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Monday, September 02, 2002
Zionism is Stupid: One Piss-Poor Jew's Thoughts
(Piss Poor in Terms of Jewishness, that is)

John Stevenson writes:

When I read it however, it convinces me that we (the poor, minorities, Zionists, fundamentalists) need to do a much better PR job if otherwise intellectual people are so utterly clueless.

How can one support Zionism?

1. The Jews have a biblical/historical claim to the land of Israel
("We were here first" argument)

2. The Jews have to be in Israel so my beliefs pretaining to the Apocalypse can come true
(Christian Fundamentalist argument)

Not being omniscient myself (yet), I will respond to any other compelling arguments as they reach my ears. However, until then:

"We were here first":

In the face of a sea of arbitrary choices, how does one where to draw the line after which this logic ceases to obtain? After we give Israel back to the Jews, let's give it back to the Canaanites, we'll give Australia back to the aborigines, all of Europe back to Indo-Europeans (Aryans, Celts, whatever, name em, you got em), North America back to the Native Americans (South America too), ad infinitum until we surrender the entire thing back to cloned dinosaurs with the caveat that they eventually must return it to single-celled organisms.

Of course, I've stretched the case to absurdity, but the entire question is absurd, given that there is no logical point at which to make the distinction between merited remission and silliness. I will grant my interlocutors that there are places where we are compelled by feelings to make distinctions, but we cannot make policy based upon feelings; it won't withstand scrutiny.

The argument cuts both ways. If we cannot decide when a historical event was "bad" (read: rectification necessary), then we cannot decide when it was "good," either. As regards history, we are unfortunately all in a glass house. Therefore, we can do nothing against the occupation of historic Palestine by Israel now that it has happened; it's history. If we can be neither for nor against, what shall we do? We shall realize that to have supported such an occupation in the first place might have been erroneous (and perhaps an example of policy based on immediate feelings that is now being cast into doubt by retrospective scrutiny), and work to rectify the consequences of said occupation without committing an equal blunder against the occupants. Therefore, when asked if I support Israel in its battle against terror as waged by a morally corrupt (and unfortunately influential) group of Palestinians, the answer is an emphatic "yes." When you ask me, however, what I think of the State of Israel, period, I'm a little more reserved. And if you pointedly ask me what I think of that Plymouth Rock landing there in the first place, I will tell you that Zionism seems a reprehensible idea which I cannot responsibly support, not by the "we were there first" logic, nor any other argument that I have yet to examine.

Christian Fundamentalism and Israel:

As a Jew (by birth if not practice), I am disgusted that there are American Christians that from one side of their mouth condemn me (and any non-Christian, or sometimes any Christian of another denomination, which in turn sometimes seems to consist of any Christian from a different church) to Hell and from the other wish Jewish Zionists the best of luck with their endeavor at statehood. However, I will not accuse all pro-Israeli Christian Fundamentalists of such hypocrisy; rather, I will accuse them of seeking to ground policy on a narrow interest dictated by an interpretation of the New Testament. That you hope your policy decisions will spur the return of Christ is your business; however, I am saddened that in determining the best interests of your mulicultural nation that you would disengage from debate, and indeed many questions of secular morality, and support Israel based on only dogma. Bear in mind that I am not making this accusation of anyone in the present company, but I am making the point nonetheless, hopefully for only posterity's sake. It is one thing to argue that the political norms of this country emerged from Christendom, it is quite another to suggest that this country is the Holy Empire of Christ and should operate by any interpretation of biblical specifics. To imply such would put us on equal footing with a number of nations at which we should be (and in some cases are) expressing moral outrage.

Perhaps it is clear to you that I could not consistently believe that there should be a "Jewish state." You'd be right if you made that assumption. I think all states should endeavor to be secular nations, accepting any non-criminal immigrants that wish to reside within their borders and under their laws (within the practical limitation that in the current state of affairs, there would be massive migration to a few states in the world, which in turn could not support such numbers) under the great American principle that all men are created equally. There is something un-American about supporting an Israel that by policy, and indeed national purpose, must seek to maintain its ethno-religious "purity." As a Jew, I say we ought keep our numbers up the old-fashioned way. Lots and lots of procreation. In that regard, I will be back on campus on September 21st.

In all seriousness, though, while this commentary stands on its own vis-a-vis Israel, it points to a larger problem: the U.S. needs a more consistent, coherent foreign policy. It's time we let money stop dictating what is in our national - and the world's - best interest. Continuing to do so will encourage more "exceptions" to our foreign policy that will later bite us in the ass as we are labeled hypocrites and have nothing but brinksmanship upon which to fall in order to retain our standing in the eyes of our peers around the world. If we operate on the more virtuous foundations of our nation, I am confident that there will be more profitiability, financially and otherwise, than should we continue as at present.