Saturday, June 18, 2011

Zionist indoctrination assortment

-As someone who managed perfectly well to grow up Jewish, to go to my fair share of Hebrew school, and to miss the part where I was supposed to be indoctrinated in terms of what I was supposed to think about Israel, I never know what to make of the current proliferation of articles like this. I do know that the ridiculous all-caps comment that is at the time of my typing the only comment to the piece, whose author believes "JEWS SHOULD STAY UNITED BEHIND ISRAEL," before moving on to the topic of POGROMS, is not helping matters.

-Huh. (Via.) So maybe some Birthright trips are more about Zionist indoctrination, less about anti-intermarriage intervention. Clearly, as a Herzlophile who had just recently started dating the non-Jewish man who is now my husband, I picked the wrong trip.

-Thanks, David Schraub, for the shout-out in the comments at a Forward blog. As for the post itself, a defense of the Benedikt essay that I will try mightily not to mention any more after this post,* it unfortunately reinforces my impression of Benedikt as a kind of post-Zionist American-Jewish Sarah Palin crossed with Emily Gould-ian New Brooklyn overshare aesthetics. We're supposed to respect her decision to write "in an almost childlike voice," and to nod understandingly when she later explains that the point of the essay was "'definitely not to talk policy or really even politics.'" Why? On what basis are we giving the essay a second chance? Because "Allison is a friend" of the blogger. Well, in that case. Forget 'bad for the Jews.' This is bad for young women in or aspiring to be in opinion writing.

*But no promises, what with its Chua-esque way of sucking you in.

4 comments:

PG said...

Judging by "It’s a very effecting chronicle..." Ms. Beckerman is not putting herself out overmuch about how young women's writing is perceived.


the dishonesty and stupidity of American Jews in setting up the situation
The notion that a group has an obligation to present the negative claims about itself in order to ensure no one feels "tricked" is ridiculous. No Hindu ever told me about sati or (to stick with the present) even about the level of damage inflicted by the caste system. I found these true flaws from other sources, along with discovering the dishonestly negative view some hold of Hinduism, e.g. as presented in "Indiana Jones" or Chick tracts. In the modern age, no one lives in a bubble who doesn't prefer it.

And while I'm of course accepting and in some ways even encouraging of outmarriage, I find something a little ugly about a minority woman's marrying a man who despises her minority group and refusing even to argue back with him when he expresses those sentiments, but instead simply adopting them for herself. I certainly don't believe in a political litmus test for marriage -- I wouldn't be married right now if I did -- but the dynamics of both gender and minority status put a really bad taste in my mouth about Benedikt's intellectual submissiveness. Calling this a Beinart moment attempts to strip away the specific process by which Benedikt changed her views on Zionism -- a process that looks a lot more like (much as I loathe this terminology when used for individuals' relationships) intellectual colonialism than it resembles a self-directed search for truth.

Phoebe said...

PG,

Typos I can forgive. (I'd better, because I do double-check my own theres theirs and they'res.) Anyway, apparently Gal's a man. I remember that part of my Hebrew class in college was learning which Israeli names are male, which female. Never did get the hang of it.

But everything else, I agree with you 100%.

"In the modern age, no one lives in a bubble who doesn't prefer it."

Yes, yes, and yes. This is precisely where Benedikt's piece first lost me. Children are always learning, as they grow up, to be skeptical of certain aspects of their upbringings. Benedikt, going by the essay, never grew up intellectually, but just switched to letting her men rather than her parents tell her what to think. However, it's totally understandable that a child would have the politics of her parents, but not that an adult would cheerily adopt those of a SO or spouse.

"And while I'm of course accepting and in some ways even encouraging of outmarriage, I find something a little ugly about a minority woman's marrying a man who despises her minority group and refusing even to argue back with him when he expresses those sentiments, but instead simply adopting them for herself."

This, so many times over! Which is why I was so frustrated by the critics of hers who, in turn, accepted that this is what "marrying out" means. And I wanted to be like, here, see the photos from the delightful vacation I took to Tel Aviv with my now-husband when we were first dating. There are certainly bigots out there who somehow get off on dating members of their least favorite minority group, but they're the exception, and it's the responsibility of members of minority groups not to go and friggin' marry those people. Their responsibility, really, to themselves.

Erika D. said...

"I never know what to make of the current proliferation of articles...."

This is the crux of it for me. The outpouring. I find it maddening and depressing, and yet I'm having a hard time articulating a written response of my own. Summer project?

Phoebe said...

Erika,

What gets to me with these articles, among other things, is that each and every one presents itself as if it were the first. As though each writer is the very first American Jew to question what every other American Jew with a platform in the opinion press is saying. When it's like, everyone's Beinart, everyone center-to-left, even for a good while pre-Beinart! Maybe that could be a starting point?