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Fr. Georges Massouh: Holy War Isn't Holy

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No one knows the hour when the end of times will come, when it will be. No one can prophecy about the end of times. The Gospel is clear and Christ even rules Himself out from having such knowledge. So how can a person claim that he will reveal the times and prophecy about the fall of nations, the rise of others, earthly Christian victories that we do not know from the One who says that His kingdom is not of this world?!

The occasion for these words is the rise of a certain apocalypticism among some Christians in historical Syria, especially after Russia's entrance into the war in Syria, since some believe that this intervention is the beginning of the realization of the prophecy of Saint Paisios the Athonite and others believe that the president of Russia is the "faithful Orthodox leader" who has come to save the Christians from Islamic terrorism.
...
Read the rest here.
 

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I suggest everyone read this. It's really food for thought. this is a good read Iconocole, I just read it this morning on the arab orthodox blog, then you post it  :D
 

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Another essay by Fr. Georges:

In order to justify their offenses in general and in particular their wars, some resort to this text from the Gospel: "Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves" (Mark 11:15 and equivalent passages in the other three Gospels). They put themselves in Christ's place in the story and put their enemies in the place of those who deserve to be killed and expelled. But is there a way of reading this text that is closer to the mind of the fathers?

The fathers found in this event a warning for themselves and for Christians in general-- not for others-- that gives them guidance in order not to fall into temptation, in order not to become merchants who traffic in holy things rather than faithful servants of the Church according to God's heart. They found that this event is concerned with them, the children of the Church, more than it concerns others who do not belong to the Church. Contrary to what happens today, they placed themselves in the place of the merchants, not in the place of Christ, so that they might benefit from repentance before Christ comes and expels them.
...
Read the rest here
 

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Who is Fr. Georges Massouh?  His articles are beautiful!  At the end of the first article posted, there is a link to "Gone is the Glory of Constantinople...but Christ Remains".  Amen! Abouna Amen!

Thank you Samn! for translating these articles.
 

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Yeah, Samn! definitely deserves some praise for his continuing work in translating so many interesting voices in modern Arab Orthodoxy.

As far as I can tell, Fr. Georges teaches at the University of Balamand.
 

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Thank you for your kind words.

Yes, Fr Georges is professor of Islamic Studies at Balamand and the priest of the parish in Aley, Lebanon.
 

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Indeed, a combination of clear thinking and sound theology. The first article brought tears to my eyes as so many here in American Orthodoxy are applying a certain wishful thinking with respect to the Russian incursion into Syria and view it as religious in nature rather than an exercise in traditional "realpolitik". Thanks for posting.  (I'm not condemning realpolitik per se, simply making an observation. In using the term, I use it with the more or less traditional meaning of 'sovereign national strategic interests' that's all....Father's post transcends the same.)
 

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ohh snap that is you samn! translatingxall those articles on that Arab Orthodx blogspot? keep it up! I enjoy it a lot!
 

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Putin is a faithfull Orthodox leader and maybe the faithfull Orthodox leader.

Period.
 

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Hayabusa, I think you and I both know what the userbase is ignoring the real enemy ;)
 

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Amatorus said:
Hayabusa, I think you and I both know what the userbase is ignoring the real enemy ;)
We know what we have always believed.

We have MP stating it, although shy and with other religions.

We have some preist with an Arabic name, about whom we know nothing saying it it's not true, in many words and with a great effort to look genuine. We don't know for whom he's been working.

It's eiter Russia is foretaste of Christ in Syria now and will defeat the spirits of anti-Christ with Gods' help, or the Armagedon is unfolding in front of us and the Second Comming is at the end of this battle.
 

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Or, neither.
 

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I think the title of the article is somewhat misleading, though I would classify that as unintentional given both the author and the tone of the overall content.  The real message is this:

It must be stated that the faithful are not bound to accept everything that the saints said during their lives. The faithful are only bound by what pertains to the faith and their salvation, that is, to their spiritual edification. Therefore, we have the right to doubt Paisius' prophecy-- not his personal sanctity and not the majority of his spiritual teachings-- especially since many of his followers doubt the veracity of this prophecy attributed to him. Our support in this is that Christ Himself called for not calculating times and seasons. Everyone of every religion-- whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim--and every sect or religious group-- such as the Jehova's Witnesses and the chiliasts-- who has set a time has been met with failure.

I remember being rather shocked when I learned that the Church 'lost' a number of St. Paul's letters, and sermons from St. Basil.  Even significant document from less than 1,000 years ago have disappeared, such as the Protopsychosabbaton, which would probably make all of our discussions about death and Toll Houses all the more complex given the citations from it that still exist.  The Church does not preserve every word of every saint like some giant religious museum.

Saints are often complex people.  Some things are edifying and some are not.  I recall an old priest who, when told that St. John Maximovich had being glorified as a saint, stated with shock, "Him?!?"  There are even saints who disliked each other while alive.  Life is complex.

We often seek pat answers, black-and-white, yes-or-no, one-size-fits-all... because it absolves us of personal responsibility.  It is also, very often, due to our own lack of faith in God's love and mercy.  We are afraid to be wrong.

War is evil, pure and simple.  Yet, we are dumped into a world full of it.  We also look back and see where God not only allowed Christians to fight in wars, but He called some saints.  He even commanded His People, Israel, to prosecute wars in rather ruthless ways.

Sure, this is confusing for those who want assurances that their actions and opinions will please God, yet this can often become a replacement for what truly pleases God: a repentant heart.

What Fr. Georges is calling to mind is this idea that we should repent whether there is war or no war, and we should not desire to see the downfall of so many people, particularly the innocent children and those oppressed by the ignorance bestowed upon them at birth by their parents.

Rather than hungering to see Constantinople restored (I still can't figure out where they are going to get all of the Greeks to repopulate this New Greece given the Greek birthrate), we ought to yearn for our own spiritual development that we might see God within our own hearts and in the faces of all the people we meet.
 

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FatherGiryus said:
I think the title of the article is somewhat misleading, though I would classify that as unintentional given both the author and the tone of the overall content.  The real message is this:

It must be stated that the faithful are not bound to accept everything that the saints said during their lives. The faithful are only bound by what pertains to the faith and their salvation, that is, to their spiritual edification. Therefore, we have the right to doubt Paisius' prophecy-- not his personal sanctity and not the majority of his spiritual teachings-- especially since many of his followers doubt the veracity of this prophecy attributed to him. Our support in this is that Christ Himself called for not calculating times and seasons. Everyone of every religion-- whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim--and every sect or religious group-- such as the Jehova's Witnesses and the chiliasts-- who has set a time has been met with failure.

I remember being rather shocked when I learned that the Church 'lost' a number of St. Paul's letters, and sermons from St. Basil.  Even significant document from less than 1,000 years ago have disappeared, such as the Protopsychosabbaton, which would probably make all of our discussions about death and Toll Houses all the more complex given the citations from it that still exist.  The Church does not preserve every word of every saint like some giant religious museum.

Saints are often complex people.  Some things are edifying and some are not.  I recall an old priest who, when told that St. John Maximovich had being glorified as a saint, stated with shock, "Him?!?"  There are even saints who disliked each other while alive.  Life is complex.

We often seek pat answers, black-and-white, yes-or-no, one-size-fits-all... because it absolves us of personal responsibility.  It is also, very often, due to our own lack of faith in God's love and mercy.  We are afraid to be wrong.

War is evil, pure and simple.  Yet, we are dumped into a world full of it.  We also look back and see where God not only allowed Christians to fight in wars, but He called some saints.  He even commanded His People, Israel, to prosecute wars in rather ruthless ways.

Sure, this is confusing for those who want assurances that their actions and opinions will please God, yet this can often become a replacement for what truly pleases God: a repentant heart.

What Fr. Georges is calling to mind is this idea that we should repent whether there is war or no war, and we should not desire to see the downfall of so many people, particularly the innocent children and those oppressed by the ignorance bestowed upon them at birth by their parents.

Rather than hungering to see Constantinople restored (I still can't figure out where they are going to get all of the Greeks to repopulate this New Greece given the Greek birthrate), we ought to yearn for our own spiritual development that we might see God within our own hearts and in the faces of all the people we meet.
Amen.
 

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FatherGiryus said:
Rather than hungering to see Constantinople restored (I still can't figure out where they are going to get all of the Greeks to repopulate this New Greece given the Greek birthrate), we ought to yearn for our own spiritual development that we might see God within our own hearts and in the faces of all the people we meet.
"Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Constantinople as our mother’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up Greeks to Constantinople."
 

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Mor Ephrem said:
FatherGiryus said:
Rather than hungering to see Constantinople restored (I still can't figure out where they are going to get all of the Greeks to repopulate this New Greece given the Greek birthrate), we ought to yearn for our own spiritual development that we might see God within our own hearts and in the faces of all the people we meet.
"Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Constantinople as our mother’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up Greeks to Constantinople."
So, will you be celebrating Greek Easter?
 

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FatherGiryus said:
Mor Ephrem said:
FatherGiryus said:
Rather than hungering to see Constantinople restored (I still can't figure out where they are going to get all of the Greeks to repopulate this New Greece given the Greek birthrate), we ought to yearn for our own spiritual development that we might see God within our own hearts and in the faces of all the people we meet.
"Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Constantinople as our mother’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up Greeks to Constantinople."
So, will you be celebrating Greek Easter?
I watch that video several times a year, including Bright Week.
 

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Mor Ephrem said:
FatherGiryus said:
Mor Ephrem said:
FatherGiryus said:
Rather than hungering to see Constantinople restored (I still can't figure out where they are going to get all of the Greeks to repopulate this New Greece given the Greek birthrate), we ought to yearn for our own spiritual development that we might see God within our own hearts and in the faces of all the people we meet.
"Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Constantinople as our mother’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up Greeks to Constantinople."
So, will you be celebrating Greek Easter?
I watch that video several times a year, including Bright Week.
I showed this to my Parish Council Executive Committee as we discussed the plans for our lamb roasting event in January.  The main questions were whether we should do one lamb or two, and whether we should name the lambs before clubbing them over the head.
 

Mor Ephrem

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FatherGiryus said:
I showed this to my Parish Council Executive Committee as we discussed the plans for our lamb roasting event in January.  [/size


I want to join your parish.

[size=10pt]The main questions were whether we should do one lamb or two, and whether we should name the lambs before clubbing them over the head.
What did you end up deciding? 
 

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Mor Ephrem said:
FatherGiryus said:
The main questions were whether we should do one lamb or two, and whether we should name the lambs before clubbing them over the head.
What did you end up deciding?
I heard they named one Mor Ephrem. I thought that was rather tasteless, but I'm probably going to eat some anyways.
 

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TheTrisagion said:
Mor Ephrem said:
FatherGiryus said:
The main questions were whether we should do one lamb or two, and whether we should name the lambs before clubbing them over the head.
What did you end up deciding?
I heard they named one Mor Ephrem. I thought that was rather tasteless, but I'm probably going to eat some anyways.
This might help.



 

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Mor Ephrem said:
FatherGiryus said:
I showed this to my Parish Council Executive Committee as we discussed the plans for our lamb roasting event in January.  [/size


I want to join your parish.

[size=10pt]The main questions were whether we should do one lamb or two, and whether we should name the lambs before clubbing them over the head.
What did you end up deciding?
Pledge cards are in the narthex.

As for the decision, I don't want to scandalize Nothing any more than I already have with my posts.  I don't want him/her/zer to lose his/her/zers Faith...    ;)
 

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Father,

Never name the food. 

I have a few simple rules for life, and that is one of them.  Learned during my time in the Amazon.  Never name a particular animal and then eat it.  You can eat others of that species, but the giving of a name makes it a pet, and Amazonian tribes don't eat pets.


I broke this rule but once, and it was only after a party involving smoked mutton (I was in England) that the host gave a speech and said 'I am so glad your enjoyed yourselves and the food, I am sure Duchess would have been pleased as well'


*DeniseDenise stopped having a good time and stared out the window all the way home*
 

Mor Ephrem

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TheTrisagion said:
Mor Ephrem said:
FatherGiryus said:
The main questions were whether we should do one lamb or two, and whether we should name the lambs before clubbing them over the head.
What did you end up deciding?
I heard they named one Mor Ephrem. I thought that was rather tasteless, but I'm probably going to eat some anyways.
I'm pretty tasty, so I presume my namesake lamb is was also delicious.
 

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DeniseDenise said:
Father,

Never name the food. 

I have a few simple rules for life, and that is one of them.  Learned during my time in the Amazon.  Never name a particular animal and then eat it.  You can eat others of that species, but the giving of a name makes it a pet, and Amazonian tribes don't eat pets.


I broke this rule but once, and it was only after a party involving smoked mutton (I was in England) that the host gave a speech and said 'I am so glad your enjoyed yourselves and the food, I am sure Duchess would have been pleased as well'


*DeniseDenise stopped having a good time and stared out the window all the way home*
Good advice!

Although, to be honest, naming the lamb 'Spiro' probably wouldn't change my mind about eating him.
 

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FatherGiryus said:
[size=10pt]I think the title of the article is somewhat misleading, though I would classify that as unintentional given both the author and the tone of the overall content.  The real message is this:

...


Father,

with all due respect to your priesthood, I must say that you, too, missed to spot the error of the article.

The article assumes we base our beliefs on St. Paisios' prophecy, or perhaps on the prophecy on "The Third Rome".

We are neither bound to believe St. Paisios' prophecy, nor to believe "The Third Rome" prophecy. But we are bound to believe the Apocalypsis of St. John the Theologian.

While we do not know if the Apocalypsis is unfolding in Syria in front of our eyes, it is wrong to say that it is not unfolding.

In the case the Apocalypsis is not unfolding in front of our eyes, it is apparent that Russia and Syria are the forerunner of the Christ' forces, while the West (led by USofA, with Israel "leading from behind") are the forerunner of anti-Christ forces. The article unsucessfully tries to hide this.



 

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hayabusa said:
FatherGiryus said:
I think the title of the article is somewhat misleading, though I would classify that as unintentional given both the author and the tone of the overall content.  The real message is this:

...


Father,

with all due respect to your priesthood, I must say that you, too, missed to spot the error of the article.

The article assumes we base our beliefs on St. Paisios' prophecy, or perhaps on the prophecy on "The Third Rome".

We are neither bound to believe St. Paisios' prophecy, nor to believe "The Third Rome" prophecy. But we are bound to believe the Apocalypsis of St. John the Theologian.

While we do not know if the Apocalypsis is unfolding in Syria in front of our eyes, it is wrong to say that it is not unfolding.

In the case the Apocalypsis is not unfolding in front of our eyes, it is apparent that Russia and Syria are the forerunner of the Christ' forces, while the West (led by USofA, with Israel "leading from behind") are the forerunner of anti-Christ forces. The article unsucessfully tries to hide this.


[size=10pt]'Believing in' and 'interpreting' are two different subjects.

Prophesies are not meant to predict the future, but to help us understand the past once we have been through it. 
 

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FatherGiryus said:
...
Prophesies are not meant to predict the future, but to help us understand the past once we have been through it.
While what you said may be true regarding prophecies, but not regarding the Apocalypsis of St. John, I will note that it doesn't address my complaints about the article.

Let us just note that we differ on this, on my side, respectfully to your priesthood.
 

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I feel it's already a prophecy of the destruction of Christian Orthodox/Catholic empires of long times past is a message from God, and that our seeking to rebuild an Orthodox empire or seek Orthodox warriors and killers of evil men is a sign of spiritual weakness and distrust in the power of Christ's revolutionary self-sacrificial love that melts the hearts of our enemies.  When we look back in history at the Roman Empire, the Russian Empire, and possibly the Ethiopian Empire, we find nothing but weaknesses within those periods and tragic endings.  I am almost certain Christ is steering His Church towards a theological revelation that we seek no longer to be dumped into wars, but to increase tolerance, mercy, and love of enemy.  And this is not some new theology that is went through "development", but existed since the late first century of Christianity:

[url=http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.iii.ii.v.html]Epistle to Diognetus V-VI[/url] said:
For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.

To sum up all in one word-what the soul is in the body, that are Christians in the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, yet is not of the body; and Christians dwell in the world, yet are not of the world.

The invisible soul is guarded by the visible body, and Christians are known indeed to be in the world, but their godliness remains invisible. The flesh hates the soul, and wars against it, though itself suffering no injury, because it is prevented from enjoying pleasures; the world also hates the Christians, though in nowise injured, because they abjure pleasures. The soul loves the flesh that hates it, and [loves also] the members; Christians likewise love those that hate them. The soul is imprisoned in the body, yet preserves that very body; and Christians are confined in the world as in a prison, and yet they are the preservers of the world. The immortal soul dwells in a mortal tabernacle; and Christians dwell as sojourners in corruptible [bodies], looking for an incorruptible dwelling in the heavens. The soul, when but ill-provided with food and drink, becomes better; in like manner, the Christians, though subjected day by day to punishment, increase the more in number. God has assigned them this illustrious position, which it were unlawful for them to forsake.
This should be our credo when it comes to our dealings with society and governments.  I do not see any concept of a holy warrior fighting for the faith.  Before St. Constantine, the soldier saints fought for country and for salary (and not without controversy, as some other saints were against Christians joining the pagan army).  When subjected to give up their faith, this was the testing of their witness.  After St. Constantine, it seems the holy warrior is one who fights for the Cross with swords (and today guns), rather than with the Spirit.  Instead of nationalism and salary, it becomes a matter of killing the enemy for Christ, because collectively, the concept of "eye for an eye" still holds as a gospel to proclaim a certain group of leaders as "forerunners of the apocalypse".  I see a God who condescends to the Church's weaknesses, which is why we have complex saints.  But we also have a hint of a God who tried His best to send a message away from this, even from the Old Testament, when God was displeased in the people's request of a King of Israel.  We need to try our very best to fight for a higher standard.  I think Fr. Georges Massouh's articles have that high standard we are seeking.
 

hayabusa

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minasoliman said:
...
This should be our credo when it comes to our...
I don't have doubts that Zionists/Westerners would love your stance.

The fact is that your "we" does not embrace Orthodox Christians. We obviously don't share the same faith after 15 centuries of separation.
 

minasoliman

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Well, I apologize for hurting your feelings for a misperception of my post.  I only wanted a conversation, not a clash and one-upping.
 

Minnesotan

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hayabusa said:
minasoliman said:
...
This should be our credo when it comes to our...
I don't have doubts that Zionists/Westerners would love your stance.

The fact is that your "we" does not embrace Orthodox Christians. We obviously don't share the same faith after 15 centuries of separation.
You know what Hayabusa? The only reason why I'm even still considering the EO as an option at all is because I know that not all of the EO think the same way you do.

If I knew for a fact that all EO agree with you, and that all OO agree with Mina, then I'd probably be an OO catechumen already. Either that, or at least I'd be a lot less conflicted about where I want to eventually end up.

Sometimes I wish that the difference between the two really were that clear-cut. It'd make decision-making so much easier. Unfortunately it's not.
 

Minnesotan

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hayabusa said:
minasoliman said:
...
This should be our credo when it comes to our...
I don't have doubts that Zionists/Westerners would love your stance.

The fact is that your "we" does not embrace Orthodox Christians. We obviously don't share the same faith after 15 centuries of separation.
If anything, I'd argue that Israel isn't a Western country, and hasn't been for several decades at least. The influx of immigrants from the former Soviet Union has heavily "Russified" the country's culture and political climate. Western Europe is now mostly on board with BDS; American-Israel relations are also strained (albeit to a lesser extent), and anti-European and and anti-Western sentiment is on the rise in Israel; meanwhile, Israeli politicians are busy forming new alliances with Putin's Russia. A lot of these trends were arguably inevitable due to demographic, political and cultural shifts in Israel.

The Israel of today has very little in common, culturally at least, with what Theodor Herzl envisioned. Reading his writings, it's clear that he wanted a very secular society in which German (!) would have been the official language, Arabs would be treated as fully equal, some form of kibbutz-like semi-socialism would have been the norm, and religion would have as small a role as possible. He didn't at first care where "Der Judenstaat" was, either; he originally considered a number of other locations including Zimbabwe. He didn't even circumcise his son. I'm not sure he'd fit in there today. The only people there now who can really be called "Western" are the secular Askhenazim of Western Europe and American origin, and they're a minority, rapidly shrinking compared to the Russians, the Sephardim, the Haredim, and the Arabs.

I'd classify Israel as a Eurasian country, in that it seems to have the most in common with Russia, the 'stans, Turkey, and some secular Middle Eastern countries like Egypt. Those countries are precisely the ones with which it seems to have the strongest alliances right now (Egypt in particular).
 
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