Since I shy away from controversial topics, I’ve danced around the Israel issue for a long time. Well, that’s about to end.
It seems that Neshama Carlebach has changed the lyrics to the Israeli national anthem, Hatikva, to broaden its meaning and include Israeli Arabs.
Here are the revised words below. Changes are in bold, with the original words following in brackets.
As long as the heart within
An Israeli [Jewish] soul still yearns
And onward, towards the East
An eye still gazes towards our country [Zion]
We have still not lost our hope
our ancient [2000 year] hope
To be a free people in the land of our fathers [our land]
in the city in which David, in which David encamped [land of Zion and Jerusalem]
To be a free people in our land
In the land of Zion and Jerusalem.
Part of what stymies American Jews in trying to figure out what in tarnation is going on in Israel is the core issue of separation of church and state. Now whether that precept is good for the Jews or bad for the Jews depends on a lot of factors, but bottom line, it’s what us US Jews are used to.
Israel, though, was founded as joint church (pardon the expression) and state. The state IS the church, see? It was formed as a Jewish nation. Now we have a move to widen that definition – make it Israeli instead of Jewish.
What IS Israeli???
Falafel? Nosy taxi drivers? Searing heat in the southern deserts? Drought? War? Teva pharmaceuticals? Naot sandals? Soldiers? What?
If Israel is not Jewish, what is it?
And if it is Jewish, must it be so politically?
For reasons I cannot fully explain, this change, following the whole controversy of Jerusalem not being listed as the capital of Israel on birth certificates, makes me so, so weary. Sad. Tired. Help me understand.
What do you think?
It was formed as a jewish state . . . and yet Jews cannot fully agree even on what 'Jewish' means with regard to INDIVIDUALS, much less whether "denominations" of Judaism are "truly Jewish", so of course it's going to be a problem to try and create a Jewish political entity. And the land actually already held people who weren't Jews, not a small issue.
A state's anthem should in my view try to be as inclusive as possible to the people who belong to that state. Meanwhile, non-Jewish Israelis are also part of the population, so why should the anthem exclude them?
"National anthem" means it's for that "nationality" – Nationality is membership of a nation or sovereign state, usually determined by their citizenship, but sometimes by ethnicity or place of residence, or based on their sense of national identity. (thanks, Wikipedia)
So is Israel a Jewish State or not?
In the US, Christmas is a legal holiday. I am a Jew in this country, so I get that when everyone says "merry Christmas" I am not included. That's cool with me. I don't live in a Jewish country. This, despite separation of church and state here.
Similarly, shouldn't Arabs who live in Israel get that they are a minority in a Jewish state? Especially a state where there is no separation of church and state?
The term 'nation' is really a problem, because sometimes it means "state" and sometimes it means "ethnicity" or something like that (as you show that Wikipedia shows) but perhaps with less 'biological' connotations (cf. our discussion of 'race' on the other thread).
The way that "national anthems" work (and aren't they a modern phenomenon? the way that the modern state is a modern phenomenon?) is that they are connected to a political state. Belgium has a "national anthem" but its population is Flemish and Walloon.
The idea that political entities should correspond to "nationalities" or "races" or "ethnicities" has been problematic all over the place: Serbia, Pakistan, Rwanda. I feel like Jews should not ignore the consequences of trying to impose "ethnic statehood" in those other situations when considering what it means to call Israel a Jewish state.
Hmm okay I don't know what I think about this… but if I was say, I don't know… Russian and NOT of Jewish descent but for some reason or another my family settled in Israel for business or the like, and many generations we lived there and took on citizenship, we'd be Israeli not Jewish, right? should they not be proud of where they live despite not being jewish? B/c it is my understanding that Israel is available to all people who want to abide by Israeli/Jewish law.
You said that a nation comes from a nationality. But wouldn't it be the opposite? That a nation comes from a group of people who adhere to the same rules and under the same law and then with time together become a nationality?
I'm not sure how I feel about it. Changing and old song is usually silly anyhow b/c it doesn't actually change anything, but just irks a lot of people. It's not like it's going to make the Arabs take over the world anymore than it's going to convince the Jews to include them as part of their nation. It serves little purpose but to "sound" politically correct…
I'd love to hear more thoughts… I'm not sure how I feel about the whole thing.
This issue reminds me of my friend, Tevye. On one hand….on the other hand…
Shver Zu Zein Ein Yid It's hard to be a Jew.
I applaud Neshama, though, for bringing this issue forward because it definitely raises the problem of national inclusivity with a national anthem that is particularistic.
Wow, I am surprised you are raising the "Israel question" after all the intensity of the Jewish/Jew-ish post, which still hasn't died down.
When I was a kid, attending a "community day school" (i.e. not affiliated with any particular Jewish movement), one of my most "right-wing/black-hat" Orthodox classmates refused to sing the Hatikvah as it was taught. Her parents told her to change the words to the last two lines, to make it
To be a free [TORAH] people in our land
In the land of Zion and Jerusalem.
Just goes to show you can't please everyone!
Hence my tongue-in-cheek opening… 🙂 Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment.
I cannot envision Israel as anything but a Jewish state. I understand the concern for tolerance but the history of Israel is tied inextricably to the religion. I am also concerned that if you separate "church" and state that Israel's enemies may argue that the reason for Israel is diminished.
Ruchi explained in an earlier thread how there are different O opinions on Israel, which I found helpful.
For those O Jews on the blog who think a Jewish state should exist in the political sense, and exist now and not in some God-determined future, what are the views about how to handle Israel's non-Jewish population?
The injunctions about non-Jews in the Torah are fairly simple and only mildly controversial (from today's "enlightened" perspective).
As long as they are not practicing idolatry we must be nice to them and take care of them. If they are poor – they should be allowed to benefit from welfare and (probably) healthcare.
That said, IMHO, non-Jews are a bigger problem to the secular Israelis. The rest are Messianic (National Religious believe they are already living the Redemption and Haredim are waiting for the Messiah to show up any day now and fix things). The secular Jews who wanted to build a typical country modeled on European nation-states and now would like to evolve it into a liberal democracy have a serious problem. The country cannot be both Jewish and Democratic with a large (close to 25% as of last counting) number of non-Jews.
Israel is an unusual country; it is considered to be a religious by most major religions. So, I don't think there can ever be a complete separation of "church" and state. That being said I believe that "when in Rome do as the Romans". Visitors to Vatican City follow certain rules, and it would be nice to see the same in Israel (lhavdil) at least in regards to moral issues.
Who would be the Romans in this analogy?
That would be a whole 'nother issue. With Judaism being a religion that is has so many types, finding one standard for the whole country, can be a challenge.
Am I being to hardline about this, a part of me feels that we are in exile now and having a non religious country is just the way it is. on the other hand it is a land with such inherent holiness and deserves to be lived in, in a holy manner.
Anonymous (#1): Bingo. You've just articulated why Israel is so torn. If it is a "Jewish" country, then you've got a million opinions about what kind of Jewish. Haredi? National-religious? Secular? Sephardi/traditional? Reform? Eeps.
But if it's not definitively Jewish (per Neshama Carlebach), what's special about it, for us?
Some of this is linguistic ambiguity and some is 'real world' ambiguity, I think. A country can't "be Jewish" the same way a person is Jewish. It can "be Jewish", for instance, if a lot of Jewish people live there–like a "Jewish store" can be where a lot of Jewish people shop, and a "Jewish food" is a food that Jewish people (usually some subset, e.g. Ashkenazi) eat (but of course anyone could and even does eat it too). A person can "be Jewish" in a more defined, contained way–Sephardi, secular, etc. But a country with lots of people who are Jewish in different ways in my view should not cherrypick which ways are "more Jewish" among different groups of people who consider their own ways "Jewish".
In my view part of the difficulty with O-C-R politics in Israel is that there is a desire to make the country Jewish like some people are Jewish, i.e. make the country follow laws (Torah) that are meant for people. Religious laws that people follow should in my view not be strictly transposed into a political-legal context for a country.
Israel is special to me for many reasons, one of which is historical. This is where a lot of those Torah events happened. The land is not, in my view, Jewish, because land cannot BE Jewish in the way people are Jewish. So if we call it a "Jewish land" we're already working with metonymy (figure of speech by association). Which is fine, we use a lot of figures of speech all the time, but then we should not at the same time take the figural expression "Jewish land" too literally and really think that LAND is Jewish.
Gosh, I have so many ideas to try out about this.
WELL. I guess it depends on if you consider Israel to be "Jewish" or "Jew-ish." Heh.
Me, I consider it "Jewish." Like a Jew is Jewish. In the same starkly technical terms. Anyone can live there or may wield political power, but I believe that the land itself holds spiritual, Jewish, quality.
There are technical, halachic differences between being in the Land and outside of it. Not based on its current political borders, but based on its Biblical borders.
Say more sometime about the land itself being Jewish.
SBW, this touched on some ideas that were rattling around my head:
Ironically, when I googled "What is spiritual about Israel" to try and get something substantial, almost every result was Christian. *sigh*
Thanks for the link. Lots of information and interesting material here. The parts about the organs and the 'exile from the homeland' just don't speak to me much. There's a romanticism there that I can't embrace. I guess I really am the 'post-modern' Jew because for me the diasporic story is more compelling than the 'homeland' story. We would have a lot to talk about here. I wonder if there is an O position that is more diaspora-positive.
Can you explain what you mean about the "diasporic story"? And I don't know that there is an "O-positive" (my blood type btw) position on the diaspora per se. I mean, we're here, let's make the best of it, but that's it.
So I guess to me Jewish history and identity even are stories, beautiful ones, but not with the metaphysical bedrock truth you believe in. The idea of the race and homeland are to me stories, and honestly I sometimes find those kinds of stories dangerous (Nazism) and romanticized. the more dispersed, chaotic, multifarious diaspora feels less romantic and more 'true' in its lack of unity. I believe in historical contingency, happenstance, and that 'big narratives' are interesting but not compelling. so the diasporic 'story' is shorthand for all that multiplicity and happenstance in Jewish lives . Too bad I am trying to say this all with my phone, not as easy as computer.
Actually, I believe your thoughts mirror those of the original Reformers. I think that's why Reform temples are called "temples" (and Conservative and Orthodox ones never are) – to indicate that we don't need to hope and dream for a return to Jerusalem with a rebuilt Holy Temple. We can create our own temples in the Diaspora which replace that Temple. Hence, the "diasporic story" being more compelling.
But even that movement has turned around to embrace Zionism. Without tho Torah stories, etc etc, why embrace Israel at all?
I'm still here, liking this thread.
Interesting that 'my own' ideas on diaspora vs. romanticized Jewish 'nationalism' mirror Reform thought. Also I didn't know that is the reason that we called it 'temple' growing up. That's a pretty good reason in my view, although I can see why it might offend O sensibilities regarding the unique status of the Temple in Jerusalem.
But then if Reform embraces the diaspora this way, it doesn't make so much sense that, as you point out, Reform Judaism then turned around and embraced Zionism. I don't know much about the history of Reform, but I can imagine that the Reform embrace of Zionism came about for two reasons:
1. Response to the Holocaust, i.e. Jews need a safe haven, whether in Uganda or wherever.
2. An overlap of European socialist-utopian vision–which I'm guessing stems from the same German Enlightenment elements as Reform Judaism–with the socialist-utopian aspects of early- and mid-century Israel.
Your great insight about how Reform takes the "Israel" in the motto "God, Torah, Israel" to mean the modern Israeli state instead of the Jewish people also fits in here.
In my world the Reform embrace of Zionism is a source of some big conflict. Some Reform-ish types don't want to attend a synagogue that includes a viewpoint of unconditional support for Israel. There are for this reason some oddball 'denominations/affiliations' that have developed that include stronger-than-Reform spirituality and observance with political positions critical of Israel's treatment of Palestinians. And some of the Reform congregations have carefully worked over their readings and so forth to avoid appearing Zionist. Which in turn offends some of the Zionist members of the congregations. It's maybe the biggest issue I know of in my small sphere of Reform-ish types.
This interesting aside from an essay by Jonathan Rosenblum:
In a 2007 study by sociologists Stephen Cohen and Ari Kelman, over half of non-Orthodox American Jews under 35 responded that they would not view the destruction of the state of Israel as a “personal tragedy.” Almost 60% of American Jews have never visited Israel, according to a recent American Jewish Committee study. Well under 10% of American Jews say that policy towards Israel or the Iranian nuclear program will be the most important issue in determining whom to vote for in November.
By contrast, 80% of Orthodox Jews have visited Israel, and more than half of those have done so three or more times.
Interesting essay, problematic for me on many levels.
He also writes, "Yet without a belief in Sinai, it is hard to fashion a coherent account of the Jewish historical mission or even to articulate why the continued existence of the Jewish people, and by extension the State of Israel, matters." I totally agree with the idea that without a LITERAL belief in Sinai these are difficult tasks. But then the point would seem for Rosenblum to be "so everyone has to believe literal O interpretation here for all of Judaism and Israel to hang together". Which is NOT Jewish unity in my view, because Jews believe lots of different things and have different views about what hangs together.
Problematic logically or otherwise?
Re: Jewish unity – did he say that, or are you assuming that? Because as far as I have learned, Jewish unity is not contingent on us agreeing. In fact, the greatest achievement of unity is precisely when we do not agree, but resolve to play nice anyway.
I think there are at least 2 different definitions of Zionism. One is that the Jewish people is entitled to a homeland of their own, in their historic boundaries (i.e., not Uganda). The other is that all Jews should live in the land of Israel. I think you can support position 1 without a belief in Torah MiSinai, especially now that there is such a state in existence.
Do you mean "historic boundaries" or "Biblical boundaries"?
I don't believe we have a right to a country stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates. It is ironic that we seem to be occupying Philistia while the contemporary Palestinians hold Judea and Shomron. But personally I'd say close enough.
Ruchi: I understood the goal of the article to be to show that Orthodox Jews are very much about helping other Jews and the unity of the Jewish people. That logic made total sense. I also found the descriptions of Orthodox chesed illuminating and I could see what perspective he was arguing against with his examples of Orthodox Jewish charity and so forth.
I learned a lot, but found myself put off by what I learned, when I read things like, "Chareidim inhabit a Judeocentric universe, in what Jews do and what happens to them is the prime moving force of human history. Every chareidi child learns from an early age that the fate of the entire universe hinged on whether the Jews would accept the Torah on the sixth day of Sivan (Rashi to Genesis 1:31). Had they refused, the world would have returned to its original tohu ve'vohu." Rosenblum does not himself explicitly embrace this belief, and I don't know his other work so I don't know, but he does seem to approve of how this belief solidifies Jewish identity ["Such ideas are foreign, even anathema to most Jews today . . . . But they do lead to a greater identification with one's fellow Jews and greater concern over what happens to them."]–which to me is a matter of cart-before-the-horse logic.
When Rosenblum writes about how Oren laments the huge divide between Orthodox Jews and non-Orthodox Jews, he concludes that "Until the importance of Sinai is appreciated, Ambassador Oren is merely identifying symptoms, not addressing their causes or providing cures," which to me seems to mean that all Jews have to accept the literal truth of the giving of Torah at Sinai. That last item would be for me a big obstacle to Jewish unity.
Even more, though, I was wondering about the 'playing nice' question and Jewish unity. I think that "agreeing to play nice" would also require acknowledging other 'branches' or whatever we want to call them as Jewish, which the Reform/Orthodox thread dealt with extensively, and now I understand the problems there much better–but I still don't think it is ok for O Jews to not acknowledge other branches. You must have read the news story about the Israeli gov't now paying some salary to non-Orthodox rabbis. That to me is a move toward Jewish unity, but I gather that to a lot of Orthodox Jews it is a bad idea.
"Agreeing to disagree" is for me, like you, one way to have unity, but when one Jewish 'branch' has the political power to freeze out another 'branch' (and I recognize that Orthodox Judaism can't see C or R Judaism as a true branch of Judaism) then that is not very unifying.
Here is another point about Israel that just occurred to me, but I bet it's not new to you: the fact of the state of Israel actually works *against* Jewish unity insofar as it provides those 'branch' conflicts a concrete, financial, political arena where 'agreeing to disagree' is not really a possibility because there is a concrete 'bottom line' of real power, money and decision-making at stake.
Larry: So does that entitlement of the Jews to a homeland in/around the biblical-area boundaries come from God, or from the political reality of Israel's existence, or from the debt the world owes to the Jews because of the Holocaust?
At a minimum, that entitlement comes from the same place as the entitlement of Americans to occupy America, and more likely from the place that allows Englishmen to occupy England(*). During the 1991 Gulf War a friend of mine used to post on Usenet with the byline ", American Occupied New York". I'm happy to use the sologan "Israel is real" and move forward from there.
(*) These issues never get settled for all time – England out of Cornwall!.
Larry, so that entitlement is based on 'facts on the ground', you are not tying it to God or Torah per se, but rather the contingencies of history?
Were the Jews in Persia saved through accident and political maneuvering or was that God's hand? I can make a facts on the ground claim. I can't make a claim of God's will that will convince an objective observer. Doesn't mean that isn't the real reason
SBW: all your observations about Rosenblums' piece, especially your final one, point to the same thing: that the political establishment of the state of Israel is pretty much the main arena of all these conflicts. No one is legislating Judaism in Cleveland, or LA, right?
The way I look at this, which might both comfort you and freak you out, is that when the Messiah comes, all Jews will view Judaism and God with clarity, and be ready for and understand the rules by which the world will run. More, they will crave those guidelines.
Yet another unintended consequence of the political establishment of the State of Israel: a political entity legislating a Judaism that much of the nation is not on board with; thus, a never-ending battle-grounds of Jew vs. Jew.
Larry, I'm not sure what you mean by your final statement, but say more about the Jews' claim to Israel being similar to the American claim on America.
Ie, if Mexico would invade and win Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, would that be the same as Jordan swallowing up Jerusalem in war?
Yes, your formulation about the unintended consequence of the establishment of the State of Israel is precisely what I meant in that last point.
The other two points are not as much about Israel as about Orthodoxy. The 'Judeocentrism' Rosenblum describes as being a useful ingredient for Jewish unity and a central part of Haredi life de facto excludes, or produces self-exclusion [i.e. disidentification with Orthodoxy], of Jews who reject that Judeocentrism. That's an irony in its own right–Judeocentrism that alienates a big proportion of Jews.
Also Rosenblum suggests that the cure to the divide between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews is the acceptance of (the Orthodox belief about) Sinai. So again the "solution" by definition excludes the Jews who don't accept that Orthodox belief.
And I notice that some of the posters here have in other threads talked about when the Messiah comes. As if it might be any day now. I look forward to a post about that Messianism (although yes, it is far out for me).
Larry: So would you give the Jews any God-given or Torah-given entitlement to that land? Or is it just based on historical contingency (which I think is Ruchi's question).
So would you give the Jews any God-given or Torah-given entitlement to that land?
I don't think I get to do that. Either we have it or we don't but it isn't up to me. Seriously this is the sort of question I prefer not to answer, or even bother to think about much. If it is true. I don't see a way to prove it to a skeptic, and if it isn't true then our right to Israel is the same as any other nation's right to their land, and I don't see why we should be held to a higher standard in this case.
I get what you are saying. But in other places you seem fine with trying to 'prove to skeptics' other things. That is why I enjoy your posts, I learn a lot from those 'proofs'. But I guess that might be more a theological passion of yours than the Israel/political/concrete issue.
Larry, I, too am intrigued by your approach on this issue. "Why is this issue different than all the other issues?" Or isn't it?
Ruchi. There's an old joke about a man talking about how his marriage works. He says "I take care of all the important things – war and peace, the nature of God, what the Federal reserve should be doing, and my wife takes care of the small stuff – where we live, who we are friends with, the children's education, and so forth."
This issue isn't that different. A coworker asked me yesterday whether I believed in an afterlife and I said I was willing to wait a long time to find out. I divide things into the known, the unknown, and the unknowable. I don't spend a lot of time on the third category. Maybe I'm deluding myself – let me know if you get a different impression of me.
Hehehe, that's a great answer to the afterlife question.
So I get the impression that science/empiricism belong in your scheme to the category of "known". What I don't get is where Judaism for you fits in that tripartite scheme–the known or the unknown? Is it too invasive or personal to ask that? You don't seem to be someone who gets easily offended, but please ignore the question if you prefer.
I am fascinated by the silence on this post. Are people more worried about getting into conflicts over this than they were about Orthodox/Reform? I can say that I have been more worried about talking about Israel than about belief. It just seems much hotter all around. With Reform/O/belief issues, there is a sort of conflict-avoidant way out of the difficulties, because everyone can retreat to their 'corners' and just let the fact of the 'denominations' continue to speak for itself. And it seemed everyone who posted had a fairly secure identity within their own sphere of Judaism.
When it comes to talking about Israel, perhaps it is harder because some of us on the blog don't live there, so it's not like speaking for "our own" the same way R-/C-/O- discussions might feel like we speak for our own lives and circles. Also the different beliefs regarding how to deal with Palestinians is less easily DIRECTLy referrable to doctrine–or maybe I'm wrong about that. Ben-Y above would seem to have an easier answer.
And maybe O-Jews have gotten more reticent to discuss these things because of public opinion around the Palestinians?
I'm disappointed that the thread is rather quiet, because I really did want to learn about how others view this. I have my own opinions, some expressed in my previous posts on this thread, but gently butting heads with different opinions is always a fruitful learning experience.
SBW, I too am stymied. It's so hard to predict what will spark a discussion and what won't. I do think your hypothesis is correct. It's not real life for most of my readers. I do know I was scared to post anything about Israel because of Palestinian wrath (as though they are reading my blog??). And I share your disappointment for the same reason. You and I should do coffee and discuss! I wish!
I almost never find Israel a productive discussion topic. In the early 90s I used to express my opinions and was told they were worthless because I didn't live in Israel. Then I lived in Israel and was told my opinions were worthless because I lived inside the Green Line.
In the O/C/R discussions I feel I can make a difference – I can inform people who honestly don't know about the movements. In Israel discussions pretty much everyone has made up their minds. I just don't see the point – it is all pain and no gain.
Exactly, Larry. I always enjoy discussing religion and beliefs with people. I avoid discussing politics, particularly Israeli politics, partially because my opinions are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. As much as I love Israel,I am not a citizen, I am not voting in their elections, and I have no grand solution to offer.
Plus, it isn't a topic that can be addressed "al regel achat" – standing on one leg.
Hmmm, so I'm wondering if it is an O-Jew thing to not want to debate Israeli politics for the reasons Larry and Miriam have listed? Or U.S. O-Jew? Or perhaps this is just a convergence of modest, reasonable, resigned minds on this blog. 😉
SBW I can assure you there is no reticence in my O community about discussing Israel. The range of discourse is narrow, but the volume is high. (And yes, I do see a relationship between the two features).
Larry, LOL! What do you mean "these two features"? Which two?
SBW, do you find in more liberal communities there'd be a more brisk debate?
I see a casual relationship between the high volume and the narrow range of opinions.
"Narcissism of small differences" applies again, right? 🙂 I love that.
Ruchi: I don't know about R- and C- in general. I think it might be more a matter of subculture and 'local' views than 'overall' liberal views.
My own problem among some of my Jewish peers and co-workers is that there is an assumption that everyone has the same view. And Jews who fall outside that stance enjoy very low regard. And I am conflicted and ambivalent, so I don't have the solid stance of some of those peers, and I pretty much have to keep to myself. So it's hard to consider that 'liberal'. This has been one of the bigger conflicts in my psyche in the last few years, believe it or not.
OMG, you took the comment right out of my mouth!! I can't tell you how much I've been thinking about that.
I had to read the rest of your comment three times before I got what you are talking about. I actually have been surprised at how many "liberal" Jews are so "conservative" or "right" or whatever you want to call it, on the Israel issue. (Can I say pleasantly surprised…?) And I actually understand your position better, in your context – it's consistent within its own system.
When you say "conflicts in your psyche" do you mean figuring out where you stand on Israel, or figuring out where you stand among your liberal Jewish peers on the issue?
Now I'm not sure what YOU mean in your second paragraph! 🙂 I guess I meant that there is some "orthodoxy" (small o) in one faction of my small peer-world about where 'we' are presumed to stand on Israel. But in fact I feel conflicted, I'm sympathetic to that stance but also not sure and have moments of different feelings. But I don't mention my ambivalence with these peers, some of whom are friends and professional mentors. I know that if I did, their overall opinion of me might suffer.
My psychic conflict over this is about where I stand on Israel. In fact among my Jewish peers–all of whom would probably seem liberal to you, but a few of them even count themselves as Orthodox or Mod Orthodox–there ARE a range of opinions, some more Zionist, some very critical of Israel, some beyond that, and the views criss-cross in ways I find surprising sometimes. Friendships sometimes line up along these opinion-lines as well. So my ambivalence and conflictedness means that with most of these factions I'm reserved when it comes to discussing Israel.
You might find it funny that at one point I said to my husband that the two biggest questions of my life were whether to have another child and what I should think about Israel.
1. To baldly and not very politically-correctly rephrase my second paragraph: I've been pleasantly surprised at how many liberal Jews are stauchly pro-Israel. It's almost the only issue we agree on sometimes!
2. I actually understand exactly what you mean, because it's what makes sense to me, that a "Reform" or "liberal" Jew WOULD see the Israel issue both ways. I mean, on the one hand, the Reform movement is Zionistic (more on this soon) but on the other hand, tikkun olam etc. demands looking out the for the underdog, which the Palestinians are perceived as being here.
3. I not only find your final paragraph funny, but mysteriously touching. You care, that much, about Israel. See? We have more in common than some might have thought.
1. Ok, I'll 'go bald' here as well. I'm talking way further 'left' than your average 'liberal' Zionist-ish Reform types (which is how I grew up). That is, many of my Jewish peers in my current world are strongly anti-Israel and assume that 'we all' share these views. I do share some of those views, and have learned a lot from these peers, but I am not fully in agreement either, or don't really know where I stand. So I'm saying that while on this blog I come across as far-out Israel-critical, in my local peer group I'm under wraps as what they would see as startlingly sympathetic to Israel.
2. Your analysis of how Reform Judaism is split–in my case even in the same person, me–is really helpful. I think you're right. Also a lot of Reform Jews are left/liberal, and the Palestinian right to self-determination belongs to that political spectrum. This goes back to what a few of us raised on the other Israel-related post here: that Israel has not adequately taken on the responsibility it bears as a powerful state and sometimes paints itself as a victim, in order to treat Palestinians in a way that some of us would see as victimization. (I feel like this is where I expected a lot of debate here–what specific actions by Israel are victimization OF Palestinians vs. responses to victimization BY Palestinians.)
3. I love your response in #3. I wish it were as unselfish as you paint it. Really I feel conflicted about Israel because I am conflicted about what position I should take, what position is most ethical, and how I can decide that. Well, then maybe it's not so selfish, because I want Israel to do what is right so that I can feel proud and comfortable identifying with it. As it is now, I can't.
The question of another baby is more easily settled. We got a puppy. I still waver sometimes.
So get another one, and call it "Israel." 🙂
Seriously, I now understand what you mean in #1. Again, that's how I would have stereotyped a liberal Jew, say, five years ago (when I was young and dumb.)
I missed this until now. HA on the 'young and dumb'. You look very young, and write very smart.
🙂 I'm 37. And thank you. I shall return the compliment to you.
In the words of Dr. Luchins – "there are those (Jews from Diaspora) who are willing to fight to the last Israeli and those who are willing to negotiate to the last Israeli." IMHO, both positions are problematic.
That said, after witnessing the failure of Oslo and the dissolution of the 2-state dream, I am more into the Jabotinsky position – which was basically a liberal democracy, a Jewish majority, full rights for minorities, separation of religion from state (that should include socialism as well).
However, since we don't have Jewish majority at this time, I believe status-quo (with the Arabs) should be maintained and Jewish immigration encouraged. Specifically, by improving economic conditions and cutting down on bureaucracy, corruption and red-tape. That (in my view) includes increased settlement – to prevent any more territorial concessions. Today, ~10% of Israel's Jews are settlers – we need that number to double.
Speaking of Jabotinsky, some of his articles are near prophetic. I would recommend The Iron Wall. It nicely foreshadows many of the stumbling blocks the Zionists placed in front of themselves, including the pointlessness of the peace process.
Interesting, Larry and Miriam. BY, sounds like America, except Jewish majority instead of Christian majority. It's amazing to me that a country full of Jews is so successful at survivial, tech, medical development, and export, but can't figure out how to make it work internally.
Internally they work incredibly well if you consider who they are.
The reality is that Israeli society is a confederation of small groups, each numbering 10 to 150 thousand people. The fault-lines cut across ethnic, religious, cultural, linguistic, political, economic, &c. definitions. Each group has its own interests.
On the positive side, internal assimilation and intermarriage is at least blurring the ethnic and cultural differences.
So why does it feel so different from the USA?
I always wonder if Israelis developed that "Sabra" personality from having to push and shove and hustle in a small land with many opponents.
Thought I had posted a comment here, maybe it got interrupted. I said that I thought it was actually a conscious program on the part of early Zionists to make a "new, strong" Jew, in light of the victimizations of the Holocaust. New, strong, tough will translate to pushy in social realms.
Why does it feel so different from the USA? REally good question. Part of this is a middle-East-ness, I think, where people are more ebullient in some ways and less afraid of expressing negativity. Part of it is density, the cities densely populated and dense cities make tough people. Although Tokyo is said to be so polite, so who knows. Where's the blog's urban studies person??
Well, not all of Israel is urban. That might explain Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa. What about all the kibbutzim and moshavim?
Do O-Jews have objections to the (if I have the story right) development of the 'new Jew' and the Sabra personality, as you call it? Is this part of the conflict between the O-Jews who study and the Jews who go to military service?
Yes, some do.
The "ghetto-Jew" was an icon to be buried. However, there were some beautiful things about the ghetto-Jew that were buried too. Whether by design or by accident, I will not comment.
IMHO, these are far more dangerous waters than anything I've broached hence, as it basically splits Modern Orthodoxy and other-Orthodoxy straight down the middle. How much to leave behind and move on, and how much to retain the old traditional values? Trust me when I tell you that the debate has never abated – not in Israel and not at all.
And yes, in part, it affects the controversy on military service. My reticence (as you have probably perceived) is intentional. I try not to blog about things that are very divisive, that people get very emotional about, and that have very little chance of effecting a difference.
This is one of them. Homosexuality is another.
And I meant originally to comment on the Jerusalem/passport/birthplace issue that was otherwise without mention in the responses (which are dwindling down to the diehards!). That is rather different than the changing of the lyrics to the Israeli anthem by a pop singer. The passport issue seems to me to be a U.S. diplomatic issue, the changed lyrics in contrast seem an intra-Israeli pop star's attempt to make a political/social commentary on her own country.
About the passport: The U.S. does not want to foreclose, I am guessing, some solution whereby Jerusalem would not belong solely or completely to Israel. Or at least the U.S. gov't does not want to take a position on this that would then alienate other countries in the Middle East and commit the U.S. to further positions about Israel. Not clear of course whether this is out of principle or diplomatic maneuvering, but I'm certain it's the latter. (Wasn't there a 1940s solution proposed where Jerusalem would be internationally 'governed'? Not sure if this is related to that.) So in my view this passport matter is about the U.S.'s official stance toward Israel, which has not been dealt with in this thread. Any other diehards want to go there?