The Secular Israeli Will Go the Way of the Woolly Mammoth

Secular Israelis will meet their end through extinction. They will gradually emigrate or change their worldview and become religious Zionists.

Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher
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Secular women sit on a bus with ultra-orthodox men in Jerusalem.
Secular women sit on a bus with ultra-orthodox men in Jerusalem. Credit: Emil Salman
Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher

Wearing a knitted skullcap has survival value in today's Israel. In the evolution of Israeli society, the religious Zionist is particularly adapted to the environment in which we must forever live by the sword. It’s obvious that the increase in the number of religious-Zionist Israelis, along with a decline in the number of secular Israelis, is shaping our existence in a way better adapted to the former.

But let’s set aside the chicken-and-egg question, because the dispute in Israeli society has already been decided. Due to various developments in Arab society, we are surrounded by Islamic extremists, and due to various developments in Israeli society, the power is growing of religious Zionists who aim to build the Third Temple on the Temple Mount. And they’re ready to live by the sword to the extent necessary, intifada after intifada, Gaza fighting after Gaza fighting, Lebanon war after Lebanon war.

But remember that it’s easier to live by the sword when you’re equipped with a religious-Zionist worldview. When you believe in God. When you believe that the meaning of life is to be a Jew in the Land of Israel, the land promised to the Jews, convinced that one day the Messiah will come. The knitted skullcap makes the Israeli reality rational, necessary and even welcome.

For secular Israelis, the country is a hostile environment. It’s harder for them to accept the binational aspect of apartheid, the occupation, whose existence the religious Zionist doesn’t recognize at all, the cyclical nature of the violence. In the absence of hope for peace, it’s hard for secular Israelis to shake the despair.

In their paradigm, Israel isn’t a country suited to their needs. If they look at things soberly, they have to leave the country and encourage their children to build their futures elsewhere.

Secular Israelis are going around Israel as if they were unclad during an ice age. They have no fur. They shiver from the cold and have a hard time finding food and shelter. It’s an era better suited for mammoths.

Young settlers clash with Border Police in Beit El, July 29, 2015.Credit: Reuters

Secular Israelis will meet their end through extinction. They will gradually emigrate or change their worldview and become religious Zionists. They will don fur in order to survive here. From a Darwinist perspective, via natural selection, Israel is rewarding its religious Zionists. They have what we call around here a reason to be here.

Of course, secular Israelis who grew up here also have a reason to be here, but their loyalty is shaky. Hebrew is their language. Their memories are from here. They love Israel because it’s their home, but in the Israel of 2015 a home is not a reason, at least not a good enough reason. It’s not a good enough reason to die here, deprive another people of human rights, break under the tolerable financial strain or live in perpetual fear.

And when it comes to emigration, secular Israelis have a survival edge. It’s easier for them to leave, to be citizens of the world, to build a home elsewhere. So more secular Israelis are leaving, or plan to, while religious Zionists are growing in number and staying.

When secular Israelis hear that we will live forever by the sword, they think of countries better suited to their needs. They love Israel, but it doesn’t justify this. To the religious Zionist, the country requires this. Through natural selection, Israel is emptying itself of secular citizens. In Middle East terms, we’re Neanderthals.

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