A couple weeks ago, I posted to this blog a promotion for an atheist conference called MA-HA-R, “Tomorrow”, described as an Israeli Reason Rally in Tel Aviv. One never knows how these things will turn out in advance, and I had my doubts. When I went to the World Atheist Convention in Dublin, there were less than 400 attendees and we had Dawkins with us. How well could Isreal possibly do? Well by the time I posted my blog promotion, they had already sold more than 400 tickets.
Their conference center had four lecture halls with a total of 700 seats. When Hitchens was booked to speak at the American Atheist convention of 2011, that venue would have been more than adequate, and the Isreali Atheist Association only expected to draw around 500 people with their couple dozen speakers. That event went went down last Thursday, the 10th of this month, and the report I got was that they had filled all four halls. More than that, they had to turn away hundreds more after they had already exceeded their capacity. Outstanding.
Now I must confess my ignorance of the demographics in their country. All I knew of Israel growing up was that they’ve been the hot-bed of militant violence forever. Abraham’s god of infinite love, forgiveness, and mercy spawned three major faiths, all of whom have been at war with each other, each since their inception, and it seems that God’s spyglass of magnified torment was usually focused right there. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has read the Old Testament and noticed the patterns therein. If YHWH promised a holy land to his chosen people, they should expect more damnation than paradise. That would be consistent with the Bible’s blood-stained stories, and that’s the way we’ve always seen it on the news in my country. There would be less milk and honey, and more uprisings and explosions, especially when it means mixing or displacing so many fundamentally polarized religious and cultural groups. If I have not been completely mislead by the media, then maybe that’s why there are so many atheists in that area now. In any case, even if the environment is not as severely charged as I had imagined, seeing such a turnout of activists interested in a securely secular government is encouraging.