The Pathos of Jewish anti-Zionism.

despair gill kayeI must admit, there is often something very touching about heartfelt expressions of Jewish anti-Zionism.

On Daily Kos (a significant left-leaning political blog) we recently saw another soulful “diary” calling for the dissolution of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people.  As is sometimes the case, this one came from a fellow Jew… a very sad fellow Jew.

Jewish anti-Zionism often has a pathos to it.

It tends to have a kind of self-indulgent, guilt-ridden, weepy quality.

It enacts or portrays the supposed torment of a Jewish soul before a non-Jewish audience comfortable with Jewish weakness and entirely uncomfortable with Jewish strength.

My suspicion is that such portrayals are sincere and that there is a definite throwing oneself upon the mercy of the court quality to it all.  The saintly David Harris-Gershon fairly ooozed this sort-of righteous self-flagellation as he fretted about what gift he should purchase for the children of the terrorist who murdered two of his friends and who almost murdered his wife in the cafeteria of Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

You know how this goes.  When your typical Jewish anti-Zionist was young he was allegedly filled with the heroic spirit of Moshe Dayan and David ben Gurion.  But now the Arabs, and their western allies, have shown him the error of his ways and he is willing to publicly rend his shirt and acknowledge his immoral mistake.

We have one such example up at Daily Kos written by Burtfrombrooklyn entitled, Israel and the paradox of theocracy.

After much soul-searching over many decades, he tells the world:

I’ve come around to a belief in a one-state solution.  But that new state could no longer be a Jewish state…

Burt, a middle aged Jew who has never set foot in Israel has decided, on moral grounds – no less – that Israel should no longer exist as the national homeland of the Jewish people.


He writes:

In maintaining its status as a Jewish state, how can it also stay true to its founding vision of a society that offers equal rights and protections to all citizens, not just Jews?

Asking how Israel can maintain “equal rights and protections,” which is to say democracy, while being a Jewish state is no different from asking how France can maintain democracy as a state of the French or Britain as the state of the Brits or Ireland as the state of the Irish.

What makes the Jews so special that there is something inherently inconsistent about Jewish democracy, but not, say, Mexican democracy?

There are two issues of primary importance around this discussion that distinguishes Israel from all other countries.  The first is that Israel is held to an anti-Semitic double-standard, which is why it is the only country on the planet wherein millions of people around the world – despite the Holocaust – think that Jews need to return to statelessness and, thus, helplessness.

The second is that the word “Jewish” also refers to the religion, which allows the less well-read to sometimes accuse Israel of being a theocracy.

This is precisely what Burt, from my dear old dad’s town of Brooklyn does:

The paradox:  how can a government simultaneously be theocratic and humanistic — committed to being a Jewish state, and committed to being a social democracy that values human and civil rights?

Israel is actually the least religious country in the entire region and was set up quite specifically not to be a theocracy, which is why its legal statutes are not Torah-based.  Religious questions sometimes arise in legal proceedings, as they do in the United States, as well, but the last thing that Israel is is a theocracy.

Unlike in Tehran, there is no rule by an authoritarian religious elite.

Therefore, the entire premise of this particular call for robbing Jewish people of even a chance at safety and sovereignty is grounded in dangerous nonsense.

Below are a few comments from beneath the article that will give you a sense of how many of Burt’s associates feel:

Thank you for a thoughtful and (4+ / 0-)

thought-provoking diary.

I am sorry for the howls of rage that will no doubt fall on your head for having the courage to question whether an Israeli theocracy can be sustained.

by officebss on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 09:52:17 AM PST

But there is no Israeli theocracy.

theocrats usually believe they are humanists (1+ / 0-)

In fact they believe that only theocrats can be humanists.  Their argument is that God desires the good of humanity, therefore to follow God is automatically to do good for humanity.

by Visceral on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 10:05:38 AM PST

But there is no Israeli theocracy.

Excellent and thought-provoking diary. (3+ / 0-)

I, too am an American-born Jew, 64 years old.  You and I share much of the same experience.

Israel as a nation was never a matter of faith, but cultural identity. 

I find your solutions very compelling.

by 57andFemale on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 10:11:07 AM PST

His solutions mean total war.

If one is interested in seeing very many dead people then definitely advance BDS, because if it is successful that will be the outcome.

Furthermore, of course, if Israel is grounded in cultural identity rather than faith, then how could it possibly be a theocracy and, thus, just what does this person find compelling?

What I find compelling is the shear idiocy of any such Solution to the Jewish Problem that requires war against us, which is precisely what anti-Zionism / BDS will need if it is to succeed.

Expulsion of the local Arabs has been part of the (1+ / 0-)

Zionist toolbox since Day One, back in the 19th C.

Current Israeli policy is not to evict them all or kill them all outright,  but to severely restrict the Arabs’ collective airway in hopes that they’ll move.

by oblomov on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 10:45:41 AM PST

oblomov’s view is in no way reflective of Israeli history or the history of the Jewish people in the region.

If transference of the Arabs were a general Jewish policy than just why did the Jews beg the Arabs in Haifa to stay during the War for Independence?  As David Margolick wrote in a 2008 New York Times book review of historian Benny Morris’ 1948: The First Arab-Israel War:

Transfer — or expulsion or ethnic cleansing — was never an explicit part of the Zionist program, even among its more extreme elements, Morris observes. The first Arabs who left their homes did so on their own, expecting to return once the Jews lost or the fighting stopped. The Jewish mayor of Haifa begged Arab residents to stay; Golda Meir, then head of the Jewish Agency Political Department, called the exodus “dreadful” and even likened it to what had befallen the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.

When someone like oblomov makes unjust and malicious accusations against Israel he is, essentially, calling for violence against a long persecuted minority.  He is, for all intents and purposes, acting in the fashion of a Nazi in the sense that he, like the Nazis did, is spreading hatred toward the Jews in preparation for whatever violence is to come.

The truth is, one cannot despise Israel without despising the Jewish people and wishing us harm.

One cannot stand for social justice while simultaneously pointing the trembling finger of blame at the Jewish people.

Perhaps this is something that needs to be clarified.

Some people, it should be noted, stood up and told this “diarist” that his musings were nonsense, but they represent the distinct minority within most left-leaning venues.

The bottom line is that those who call for the dissolution of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people or who, in their consideration of the long war against the Jews, either take the Arab side or constantly denigrate the Israeli side, are playing a very sick and dangerous game with the future of your children.

Self-righteous Jews like David Harris-Gershon, who wear the hair shirt and give public testimony to false allegations of Jewish malice, are spreading hatred toward their own people and this certainly goes for someone like the Daily Kos diarist who believes that Israel needs, somehow, to be dismantled.

The elimination of Israel as the Jewish state can only happen through full-on war.

Ultimately, this is what anti-Zionism points toward.

If you think that Israel should not exist as the nation state of the Jewish people… or if you favor the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the lone, sole Jewish state… or if you think that Israel is a racist, militaristic, imperialist, theocratic, apartheid, colonialist entity… then you are pushing for lots and lots of blood.

But, don’t worry, unless you happen to be Jewish – or live in or near Israel – chances are the blood will not be yours.


{Originally posted at the Elder of Ziyon.}

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  1. Michael, as you say, Israel is not a theocracy. Anyone who has visited Israel and is open minded will attest to that, as most Israelis are secular and often view the ultra religious with disdain. After all, if it were a theocracy, you definitely wouldn’t have Gay Pride marches! The whole accusation is ludicrous, and those who believe it are either woefully ignorant or antisemitic.

    Funny how England is a Christian country (unlike Australia), yet there have never been accusations of England being a theocracy. Ironically, thanks mostly to self-hating Jews and Christians promoting those who advocate anti-Zionism, England is in danger of becoming a theocracy, and not a Christian, relatively benign one.

    Israel is a thriving democracy in a sea of theocratic repressive nations – which is why she is so hated by those with a totalitarian mindset.

  2. I’m a Jewish Atheist! So are many Jews! So Israel as a Jewsih State can negate the ‘Theotocracy word!

    • Do you actually know what you are talking about?
      You may be a secular Jew but as a Jew you cannot be an atheist.

      I guess you know little or nothing about Israel. She is a democratic country and certainly not ruled by her clergy.

    • I also guess you don’t know many Jews if you think many are atheists.

    • Randy, I don’t quite understand your comment “So Israel as a Jewsih State can negate the ‘Theotocracy word!” Are you saying that merely calling Israel a Jewish State makes it a theocracy? There are many countries that have an official religion – England, Spain, India, Rome etc, but that doesn’t make them theocracies because there is a separation of religion and politics, just as in Israel. Contrast countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, where there is no such separation and religion dictates the law.

      As for being an atheist, Jews can choose to follow whatever religion they wish. They can leave the religion they were born into, become Scientologists or whatever. But in my experience, most Jews who say they are atheists are just non-practicing Jews. Atheism is a strong belief system, which asserts there is no God, and real atheists are quite dogmatic about this, whereas secular Jews just don’t feel that strongly about religion, but are happy to be Jewish, with all the problems that entails.

  3. I think Randy must have issues being Jewish seeing as to how where he comes from there are so few Jews.