Exile and the prophetic: Avoiding the Hague

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This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

Fascinating, the ‘we’ll show you attitude’ Israel has.  After its massive defeat in the UN Palestinian statehood vote, yesterday the Israeli government approved yet another – and massive – settlement expansion connecting Jerusalem and the West Bank. 

I’m not surprised.  In many ways, Israel’s closing of the settlement ring around Jerusalem was inevitable.  Nonetheless, it brings Israel one step closer to its international limit – if there is a limit to what the international community will put up with.

Speaking of the international limit and the UN vote, I haven’t visited the International Criminal Court.  I haven’t toured The Hague.  I’m only familiar with some of the cases that have passed through the court.  Trust me, it’s not the company you want to keep.

Officially or unofficially, sooner or later, Israel – and its Jewish and non-Jewish enablers – will be vetted by the court.  It’s only a matter of time before Israel is formally introduced there.  Israel – and thus Jews in Israel and beyond – will soon become familiar with the proceedings of the court in a more direct way. 

I’m afraid that we deserve it.  As well, it may be the only way to be awakened from our empire ways. 

Call it the Empire Cliff.  Its push or be pushed over.  We have to negotiate our way back.  There is another way.  The UN vote gives us yet another chance.  The announced settlement expansion just digs a deeper hole for Israel.  When will we get the message that a turn-around is the only way forward?

The perplexing question remains:  Why doesn’t Israel and mainstream Jewry take the honorable way out?  Israel and mainstream Jewry will get most of what they want anyway.  Or at least what they think they want. 

Has anyone asked recently if Jews really want a state?  Obviously the state train has already left the station.  Nonetheless, most Jews defend the Jewish state without wanting to be near it.  That includes an increasing number of Israelis who leave Israel or bi-locate.

Palestinians want a state.  That state train, too, has left the station.  Like Jews and a Jewish state, however, I wonder how nationalistic Palestinians really are.  When a Palestinian state actually comes into existence I suspect that most Palestinians will glory in Palestine from afar.  Will Palestinians living in Palestine leave it or bi-locate?

Israel’s actions against Palestinians have a long history.  It would have been terrific if Jews had handled our own inquiries, made the appropriate judgments, apologized for our actions and made amends.  Since that hasn’t happened, it’s only right that others enter the fray.  Perhaps being hauled to The Hague will do us some good.  Call it an Empire Intervention for a people drunk on empire. 

Not to worry, when it’s all over we can enter our Empire Detox program with a new openness.  We can begin by pleading surprise: ‘Who, us? Are you calling our name?  Jewish behavior being judged in The Hague?’

Then we’ll have to get serious.  Has it really gone that far, being lumped together with the war criminals of the world, the Balkan assassins and genociders in Rwanda? Unofficially, yes, according to the international community, it has.

Now is the time for Jews of all stripes to sit up and take notice.  But, then, what does Israel do the days after the Gaza cease-fire and the UN vote?  Once again it pushes the international criminal envelope.

Are we like the serial criminals who take it one step too far because, secretly, we want to be caught?

Or have we become publicity junkies, addicted to our name being bandied about whether in positive or negative ways?

An Empire Intervention might force the issue.  What it is it that global Jewry is really about these days?  On the empire watch, is it time to go Cold Turkey?

If nothing else, such knowledge would allow mainstream Jewry to understand what is going on when the cases involving Israel reach the The Hague.

Of course, coming to grips with our empire addiction would allow Jews to seek out an alternative path, thus avoiding The Hague.

Avoiding The Hague.  That would be worthwhile on all accounts.  Is it still possible?

About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is retired Director and Professor of Jewish Studies at Baylor University and author of The Heartbeat of the Prophetic which can be found at Amazon and www.newdiasporabooks.com

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