In what is a radical departure from the mindset of their parents, these young Americans’ earliest memories of Israel are of the Intifada, of heavily armed Israeli soldiers arrayed against young Palestinian boys “only” throwing rocks. Sensitive to the underdog everywhere, and with a deep-seated belief in fairness, they insisted and continue to insist upon balancing the scales. The Palestinians, they decided, needed a state.
god forbid any american jews feel uncomfortable with the clear power differentials present between palestinians and the israeli state apparatus and believe in the palestinian right to self-determination — the same right that zionism wishes to exercise! horrors!
Zionism’s claim has been that the Jewish nation cannot survive meaningfully without the Jewish state, that the ancient biblical strategy has become counterproductive and dangerous. The Zionists were right.
i see how judaism and jewish identity died in diaspora; alternately, i see how much yiddish and ladino cultures have flourished in the state of israel, lolololol. nope.
Of course, today’s American Jews are confident that they have found a home of an entirely different order. What happened back then, they assert, could not happen today. That newfound confidence has historical antecedents, of course: American Jews’ confidence resembles that of the Jews of Cordoba—who were forcibly converted, burned alive at the stake, and summarily expelled in the Spanish Inquisition. The Jews of Berlin in 1930 also believed they had found the ultimate enlightened home, that the dark days of Europe would never return. And in the space of but a few years, German Jewry was erased.
yeah, american jewry’s position is just as precarious as that of cordoban jews or german jews in the weimar republic. how incredibly intellectually lazy to make such a comparison, and how devoid of nuance. fuck you, sir.
This is the point that today’s younger generations of American Jews simply do not understand: American Jewish life as it now exists would not survive the loss of Israel.
perhaps “american jewish life as it now exists” would not survive, but it would not cease to exist entirely.
An overlooked but important question is this: Without Israel, what would remain to make Jewishness anything more than some anemic form of ethnic memory long since eroded? About what else in Jewish life, besides Israel, do contemporary Jews feel outrage? Even those who are more critical of Israel react swiftly when Israel is unfairly abused in the international media or when it is attacked. Conversely, many American Jews feel profound shame and even anger when Israel does things they consider inexcusable. What else evokes such immediate passions?
of course, the fact that zionist sentiment has actually displaced jewish culture in a great many circles is not at all a problem. nationalism takes precedence over all other expressions of jewish identity, and reducing a judaism without nationalism as “an anemic form of ethnic memory” is…well, reductive, and wrong to boot.
quite frankly, this sort of nonsense is precisely what is driving away a lot of younger jewish people away from any sort of zionist project. when your zionism allows such little room for dissent, when it reeks of an unappealing nationalism that minimizes not only palestinian issues but issues of racism and classism among the jewish populations in israel, when it substitutes a hegemonic israeli culture that propped up by modern hebrew at the exclusion of diaspora languages and cultures (because obviously they’re no longer necessary for the performance of jewish identity), it becomes incredibly fucking alienating to a whole lot of people. i have no desire to check all of my beliefs at the door in order to unconditionally support a state whose policies i often deeply disagree with, where my discomfort is considered tantamount to treason in many circles, and where my own identity is necessarily subsumed under a totalizing national-cultural project that seeks to erase difference while never really succeeding. i suspect i’m not alone.
^ absolutely not. you have managed to voice a lot of what i feel about zionism in a very well written post!
ugh i’m gonna reblog this so people see how asinine daniel gordis is. i really do not have the patience to write or even think anything about this guy. most of his article—sadly excerpted from a book—simply isn’t good history. it’s just not accurate. he references ludicrous statistics without citation (i assume he’ll cite this in the book, but apparently lots of jews don’t care of israel is destroyed [?]). he also espouses a context-less and content-less zionism.