Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sitting this one out, too

-Because I can't make sense of another round of wecantspeakthetruthaboutisraelorwellbecalledantisemitesbutwaitnoonescallinganyonethatbutitsureseemsliketheymightandohabefoxmanasversusrogercohenwhoisaprophetandwhyifdarfurandrwandaarethisandthatisisraelsignaledoutitsamericanfinancialsupportandwhatdidthepalestiniansdotohavetopayforthegermanssinsandwhycantwejustrelocateisraeltosomeotherplacebecauseitsnotasiftheresalreadyacountrythereoranythingisntitjustanideabandiedaboutinopeds?

-Because, even if I'm very near the only non-right-wing American Jew under 30 who identifies as a Zionist, I fail to see what contribution I could possibly have to the discussion, let alone one that would alleviate suffering for either side or get anything resolved.

-Because my paper still isn't 100%.


Daniel Goldberg said...

Let me know when you get there and I'll send along the address for the non-right-wing-American-Jew-over-30-who-identifies-as-a-Zionist club.

But I entirely share your doubts as to the lack of contribution I might have to the discussion. In fact, I have found in my own experience that the quality of the discussion is poor enough to be remarkable even by the exceedingly low standards I expect for contested social and political issues; not to mention contested social and political issues that involve teh Joos.

Freddie said...

It is indeed hard to dance around live wires; the usual thing to do is to blame the people who insist on keeping the current turned on.

Matt said...

I think you underestimate the number of non-right-wing Jews under 30 who are Zionists (at least, who support the continued existence of Israel as a Jewish state, even if they don't call it Zionism). That famous study that everyone and their Bubbe cited, showing that younger Jews are losing their personal attachment to Israel, showed that "60% of those under 35" believed "caring about Israel is an important part of being Jewish." It also showed a fair bit of support for Israel among left-wing Jews, much more than is commonly thought. Though I'm (barely) over 35, I fit pretty well into the invisible gap. I have no personal connection to Israel and hope never to move there (for the most trivial reason: I hate hot weather -- but if my Korean wife gets me to visit, we'll see what I think then). I don't think anyone should feel less a Jew because of a similar position. but I'm as staunch a Zionist as I know. And I've sometimes used "liberal" and "reformist" as slurs for people who are insufficiently leftist. I think that stems from an atmosphere summed up by Jay Michaelson when he wrote, "I admit that my exhaustion is exacerbated because, in my social circles, supporting Israel is like supporting segregation, apartheid or worse. I know this is a sign of weakness of will on my part, and I hope that the Times-magazine-sanctioned rise of J Street changes things, but I don’t think advocates of Israel understand exactly how bad the situation is on college campuses, in Europe, and in liberal or leftist social-political circles." Zionists are seen as inherently right-wing, so they're never recognized as liberal/leftist. And left-Zionists increasingly avoid challenging that.

Phoebe said...


Good to know.


Not sure I understand where you're going with this...


And the club grows! Its age limits are fluid.

Anyway, I don't think my own situation is the one of silence you describe - I'm quite upfront about being a Zionist. The problem is that I'm not a leftist, and am not a left-Zionist of the lets-keep-the-kibbutzim-communal variety. Where Israel sits on the capitalist-socialist spectrum does not keep me up nights, and is something I think the Israelis can figure out for themselves.

However, I think that the part of me that's a Zionist is more left than it is right (roughly, that Jews were screwed over ala colonized peoples and so have the same right to self-determination). This makes it difficult for me to ally with the pro-Israel rightwingers, because (among other reasons) I don't see the reason we should support Israel as being that it's this great bastion of Western civilization. Modern, yes, but Western?

Matt said...

Yeah, I'm with you on that. That is, I care about where nations stand on the capitalist/socialist spectrum but not especially about where Israel stands. I'm with you on the reasons for Israel's existence. Neither right-wing Zionists or left-wing anti-Zionists care to recognize that people like us exist.

Made Aliya said...

Well, it's not the same since we do care about kibbutzim and socialism and capitalism, but:

PG said...

The right has a tendency to deny that anti-Semitism even exists. E.g., conservatives who claim that in the absence of actual Jim Crow laws, segregation would have been a minimal phenomenon, generally undercut in a capitalistic society by the desire to have lots of customers and the best employees for the lowest wage. Widespread, long-lasting discrimination against Jews -- which, so far as I know in the U.S., was never put into law -- would severely undercut that theory that The Market Cureth All.

Phoebe said...


That could be true for some on the libertarian right, but what about the 'liberals are anti-Semites' brigade? You know, the 'liberal fascism,' 'Islam is our shared enemy,' 'Israel's Western and we're for the West' set? Neoconservatives? They're definitely not on the left.