was "The Scroll of War of Sons of the Light and Sons of the Darkness," and this is the Hebrew wording Diskin used. The Sons of Light, in their own eyes, were the Essenes, a sect which lived in the Qoumran area in the first century CE. All others, including the Jewish majority who did not accept their word as holy gospel, are Sons of Darkness. The scroll is a manual of the imminent war between Darkness and Light, to be won, eventually, with Gods' help, by the sons of the Light.

I sincerely hope that people report to the Security Services head about sites on the web against the forthcoming disengagement. One can read there that the settlers are "Sons of the Light," and the Palestinians are "Sons of Darkness." Very little is left to imagination there as to question whether the prime minister and those who follow and accept the disengagement initiative belong to the Sons of Light or Darkness.

I'm not quite certain that the new Shin Bet head, his audience or the disengagement opponents remembered Paulus first epistle to the Thessalonians (the Jews of Saloniki, whom he set out to convert to Christianity). It is worth quoting here, for its choice of words: "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety (the Hebrew translation of the original Greek says here "Shalom ve Bitachon"); then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath-" (Thesssalonians 1, 5, 1-9).

The new head of the Shin Bet could embrace those words and affix his signature underneath. So could the settlers, me and you. Real life does not happen in black and white, and he who has his hand on the switch, and has some troop to hold his hand there, usually decides who is the son of darkness and who are the sons of light. No use pretending about that. That does not mean he is necessarily in the right. But he can put out the light.

Maybe the new Shin Bet head should concentrate all his efforts to the order of the day (and night). Most of it has to be kept in the darkness, even when it is done to ensure my safety. It is mostly rather dirty work. It cannot be adorned be lofty words.