"For the traditional Jew, not just for Sephardim, the state of Israel represents a profound rejection of a millennia-old Jewish identity. The psychological impact of all this is formulated in the irrational American Jewish identification with Israel as the existential center of all Jewish life. Having rejected the traditions of the past, based on the religious values of Torah and Halakhah, contemporary Jews have recreated a religious culture based on the rituals and demands of the Jewish state and Zionism."I would be curious to know what exactly this "millennia-old Jewish identity" is, exactly. Perhaps David Shasha is talking about the perception of learned but weak "shtetel Jew?" Or pious Jews like Rabbi Hillel who would prefer to sacrifice themselves for their faith rather than fight. I don't know, and I'm never going to find out because he does not elaborate. He instead continues like a raging bull, never stopping for breath or to explain what he means. What traditions of the past have American Jews rejected? How exactly have Jews of today created a "culture" that is based around Israel? I can't even refute what he is saying, because he isn't saying anything!
All I know is that at from what I know if Jewish culture (having attended a Reform schul and currently working at a Conservative one) is that holidays and traditions are still very much based around Torah and other ties to the past. Israel does show up on days like Israel Independence Day, but other than that merely stays in the background. So Mr. Shasha, if you would like to counter this argument with your own experiences, write another article. Let's continue:
"In typical Ashkenazi fashion, this new Zionist religion is authoritarian and draconian in its demand for conformity.""Typical Ashkenazi fashion" huh? Everyone's a little bit racist...
Mr. Shasha then spends the next few paragraphs with some hard hitting references to current events: Namely the Anat Kam case and Richard Goldstone being (no longer) ostracized from his grandson's bar mitzvah ceremony. It's a step in the right direction, at least this time he is talking about concrete things that exist on the Material Plane and not somewhere in his imagination. He presents key parts of the facts wrong, but that's no surprise. Let's jump down to here:
"Rather than judging Jewish behavior in traditional religious terms, the new Zionist imperative seeks to control human behavior and speech by setting out a series of protocols regarding the way in which we see and speak about Israel. This regime is controlled internally by the Jewish community, which determines who is "one of us" and who is not."Ooh! The Zionists are controlling human behavior, huh? Where have I heard this before? I can't imagine. Anyway, Anat Kam was not ostracized from the community, she broke the law and was punished, so I'm going to ignore her for now and go to Goldstone. As I mentioned before, it wasn't just that Goldstone criticized Israel and his fellow (Ashkenazi) Jews didn't like it. In the eyes of many Jews, including apparently the ones in South Africa, Goldstone sold out his fellow Jews and threw them under the bus for his own personal gain. He put his name and Jewish background to a report that he knew was full of holes and inadmissible evidence. For Shasha to imply that he is being ostracized for simply saying the wrong thing is simply the latest in a long series of intellectually dishonest arguments we have seen. He continues:
"The actions of Jews like Anat Kamm and Richard Goldstone speak to the Jewish tradition of self-examination and the idea of justice in a wider sense. The Talmudic tradition teaches that Jews must not allow other Jews to act in ways that violate standards of morality."Give me a break. Breaking out the "sainthood" argument already, Mr. Shasha? Further background information has revealed that Kamm wanted the fast track to a career as a journalist and Goldstone wanted a higher position in the UN. They were willing to break the law (in Kamm's case) or slander their fellow Jews based on faulty evidence (in Goldstone's) to achieve their own gains. It would hardly be the first time that people who have committed similar actions were considered traitors to the Jewish people. Just because Mr. Shasha likes what they did does not mean that he can put motivations in their heads where they do not exist. Let's not linger too long though, because he's ramping up the rhetoric:
"But today Israel represents a reversal of the old moral codes. In its ethos is found a cruelty and meanness that is reflected in the way Jews conduct their discourse. Destroying individual Jews who are critical of Israel is seen as a positive commandment of the new Judaism. At the epicenter of this ideology is a pathological paranoia regarding anti-Semitism which often marks the Arab as the primordial enemy of the Jew."I wonder if at this point Mr. Shasha is just going to come right out and tell us that he doesn't think Israel should exist? And if not, what exactly is he saying? The sad part is that he doesn't even saying anything new; the transparent argument that everyone who even looks the wrong way at Israel is "destroyed" or "discredited" is so worn it might as well be transparent. No, Mr. Shasha, criticizing Israel will not earn you the ire of the Jewish community. Working to undermine and destroy it will. Maybe that is why you are so willing to defend Richard Goldstone, because you like the damage that he did to the credibility of Israel as a whole. If that is the case, at least have the courage to admit it.
Let's talk about the "in its ethos" sentence for a minute, because it speaks back to the image of the Jew discussion that I covered in part one. In some respect, Mr. Shasha is right: At it's core, Israel is about the Jewish people deciding to make their own way in life and to no longer be dependent on the majority people who rule over them. Whether Israel succeeds or fails, for the first time in a long time the Jewish people will be the guardians of their own destiny.
Unfortunately, the real world doesn't work out as nicely as we would like to think. 95% of all the countries in the world have had to fight for their existence at one point of another, Israel more than most. Because the Jews of Israel are no longer willing to roll over and let their enemies kill them, Mr. Shasha is going to castigate them all as being fundamental "cruel and mean?" Maybe he would prefer it if the Jews were suffering under...someone's....occupation rather than conducting one of their own. At least when Jews are enslaved they don't need to worry about offending anyone, least of all themselves.
Oh wait! It gets better! Because you see, according to our wise Brooklyn-dwelling Mr. Shasha, there really aren't any enemies of the Jewish people except the ones that exist in our heads! Anti-Semitism isn't real, we are just too paranoid! The Arabs don't really want to destroy Israel, we just need an enemy for our paranoid ideology! I don't even know what to say at this point. Does Mr. Shasha even pay the slightest bit of attention to what is going on in the real world? Or is he just clinging to that Leftist point of view where it is only the West (in this case the Jews) whose actions matter? Why does the world revolve around the Jews, Mr. Shasha? Why does external forces like anti-Semitism only exist in the way that we see them, rather than in reality?
In the end, this is coming back to "the New Jew," something that Mr. Shasha clearly despises. Jews who have power (physical or sexual) should not exist, in his view. Better to have the Jews as righteous victims than as guardians of their own fates and destinies. At least that way he doesn't have to feel bad about Jews acting like real people. Or is that acting like Gentiles? I don't know the difference, Mr. Shasha, I see everyone as human beings. Maybe you can help me out?