The Biblical Book of Exodus recounts Moses’ original founding of the Jewish nation. In this story, Exodus is a ship carrying European refugees. Moses & the divine law have been replaced by Ari ben Canaan & the memory of the Holocaust.
First we face a crisis of rulership. Newman has to take the ship through a British blockade in Cyprus. The British rule ignores the Jewish opinion of their own good. Perhaps that is inevitable, but let us ask: What do the Jews think is good for them? The daring Jews have recourse to commando tactics & subterfuge to evade British rule. Not to open violence, however. – To withstand British rule, which is a political problem, Israel needs a legitimate prince to lead her. Otherwise, the nascent patriotism of the Jews & their need to conquer the Promised Land are doomed.
This crisis creates a crisis of citizenship. The Jews fleeing to the Palestine have nothing in common, but they must face death on the high seas. As the philosopher teaches, that takes courage, but does not constitute political courage. Perhaps they do remember to hope for Jerusalem. But they do not fear God. Apparently, the Zionists are lacking as founders, because they cannot add to the laws the necessary piety that makes a polity. Refugees do not conquerors make, much less citizens. Concern for the common good is different to concern for private good.
So does the plot show two fundamental problems, first about the nature, then about the consequences, of political foundings. Sentimentality often hides cowardice, so it behooves us to confront the original founding in a manly way.
Moses united the people of Israel in two ways. First, by the divine law he brought to the people & which he taught to the young, in the desert. The Jews thus came to an understanding about man & God. Of course, had the teaching of Moses been practically disproven, the people would have faced destruction.
Then, Moses promised them a land, he made the Jews a people of conquerors to ensure their survival. A people of slaves entered the desert, but a people of warriors appeared. That then is the Biblical teaching on foundings.
Moses Maimonides taught that God punished idolatry with destruction. Idolatry made the Jews turn to astrology & numerology – & thus to turn away from the arts of war. Therefore, they were destroyed, & they deserved it. The laws of idolatry indeed must lead to political destruction. Happily, the return to the ways of the fathers was possible for the Jews returning to the Promised Land. Unhappily, the manliness is often wanting which is required to reject sentimentality & confront the harshness of political problems.
Zionism seems a thing of the past, but its nobility should not be forgotten