FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Israel Disgraces Judaism: Militarism + Orthodoxy = Authoritarian Mindset

Where else in the world is Occupation given a free pass by the global community? Why? Lingering guilt over the Holocaust? Geopolitical reality, in which the US has established a wedge of support for its never-ending confrontation with Russia and China? Oil politics run amuck, where Middle East dominance is a prerequisite for America’s hegemonic plans and aspirations? Or merely, the minutia of power-considerations, from, e.g., AIPAC lobbying to relentless media iteration of a bastion of freedom standing valiantly against the twin evils of Arab nationalism (read, Muslim extremism) and the still-communistic menace of Russia and China (a distorted conjuring of Stalin and Mao)? Take your pick, probably all of the foregoing, for allowing Israel to drop below the moral radar and emerge scot-free as a member of the international community in good standing. And no doubt, other factors I’ve omitted, as in the skillful use of charging opponents, including Jews, with the tar brush of anti-Semitism.

Ganugh, enough already. Judaism is precious to the history of freedom, inscribed in the sublime thoughts of Torah, where persecution had the effect of chastening the ancient Hebrews to welcome and respect the stranger and to feel a special obligation to uphold moral standards through living exemplary lives. This has come down until recent times as a mandate, whether secular or religious, to amplify the gifts of civilization for all humankind as in the contributions made to philosophy, literature, painting, and music—a tangible presence on the world scene that, in the 20th century, could but anger the forces of totalitarianism and mediocrity and lead directly to the Evil of the Holocaust itself. World Jewry paid the penalty for, by its conduct and values, opposing the retrograde forces spawned by the difficulties attendant on the industrial transformation, on which fascism thrived: a manure pile of resentments, conspiracy theory, fears of democratization, the plebeian accommodation to monopoly capitalism as though identifying with The Leadership and with conquest would restore meaning to life.

Because Jews had been, perhaps from time immemorial, the proverbial scapegoat, made their targeting easier, but for that very reason, made their urge toward learning, their enlistment in progressive causes, the more defining and vital to their own lives. Now, I’m saddened, deeply saddened, to write, this is passing away in the mistaken identification with Israel as the source of Jewish essentialness. It is NOT. There is no warrant in Torah for the merciless beating down of an indigenous population whose only “crime” has been inhabitancy of a land the conqueror has claimed—if not a distortion of Zionism, where all could live in peace and harmony, then grounds for exposing Zionism from the start as unwarranted aggression and contrary to the spirit of Jewish cosmopolitanism and the godliness of all human beings. Today, Israel remains on a decades-long rampage of inflicting deprivation and humiliation on the Palestinian people, while inflicting the poisons of hatred and intolerance on itself. We read in today’s paper the Knesset is considering legislation on curbing the influence of NGOs, the fine print being their not our NGOs, the “their” the few peace groups remaining in Israeli society, along with the members wearing identifying symbols in the Knesset (obvious shades of Nazism), while also today Israel is demanding Brazil accept Dan Dayan, archetypal militant settler in the Occupied Territories, as its ambassador to that country.

But today is not different from yesterday, the ever-steady encroachment on the rights of Palestinians, advanced weaponry vs. knives and can openers, the bombardments of areas densely-filled with ordinary families (and hospitals, water-treatment plants, etc.) that we witnessed in Gaza, the checkpoints, the barbed wire, and behind the Israeli soldier’s sunglasses the smugness, contemptuousness, disdain for human life, like controlling so much cattle to market, or a throwback to Nazis herded Jews at bayonet point into the waiting trains for the crematoria. Every Jew who died in the concentration camp and death chamber during World War II is a silent refutation of current Israeli practice; they did not die to confer license on oppressors, or to legitimize oppression. They died, yes, as martyrs, they died as giving testimony to the world of their belief in freedom and for many their devotion to God.

Israel invokes God via the Jewish State as the new Golden Calf, to be worshipped as the guardian of mayhem and murder. Every Palestinian thrown off the land, stomped under foot, wears the face of a Jew herded into the ovens. And Israelis are blind to their own actions, the commission of atrocities, as though having somehow (call it “introjection”) internalized the unspeakable crimes committed against Jews of a previous generation. What is to be done? Can the now-apparent authoritarianism, fast assuming totalitarian proportions, be reversed? I don’t know. I do know, however, the pride I can take in the Judaism that I learned about and experienced in an earlier time. Now somewhat older, I can remember the solidarity expressed between whites and blacks in which Jews were an important part of the civil rights struggle (of which I was privileged to be a foot soldier). I can remember the disproportionate role of Jews in radicalism and the labor movement, and personally claiming Paul Robeson as one of our own. Radicalism is dying in America; it is probably already dead, long buried, and openly vilified in Israel. The two are somehow related, as Israel has absorbed to itself what had been the legacy of American Jewry, only to negate it and leave it empty. My title above, “Israel Disgraces Judaism,” in reality does not go far enough, for it may also be responsible for its decline as a world religion solicitous of the care of all who are persecuted and deprived of their humanity. It therefore not only disgraces Judaism, it negates it, a transmogrification of beauty into ugliness which few among us will have the courage to withstand.

More articles by:

Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
November 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Meet Ukraine: America’s Newest “Strategic Ally”
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Frankenstein Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Ukraine in the Membrane
Jonathan Steele
The OPCW and Douma: Chemical Weapons Watchdog Accused of Evidence-Tampering by Its Own Inspectors
Kathleen Wallace
A Gangster for Capitalism: Next Up, Bolivia
Andrew Levine
Get Trump First, But Then…
Thomas Knapp
Trump’s Democratic Critics Want it Both Ways on Biden, Clinton
Ipek S. Burnett
The United States Needs Citizens Like You, Dreamer
Michael Welton
Fundamentalism as Speechlessness
David Rosen
A Century of Prohibition
Nino Pagliccia
Morales: Bolivia Suffers an Assault on the Power of the People
Dave Lindorff
When an Elected Government Falls in South America, as in Bolivia, Look For a US Role
John Grant
Drones, Guns and Abject Heroes in America
Clark T. Scott
Bolivia and the Loud Silence
Manuel García, Jr.
The Truthiest Reality of Global Warming
Ramzy Baroud
A Lesson for the Palestinian Leadership: Real Reasons behind Israel’s Arrest and Release of Labadi, Mi’ri
Charles McKelvey
The USA “Defends” Its Blockade, and Cuba Responds
Louis Proyect
Noel Ignatiev: Remembering a Comrade and a Friend
John W. Whitehead
Casualties of War: Military Veterans Have Become America’s Walking Wounded
Patrick Bond
As Brazil’s ex-President Lula is Set Free and BRICS Leaders Summit, What Lessons From the Workers Party for Fighting Global Neoliberalism?
Alexandra Early
Labor Opponents of Single Payer Don’t  Speak For Low Wage Union Members
Pete Dolack
Resisting Misleading Narratives About Pacifica Radio
Edward Hunt
It’s Still Not Too Late for Rojava
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Why Aren’t Americans Rising up Like the People of Chile and Lebanon?
Nicolas Lalaguna
Voting on the Future of Life on Earth
Jill Richardson
The EPA’s War on Science Continues
Lawrence Davidson
The Problem of Localized Ethics
Richard Hardigan
Europe’s Shameful Treatment of Refugees: Fire in Greek Camp Highlights Appalling Conditions
Judith Deutsch
Permanent War: the Drive to Emasculate
David Swanson
Why War Deaths Increase After Wars
Raouf Halaby
94 Well-Lived Years and the $27 Traffic Fine
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Coups-for-Green-Energy Added to Wars-For-Oil
Andrea Flynn
What Breast Cancer Taught Me About Health Care
Negin Owliaei
Time for a Billionaire Ban
Binoy Kampmark
Business as Usual: Evo Morales and the Coup Condition
Bernard Marszalek
Toward a Counterculture of Rebellion
Brian Horejsi
The Benefits of Environmental Citizenship
Brian Cloughley
All That Gunsmoke
Graham Peebles
Why is there so Much Wrong in Our Society?
Jonah Raskin
Black, Blue, Jazzy and Beat Down to His Bones: Being Bob Kaufman
John Kendall Hawkins
Treason as a Lifestyle: I’ll Drink to That
Ben Terrall
The Rise of Silicon Valley
November 14, 2019
Laura Carlsen
Mexico’s LeBaron Massacre and the War That Will Not Cease
Joe Emersberger
Oppose the Military Coup in Bolivia. Spare Us Your “Critiques”
Ron Jacobs
Trump’s Drug Deal Goes to Congress: Impeachment, Day One
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail