Monday, June 02, 2008

Mental Meanderings about Zionism

I need to write a post about why I didn't go to the Israeli Day Parade despite loving Israel as much as anyone; but its just not coming.

Part of me supposes that I am finding the post impossible to write because I really don't care about Israel. That stings a little. In my imagination I care about Israel as much as anyone, but maybe I don't, not really, or at least not in the way that the marchers care about Israel. I don't think I am ready to admit that to anyone, though, including myself. And anyway what does it mean not to care about Israel?

I'd be sad if it disappeared. Horrified, in fact. I don't want Jews to die. (There is something a little vulgar about how I feel required to say this, as if the matter would be in doubt, if I left this unsaid. But its true: If I don't say it outright, some people will pretend and/or presume that I want Jews to die. A little sick, that.) I know many thousands of Jews are alive today because of Israel.

So why can't I demonstrate that this is what I think and feel by marching? Is something wrong with me? Am I too lazy to get to the parade? Am I selfish?

But isn't everyone selfish in that we all just do the things that make us feel good? Don't all of us, at bottom, structure our lives in ways that provide us with the most pleasure and the least pain?

So why doesn't going to the parade make me feel good? Why isn't participating in the parade a source of pleasure? Is it because - let's face it - parades are sort of boring? In fact, the whole idea of a parade - we all agree; we all think alike; we're a monolith of support; rah rah rah - sort of makes me recoil.

A thought: I've noticed that pro-Israel psychos and anti-Israel psychos disturb me in the exact same way. And the way that both kind of psychos disturb me is fundementally similar to the way that Charedi-ism disturbs me, which at bottom, is how all "isms" disturb me, which - aha! - is the thing about parades that makes me recoil. Smugness. Certainty. Us against Them. So is my ambivilance about Israel related to my general distaste for ideologies? Is that why I distance myself from Israel? Because I can't seperate Israel from the unreflective head-nodding of some of its supporters?

But, hold the phone. Israel is more than the sum of its supporters, isn't it? And its not like every supporter of Israel is the sort of psycho I've described. TO isn't. Jameel isn't. Anyway, neyond what those multivarious supporters say and do, Israel serves a purpose, doesn't it? And its a purpose, I am supposed to support. There are living, breathing Jews in Israel, who belong to any number of different ideologies themselves, and all of them would be endangered if Israel were to vanish.

Lots of Jews are better off now because of Israel. Perhaps all of us are. But is Israel still a sanctuary and a safe haven for Jews?

I am not so sure. Anyone with a cursory understanding of risk management knows that it isn't a good idea for all the Jews to be in one place. Makes it too easy for one nut with a big bomb to knock us all off. As father Jacob's behavior showed us, sometimes its wise to divide the camps. And how many Jewish communities are still huddling in fear under the rule of an anti-Semite? Not many. And even in places like Iran, where the few remaining Jews are living pinched and danger-filled lives, how many of them are really and truly trapped? Wouldn't the mullahs be glad to see them leave?

And, along with the expiration, or, if you prefer, fulfilment of Israel's original purpose, I find that even the idea of "Israel" has become wrapped up, in my mind at least, with so much effed-up nonsense, and worse, all of this nonesense becomes kosher, depending with whom you speak, under the heading of "This is what God wants" or "He gave US this land" or "Those Arabs are so much worse" or "Those Arabs started"

In my faulty perception, talking to a certain type of Zionist is exactly like talking to a certain type if charedi. Some charedim attempt to shuts down any debate or conversation about how to make Judaism better by insisting that everything Charedim do is ipso fact the correct and authentic way for Jews to do things. I grew up with Zionosts who offered similar justifications for everything Israel did: Israel was always right, because nothing Israel did could ever be wrong. The media was always wrong, because the media was a monolith that, down to the last man, hated Israel. Same for the Arabs who were always capital E evil. Any attempt by me to bring nuance or new facts to the conversation was taken as proof that I hated Israel, that something was wrong with me for seeing things no one else wanted to notice.

So maybe I just gave up? Maybe I said to hell with it, and backed off leaving the Zionists to their Zionism, as I wish I could leave the Charedim to the Charedism?

Sometimes, I just want to wash my hands of Zionism, in the same way that I sometimes want to wash my hands of charedi nonsense. Sometimes I see the Zionists like I see the Charedim, in that both groups are certain they're right, indifferent to nuance, and convinced that any attempt to disagree, is a demonstration of your own defectivness. (Do I need to say the this is a generalization that doesn't apply to every Charedi or every Zionist? Ok. Said it.)

And Im not sure how much or how little sense this makes, but let's make a post out of it.

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