A few weeks ago I wrote an essay on a subject that has bothered me for years: how can I as a Jew have anything in common with other Jews who espouse radical hate and mass violence in the name of the Jewish God and Jewish people? The essay, Conflating Judaism and Zionism: Bad for the Jews was a long meditation on a complex and difficult problem (for me as a Jew).
As many of you may know I’ve organized a series of webinars over the past year on subjects from the Israeli and Palestinian responses to the COVID epidemic; the Trump normalization process with Gulf states; and a program arguing that focusing on preventing Israeli annexation was a waste. I decided that doing a similar event devoted to the clash between religion and politics in Israel could disseminate these ideas to a wider audience.
Then I read an article in Haaretz about Avrum Burg’s lawsuit against the Israeli state seeking to deny its right to define him as Jewish. Essentially, Avrum argues that religion and religious supremacy poisons the Israeli state and it must carve out a national identity shorn of religion, or at least independent of it. I asked him if he would join me in a panel on the subject and he heartily agreed.
I noticed that Independent Jewish Voices had done a successful program with Ken Stern, the co-author of the IHRA anti-Semitism definition, who now declares that the Israel Lobby is abusing it. I approached Prof. Adam Sutcliffe, one of the convenors of the group and he was enthusiastic. IJV added Anglo-Israeli human rights lawyer, Miri Weingarten to the panel and Prof. Sutcliffe will moderate.
It will take place on Tuesday, March 9th at 10am Pacific (1pm New York/6pm London/8pm Israel). To participate you must register on Zoom. I’ve uploaded here the flyer for the event. We already have over 300 guests registered. There is a Facebook Event page: please help expand the audience by inviting friends to join the page, which offers instructions to register.
Bobby Sandstone says
“…how can I as a Jew have anything in common with other Jews who espouse radical hate and mass violence in the name of the Jewish God and Jewish people? The essay, Conflating Judaism and Zionism: Bad for the Jews was a long meditation on a complex and difficult problem (for me as a Jew).”
You just asked the big question there, Richard.
Perhaps the answer lies in the idea of a ‘Jewish God and Jewish people’. As an agnostic, brought up as a Roman Catholic in Ireland, I wrestled with such identity conflicts, especially given the complex history of that sect in this country.
I resolved it by abandoning the oxymoronic Roman adjective and retaining the universalist human catholicity. It sheds the ritual and superstition of Roman localism while retaining the residual commonalities with the rest of the species.
The Irish element contains many of the historical elements of the Jewish people, with its imperial classification as ‘mere Irish’ untermenschen status, its collusive implications in the persecuting empire, its dislocations and diaspora, and even its tribal mobsterism as a protective shell in the brutal tribalist contest for survival. And just as the Zionist mobsters betray Jews to serve their partisan ‘greater cause’, Irish nationalism has betrayed it people serially since independence, in the interests of it’s ruling caste system.
The Roman element, by subsuming the catholicity, created the imperialist crusades justified by the ethical catholic(uncapitalised) human ‘end justifying the means’.
The Irish solidarity and pride in the minority who opposed imperial brutality in every generation,
including the current one as our ‘independent’ nation collaborates with Nato’s racist wars while flying the flag of a spurious ‘neutrality’, just as our governments colluded with the Brutish Vampire’s supression of what had been a civil rights peaceful struggle in the 60’s to militarise it into a terrorist resistance to state terrorism tied many of our heads in knots.
I temper any temptation to national pride by adapting the old song ‘When Irish eyes are smiling’ with the addendum of ‘…watch your back’. I set up The Regressive Hypocrite party in the 1980s to try to address our political mafias, with predictable lockdown on any media coverage.
I’m not sure if that helps, or adds confusion to your own dilemma, but I see parallels.
Richard, do you have a quote from Mr. Stern where he says the lobby is abusing the definition?
Richard Silverstein says
@ishiguro: Folks, I don’t mind researching and finding important pieces of information that might be difficult to find online. But please try to do simple Google searches yourself before coming here and asking me to do them for you. As I wrote in this post, IJV did an entire webinar with Stern in which he spoke on precisely this subject. It is available on its website. Besides that, this information is exceedingly easy to find: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/13/antisemitism-executive-order-trump-chilling-effect