Monday, September 13, 2010

two paragraphs of great insight

Shlomo Sand, a professor of history at the University of Tel Aviv has produced what I consider a masterpiece of rationality, The Invention of the Jewish People.

Two paragraphs from near the end of the book cry out for a large audience because they summarize the situation of Israel so concisely and pertain so directly to what this blog examines. See if you don't agree...(boldface mine)

No Jew who lives today in a liberal Western democracy would tolerate the discrimination and exclusion experienced by the Palestino-Israelis (Arab citizens of Israel), who live in a state that proclaims it is not theirs. But Zionist supporters among the Jews around the world, like most Israelis, are quite unconcerned, or do not wish to know that the "Jewish state", because of its undemocratic laws, could never have been part of the European Union or one of America's fifty states. This flawed reality does not stop them from expressing solidarity with Israel, and even regarding it as their reserve home. Not that this solidarity impels them to abandon their national homelands and immigrate to Israel. And why should they, seeing that they are not subjected to daily discrimination and alienation of the kind that Palestino-Israelis experience daily in their native country?

In recent years the Jewish state has become less interested in large-scale immigration. The old nationalist discourse that revolved around the idea of aliyah (Jews moving to Israel) has lost much of its appeal. To understand current Israeli politics, replace the word "aliyah" with "diaspora" (the spread of Jews throughout the world). Today, Israel's strength no longer depends on demographic increase, but rather on retaining the loyalty of overseas Jewish organizations and communities. It would be a serious setback for Israel if all the pro-Zionist lobbies were to immigrate en masse to the Holy Land. It is much more useful for them to remain close to the centers of power and communication in the Western world - and indeed they prefer to remain in the rich, liberal, comfortable "diaspora".
There it is in a nutshell - an explanation for the dedication and power of the Israel lobby in the United States. The challenge for Americans is to break this power over Congress and that's what all my blogging is about.

1 comment:

  1. "a masterpiece of rationality" if one does not hold the ontology of nation and race as fundamental (I know Sand's thesis--but, within it, nations are formed by mutual assertion; Torah becomes the medium of nation). reason is neutral to goal. what makes your goals superior? one can only proclaim them and see what happens--which is what you are doing.

    Even so, how to speak to the vast majority of Israelis of your goals so that they will give a true hearing. I asked, a bit over a decade ago, why Israel gave up in the first intifada (which had quite a different character than the second!). He said "people got sick of it. They got sick of sending their children to police the camps, coming back cut and bruised. They didn't want their children to do it anymore." Then came the collapse of the Soviet Union, which I believe provided space for Oslo. Which is dead.

    As I said in a previous comment, my hearth is perforce different than your hearth. Many, many people will allow violation of others when they think it retains their own place. Perhaps the question is how to argue that their place is not being protected, and may in fact fall, under current policy.

    I went to one of the links you provided in answering my Hebron comment and saw the August 10 2010 video. Thanks for providing the link.