Kerry’s “messianic fervour” – Israeli Defence Minister doesn’t quite apologise

The John Kerry – Moshe Yaalon spat has become a US – Israeli spat and provides some light amusement.

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon had criticised John Kerry for acting out of “misplaced obsession and messianic fervour”.

The instant backlash from the US and Israel was fairly predictable but the Israeli concern was more about not upsetting the US rather than not upsetting Kerry.

And this shows in the apology that Moshe Yaalon has now issued.  “The defence minister… apologises if the secretary was offended by words attributed to the minister.” It is a classic case of apologising for the result but not for the cause. It is saying, “I am sorry that you took offense but definitely not for my actions which caused you to take offense”.

But I have some sympathy for Moshe Yaalon. Messianic fervour, especially from a do-gooder who always knows best – is profoundly irritating. It arouses opposition for the sake of opposing the fervour. It shifts the focus from the message to the messenger. It arouses resentment first of the messenger and then of the message. It is generally counter-productive. It is only effective when applied to an unsophisticated crowd especially if they are lacking in knowledge or intelligence.

John Kerry seems to believe that showing such fervour is helpful to his cause whether in winning nomination, in relations between nations or his delusions about global warming. Messianic fervour may be admirable in a messiah (though even that is doubtful) but it is not an attribute of much value to a Secretary of State. Messianic fervour is the consequence of delusion – a delusion of moral superiority or of nobility or of divinity or of grandeur or of noblesse oblige. It goes far beyond passion and always indicates two obsessions; first that the opinion being proposed is fact and second that the all-knowing messiah knows best what the unwashed masses must do.

Messianic fervour should have no place in determining human behaviour whether in politics or in science. It is the stuff of false priests and charlatans.

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