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November 28, 2014 10:55 am

A Jewish State

avatar by Jeremy Rosen

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The Israeli flag. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Is Israel a Jewish state or not? If there are avowedly Christian and Muslim states, why shouldn’t Jews have a Jewish state? Clearly there are some people in Israel have not considered Israel to be enough of a Jewish state up to now, for they have pushed hard for a recent bill in the Knesset to declare that Israel is a Jewish state.

We are a funny lot. We can’t even agree on “who is a Jew,” let alone how to describe a Jewish state. The truth is that this bill is just another example of politicians putting politics above common sense. You know sometimes things are best left vague!

This bill will achieve nothing positive. It will neither help security nor make anyone more Jewish, and it will only create more tension. It will make no difference, either to life in Israel or to the implacable, irrational antagonism towards Israel. So what is it for?

We have been here before. In the past the Knesset passed a “Basic Law” declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Did anyone pay attention? Did it change anything? Are there any foreign embassies in Jerusalem today? Did it make the Palestinians any more inclined to negotiate? No. It was more than a completely pointless exercise, and the UN promptly adopted a resolution calling for its annulment (though frankly I am in favor of anything that pisses off the UN).

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September 7, 2016 6:28 am
8

Petty Orthodoxy

Thetorah.com is a website that analyzes the weekly reading of the Torah for people who do not take every word in the Torah...

The 1948 Declaration of Independence describes Israel not as a Jewish state but as a state for all its citizens, regardless. But it also declares it a homeland for the Jews. The Law of Return opens the state’s gates exclusively and of right to any one that Hitler would have described as a Jew. And there are the laws establishing the flag, emblem, and anthem enacted in 1949 immediately after the state’s establishment. In addition there are laws allowing for Jewish legal courts, the state rabbinate, and laws of personal status and marriage according to Judaism.

This unnecessary declaration will not add or solve anything. It will not decide who is part of the Jewish people, or whether the state of Israel is also the state of a person born to a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother or of a person who underwent a Reform or Conservative conversion. Anyway it is the Supreme Court that will ultimately decide such issues, if ever we ourselves can agree on how to solve them.

In truth the law is aimed at explaining to the Arabs that Israel will never be their state. But wait, what about the Druze and the many Christian Israelis whose men and women serve in the army and the police? At the horrific “Massacre of the Innocents” in Har Nof, a Druze policeman gave his life protect Israel, as have many other non-Jews over the years. Can it not be their state, too?

In today’s explosive situation, the law only has the power to cause damage and worsen our relations with minorities. If in the end Israel annexes the territories with all their residents, Israel will become a bi-national state and will probably concede to Arab areas autonomy regardless of what the current Knesset writes in one law or another. With this law we are regressing to nineteenth century Europe, where if you weren’t a Christian in a Christian country you were regarded as a second-class citizen. We know what that does to one. The greatness of Israel was that it tried to separate religion from state as far as the political negotiations would allow. Not enough in my opinion, but some.

The fact is that the USA separated the two but it still managed to evolve into a state where both religious and secular, Jewish and non-Jewish, communities and individuals could coexist and thrive. It has not been perfect and lot needs to be done. Where doesn’t it? But a separation of State and religion, individual freedom without coercion in matters of conscience, this is still my preferred vision for Israel. And yet Israel is a state where priority is given to Judaism. Just as in Britain priority is given to the Church of England, or in most of Europe to Catholicism.

I am not a big fan of democracy. I am with Winston Churchill when he said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried.” The reason is because in principle democracy upholds the rights of all citizens. Israel has its Supreme Court and, although some argue it is too protective of Israel’s security needs, it still protects the civil rights of all its citizens to the best of its ability.

The Torah is neither for nor against any political system, so long as it is just and fair to all its citizens and legal residents. There is nothing in Torah opposed to democracy for running civil affairs. As a religious Jew I would, in theory, like to see Israel run according to Jewish law, working with a democratic system (not that the present democratic system in Israel is so good, but then tell me please where it is any better or less dysfunctional). The trouble is I don’t have confidence in much of our present religious leadership. I just don’t see the tolerance and broadmindedness to follow the spirit of Torah as opposed to its letter.

That is why such tokenism and tinkering does nothing for Judaism. It strikes me as simply one in the face to Abbas, who wants a Palestinian state free of Jews. Do we really have to descend to his level? (And I don’t even mention the abomination that is Hamas’s charter.)

Israel needs to focus on security and meeting the social needs of its people, whatever their religion. And if we Jews want Judaism to flourish, we must do it by persuasion not legislation. If I thought this would help all that in any way, I’d be for it. Otherwise it looks to me like little boys throwing stones at each other and trying to teach a lesson that no one wants to learn.

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  • Julian Clovelley

    It seems to me Jeremy, that you are so busy defending your right to be “Jewish” that you haven’t found the time to answer the simple question of what that is. And that does matter because if we are to use a term like “Antisemitism” and define that to be congruent with “Anti-Jewish” we also need to be able to define what “Jewish” is.

    If one looks at it from the position of the “Antisemite” it is in some ways a little clearer to define “Jewish” – It is clearly not a prejudice purely based on religion, because converts from Judaism and assimilated “Jews” also are seen as targets. It is not about economic standing because a poor “Jew” is a person attacked as much as a rich “Jew”

    When you work through the categories, you seem to be left with the entirely erroneous perception that Jews are a separate “ethnicity” in a form that is equated with “race”. The prejudice is locally as well as internationally applied – Were this not so it would be all too obvious that there is no Jewish race as such, but several groups with clearly different primary ethnic origins, that are incorrectly grouped together as one people on the basis of past or present personal religion, and subjected to vilification on the basis of that erroneous perception of similarity

    In other words “Antisemitism” is irrational. That is my personal position on this problem. Since I can’t for the life of me see any difference between Gentile and Jew, I take attacks on Jews personally and I am unable to take any “comfort” – please excuse for a moment that term – in the fact that the Holocaust was targeted on people “different” to myself. To me it wasn’t.

    My concern is not just that there is a safe place for people labelled as “Jews” to live, but that there is a safe place for everyone to live. As such a solution that aids one person at the expense of another does not constitute a solution – and therefore in seeking to resolve the situation I look to the cause, and find it in “perceived difference”

    That in turn makes me rather cross at those who emphasise those totally imaginary differences, who try to define themselves by drawing an entirely bogus(sic) false exclusive link with people only recorded in legends written down almost certainly around 2500 years ago, about a supposed people that existed another 2500 years prior to that date. For me that is simply too long a bow – especially when I can trace such a vast amount of dispersal and assimilation in just the 150 years that part of my family has lived in Australia. My children are just as much descendants of the ancestors you claim as you are supposing yourself to be

    You say to me “You my dear Sir have no idea what living a Jewish life is like and what feeling hated rejected and attacked is like. Until you do you have no right to tell Jews however they or Hitler define them, to stop yearning for Zion the way they have in their daily prayers three times a day for the past two thousand years.”

    Sorry Jeremy but in fact it is you that is invalidating my family’s assimilated ancestors here. They aren’t Jewish to you because like Sand they walked away. But in truth there are vastly more people of Jewish ancestry who are assimilated into other cultures than there are as adherents to your apparent concept of Judaism. As I said before I can trace a few immediate direct Jewish ancestors from birth and death certificates – These same people have at least seventy descendants – but to you none count as Jewish.

    Your ancestors no doubt yearned for Zion because all of us had ancestors who did. Dispersal, conversion and assimilation, means your ancestors and relatives also independently contributed to forming the Romans who invaded and occupied Judea, the Egyptians who may or may not have enslaved a Hebrew people. Those ancestors also partially formed the people who became twentieth century Germans, Poles, and Russians, – the rich and poor of all nations in the Middle East, North African and European regions – and much beyond such limits, including the New World. To name just two persons (apart from Hitler himself where there are unanswered questions) who have been believed, including in recent research, to have had traceable Jewish ancestry are Heydrich and Eva Braun.

    Jeremy, we select our histories to create our personal concept of our origin, loyalty and history – But it is an entirely dysfunctional and inaccurate process

    And it is this error we desperately need to overcome – Not to become “one people” but to recognise that we already are. I’ll hopefully be able to leave it there as far as this thread is concerned – Thank you for the discussion.

    I understand the issue all too well – I understood it the day I defended my Jewish best friend at primary school from antisemitic attack by a group of other children. As I held his sobbing form, and picked up his smashed glasses, I knew to the very depth of my being that there was no difference between him and me.

    I hope he learnt that too, for I know he would have defended me too. I have not seen him in almost sixty years

  • To Jeremy Rosen and Julian,
    Correcting my writing
    With all respect to your writhing which is deriving from your minds from living in USA and Australia , those two countries has people from all over the world been conscience of the native Red Indians and Aborigine Australian. Living under this feeling which will stay so long the Indians and aborigine Australian do live. Under this kind of life thoughts man prefer to live in peace among man. How can man think of people who do not live in those two countries. Those two countries have political influence globally because those two countries have citizens who derive from almost over the world. The gap between those countries of mixed population since early age as Egypt, Greek, Roman Empire, etc, who had political chaos periods where philosophers did debate questions on justice by questions been undisturbed from political chaos’s round them, who did created human agnostic mind among man that is a normal thing to happen among man, just as it does in this article. Nothing did change where man waste their time wondering about solutions, trying to find solutions forgetting the image of man on earth. When man as Emanuel Kant did say here and there “as streets man think” whiteout objectively to say which street he refers to? With all respect to Kant, it is enough that a philosopher does few mistakes for his entire thought to collapse, Kant do fly from his house to his work at the university without touching the ground, he is not a street man? . The problems starts with modern philosophy by splitting “men’s minds” forgetting that the real problem is that some countries on this planet were almost never been attacked severely be foreign man. We know about some individual as the gentle Spinoza been squeezed between Jews and Christians ending up with his mathematical thought to survive writing that all is ” One”, which is a compromise among man. Was he a Jew? A Christian philosopher called him Spy – Noza. What that means? Means that Jews when been gifted are hated by others who envy Jews in general, who are those men who do hate Jews? No mater if a Jew is a Jew or a mixed Jew who is also a Jew by inheritance. The answer is here by. The Jews are hated by man who does not know what is to be attacked by foreign man , what they are good at is attacking others by staged manipulated fake events to split men’s mind where there is no solution to questions, no way out of a “split mind”, man naively do not fight back a giving hand as the Nobel Prize, the Nobel Prized does split men’s mind. If man do scientific research on Viking history who did rob other countries, man find out about the existing problem of madness in our day of the global world. Those mad men are with every body and against everybody in the same time, they are with EU and NATO and against the entire European citizens, we have seen Scotland voting to be separate from England, How it did happen? It did happen by infiltrated Scandinavians abused man in to Ireland and Scotland bars manipulating young defenseless people since Norway did get the oil, I have evidence, who of Scotland actually people wanted to separate Scotland from England, they are young people, therefore those cowards from Norway who are with EU and NATO and against the entire European people, They are with the White House in USA and against USA citizens, they were with Israel governments earlier when Scandinavia didn’t have oil, when Norway did get the oil the Scandinavians did start manipulating the entire world and became been against Israel and the Jewish people worldwide, using Arabs, Palestinians from behind to attack Jews worldwide, there are actually cowards hiding behind sexually abused children’s who became unseen solders in civil cloths in matured age been forced to target defenseless naïve people worldwide to became political activists, that is the cause behind the Arab Spring, the cause of the Chaos in Bangkok, the cause of student demonstrations in Hong Kong, the cause IS, Who are the people who became members of IS? They are mostly European young naïve people who were easily manipulated, IS is moving to nowhere, just moving round to attack the entire world massed mind into ” split mind”, it is why they say that IS will be defitted, but it will take time, the world is giving time to IS, but the world didn’t give time to Libya Gaddafi! We all know if a dictator is taken down, it will be chaos where man is lives among rivals from within and without fighting each other without end, then the one who rise to power will became a dictator, not because man wants the be one, but reality in those country do force man to became a dictator and therefore the Gaddafi killing was a planed event into chaos which is a ” Terror against civilization” under the law of NATO and EU who did get the Nobel Peace Prize. Egypt a civilized country did can back to what they were before the Arab Spring. Those cowards that hides behind targeted defenseless naïve people who became political activists are the cause of Ukraine chaos! To day I did read at the Norwegian news paper Aftenposten about a Norwegian been arrested in Ukraine for sexual misuse of a person. In my school Oslo Photo Art School I had Norwegian infiltrated fake students and teachers who were sexually abused in childhood who did recruit foreign naïve people into becoming political activist in China, I have facts and evidence at hand! Those infiltrated fake students at OPAS were prayed by the early government of Jens Stoltenberg. These did happen in Europe and USA also where fake abused Norwegian students in USA and Europe who did target students to become political activist. I have evidence about it. Concerning China, you get one clean evidence by my web site http://www.emilfedida.com, a Norwegian pedophile age forty fife who was infiltrated in to OPAS played by the Norwegian stat at that time 2009, he did attack a Chinese student mind, the Chinese student who never did meet a foreigner before didn’t know what the hell the Norwegian pedophile wanted from him. This kind of mind attack did happen to Jews and Muslims. This article does demonstrate that Jews are “mind split”, why? Because Jews were mind attacked, simple as it is. Do Christians ask who is a Christina? The Christians have countries of their own. Often man hears that Jews control the world, if so, why Jews have only a small country as Israel? No, the Jews were under attacks trough all times, and is normal that anyone who is attacked no mater Jew or not, he will fight to survive, Jews by the book did exist; now Jews must also build more their bodies, at thinker cannot think better without a strong body! In fact, those who do attack Jews are coward by nature; using others to attack Jews, why worry? The Jews were attacked in Europe because they were defenseless, now, Jews have their country of origin and those who do attack Jews, hiding behind manipulated people who can’t say no to a given task of terror, not only that those coward hides behind manipulated man, but hides behind a fake law! The cause about why Israel is in this situation to day. Did any one in EU talked about the Palestinian conflict in the 50s, 60s, 70s, NO! in the 80s when Norway did have the oil, Bill Clinton who is a Norwegian trough Vikings ancestors was involved in the peace talking between Israel and the Palestinian, Norway and Bill Clinton fabricated the whole fake event with a giving hand of the Nobel Piss Prize. Wake up! Why should Jews spend time on issues which do not solve anything! Jews are what they are, simple as it is. The world must fight, talk about the roots and causes of problems and not been blind talking nonsense, enough is enough. People can live in peace with each other when knowing the cause of events. A reason to any political decision is sometimes man does fight harder against hard coward attacks hiding behind others. We se what is happening in USA, a young afro American man is shot down dead, and then an afro American police man stand facing the killing event where two white man are standing behind him listening to what the afro American police man is saying, the afro American police do not speak his own words! Means the white man is a coward man hiding behind a defenseless afro American police man.

  • To Jeremy Rosen and Julian,
    With all respect to your writhing which is deriving from your minds from living in USA and Australia , those two countries has people from all over the world been conscience of the native Red Indians and Aborigine Australian. Living under this feeling which will stay so long the Indians and aborigine Australian do live. Under this kind of life thoughts man prefer to live in peace among man. How can man referee to people who does not live in those two countries. Those countries have political influence globally because those two countries have citizens who derive from almost over the world. The gap between those countries of mixed population since early age as Egypt, Greek, Roman Empire, etc, who had political chaos periods where philosophers did debate questions on justice by questions been undisturbed from political chaos’s round them who did created human agnostic mind among man that is a normal thing to happen among man, just as it does in this article. Nothing did change where man waste their time wondering about solutions, trying to find solutions forgetting the image of man on earth. When man as Emanuel Kant did say here and there “as street man think” whiteout objectively to say which street he refers to? The problems starts by splitting “men’s minds” forgetting that the real problem is that some countries on this planet were almost never been attacked severely be foreign man. We know about some individual lives as the gentle Spinoza been squeezed between Jews and Christians ending up with his mathematical thought to survive writing that all is ” One”, which is a compromise among man. Was he a Jew? A Christian philosopher called him Spy – Noza. What that means? Means that Jews when been gifted are hated by others who envy Jews in general, who are those men who do hate Jews? No mater if a Jew is a Jew or a mixed Jew who is also a Jew by inheritance. The answer is here by. The Jews are hated by man who does not know what is to be attacked, what they are good at is attacking others by manipulated made fake events to split men’s mind where there is no solution to questions, no way out of a “split mind”, man naively do not fight back a giving hand as the Nobel Prize, the Nobel Prized does split men’s mind. If man do scientific research on Viking history who did rob other countries, man find out about the existing problem of madness in our day of the global world. Those mad man are with every body and against everybody in the same time, they are EU and NATO and against the European citizens, we have seen Scotland voting to be separated from England, who this did happen? It did happen by infiltrated Scandinavians abused man in to Ireland and Scotland bars manipulating young defenseless people since Norway did get the oil, I have evidence, who of Scotland actually people wanted to separate Scotland from England, they are young people, therefore those cowards from Norway are with EU and NATO and against the entire European people, hey are with the White House in USA and against USA citizens, they were with Israel governments earlier when Scandinavia didn’t have oil, when Norway did get the oil the Scandinavians did start manipulating the entire world and became been against Israel and the Jewish people worldwide, using Arabs, Palestinians from behind to attack Jews worldwide, there are actually cowards hiding behind sexually abused children’s who did unseen solders in civil cloths in matured age been forced to target defenseless naïve people worldwide to became political activists, that is the cause behind of the Arab Spring, the cause of the Chaos in Bangkok, the cause of student demonstrations in Hong Kong, the cause IS, Who are the people who became members of IS? They are mostly European young naïve people who were easily manipulated, IS is moving to nowhere, just moving round to attack the entire world massed into ” split mind”, it is why they say that IS will befitted, but it will take time, the world is giving time to IS, but the world didn’t give time to Libya Gaddafi! We all know if a dictator is taking down, it will be chaos where man is lives among rival from within and without fighting each other without end, then the one who rise to power will became a dictator, not because man wants the be one, but reality in those country do force man to became a dictator and therefore the Gaddafi killing was a planed event into chaos which is a ” Terror against civilization” under the law of NATO and EU who did get the Nobel Peace Prize. Egypt a civilized country did can back to what they were before the Arab Spring. They are the cause of Ukraine chaos! This article do not focus on the cause about why Israel is in this situation to day. Did any one in EU talked about the Palestinian conflict in the 50s, 60s, 70s, NO! in the 80s when Norway did have the oil, Bill Clinton who is a Norwegian true Vikings ancestors was involved in the peace talking between Israel and the Palestinian, Norway and Bill Clinton fabricated the whole fake event with a giving hand of the Nobel Piss Prize. Wake up! Why should Jews spend time on issues which do not solve anything! Jews are what they are, simple as it is. The world must fight, talk about the roots and causes of problems and not been blind talking nonsense, enough is enough. People can live in peace with each other when knowing the cause of events. Their is a reason to any optical decision. Sometimes man do fight harder against hard coward attacks hiding behind others. We se what is happening in USA, a young afro American man is shot, and then an afro American police man stand facing the killing event where a two white man are standing behind him listening to what the afro American police man is saying, the afro American police do not speak his own words! Means the white man is a coward man hiding behind a defenseless afro American police man.

  • matt mclaughlin

    In December, shortly after Michael Oren ended his stint as ambassador to the US, he warned that Israel must recognize the legitimacy of all forms of Judaism, including Reform and Conservative, or risk alienating many American Jews.”

    Oren went deeper than that.
    On July 28, 2013 Oren said on CNN’s FAREED ZAKARIA GPS that there is no official religion for Israel.

    OREN: …… unlike Great Britain that has a national church, we don’t have an official religion.

    http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1307/28/fzgps.01.html

  • z

    @Julian Clovelley

    Jews are defensive about their identity because they were made so by Arab/Islamic hostility and war. Not to speak of the long standing malice, indifference, and active genocide too often shown towards Jews by Europe, the US, Russia, and the rest of the world.

    You have ZERO idea of what Jews go through on a daily basis, so save your sermons because they have ZERO connection with the reality that Jews face. The real issue is not the defensiveness of Jews, but the constant and hypocritical effort of others to deny Jews their basic right to their own nationalism, sovereignty, and land.

  • Sarah R

    My feelings exactly. Thanks for a dose of sanity!

  • Jeremy Rosen

    You and non Jewish Jews like Sand just don’t get it.

    We Jews have known all along that we are a constant admixture of other races and genes. We glorify it. Ruth was a Moabitess and the grandmother of King David. We used to take in converts from all round the Roman Empire. We are not a race for goodness sakes. One look at any gathering of Jews would tell you its rubbish. Unless you get that you do’t get it and there’s nothing to talk about.

    Our legitimacy is based on the constantly developing tradition, on an ongoing commitment to a constitution that is open to everyone. Sure there are racist Jews as there are racist Americans and Englishmen.

    What Bibi is doing (and I disapprove for other reasons ) is not racist. It is indeed exclusivist but whereas you can never do anything about your race, you can do something about your religion, about the way you think and the way you behave.

    In Australia you too have “Australian values” vague and loose as they may be and you deem them the Australian way and you expect people coming to Australia to abide by them and not try to undermine them. Is that racism? Why is it any different to Zionism?
    Oh and by the way you too give preference now to indigenous Australians.

    • Julian Clovelley

      Australia, Jeremy, is in my experience the least nationalist country. Here people preserve a strong individual identity rather than an Australian one. When I became a naturalised Australian, the master of ceremonies told us we would sing the national anthem – just the first verse he said, since nobody could remember the words of the second, and very few people realise there actually is a third one.

      My allegiance to Australia is on that basis. That it is striving to be multicultural, that differences are normal. I once lived in a street with over twenty distinct nationalities, and we all met in the pub or at BBQs. I have had aboriginal friends too, and many of us recognise the inherited disadvantages of a displaced people, and strive to make Government policy more accommodating of their problems. Like Israel we have a Conservative Government at the moment that is a little less sympathetic to such issues – but it is so unpopular it will likely be thrown out at the first opportunity

      The main value that is pressed on new Australians is to be patient at first and learn to fit in, not so much by changing, but by sharing. Disputes with Muslim people here are largely over difficulties arising from dress codes. Australia’s summery clothing – especially in beach areas – comes as a bit of a shock to some muslims. Many have lived in small areas and only recently have so many of their younger people and whole families headed for the beach. Bikinis tend to shock them! – So does the growing secularisation of most of their own children – for Australia is largely secular.

      Our food culture is very multicultural. We have many programmes teaching how to cook in the manner of every nation of the world – So what is different with Zionism? – or perhaps – with how Zionism is perceived? – even by strong sympathisers with the Israeli and Jewish people

      There is no modern Australian myth. Australia Day is supposed to be based on the arrival of the First Fleet – the fleet that carried the first setllers – part convicts and part their jailers to Australia. The Aboriginals don’t celebrate it, and for everyone else it tends to be a rather boozy trip to the beach. The old Anglo mythos is dying. There is no Australian “Myth of Origins” We speak of people of all the nations of the world coming to a land we all call “Home”

      Zionism however has emphasisied a myth of origins that is built into the Zionist version of Judaism as a religion. It takes material form in the seizure by Zionist settlers of land that was not awarded in the 1947 Partition Resolution – often with the flaky excuse “G-d gave this land to me”. They are invaders – just as the British (and I am myself “British”) were in the nineteenth century in Australia. The justification that is used is identical – the imperialist concept of Terra Nullius – a concept that rejects the existence of indigenous inhabitants and the structures of their societies. For Australia Terra Nullius rejected the Aborigines and their claim on the land that was between forty and a hundred thousand years old. The British too built Settlements and enclosed land and occupied with the use of brutal force.

      But the paragraph i most dispute in your reply to me is the one beginning “We Jews have known all along that we are a constant admixture of other races and genes. We glorify it. Ruth was a Moabitess and the grandmother of King David. We used to take in converts from all round the Roman Empire.” You see you use the word “Jews” in a manner that is “Doublethink” – You acknowledge that there is no Jewish race, but then still use the word “WE” when talking about the past. The people of the past- are the people of the past – “YOU” are not congruent with “THEM” – there is no “WE” – unless it is all of us “ALL”

      In doing this you then take the Biblical mythology – for which there has been found no archaelogical or historical independent foundation or confirmation, and use it to make statements about how the “WE” are. No Jeremy you aren’t the same as those people of thousands of years ago, any more than the rest of us are. You see I speak from being married into a family containing assimilated Jews who are the ancestors, within 150 years, of at least around seventy Gentile people. My wife’s family tree even includes a rabbi and founder members of an outback synagogue. Multitudes of families in Australia can trace similar trees. And this pattern goes back thousamnds of years – Yes Jeremy the Zionist Jewish story is what wiser rabbis told them it was right at the beginning, at the end of the nineteenth century – a myth – and a dangerous one at that. Just as you recognise there is no “Jewish race” so – without Doublethink you have to recognise there is no return and no special inherited characteristics.

      Therein lies the real difference between Israeli and Jewish Zionists and those who sympathise with the plight of those who call themselves, or are labelled “Jews’. The Balfour declaration was never a recognition of the Zionist Mythos. It was about the perception of a need for a “Jewish” (undefined) Homeland. Similarly neither the 1922 Mandate, nor the 1947 Partition Resolution were recognstions of the validity of the Zionist concept or of the grounds for a monocultural state.

      All Schlomo Sand did was articulate what we all already know. That all nationalisms and peoples are inventions of more modern ages. Read between the lines of your own Biblical documents and you will see that it is now as it always was. Judaism in the Ezra form – to select one stream of Judaic myth – was NEVER universal in Caanan. Caanan was always an unstable land of competing forces and cults. The Judaists railed against the polytheists and the various other religious factions in those times too. At the supposed time of Jesus of Nazareth – seen from a “Settler” point of view – Judea was a Roman province with a badly behaved Jewish population as just one part of a mixed population. Christianity’s Gospels – apparently written outside of Judea – created an image of Judea which itself is hardy an accurate image either – with its benevolent Roman Governor Pontius Pilate, whose hand is forced by those nasty Jews. Your image – my image – of Judea, when we try to relate it to ourselves and our own time is simply false. Those people are the ancestors – in common with all the tribes or the Middle East and Europe – of almost all of us. We are as Roman as we are Jew. there is neither Gentile nor Jew – and any modern nationalism that seeks to justify a modern inheritance of any kind on a special link with a particular group – or a particular ancestry – is a lie.

      I fear peace will never come Jeremy , until you recognise that. “Jewishness” is a religious concept. Those people that died in Auschwitz were people just like me – related to me through the tosses and turns of family trees – related to all of us. I don’t believe Hitler’s racist myth of the “Eternal Jew” or the old Papal one of the “Perfidious Jews” or any of the racist rubbish that surrounds the disgraceful concept of Antisemitism

      So why should I belive the equally ridiculous racist Zionist myth either? Why shouldn’t I recognise it as a distortion of history, an excuse for unjustifiable displacement and land seizure and a contributory factor to the Middle East train wreck

      And why would I not hope that one group in that train wreck, coming to its senses, might just inspire the others to do the same. Thankyou for replying Rabbi – Peace.

      • Jeremy Rosen

        Julian
        “I fear peace will never come Jeremy , until you recognise that. “Jewishness” is a religious concept.”

        Your words and thats precisely my position ( except I don’t believe the enemies of Israeel will ever agree to peace). You are trying to foist your caricature of Zionism on to me.

        Since in your prejudice you are paying no attention to what I say, whats the point in dialogue?

        • Julian Clovelley

          On the contrary I am listening very closely to you, Jeremy. At times I agree and at others I strongly disagree. For example in the short term I agree that the enemies of Israel are unlikely to agree to peace. But I believe that is why the goal posts have to be shifted. I also believe that it is essential for the entire Jewish community, and for all of our relationships with it. The present ethos is dangerous.

          I have enormous sympathy for any persecuted people, but the concept of a particular people is one that is derived from both the people themselves and from outsiders looking in. The composite picture is almost always wrong. In the case of “Jewishness”. “Antisemitism” – itself totally irrational – had far too great an influence in defining it for the twentieth century – and we are currently stuck with what past leaders already recognised long ago was a dysfunctional image.

          It is sometimes easiest to comprehend problems by making a comparison with other peoples. The Aborigines of Australia are one such possibility, in that their definition of Aboriginality tends to echo the Jewish concept – But we are seeing that concept in the process of construction because the British invasion took place so recently – less than 225 years ago in fact.

          The Aborigines of Australia lived as a vast number of separate groups with hundreds of different languages and dialects. There is no doubt that they had social structures throughout the continent, and a close relationship to the land and continent they lived in, albeit any individual would have had little knowledge of where the land as a whole began and ended. There was no Terra Nullius in Australia. This was no empty land that the British settled, far from it. The overall treatment of indigenous peoples was a combination of brutal repression, lack of understanding, racism, and incompetence from which Aboriginal society is still recovering

          Following the white invasion there was a vast intermingling of the races, resulting in mixed ancestry. Many people of Aboriginal descent are also the descendants of settlers and invaders, and might have an equal or stronger claim to white ancestry.

          There are relatively few “full blood” (horrible term) indigenous people left, but the question of Aboriginality is allowed by their community to be one of personal identification. Many white people with aboriginal ancestors identify very strongly with those particular forebears. But it is a concept fraught with problems – a tool for the present – but only a temporary one needed during a period in which we all have to grow up and change.

          So I suggest it is with Jewish people. The concept of “Jewishness” developed long after intermarriage and assimilation had in fact made it no longer a physical and genetic or genealogical reality. The link is one of spirituality, religion and emotion. People of mixed blood have in some cases preserved, and in some cases adopted, a myth of their COMMON origin as the ONLY descendants of Abraham and Isaac – in family after family – including my own, we know this to be untrue – “I have certificates to prove it” – The dispersion and assimilation is recorded!

          Surely this all points in the direction of the inaccuracy and unacceptability of the Zionist concept of “Jewishness “- of the people “returning to their land” – Rather it points to the need for a vastly reformed Judaic concept of that same Jewishness. But the Zionist myth motivates so much of the present position that your enemies find so unacceptable. This I believe the community needs to acknowledge – they could even choose to do it in the coming elections in Israel. Israel’s democracy would allow for such a people inspired change.

          It is little use that you – or another a particular Rabbi – might accept the purely religious nature of “Jewishness” when the Israeli Government and so much of “Jewry” is obsessed with the Zionist concept. I would argue that the purely spiritual concept of Judaism – if extended to a realistic approach to history and archaeology, and not a clinging to mythologically based pseudo history, might just shift one of the goalposts to a more practical negotiating position. Certainly it would begin to restore faith in Israel’s overall good intentions if its Governments walked away from the concept of “return” that Zionism, through the Settlers Movement, has turned into imperialism and apartheid.

          But what would be required to do it would be for that properly constructed history – and the more reasonable approach to theological mythology – to become central to Israeli society – to be the core of its culture, replacing the racist Jewish State image that has outraged so many, including Israel’s closest sympathisers

          It’s a big job – and it takes a great deal of recovery from trauma, handling of pride, and determination to build a new world, to do it

          But I do believe you can do it – that we can do it – and that we could all do it together – One step at a time

          Towards one world – whatever other goal is there? Surely the alternatives would amount to “the boot stamping in the human face forever” – Orwell’s nightmare in 1984. We work for unity, and ultimately towards multiculturalism as an intervening phase in human development, not just because we believe in it – but because there are no alternatives in the world of rapid communication and intermingling of people.

          “Humanity” – that concept that is above races and classes and castes and sexes – a concept that demands we reform our theological and political, social, and economic manifestations – is the only hope that, as a world, we have

          Some Jewish people will cry out that their blood speaks against me and for the Zionist belief. My family’s similar blood cries out against it however and so does the Balfour Declaration that Zionists so often resort to – For it expressed “sympathy” for Jewish Zionist aspirations but in the actual words of the text – the ones that appear in inverted commas in most reproductions of it it said:

          “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of the object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious’ rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country”.

          A home is not a state – and most especially not a monocultural state. Must I apologise Jeremy for abiding by the original wording and believing that it also embodied the aim of reconciled cultures living alongside each other on terms of equality in one of the areas left by the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

          In conclusion Jeremy you speak in a manner that implies you have a different concept of Zionism – “You are trying to foist your caricature of Zionism on to me” you say to me

          But where is that alternative concept? – It is far from being the dominant one or even an influential one. Your concept may well be functioning one if adopted at every level – but till then you remain a voice in the wilderness. I’m trying to suggest a path out of that desert of despair and regional pain

      • Jeremy Rosen

        Julian

        Without realizing it you express anti Jewish sentiment, patronizingly ignorant and clearly have no understanding of Judaism . As I have said I do not feel any obligation to defend Zionism but I do have the right to defend Judaism as a phenomenon whatever you want to call it, religion, ethos, culture, religion, people, nation all or none of these.

        You want a world without nationalism, differences. I would welcome a world of humanity without national borders, flags , armies and anthems. An international government. But at this moment its a fantasy. How long do you think it will take for the USA and China to merge into one? Why if Scotland or the Catalans want independence doesn’t this prove we are getting more nationalist than ever? So don’t give me any sentimental pap about Jews giving up their national rights, certainly not until the rest of the world does.

        And the moment there is no anti Semitism and no call on the streets of the free world let alone the mentally enslaved, to kill Jews , then we can dispense with the idea of or the need for a refuge for Jews.

        For as long as Jews want to live as Jews, some more some less and so long as Christians want to live as Christians and Muslims as Muslims and Atheists as Atheists, how dare you deny Jews the right to similar equality? That Sir is Anti Semitism.

        I live a Jewish life because it is my tradition that I love and enjoy. It is part of who I am. I do not regard political Zionism as important. But I do consider Love of Zion to be an integral part of my tradition. Just as I do not have the right to tell people who can and who can’t feel or be Jewish neither do you any more than you can an Australian. There are Ozzies who live in Oz and those who don’t. Those who love Australia and those who hate it. Those who think it has a good government sand those who think it stinks.

        But having a safe place for Jews to live as Jews and not as tolerated minority is to my mind my inalienable right and I will fight for it regardless of terminology, ideology or Professor Sand’s right to reject his Judaism. He has no more sympathy with me than I do with him. That’s his choice.

        All cultures, peoples religions are mongrels. All human practices and traditions evolve and change. That does not make them any less valid.
        You my dear Sir have no idea what living a Jewish life is like and what feeling hated rejected and attacked is like. Until you do you have no right to tell Jews however they or Hitler define them, to stop yearning for Zion the way they have in their daily prayers three times a day for the past two thousand years.

        You have nothing to say here because you do not understand the issue. And I can see that nothing I say will make any difference because as Wittgenstein said ” That about which we cannot speak we must remain silent.”

    • matt mclaughlin

      “I cannot accept that we are a race,” Herzl wrote. “We are an historical entity … No nation has uniformity of race.”
      http://www.thetablet.co.uk/books/10/1441/herzl-theodor-herzl-and-the-foundation-of-the-jewish-state

  • Julian Clovelley

    The situation the Jewish community find themselves in at this juncture is much the same as has occurred over thousands of years. The implacability of one extremist group, and their obsessive clinging to mythology that in truth is without historical substances, forces dissenters from such obsessive behaviour to leave. This they have in common with dissenters from all religions. The orthodox in all religions claim cultural possession in order to not have to change themselves. They are universally selfish

    The obsessive group in Jewishness would like to claim that they are the true preservers of the pure genetic line. We have long known that there is no truth in that claim either. Many of the most obsessive are descendents of converts, not of the original Hebrews of the Bible. A pattern of conversion has long ago, and over thousands of years – including as recorded in the Bible itself – made the concept of a discreet seed of Abraham ludicrous

    Were it not for the obsessive claim of distinct lineage from the rest of the population – who in reality through intermarriage are just as much descended from Abraham – and were it not for the nationalist claim of “right of return to our historic homeland” – it would not be necessary for science to seek to prove the bleedingly obvious, that Jews are just as much a mixed race as any other religious grouping. Their land claims, when based on concoted history meant to echo the Biblical mythology, are just as ludicrous as a Christian claim that Christians should own Palestine because Jesus and his disciples and his parents – were all born in it.

    One might laugh at such a claim. But weren’t the Crusades excused by such illogic? Unreason all too often in humanity has led to genocide. The massacres of the Crusades – when the streets of Holy Land cities flowed in rivers of blood have left a stain on human relations to this day. But it is not so much between races as between religions – there is no prejudice between a European Christian or African Christian and an Arab Christian on account of his ethnicity. The divide remains about religion and religious practice and religious law. Out of varied racial and cultural origins the myth(sic) of the Jewish people has been forged

    Jews rightly question their identity, but for once why not ask how the sympathetic world has seen them. It is not so much as a race – or a people – or a nation – but rather as a persecuted minority, unfairly persecuted for whatever reason. The massacres of the remote past, and the more recent pogroms and persecutions, are what led to the sympathy of the Balfour Declaration, and the concept of the need for a “Homeland” for those who were labelled as – or chose to be labelled as, “Jews”. It was a reaction to the sheer unfairness of treatment of a group who chose to live in a particular way, with particular beliefs WHATEVER their actual origin or validity when closely examined, of their beliefs

    The twentieth century persecutions, and the obscenity of the Holocaust further defined “Jews” in the eyes of the sympathetic world. But this “identification” is not how Zionism would have it be, and it is impportant to realise that how Zionism would like to define “Jew” in fact makes very little sense to most “Gentiles” nowadays. It is the Zionist definition that is losing the Jewish community its support

    I was brought up in areas and schools where Jews were very well integrated. My first girl friend was a Jew, I drank lemonade and ate cakes at her home. I was three. She lived next door. My first “best friend” was a Jew. I sat next to Jews. For me the Pauline statement that there is neither Gentile nor Jew was a description of the obvious that there was no difference. I worked with and for Jews and sometimes ate in their homes

    Now the Netanyahu (sic) State wants to tell me I was wrong all that time, that I should have been a racist who thought Jews were different people with funny noses (not all of them) or something more obscure distinguishing them PHYSICALLY – like a “Jewish Gene” except it isn’t there, is it?

    Oh come off it Bibi – You’ve lost the plot. The right leg is the one with bells on it! Think ahead – all of you. We are currently divided by accidents of history that made us adherents of particular supposed revelations. These “revelations” shaped much of our differences as societies, and laid down heirarchies that were themselves often of a dictatorial nature that punished doubters and non- adherents – even murdering them (some of my ancestors were Huegenots). In the future we will get over these ancient divisions, we will intermarry and treat our present divisions as the illusions and delusions of backwardness. Just as Europe tends towards multiculturalism, so the rest of the world is heading the same way. Does Israel really want to be the last “racist state” standing?

    The racist ethos will fall anyway. Here in Australia – that one time bastion of white anglo celtic values – the most popular meal is thought to be spaghetti bolognese – at every level the divisions are breaking down. My son has a Chinese girlfriend. A good friend up the road is married to a Thai (gosh he eats well) – my family has a heritage that is English and Scottish and Belgian and Irish and Jewish. My brothers wife is American from an Italian family. Give it up Bibi and give it up Zionism – in fact give up Zionism ,it is simply old hat – sometimes a rather silly old furry Russian hat that looks very inappropriate in a desert climate

    Moving on…. Jewish State indeed! – poppy cock! – Israel is aready over 20% Arab to go with the Russian and German and Polish and Spanish and American and who knows what else. Embrace the world and let’s get rid of the nonsense and viciousness of ancient divisions, so all of our children can live and play in peace. The best in Judaism is about how we can live together, how we should pursue professionalism, knowledge and understanding – the worst is a piece of genetic absurdity, propped up by chronically damaging nineteenth century nationalist codswallop. Peace

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