Saturday, January 03, 2009

Zionism and the Diaspora

The Israeli lobby has learned to play the Jewish diaspora in the West with a virtuosity rivaling Isaac Stern on the violin. The phenomenon is reminiscent of the way the Republican Party successfully snowed Catholics and the evangelical right on the issue of abortion.

An instance of unthinking, knee-jerk support for Israel was on display in comments posted on my blog this week by individuals I know to be Jewish. It reminds me of the pro-lifers who chose to vote for right-wing politicians who show contempt for life outside the womb..

The issue is not whether Israel should exist or whether abortion should be legal.

The question is whether it makes sense to support a politician or a country unconditionally -- no matter what they do -- simply because they claim to represent a single position or identity about which one feels strongly.

There's a slippery slope once one goes down that route. For reasons of common identity Italian-Americans would be duty bound to support the Mafia and non-smoker Adolf Hitler would be a suitable poster boy for anti-cigarette campaigns.

One need not be anti-Israel or anti-Semitic to conclude that the present government of Israel is engaging in a transparent ploy to look tough to its electorate just as the hard-line Likud Party is making gains in the polls.

Israel is plainly in the wrong in its military adventure in Gaza on any number of counts and stands to lose -- once again in a very short time -- in the court of world public opinion. That's not just me speaking: you can read a similar assessment from Shmuel Rosner in the Jerusalem Post.

Yet the diaspora -- meaning the Jewish communities outside the traditional Jewish homeland -- embraces unquestioning, unstinting, uncritical support for Israel no matter what. Go to the Anti-Defamation League's website and you'll find one link after another pointing to the wrongdoing of others and to the support that Israel supposedly deserves.

That kind of blind support, especially when it involves killing by the hundreds, is unconscionable and reprehensible.

There's a difference between the Israeli cabinet and any random spiritual descendant of Abraham. Folly -- or worse -- on the part of the former should not command blind, goosestepping loyalty from the other.


Anne said...

To compare, I do not blindly support or believe all that is represented by or propagaded from Vatican City. (Even though I'm technically supposed to.)

Diane in DC (and probably the only Jew on this blog) said...

I don't think that just because I am Jewish, anyone can assume that I "blindly support" Israel, just as Cecilio says he doesn't "blindly" support the Catholic Church. When I made my comment last time, I had talked to a woman who made the comment before me, who I believe is not Jewish and disagreed with you even before I made my comment.
She is also someone who not only knows you in the cyber world, but has met and talked to you in person, even though she made an anonymous comment.

Chaviva said...

Since the disengagement in August 2005, over 7,000 rockets have been launched from Gaza to Sderot and the Western Negev. That's just one area and certainly doesn't include all attacks by Hamas. Why is it that when Israel responds, it's greeted with such outrage by many in the world - but there is no such outrage to the unprovoked attacks staged regularly by Hamas and TARGETING schools, children's playgrounds, etc.?

Like it or not, Israel is an independent state (evidently, Dick Cheney does NOT like it, since he said that the US was not consulted about Israel's plans to move further into Gaza.)

Check out The Israel Project, the Sderot Media Center, or the Simon Wiesenthal Center for a bit more balance.

Anne said...

I have enough angst over US policies in Iraq, etc.

What I and a growing number of people disagree to is our footing a cost of close to 7 billion a day for Israel to be extremely supreme.

Americans have become unwitting collaborators and it seems we have helped to suppress a people who have no voice...other than rockets, it seems. For many of us it's unAmerican.

Chaviva said...

Anne, do you really think that the money the US spends in Israel is for the country "to be extremely supreme?!" Honestly? You don't think there's any SELF-interest on the part of the US government here? History demonstrates pretty clearly that the US government doesn't put this kind of money or effort into another country unless there's something in it for them.

I appreciate that you don't approve of your tax dollars being spent in other countries, including Israel, but let's not pretend that the US is doing this in order for Israel to be top dog.

Anne said...

Actually I don't mind helping countries, especially those in need. I wish we could do more.

I'm under no illusions about some of my own county*men*, polititians, & the two-way street of mutual, corporate might that disenfranchizes people in many places.

I just believe that most Americans do not have clear understanding of both sides of Israel/Palestine discord or hear enough from the moderate Israeli voice.

Believe me, I'm not proud of the fundamental extremists of the US, either.

Cecilieaux said...

If Israel is so independent, Its government should manage its wars without U.S. funding. Israel gets more aid from the USA than all of Africa, where real human needs exist, put together. I have no objection to foreign aid, but it should not be wasted on industrialized nations that can take care of themselves. Israel has even spied on the USA to steal military secrets!

Israel should stand on its own two feet like every other advanced industrial nation.

Chaviva said...

Oh, I don't disagree with Israel's standing on its own two feet, but you know (better than most) that the US sticks its fingers in and spreads its money around wherever it finds an interest. We could say, "But those countries shouldn't TAKE the money," but the fact is that they have. Israel included. Why is it worse for Israel to take US dollars than any other country that has done so, though?

And with all this outrage against Israel, where is the outrage against Hamas, which has fired more than 10,000 missiles into Israel (primarily into areas where there are schools, playgrounds, and hospitals) between the disengagement in August 2005 and the recent resumption of a response by Israel? Where were the UN Security Council nighttime meetings working out resolutions to condemn Hamas?

Cecilieaux said...

1) Hamas is not a nation-state member of the UN and is not the only source of rockets.

2) Israel has imposed an economic blockade on Gaza, forcing the loss of employment and business that is pauperizing the Palestinians; that's why the Palestinians have been rebelling cyclically.

3) Israel started the current series of attacks way back in November, on U.S. election day, when no one was paying attention.

4) What about the basic point no one is addressing or seems even capable of dealing with? "Pro-Israel right or wrong" is not a rational position.

Anne said...

"And with all this outrage against Israel, where is the outrage against Hamas"

On a personal note...I suppose for myself it is the let down of having held Judaism in very high esteem, knowing of the atrocities directed to Jews in WWII, the hope & dreams that having come out of such horror that the memory of it against modern day enlightenment would find a parallel in the treatment of Palestinians as in the old "remember that you, too, were an alien".

As for the Palestinians, I can't shrug off anyone who has not been as fortunate as I or their fellow Israelis. I have seen the difference.

We all have clay feet and disappoint each other and I guess I am just not a lover of war.