Tuesday, May 13, 2008

You are not alone

This Jezebel thread has a number of comments that go something like this: 'I am a good (gentile) liberal. Why do all my Jewish friends, who are right on all the other issues, get all red-state and wrongheaded on this one issue, Israel? How can I bring them around?' Imagine if, on Jezebel, a man asked how to bring women around, a white person about how to convince black and Asian people to behave themselves, and so on. Ah, but the analogy doesn't hold, because look at how infinitely powerful Jews are in the world today! Everyone always sides with the Jews!

What follows in the comment thread, thematically, are many comments from those who believe themselves each to be the only person in the Western world with pro-Palestinian sentiments. Do these people really feel so alone? Do they not see the keffiyehs? Do they not notice that everyone on the mainstream left (a few pesky Jews aside) feels as they do?

And... back comes the now-ancient problem for Jews who want to be on the left and pro-Israel. Really, no one cares if you're against the settlements and want Israel to return to its socialist roots, if you want to see 'Jewish' defined in new and non-hereditary terms, if you want the whole of Israel to be no larger than a "cozy" studio apartment on the Lower East Side. If you want Israel to remain a Jewish state, you're a big ol' Republican. This is what progressive pro-Israel groups like J Street are going to have to deal with. They make it abundantly clear where they differ from others who are pro-Israel, but they're going to have to face, sooner or later, that they're light-years away from other self-proclaimed progressives.

8 comments:

David Schraub said...

If I was blogging pseudonymously, I'd adopted the handle "pesky Jew."

Phoebe said...

That should definitely be a blog, The Pesky Jew. Thanks for the link from the Feministe comments, btw!

Seth said...

WWPD is a breath of fresh air.

Petey said...

"Really, no one cares if you're against the settlements"

Actually, folks care about that a lot.

There was no conflict between being "pro-Israel" and being on the left before 1967.

The case against Israel among folks with a moral center is historically a function of the occupation and settlements, not the existence of Israel. Vigorously ignoring this fact is a precondition for most of Phoebe's criticism of the criticism of Israel.

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Also, how would Phoebe know how people feel about Zionists who are against the settlements?

A quick search of her blog shows she's never had a single bad word to say about the settlements.

Phoebe said...

Where from the post do you get that this is supposed to be about me, as in, experiences I'm claiming to have had as a left-wing Zionist? I'm left-wing? Socialist? Maybe a bit socialist after various NYC apartment searches, but the post was clearly about how those who identify as solidly left and pro-Israel (see: Dissent Magazine) advocate something far removed from what many ask on the left, namely that Israel remove its (allegedly) anachronistic, colonialist self from the globe.

A lot of the blog is narcissism, but this post was not the self-referential one you've made it out to be.

Petey said...

"(J-Street makes) it abundantly clear where they differ from others who are pro-Israel, but they're going to have to face, sooner or later, that they're light-years away from other self-proclaimed progressives."

This seems definitively wrong.

While there certainly are Tony Judt-like voices on the left who are basically opposed to nationalism, and thus opposed to a Israel defined as a "Jewish nation", the large majority of progressive voices have a position quite close to J-Street's - that the problem is the occupation and the settlements.

"from what many ask on the left, namely that Israel remove its (allegedly) anachronistic, colonialist self from the globe."

This is your standard strawman.

The colonial behavior that folks with a moral center object to is the occupation and the settlements, not the existence of Israel.

While I understand that blurring the distinction between the '48 borders and the '67 "borders" makes your case easier to argue, I would also think that grappling with reality would be more interesting for you than grappling with strawmen.

Withywindle said...

I'm sure it's somewhere on your blog, but I'd be interested in a recap on the aspects of France and Israel that you find positively attractive to you. What about them grabs your affections? Or could you even have a sidebar? It seems a natural ornament for a blog on Francophilic Zionism.

Anonymous said...

As a non-leftist Jewish 'Zionist,' I feel that progressive Jews are being hoisted on their own petards. This is what they get for being the first (and often loudest) to chime in on every trendy, international cause celebre that they don't understand. Exhibit A: Kosovo. Exhibit B: Ukraine. Exhibit C: Tibet. And the list goes on, ad infinitum.

Kinda sucks when it happens to us, non?

Chaim