Monday, February 16, 2009

More Middle East


"...Itzik: The problem is yours. The problem is mine. I'm not trying to run away from the idea of Israel as a state that was founded as a Jewish state. I may be trying to run away from it as a state with a state religion that will continue to be the religion of the state even when the majority of it's inhabitants are not Jewish -- which according to Israeli demographers will happen soon. In any event there are other questions I ask myself when I consider the demographic future of Israel. When Israel was declared a state in 1948 was it declared a state with a state religion? Or was it declared a secular state-- a state for Jews regardless of how they believed or didn't believe -- with caveats -- (a Jewish mother if you were going to be a Jew.)

That's what Israel's consitution say. Oooops. Israel doen't have a constituion. But, in a political compromise with the Haredi rabbi's of the time, Ben Gurion made his pact with the devil that in effect gave Israe a state religion that declares people like you and me -- secular Jews -- the devil's spawn, and our children or grandchildren if they are not born of Jewish mother's momzeyrim -- bastards, and the conversions of Reform rabbis not valid. Clement would be more comfortable in Jerusalem these days than surrounded by Italian hedonism.

But, I wax sarcastic.

And, the issue is a serious one for any of us who consider ourselvews Jews and want to remain Jews.

Let's remember the core of the Zionist idea, which was an idea born in the Pale of Russia as a counter to the general liberation movements of the mid nineteenth century which were largely socialist and stuggled to create democracy in place.Zionism at its core said that, because of the endemic anti-semitism in Europe, Jews would never achieve a normal existence unless they could build it in their own state. And, those of us who remained outside would never live normal lives and were destined to fade into the general population either through apostasy, or assimilation into the majority culture.So, the questions are -- am I not living a normal life as a Jew because I don't feel the need to look to Israel to strengthen my identity?

Do I not think that there is enough in the Jewish tradition (-- all aspects of it -- including Israeli) that I can't get enough sustenance to build a comfortable Jewish Identity? Do I thinkthe Jewish identity will disappear? No more than it has in other periods of history, many times willingly. Do I feel deracinated?

No, I'm not my bobbes type of Jew but I am a Jew, and in discourses like this I add to my Jewishness and to the dispepsia of others who perhaps don't agree with my take on the issues.

I'm going to pick up bits and pieces from Bernard Avishai's "The tragedy of Zionism"

"Yedt it would be wrong to confuse Israel with the movedment that produced it. Israel is a state inthe normative sense, a country, a home for its citizens, and not merely a cause for people who identify with Historic Zionism. Moreover when one makes the effort to distinguish the actual institutions of the Zionist revolution from the intentins of Zionist theorists -- and distinguishn both from the state's polticial constitution -- it becomes obvious that Israeli deomocracy was never fully organized."So, what happens when it becomes fully organized?

Will it remain a Jewish state? What will make it a Jewish state? Religion? Walls to keep the Jews who fit the definition of the Haredi Rabbis protected? If the idea of the Jew as Jew is weakening why don't we look at our lives in "exile" as the Zionist theorists call it. What is the nature of our Jewish cultural lives, our education, the institutions that give the community coherence?

To look to Israel as the the Roman Catholics do to the Papal State is a death knell for communities that historically led healthy existences outside of Israel -- even in biblical times.

So, yes, I want Israel to exist as a state. I think that if it is a healthy state it will make a contribution to our lives?

If it remains a state at war with itself -- religiously and politically, I'll sadly say, it was a good idea -- but people screwed it up..."

No comments:

Post a Comment