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Rambam

Pushed to the right?

Posted on 2006.07.20 at 13:45
Current Mood: confusedconfused
Current Music: Muddy Waters - Rosalie
I heard some interesting comments on my observation yesterday that I find myself to the right of where I usually am on the political spectrum in terms of my take on the war in the middle east (the new one, Israel vs. Hezbollah), and that this is not an uncommon occurrence. I generally sit somewhere in the liberal wing of the Democratic party, certainly to the left of Hillary Clinton, maybe a bit to the right of Kucinich or someone like that. On some things I go more left, but Israel is the only thing where I find myself consistently on the right.
First off, why are the positions ‘right’ or ‘left?’ I don’t know. It confuses me, and doesn’t seem to make sense, but I am just going by the self-applied labels. People who call themselves right wing seem to generally take one position, one more supportive of Israel, while those who call themselves left wing are much more likely to be extremely critical.
So where am I?
The main problem, frankly, is that the left, especially the European left, flirts with Jew-hatred. That is it in a nutshell. Don’t misunderstand me; I completely support the right of anyone to criticize Israel. Israel does a lot of things which deserve and need criticism. It is absolutely, positively, NOT anti-Jewish to criticize Israel. Nevertheless, the criticism from the left seems to go there very quickly. It becomes anti-Jewish, racist, anti-Zionist in a flash. No other country gets criticized to the extent where its very existence is constantly called into question regularly, as part of criticism of its policies. People criticize the US harshly. Fine. Does it ever go to a place where people routinely and seriously suggest that we don’t deserve our independence and should revert to a British colony? That all Americans should just go back to Europe or Africa or Korea or wherever they came from? Basically, the hostility that I find in conversations and on message boards and such is so harsh, and it gets so harsh so quickly and so reliably, that I just can’t and don’t feel a part of it. I don’t want to associate myself with it. When I go to peace marches or something, even if Israel is not at all involved in the situation, there are people who will bring in criticism of Israel, and the criticism always has a global and personal tone. It practically never fails. So why would I want to associate myself with that? How CAN I associate myself with it, even if I want to, even if I agree with some of their criticisms on some level?

OK, this was the more personal part, but I have to get back to work, so I will save the more political part for later.

Comments:


lilchiva
lilchiva at 2006-07-20 18:24 (UTC) (Link)
While not the meat of your post, I am curious if you think it is possible for someone to be anti-zionist and not anti-jew?
Jonathan
theservant at 2006-07-20 19:19 (UTC) (Link)
That's a good question. Yes I do think it is possible. I don't think it is that common.
If someone is against Zionism, I would look for consistency; are they against the existence of Pakistan? British India was partitioned in 1948 along religious lines. Is that also unacceptable? Is the person denying only Jewish ambitions for national self-determination? Those are the kinds of questions I would ask.
It's a little bit like the affirmative action debate. It is by no means racist to be against affirmative action. There are a number of philosophical and practical problems with it. I can understand how someone would oppose it, and at the same time not be a racist. A number of African-American conservatives oppose it.
That said, when you do come across a racist person or group, loud opposition to affirmative action is always right at the top of the list of gripes. It is so prevalent that if you hear someone really laying into affirmative action, it seems reasonable to try and find out if they are a racist, although you must be ready to accept that they may not be. But a lot of the time they are.
Anti-Zionism seems the same. A lot of times 'Zionist' is just a code word for Jew.
jeejeen at 2006-07-20 18:30 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for this...

Would you mind explaining what Zionist/ism means to you? Because I've always considered myself to be not anti-Zionist per se, but not in favour of it, either. Where (for me) Zionism = drive non-Israelis out of Israel/Jerusalem.

In terms of the personal part of your post, I guess I would say that Jews criticising Israel, expressing distaste for things they don't agree with, could actually have a tempering effect on the racist/anti-Jewish criticism of Israel. So long as it's non-Jews expressing criticism, it seems like the door is open for assholes to jam their racist feet in. I say slam it shut; make people think about who they're talking to, who they're hurting. When Israel is an aggressor (when any country is an aggressor), dissent ought to come from within Israel, from Jewish communities outside Israel...and of course, from everywhere else. Otherwise it's far too simple for it to become a race debate, which is unacceptable.

Does this make sense?
Jonathan
theservant at 2006-07-20 19:52 (UTC) (Link)
It would make sense if things were the way they are sposed to be.
But then the people criticizing Israel are usually mean-spirited, like this cartoon here, and then I think- do I want to be on the same side as that guy?
Can I be?
No.
jeejeen at 2006-07-20 19:58 (UTC) (Link)
I'm not on that person's side, either.
I think it's a mistake to assume (not just you, anyone), that there are only two sides in a debate as complicated as this one. THe problem is nuanced, and so too are the reactions.

I refuse to allow myself to be seen on the same side as that guy. But I'm not on the side that marches for Zionism, either. Surely there must be a place for me?
Jonathan
theservant at 2006-07-20 20:12 (UTC) (Link)
Right, well, but I forgot to ask how you define Zionism. I don't think that in any of its main incarnations it has proposed kicking out non-Jews. That is an extremist position even among the Israeli right.
I think that just as (according to the bumper sticker) feminism is the radical notion that women are people, Zionism is the radical notion that Jews have the same national rights as anyone else.
This gets a bit into the political aspect of it, but the criticism of the left, of what that thing above is a fairly tame example, tends to focus on blame, war guilt, etc. etc., and rarely offers a genuine, realistic solution. A terrorist group is sitting across the border in Lebanon firing hundreds of rockets and kidnapping Israeli citizens. What is Israel supposed to do? I hope that someone would give me a better answer than what they are doing, but I haven't heard one. OK, they should bomb less. That doesn't really amount to much of a different plan.
I just don't know.
we are your sweet mistakes
eard_stapa at 2006-07-20 23:44 (UTC) (Link)
I don't think that in any of its main incarnations it has proposed kicking out non-Jews.

forgive me for sounding like a total dumbass, but... isn't that kind of what happened in at least a fair amount of places?
Jonathan
theservant at 2006-07-20 23:52 (UTC) (Link)
No. Expelling populations is against international law, although nobody made much of a stink when the Arab countries did it to Jews. Arabs were never expelled from Israel, although many of them fled to fight with Arab armies against Israel in 1948, with the understanding that they would return as conquerors. They didn't.
we are your sweet mistakes
eard_stapa at 2006-07-21 00:02 (UTC) (Link)
Okay. I really don't want to sound like a stereotypical, ignorant liberal who's just repeating rumors or something. I don't know if you've been reading my LJ lately but I am definitely not on that side. It just seems to me, however, with the bulldozing of homes, etc., etc. that took place during settling, that some people were, in fact, kicked out. Maybe someone didn't make a declaration or something officially kicking those people out, but they were kicked out anyways. And I certainly recognize that no other countries were willing to take them in, either, so those countries are also at fault.
Perhaps I'm just missing/misreading something you're saying here.
Jonathan
theservant at 2006-07-21 00:07 (UTC) (Link)
Bulldozing of homes was a policy in the 80s and 90s whereby homes of convicted terrorists were destroyed, rendering their remaining families homeless. But not expelled from the country or anything like that. The expulsion of non-Jews has never been a policy of Israel, and never a tenet of Zionism, except at the most extreme Kahanist fringes.
we are your sweet mistakes
eard_stapa at 2006-07-21 00:14 (UTC) (Link)
Okay, that's not what I learned in my (Middle Eastern Civ) history class about what happened during the settlement of Israel, but maybe my teacher was on crack.

It's impossible to find an unbiased source on anything in general and particularly with this topic... and so sometimes it's hard to sort the facts out.
Jonathan
theservant at 2006-07-21 01:03 (UTC) (Link)
You mean the settlement of Israel in the book of Judges?
If you mean 1948, it already had a Jewish majority. It has had that since the last half of the 19th century when the Turks were in charge.
we are your sweet mistakes
eard_stapa at 2006-07-21 00:16 (UTC) (Link)
p.s. I hope I don't offend you or anything. I know a lot more about this issue than I think a lot of people do, which is sad because I don't feel like I know very much at all. I'm always looking to hear other voices, opinions and facts.
Jonathan
theservant at 2006-07-21 01:05 (UTC) (Link)
There is a good book on Zionism by Conor Cruise O'Brien called The Siege. O'Brien used to be the Irish representative to the UN, and as such had to sit in between Iraq and Israel, which resulted in much hilarity.
I am in agreement with being.
jerubbaald at 2006-07-20 18:44 (UTC) (Link)
I think part of this is the left generally looks askance at power and favorably on the underdog - and sure, lots of times they are right. I'm basically politically in the same place as you, and generally... exact same thing.

What they do, however, is they see the plight of the Palestinians and others and since THEY all it's Israel's fault, and Israel roundly kicks their asses on a regular basis - they just buy it. They don't see the bigger issues. They don't see the history because unless you STUDY the history of Israel and it's formation, it's easy to think they have the right of it.

Combine that with some warped sense of weakness providing greater moral agency.... add some rudimentary, internalized antisemitism... and voila.

A giant blind spot in the typical left towards the issue of Israel. Instead of seeing the current situation as the fallout of the Arab world trying to finish the job Hitler started for the first few decades of Israel's existence... they see it as some sort of Imperialism run amok.

Case in point... when Israel was fighting off multiple armies who claimed they'd throw all the Jews in the sea and they were the underdogs... everyone loved them. And the situation hasn't changed dramatically - and many who study the situation come to that conclusion. Israel continues to simply try to "be" and that itself is constantly under attack. This hasn't always been addressed properly, perhaps, but that's always been the goal: "let us exist." And then you have the Palestinians.. trapped somewhere in the middle as the result of many poor decisions made by them and for them. And then you have the rest of the Arab world who simply want Israel destroyed, and have no problem using the plight of the Palestinians to address it.

The best thing the Arab league ever did was decide to stop trying to invade and slaughter Israel. By leaving the Palestians as refugees (since they all moved in order to make sure they weren't in the way of the upcoming slaughter) and letting the west focus on THIS.... public opinion turned on Israel.

It's just unfortunate the the more aware left fell for it, and we're left with the support we have from the right being mostly rather... corrupt by it's very nature based in either hatred of Arabs/Muslims, imperialistic ideas or strange religious leanings.

It leaves us as strange bedfellows.
we are your sweet mistakes
eard_stapa at 2006-07-20 23:49 (UTC) (Link)
They don't see the history because unless you STUDY the history of Israel and it's formation, it's easy to think they have the right of it.

I think it's incorrect to say that people are anti-Zionist because they don't know the history. It's not "a giant blind spot." I'm sure there are some who don't know history and might change if they did, but... From personal experience, most of the people I know who are uncomfortable with the idea of Israel or even go so far as to call themselves "pro-Palestinian" know a shitload about the history. They're not anti-Semites, either.

But that's just anecdotal evidence, so.
Jonathan
theservant at 2006-07-20 23:56 (UTC) (Link)
Why would being pro-Palestinian equal being anti-zionist? That's like saying that supporting the civil rights movement in America was anti-white.
But they are anti-Israel, and that's because there is often a double standard.
The latest Palestinian peace plan offered by the new government, or some elements in it, was that Israel withdraw completely to 1967 borders, and in return Hamas would implicitly recognize Israel. So in other words, Israel gives up everything that it might give up, and in return doesn't even get an explicit recognition that it exists.
And this plan was strongly opposed by more conservative elements of the Palestinian Hamas government.
we are your sweet mistakes
eard_stapa at 2006-07-21 00:12 (UTC) (Link)
The people I have met who describe themselves as "pro-Palestinian" are not people who would agree with you on very many of these issues. I don't think that being Zionist means that one is anti-Palestinian but I've never heard a self-described Zionist call himself "pro-Palestinian."

I suppose you could say that any of the "pro-Palestinian" people I described above are anti-Israel. That doesn't change what I said originally - they know a ton of history. And they're not just standing around and criticizing Israel like the people you described in your original post. It's also got nothing at all to do with race. For them, it's about working against what they see as injustice all over the world. Most of them are international socialists. I don't know what you'll make of that, but, it's true.
Jonathan
theservant at 2006-07-21 01:02 (UTC) (Link)
I am a Zionist, and I think that there should be a Palestine as well. Is that pro-Palestinian?

OK, they are internationalists. But how many countries do they think should not exist?
The human rights violations of Israel, and there are numerous examples, pale before those of many Arab countries, not to mention places like China or North Korea.
Its not about just knowing a ton of history, its about contextualizing it properly. History can be used and abused, as the man said.
gerbilsage at 2006-07-21 04:13 (UTC) (Link)
No other country gets criticized to the extent where its very existence is constantly called into question regularly, as part of criticism of its policies

The problem is that its foundation is still controversial. From my conversations, most sensible people aren't against a Jewish state; they're against a Jewish state right in the middle of Arab land.

I agree with you, though. The intelligentsia here tend to be anti-Israel and yet we're still uncomfortable about having the redneck lunatics on our side. We feel that if they're using the wrong map, they should end up somewhere else instead of next door.

- M.
Jonathan
theservant at 2006-07-21 13:10 (UTC) (Link)
Except that it's part of the misunderstanding that it is on an Arab land- there has been a continuous Jewish presence in the land of Israel for at least 3500 years or so, and a Jewish majority since sometime during the Turkish rule.
People tend to act as though 4 million Jews just sort of showed up sometime in 1947, and there were no Jews there before that.

Also, this is a good opportunity to blame the British, which I like to do whenever I get the chance.
eitanhalevy
eitanhalevy at 2006-07-21 07:11 (UTC) (Link)
"The main problem, frankly, is that the left, especially the European left, flirts with Jew-hatred."

I'd say they're going steady at this point.
apemanmaldonado at 2006-07-21 08:24 (UTC) (Link)
Just out of curiosity, what do you think of Neturei Karta? Does their opposition to Israel make them Anti-Jewish Jews?
eitanhalevy
eitanhalevy at 2006-07-21 11:34 (UTC) (Link)

Note: I am not 'theservant', though we have the same ikon

They are a crazy fringe group who hate their own people in the name of their religion. They ignore the larger concepts of Jewish nationhood and peoplehood in orderr to live their own cloistered, ghetto existence. They are every bit as traitorous as the super-lefties who are out for our destruction. They associate with terrorist groups and terrorist states who would be glad to have a nuclear (2nd) holocaust in Eretz Yisrael. They make me sick. May Hashem inspire them to make a true and full teshuva for their betrayal of Clal Yisrael. Unfortunately they have disproportionate influence, and their 'rav' is often invited to meet with Arab/Islamic world leaders. For some reason the media loves pictures of these 'religious Jews' meeting with murdering criminals like Arafat even though they are only a couple of thousand people worldwide and are not a demographically or ideologically significant movement within Judaism in general, or even within Haredi Judaism in particular.

Personally, there are two religious groups which I HATE. These are "Jews for Je*%#" , and Naturei Karta (Islam doesn't make the list).
apemanmaldonado at 2006-07-21 12:58 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Note: I am not 'theservant', though we have the same ikon

Well that was certainly clearly stated as to what you think about them. How about your opinion on the Satmar? Or the Edah Hacharedis? Though not as extreme I understand they are still somewhat opposed to the founding of Israel and try to have little to do with the government of Israel. From what I understand they are both adamantly opposed to Zionism.

Now I'm going to try and step as carefully as I can both out of respect for the respectful tone that seems to be kept here and out of a wish to keep what may be an interesting exchange open. For those Jews who are opposed to Zionism perhaps I am naive but I don't see their opposition based on a deep hatred for their own people or religion, nor do I think they do it for fame and fortune or out of a hope to ingratiate themselves with Muslims or Arabs. How can they be traitorous to a country they don't recognize and refuse to have anything to do with? They seem to value what they believe to be their religious principles more than the idea of a nation. It is, in my own opinion, precisely that which has allowed Judaism as a religion and the Jews as a people to survive so long, religious conviction and not patriotism or nationalism.
eitanhalevy
eitanhalevy at 2006-07-22 22:22 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Note: I am not 'theservant', though we have the same ikon

To a certain extent I have no argument with what you're saying here. I disagree with Satmarim and Edah Hacharedis but respectfully. Naturei Karta actually actively work AGAINST the interests of Israel, and support terrorists and other national enemies. They are traitors, plain and simple. The fact that they think they are doing the right thing doesn't change the fact that they are helping people who aspire to murder Jews. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
apemanmaldonado at 2006-07-23 00:08 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Note: I am not 'theservant', though we have the same ikon

Fair enough. Not having met anyone in above mentioned groups and never having been to Israel and Palestine I must admit myself woefully ignorant as the groups and factions but even to me Naturei Karta seems way out there. My fiance and her family are Palestinian and dislike Israel to put it mildly but even they wouldn't be as supportive of Arafat as Naturei Karta was.
Jonathan
theservant at 2006-07-21 13:11 (UTC) (Link)
I think that wing-nuts like them tend to defy categorization. When it comes to Satmar, they tend to de-legitimize Zionists as Jews at all, so that changes the equation that way.
I just shake my head at them.
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