As the Zionist State celebrates, this week, its 60th birthday or what the Israelis usually call "anniversary of independence" (Independence from whom? From the Brits? Who'd midwifed them to birth and cradled them to stand up and walk?). One doesn't help but to contrast them with one or the other of the various Arab tribes and their statelets. Take for instance Libya. Since it was not that long after the birth of Israel (1948), Libya too came into existence (1952). But the difference between the two births, though as closely in time, couldn't be farther apart, in quality and substance, than the distance separating the Middle Ages from Modern Times. While Israeli birth was the culmination of a long and deliberate campaign -started many decades before at least since the formal constitution of the Zionist Movement in 1898- of a colonial nation-building-state project; Libyan State, on the other hand, unlike the Israeli one, to put it mildly, was born under duress, that's, prematurely and was indeed, in need of all the care that a premature, underweight and sick baby must have if any chances of making it, not only to grow healthily but to mature and come of age. Unfortunately for Libya that didn't happen! There was no Neo-Intensive Care Unit (NIC U) to send her where some deformities could have been corrected, weight put on, and the road to recovery was delineated. Yeah, some may say there was some process commensurate with the country's ability to deal with. In fact, there were some attempts by the UN, Brits, and the rest of them, to help usher the new state into what amounted to a neo-colonial and client state. Indeed, the old-new- state was not very much different from its predecessor except in the figureheads and the like that were to man it.
The Labor Zionism, through its Yishuv (the new settler colonial society in Palestine) sought not only to establish a new homeland and build a new state, but above all to model a new Hebrew person, the one who'll populate them, from the Jewish in Diaspora. The newly imagined Hebrew was to be secular/modern in place of religious/traditional, active in place of passive, and connected to land as laborer instead of disconnected from it. The Zionist Movement, in abandoning the diaspora's religious way of life, was not only rejecting the "culture of the book" but above all creating a new presence (individual), that is, developing a new Hebrew national subject and a Jewish nation-state in the process. When David Ben Gurion, leader of the Yishuv, on May 3, 1948 declared the birth of the new state most of the preparatory and necessary ground work - at the three levels: individual, social, and state- has already been laid down and taken care of; and, the new founding principles have been debated abundantly and chosen as both cornerstones and lampposts to the new individual, society, and the state that will contain them. A modern state in the full sense of the term populated by no other but a modern and enlightened person who's free from all the junk of flotsams and jetsams of traditional culture and history.
Compare or contrast all this to what had taken place in Libya. While the Zionist Movement had done its homework magnificently, Libyans had depended on the machinations of international agencies and local lackeys. These had manipulated the process in order to pursue a course that will guarantee the physical presence of the West and thus their interests. The debate, if there was any, was basically squabbling about the mechanics and number of chosen or appointed delegates to the various phony and pseudo congresses. In the lack of any meaningful debates, that would have clarified some of the terms that are still facing this generation and perhaps the next ones to come, about: Why Libyans needed a State at all? What sort of a new state this should be? And what type of individual, society, etc. such a state will demand? The result was a tradition-religion- tribal what-you-call-it, thingamajig with no blueprint to follow and with a sick person as its subject.
What a difference a birth could make? At a distance of sixty years one, Israel, is Modern,'Democratic,' and Prosperous; the other, Libya, is Medieval, Autocratic, and Dirt Poor. How could this happen in post-Enlightenment era (modernity), when supposedly, humans have abandoned the worn old ways and embarked, under their own power (reason), on new chart: to build a future full of promises and prone to success. A future that was free form the tyranny of the absolutisms, not to be contaminated by the past and its ways and prejudices; a future that ain't going to be deceived by the lure and lore of ready-made answers, but rather demands new ones as the need arises. You may object that we're merely paying for our ancestors deep sleep - they lived like horses and cattle and died like horses and cattle! You may also say, in our own times, the whole shenanigans, the process, has been either stolen by the "Yesss-Yammmm" throng or was hijacked by another even worst crowd, the bearded ones. The upshot what we got: Dictatorship of a patriarchate where nepotism and cronyism are rampant; a Mafia-style regime that promises what it couldn't deliver. Lately started at dangling grapes in front of a covey of opportunity-seeking sycophants, and perhaps distributes some favors too to other naive bunch who still believe in Reform from above; a sui generis reform, remind you! that would be achieved by no other means than pandering, flattery, and coaxing. There are still folks who believe in miracles, i.e., the leopard will change its spots and become a gazelle ready to be petted and patted by the gullible and drooling lot. Well, dreams are only dreams! Keep dreaming, no different than long and near ancestors, who'd waited for God or Ali Baba, whichever comes first flying on the carpet, et voila! Things will take care of themselves, such as, power will self persuade to reform itself and things thereof will be spic-span. Tyranny and dictatorship will disappear and in their place an enlightened father-figure, who'll own but doesn't rule; and, we'll all live happily thereafter!