Crisis in Zion



As soon as I began watching the video, I wished I had never turned it on. For most of my life, my reactions to accounts of Palestinian suffering has been rationalization, a search for reasons why the accounts are exaggerated or the suffering self-inflicted. In that respect, i suspect, I’m like many American Jews.
Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism

Antony Lerman, was the  former director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research. In a truly groundbreaking article (Aug.20, 2014) in the New York Times  he laid out the growing crisis in diaspora Jewry. Mr Lerman opined that both the left and liberal Zionism accepted the  established historical record, still not accepted by Israeli leaders but beyond argument that ” Jews forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians  from their homes to make way for the establishment of a Jewish state ” Well, this was at least a breakthrough but liberal Zionists also accepted  that it was an acceptable price to pay for the founding of the state.

Liberal Jews promoted the the idea of the right to self-determination  a blanket taboo for the maximalists in Israel today who seemingly want an Israel which is free of Arabs. The Jewish state has done everything in its power to make life intolerable for the indigenous population. Its cruelty, hidden from American Jews who have no idea of what transpires in the West Bank or Gaza reflexively out of tribal loyalty salute the Israeli flag. In an internet age, the daily accumulation facts of oppression and the massive denial of human rights are becoming intolerable to democrats everywhere.

Lerman makes a startling statement ” Israel is not Judaism. Jewish history did not culminate in the creation of the state of Israel.” Many religious Jews have been lamenting the injury done to Judaism by the brutality of “the Jewish state.” It mocks the history of Judaism as a religion founded on the exodus of a colonized people, of a God who liberates and does not oppress “the widow, orphan, the poor and the stranger “– i.e the Palestinians in this instance. These are to be raised up in all their dignity. as fellow humans who have the spermatikos, the spark of the divine inside them. Sadly like the Jews of eastern Europe Arabs have become untermenschen, subhuman, not like us, the Other.
Tribal Judaism seems in the ascendance in the diaspora. As Beinart says in his book,”Israel advocacy generally fails. For one thing it is difficult to teach Jewish students to defend the Jewish state when they have not been taught to care about Judaism itself.” The universal values of Judaism which were incarnated in so many progressive causes, which saw Jews on the side of the oppressed seems to have ebbed, much to the consternation of religious Jews like Avraham Burg: “Too many of my Jewish American brothers and sisters have become the beating heart of neoconservatism, part of the white, right wing,nationalist. and powerful establishment, part of an administration and culture that withdraw from the global responsibility that defined America’s spirit in World War ll…The Jews have abandoned the inner cities for affluent suburbs…together they stand against Arabs and Muslims everywhere.”

Judaism is no different from any world religion. It is susceptible to corruption particularly among the plethora of idols rampant in advanced capitalism: power, affluence instrumental reasoning etc. Catholics saw a similar movement in the USA when an immigrant community moved to the suburbs. Charity replaced justice as the cardinal virtue. “Living easy is indeed dangerous as Nietzsche reminded us.

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