Almost every Jew takes pride when they see a Star of David (magen David) . For them, it represents Jewish peoplehood and solidarity. They wear it on chains around their neck. German Jewish soccer clubs used it as emblems on their uniforms before the Holocaust. Unfortunately, you even see Jewish visitors at Holocaust camps wrapping themselves in it as if it was a magic talisman or antidote to Nazi hatred.
The symbol goes back centuries to the ancient Kabbalah where it was a mystical symbol for which each point of the star was associated with a specific divine quality. Much later, it became associated with the founding events of modern Zionism. In 1897, before the First Zionist Congress, Herzl realized that if he was going to create a national movement he needed a national symbol. One of his comrades came up with the idea of combining the blue and white color scheme of the prayer shawl (or talit) with a Star of David. That stuck. In 1948, it became the national flag.
But as Israel itself increasingly ceases to be a symbol of pride for Diaspora Jews, so to the Star of David has become debased. It is widely featured as a calling card of Judeo-terrorists after they burn down mosques and schools in the West Bank. From the infamous Yellow Star, a symbol of Jewish strength and resistance during the Holocaust, it has now become a calling card for Israeli ethnic cleansing.
Most Israelis who advocate ethnically cleansing the country of non-Jews don’t bother to adopt a specific logo to denote their supremacist beliefs; the graphic icon they add to their vandalism and racist graffiti is just a regular Star of David, turning it into a symbol of hate pic.twitter.com/Dmm8aoynxl
— David Sheen (@davidsheen) November 15, 2020
Recently, Israeli Jews have employed it in vandalizing a Tel Aviv school whose students are largely children of African immigrants. This graffiti says: “School for young criminals.” The hate many such Israelis harbor against these immigrants is cruelly ironic in that many of their own grandparents came to Israel after facing the same sort of hatred and genocide at the hands of the Nazis. Remember the saying:” Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Except in this case it should read: those who are victims of history and refuse to learn the proper lessons will become the perpetrators.
Judeo-settlers and xenophobes have transformed the Star of David from a symbol of pride into one of hate. Which raises the question: if you are a Jew opposing such hatred espoused in the name of Judaism, how do you create a distinction? How can the haters and those who despise their hate share the same religion?
Different religious traditions handle such internal schisms in various ways. Some, like Catholics can use the Supreme authority of the Pope to declare deviant trends heretical. Unfortunately, where Jews once had such an authority in the form of the Talmudic Sanhedrin, we no longer share such a consensus. There are chief rabbis in various communities, but they often don’t even represent their entire community let alone the entire Jewish world.
My own way of dealing with this is to declare that these are aberrant forms of Judaism. I prefer calling them Judeo-Supremacists or Judeo-fascists. That way, I deny them any “Jewish” authenticity. Every fiber of my moral being protests against any association with them as fellow-Jews.
That, of course, is one of the major reasons I write this blog. To show Judaism as I see it and distinguish from those I call pagan idolaters and worshipers of stones and bones. H/t Or Kashti.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.