Monday, August 23, 2010

Conflating The State of Israel With Judaism Is Our Cardinal Sin: Its Bad For The State And Its Bad For The Jews

Thought for Elul: conflating the State of Israel with Judaism has been our cardinal sin; its bad for the state, its bad for the Jewish people, its bad for the Jewish religion, and it certainly has been bad for the Palestineans too.

I have been thinking about this lately, as I have been reading Zionism And The Roads Not Taken: Rawidowicz, Kaplan, Kohn by Noam Painko. (There will be more on that in a future posting, I am sure.)

Then I came across this article in Haaretz, which makes the point that the identification of the Jewish religion with the State of Israel makes it impossible for non Jews to be fully citizens of the State. That instead of giving Jews a secular identity they could be comfortable with, Israel has re-enforced a religious definition (and a narrow Orthodox defintion at that) of Judaism, and thus made it harder for Jews and non-Jews (as well as religious and non religious Jews) to get along in Israel.

... from its inception, Zionism intended to turn the Jewish people from a religious community into a modern nation, but ... the project of secularizing the Jewish people has failed. Israel has no legal definition for Judaism other than the religious definition, it does not recognize an Israeli national identity defined on the basis of citizenship, and it does not recognize a Hebrew nationality that is culturally defined.

The comparison to other countries where religion and nationality are linked is irrelevant, because those countries have a secular definition of the state and citizenship. You can be a Polish Jew or an Egyptian Jew, but you can't be a Jewish Muslim or a Jewish Christian. ... In other words, instead of bringing about the secularization of Judaism, Zionism turned religion into the central element of the definition of national identity, and turned the State of Israel into a tool of the religious redemption project ...

Defining the State of Israel solely as democratic and revoking the special privileges of Jews does not contradict Zionism, and certainly not Judaism. The connection to Judaism will remain in the calendar and the Hebrew language, in the name of the state and in the Jewish majority (if we manage to free ourselves from our rule over the Palestinians in the territories.) ...

Democracy ... requires the separation of religion and state, something that will be good for both. Because in the current situation, not only does religion corrupt the state, but the state corrupts religion and pushes it toward nationalistic extremism.

... In my view, that is the meaning of the continued impossible defense of a Jewish and democratic state. ...

Something to think about over the High Holidays.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This are not a jewish thoughts.
You can stay outside israel
and one day you'll all get killed
by your neighbours...

6:28 am  

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