Mustafa Al Hallaj's "Self-Portrait as God, the Devil, and Man" is part of a Palestinian artwork exhibit in
By Yakov M. Rabkin
printed in the
First, what leaps out at me, unlike as one finds on some self-proclaimed liberal online forums, for example, such as Tyee, here, though I have been unable to confirm it, from a person I nonetheless assume is either a secular or religious Jew, because of the intimate knowledge he has of his subject, he acknowledge firstly, the existance of an "Israel Lobby" in Britain, Canada, the US, and elsewhere throughout the West. Which I suggest is not so much, in his or my view, evidence of some fascist equivalent "theory" of a Jewish attempt to take over the world, as simply rather, the normal working of any attempt at fundamental democracy. Catholics have lobbies, such as the Knights of Columbus, and sundry other Catholic Leagues etc, and such, as likewise do Evangelicals, and sundry immigrant groups in this country and elsewhere, along with other more really conspiratorial "business" special interest lobbies. So, to acknowledge the existance of a "Jewish or Israeli Lobby", in and of itself, does not require the leap of faith that there is then a plot in any fascist or bigoted context at all. (We having our own resident British Blackshirt espouser frequenting our threads who nonetheless, would doubtless beg to differ. Whereupon one but merely considers the source, especially after one comes to know it as intimately as we do.)
A profound division has developed between Zionist advocates of Israel and Jews, secular and religious, who reject or question Zionism and actions taken by the state of Israel.
Public debate about Israel's place in Jewish continuity has become open and candid.
Many Jews try to come to terms with the contradictions between the Judaism they profess to adhere to and the Zionist ideology that has taken hold of them. This coincides with serious concerns expressed across Israel's political and religious spectrum about the future of Israel.
Quite a few Jews now publicly ask whether the chronically besieged ethnic nation-state in the Middle East is "good for the Jews." Many continue to be concerned that militant Zionism destroys Jewish moral values and endangers Jews in Israel and elsewhere. This debate has entered pop culture as well: The recent film Munich by Steven Spielberg sharply focuses on the moral cost of Israel's chronic reliance on force.
The Israel lobby in the United States, aligned with the nationalist right in Israel, viciously attacked the Jewish director and his film even before it was released. It also lashed out at several books published over the past few years - Prophets Outcast, Wrestling With Zion, The Question of Zion, The Myths of Zionism - all authored by Jews who are concerned about the same essential conflict between Zionism and Jewish values.
A few weeks ago, the Israel lobby (through its constituent American Jewish Committee) issued a report alleging that Jews who criticize Israel endanger its "right to exist" and foment anti-Semitism. This provoked a number of prominent Jews in Britain, Canada and the United States to speak out, moving candid debate about Israel into mainstream, even conservative, publications. In January, the eminently pro-establishment Economist published a survey of "the state of the Jews" and an editorial that called on rank-and-file Diaspora Jews to move away from the "my country, right or wrong" attitude adopted by many Jewish organizations.
Making a stand for Jewish emancipation from the state of Israel and its policies has bridged some old divides and created new ones. Thus, an ultra-Orthodox critic of Israel, usually antagonistic to Reform Judaism, commended a Reform rabbi for saying that "when Israel's Jewish supporters abroad don't speak out against disastrous policies that neither guarantee safety for her citizens nor produce the right climate in which to try and reach a just peace with the Palestinians ... they are betraying millennial Jewish values and acting against Israel's own long-term interests."
That said, the complexities around Jewish action and reaction, attitudes and the Zionist effort first to steal the land of the Argentinians as a homeland for the Jews, and only later Palestine arise out of the desperation of the Jews in the WWII Holocaust aftermath, the deceits and scheming of the real Jewish fascists themselves, the Zionists, playing against and upon the then prevailing, especially British Empire interest in Palestine, and Europes desire to escape any real reparations itself for what happened to the Jews. There was, and remains to a degree, a complex dynamic that arose out of this reality, the homeland cost of which, of course, continues to be borne not by the Germans or the other former fascist states of Europe, the actual perpetrators of the Holocaust, but by the poor Palestinians and the other Arab states-, who had themselves been victims of Western imperialism throughout the war, where the then extant western imperial rivalries were also much fought out, upon Palestinian and/or other Arab lands, and spilled their blood as well. And dead is dead, no matter how you arrive there.
The circle of which history of war crimes, treachery and the theft of another people's land is now come back around to complete itself, in an effort to find a real lasting solution both for the crimes committed against the Jews, and the Zionists in turn against the Palestinians. (It is also much a story of the European attempt to avoid the real cost of their crimes against the Jews, just about successfully pulled off, were or are not yet the Palestinians able to endure in their ongoing struggle against Zionist Israel and the US Empire. It is there, in Washington, in the current period, and in London, no less than in Berlin lies the real reponisibility for all this.In each of these categories are Jews for whom national pride, even arrogance (chutzpah), is a positive value, and who give their enthusiastic support to the state that incarnates what they identify as a life force, a triumph of the will and a guarantee of Jewish survival.
Their relationship with the state of Israel and with Zionism has polarized the Jews. The axis along which this polarization has taken shape does not correspond to any of the habitual divisions:
Ashkenazi/Sephardic, observant/non-observant, Orthodox/non-Orthodox.
But each of these categories also includes Jews who believe that the very idea of a Jewish state, and the human and moral price that it demands, undermines all that Judaism teaches, particularly the core values of humility, compassion and kindness. They, along with Israel's staunchest supporters, point up the paradox that has seen Israel, often presented as an ultimate haven, become one of the most precarious places for Jews. Israeli media report unprecedented levels of concern not only for the future of the state but also for the physical survival of its inhabitants. Some attempt to redefine "Israel's national purpose" as a means to revitalize Israel's largely demoralized society.
Divisions about Israel and Zionism are so acute that they may split Jews as irremediably as did the advent of Christianity two millennia ago. Christianity, which embodies a Greek reading of the Torah, eventually broke away from Judaism. Like Christianity, Zionism, reflecting a nationalist, romantic reading of the Torah and Jewish history, has come to fascinate many Jews.
It remains to be seen whether the fracture between those who hold fast to Jewish moral tradition and the converts to Jewish nationalism may one day be mended. However fateful for Jews and Judaism, this fracture may not necessarily affect Israel, which nowadays counts many more evangelical Christians than Jews among its unconditional supporters.
It is all what really underlies the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and more recently in Lebanon, and continuing in their remnant toe hold on what remains to them of their Palestine homeland in Gaza, of the no less long suffering and struggling Palestinians, who are scarcely if any less victims than were Holocaust Jewry.
Time to deal with those in Europe who passed the original buck, and those imperial forces in Britain and the US who are responsible yet for attempting to utilize the long continuing crisis result to fulfill their own imperial/empire ambitions in the Middle East of today. The blame lies neither entirely with just the Jews, or even the Zionists for that matter. There is enough to go around for just about all the major players of Global Capitalism as well.
And a definite worthwhile read in all this, to complete one's understanding of the current major issue of our time, that underlies even 911, in the interconnectedness character of events within a titanic struggle, is this book below.