Sunday, February 15, 2009

More Middle East


"...Let me add a little spice to the stew we're cooking. In the critical latter days of the Haskala, when Zionism and Jewish Socialism were trying to define themselves for a people who were in poverty and social misery, for the most part, the Socialist Bund had a theory called "Doikayt" .... simply translated as "hereness." And, they gave the example that given the number of Jews in Poland and Lithuania, etc, the Jews consisted a community that was large enough to ask for a special definition of nationhood within the larger Polish polity. The Zionists said, "no go -- we need our own land." So, each had a conception of maitre chez nous -- one in place the other in the place of memory. Zionism, in numerical terms did not engage the majority of Jews. The Bund and its theories had a much larger, practical following. Zionism was a romantic ideal. Doikayt -- in place participation in bettering the lot Jews was the bedrock of Jewish Socialism. I guess what I'm getting at is that to define Zionism the national philosophy of place for the Jews is silly. It isn't and never has been. It's been a romantic notion that the Shoa made possible. And, like all romantic notions has come face to face with reality that it isn't working too well. The romance has faded and now everyone is arguing about the soiled sheets -- like any other nation. To put Israel on a pedestal as the anchor of Jewish identity goes against history. The old saying, "next year in Jerusalem was a romantic wish that has come true and soured the world for both Jews and non-Jews. Please explain how the possibility, the real possibility of the Haredi taking over and creating a Jewish verison of the mullah state in Iraq is part of the future which Jews building and living Jewish lives "here" should even consider. There is no contradicition between Zionism and democracy other than the contradictions that occur when the political power changes and we don't like them because they're not our idea of democracy. Zionism, the romantic zionism, is dead. Israel is alive. It is not a Zionist state. It is a state that is judged like all other states -- sometimes fairly...sometimes unfairly by what it does or doesn't do. The only objective reality is how the world views it. And, that isn't necessarily the reality of those within the state...."


"...Gerry, you’d need to be clear as to what you think concretely Zionism means today. I say it means Israel is a Jewish state.

You can *argue* that’s silly, romantic, outdated, ahistorical, irrational, dysfunctional, non-existent; and you can *argue* that you have a sanctified oak tree growing out of your navel. Saying the words doesn’t make something so or not so. There is a place called Israel. Prost and poshit. It’s a Jewish state. Prost and Poshit. Jews the world over perceive it vital to their identity as Jews. Prost and Poshit--and particularly as generations of Jews younger than your and my generations intermarry, assimilate, and, generally, become, as I rather am, deracinated.

For you to say Israel is alive and Zionism is dead is, as I say, to deny it’s a Jewish state with a sizeable Arab Israeli minority, which is to deny reality and pray before the sanctified oak tree. How do you genuflect, by the way? Even Levy does not abandon the idea of Zionism, but, says, rather, it needs to be redefined.

So by all means let Israel be judged by the standards of other ethnically based liberal democracies, which, I keep repeating, accord ethnically based prerogatives, as it tries desperately to work out its problems and survive.

And to this you say what exactly?..."

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