American Jewish identity: Moving beyond ‘love for Israel’ and the Holocaust

Middle East
on 115 Comments

Dov Waxman, has written a clear and useful book called Trouble in the Tribe. “It’s about how American Jews relate to Israel, and increasingly fight about Israel,” he says in a recent article in The Forward. Waxman was hoping the book would spark discussion and reflection, but so far, he laments, it has garnered him nothing but grief. The book deserves a wide audience. It offers an insightful glimpse into modern American Jewish identity, especially non-Orthodox identity, and it will serve as a lasting resource for the next generation of American Jews as they attempt to move beyond “love for Israel” and “remembrance of the Holocaust” as cornerstones for their Jewish identity.

A vibrant and powerful community

Waxman describes an American Jewish community that punches above its weight in politics, culture, and life. Approximately six to seven million strong, it accounts for just two percent of total U.S. population, but four percent of its voting population, and a much larger percentage still of political donations. See, e.g. Here and Here. Jews are strongly represented in government (e.g. 7.3% of the current Congress), in think tanks, academia, media, entertainment, and business.

The American Jewish community accounts for 40% of the world’s Jewish population and 70% of the Diaspora population (Jews outside Israel). It is highly organized and focused on Israel. “No citizens of one country have ever been so committed to the success of another as American Jews have been to Israel,” said Steven Rosenthal in 2001. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the main lobbying organization on behalf of Israel, annually draws in excess of 15,000 to its policy conference, including most members of Congress. As a result, Jewish issues have become interwoven in America’s routine political agenda.

And there are spillover effects. Jewish access and powerful sway over the American government has led some foreign governments to court the American Jewish community, sometimes by adopting foreign policies supportive of Israel. American Jewish leaders travel the world like ambassadors, says Waxman.

An Emotional, Not Ideological Connection

American Jews have not always been Zionists. “Right up until World War II,” says Waxman, “the American Zionist movement failed to gain mass support among American Jews and encountered a lot of resistance from the (mostly German-Jewish) leadership of American Jewry who were concerned that Zionism might jeopardize the position of American Jews by calling their national allegiance into question.”

Louis Brandeis, a Boston lawyer and later an associate justice of the Supreme Court, leader of the Federation of American Zionists from 1914-1921, argued that Zionism was the solution for European Jews who faced persecution and homelessness. Brandeis encouraged American Jews to philanthropically support the efforts of Jewish pioneers in Palestine, and he made the point that they should do this as patriotic Americans.

After the Holocaust, creation of the state of Israel in 1948, and especially after Israel’s success in the Six Day War (1967), American Jews gradually came to love Zionism and Israel. The connection formed was deep and emotional, but not based on ideology, says Waxman. He identifies five pillars of this emotional pro-Israelism: 1) Familial solidarity and kinship among Jews worldwide; 2) Fear of anti-Semitism everywhere, fear for kin in dangerous places, and fear of assimilation at home; 3) Functionalism–support for Israel, along with the Holocaust, functions as a powerful symbol of Jewish identity in a time when Jewish observance of Halakhah (Jewish law) and communal observance in synagogues is less and less prevalent; 4)Faith–Jewish rituals, festivals, and prayer are intimately connected to the land of Israel [Take, for the most recent example, the creation and adoption of a Prayer for the State of Israel which has been incorporated into the Jewish liturgy world wide and is recited every Shabbat in most synagogues]; and 5) Fantasy–Israel for American Jews is an idealized fantasy of all their hopes and dreams; it’s not their real Zion; America is their Zion.

Waxman cites to the 2013 Pew study in which 43% of American Jews reported that caring about Israel was an essential part of what “being Jewish” meant to them; 69% reported being emotionally attached to Israel; 75% reported that “remembering the Holocaust” was essential to their sense of Jewishness. Since the Six Day War support for Israel has been central to Jewish life in America. It has been described by some as a “civil religion” for American Jews.

For a period this support was unconditional, uncritical, and near unanimous. It united the Jewish community. But after the scare of the Yom Kippur war (October ’73), two wars in Lebanon (1982/2006), three Gaza wars (2008/09, 2012, 2014), two Intifadas (87-93; 2000-2005), 20 years of a failed peace process, and  nearly 50 years of occupation, this support for Israel has become fractured and contentious. The emotional attachment remains, says Waxman, but at this point Israel has become a source of division rather than unity for American Jewry. And this fracturing is apt to continue for the foreseeable future.

A Political Spectrum Regarding Peace with Palestinians

The fracturing of American Jewish engagement with Israel is taking place along the political faultiness of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. As this conflict has dragged on, and on, American Jewish engagement has become more critical, and less unconditional over time. Waxman identifies four  distinct political camps who live on different tectonic plates in this fractured landscape:

1. Center-Right (think AIPAC): This, by far the largest grouping, includes most of the Jewish establishment. On this tectonic plate challenging Zionism–the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state–is deemed anti-Semitic at heart. People who live here are very concerned about any efforts to de-legitimize Israel (e.g. the international boycott-divest-sanction (BDS) movement). People who live here believe that Israel is absolved of responsibility for the dispute with the Palestinians: it is Palestinian stubbornness in refusing to accept “generous” peace offers made by Israeli leaders that is to blame for the failure to reach a just peace. There is no “partner for peace,” people say here. Flare-ups of violence are blamed solely on the Palestinians, on Hamas, and on Palestinian incitement. Israeli actions–from the creation of the state in 1947-49 all the way to the current knife intifada–are seen as reactive and necessary for Israel’s security, and justified. The Center-Right accepts the concept of a Palestinian state in theory, but on this tectonic plate they believe that the size and sovereign powers of such a state must be limited. And they don’t feel great urgency about a two-state-solution. The Center-Right pays lip service to abandoning some settlements, but they believe that settlement building is not an obstacle to peace as such. They opposes any U.S. pressure on Israel with respect to the peace process.

2. The Right (think ZOA): On this smaller tectonic plate are found American neo-conservatives and many of the religiously Orthodox. Neo-conservatives see the conflict through the ideological lens of a wider conflict between the West and radical Islam. The religiously Orthodox see the conflict through the theological lens of “it’s our holy and Promised Land.” Security is an overriding concern. Those who find their home here dispute the existence of Palestinian national rights. They brook no territorial compromises. They hold the view that the Arabs are not–and never will be–interested in peace; in fact, the Arabs are motivated by deep seated and incorrigible anti-Semitism, they say. They hold that all of the land belongs to the Jewish people, and that Israel is entitled to build settlements anywhere on the land. People who live on this tectonic plate reject a two-state-solution; at most they are willing to grant some limited autonomy under Israeli rule.

3. Center-Left (think J-Street): Those on the Center-Left tectonic plate share the belief that Zionism is just and right. They believe in the continued existence of a Jewish state and they are emotionally attached to the idea. But they abhor the military maximalism exhibited by the Center-Right and Right. They are critical of the Center-Right for failing to take into account past wrongs against the Palestinians and failing to take into account present injustices. They believe in “humane and pragmatic Zionism,” a term coined by the late Leonard Fein. The Center-Left believes in Israel as a liberal democracy that treats all of its citizens equally (with exceptions inherent in Israel’s status as a Jewish state with Jewish symbolism, Jewish holidays, and a right of return for Jews but not others). People on this tectonic plate also believe that Israel as a Jewish state must be reconciled with the rights of Palestinians to self-determination as indigenous inhabitants. The Center-Left believes that continued occupation is a threat to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Accordingly, the Center-Left feels much more urgency about the need for a satisfactory two-state-solution. Whereas the Center-Right grounds its tepid support for a two-state-solution in a grudging pragmatism, says Waxman, the Center-Left’s advocacy of a two-state-solution is normatively grounded (a requirement of justice). The Center-Left believes that the occupation and the settlements are an obstacle to peace, that Israel is partly responsible for Palestinian suffering, displacement, dispossession, discrimination, and for widespread violence on both sides.  The Center-Left, moreover, feels that a two-state-solution is possible: it is just a matter of political will. They reject the notion that there is “no partner for peace.” Finally, the Center-Left believes that the U.S. has a crucial role to play in bringing about peace, and that this includes applying pressure to both sides.

4. The Left (think Jewish Voice for Peace): The Left inhabits the smallest tectonic plate in the American Jewish community. People who live here are critical of Zionism and its inherent institutional bias against its own Palestinian citizens. The Left wishes to transform the state in a way that can accomplish justice and equality for all who live in Israel-Palestine. The Left is universalist in its orientation, says Waxman. It proceeds from different factual premises, starting with a view of Israel as a colonialist occupier of the land. People here focus on the dispossession of the Palestinians, the denial of rights, the historical and ongoing injustices. The Left views Israel as an aggressive apartheid state that violates international law and human rights and commits war crimes. They view all non-violent forms of Palestinian resistance, including Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), as justified. The Left is very skeptical of a possible two-state-solution. They see that only a weak, truncated state could possibly emerge from any two-state-solution, and that this would be inadequate to satisfy the basic rights and needs of the Palestinians. In place of the two-state-solution the Left supports some version of a one-state-solution (with equal rights guaranteed for all) or some type of bi-national state.  The Left believes the U.S. has proven that it is unable to act as an honest broker in any peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Secular/Orthodox Divide

Waxman points to Michael Oren, who started out as an American citizen, became Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. under Netanyahu (’09-’13), and is now a member of the Israeli Knesset (Kulanu party). Oren has lamented about a growing division between American Jews and Israeli Jews. But that misses a key part of the picture, suggests Waxman: Jews are divided both in America and in Israel. The biggest divide, he suggests, is the divide between the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox.

Waxman points to polling of the American Jewish community over the last 30 years which suggests that there is a significant divide between the Orthodox, the non-Orthodox, and the not-religious in their attitudes towards Israel. Some of this polling information is interesting in and of itself.

As we saw with the fight over the Iran nuclear deal (2015), which featured J-Street and AIPAC squaring-off on opposite sides of the issue, the right end of the political spectrum in the American Jewish community is aligning more and more with the Republican party, and the left side of the spectrum is aligning with the Democratic party. This partisan divide over Israel in Congress is new. But this polarizing trend is likely to accelerate, suggests Waxman.

For the non-Orthodox, Jewish identity is not a series of obligations and communal commandments, notes Waxman. They approach Judaism as a source of personal meaning and spirituality: more as a personal choice than as a matter of religious definition. It makes them less committed to Jewish peoplehood and more committed to American peoplehood.

In other words, Jewish communities in America are not immune to the melting-pot effect. As non-Orthodox Jews continue to inter-marry at higher and higher rates, their children are becoming post-ethnic, part of a wider multi-cultural and multi-racial society. The communal glue of “we care about Israel” and “we are the children of the Holocaust” is getting weaker. The shock and proximity of the Holocaust is wearing off and in America today philo-Semitism is much more prevalent than anti-Semitism. The Birthright program won’t be enough to keep “love of Israel” as the defining characteristic of Judaism for the non-Orthodox in America. [Birthright sends 30,000+ young Jews to Israel each year on all expense paid trips in order in order to foster the emotional connection between young American Jews and Israel] This shows up prominently, for example, in the ’13 Pew polling where among younger Jews (those under 30 years old) only 32% responded that “caring about Israel” was an essential part of their Jewish identity, compared to 53% among older Jews (those over 65 years of age).

Bad Jews!

If being a “Good Jew,” above all, is synonymous with “love of Israel,” “remembering the Holocaust,” and “not inter-marrying,” as some on the Center-Right and Right tectonic plates believe, then most  non-Orthodox and secular Jews in America today are “Bad Jews!”  Elliott Abrams (identified by Waxman as living on the neo-conservative tectonic plate of the Right) illustrates this position in a highly critical review of Waxman’s book in Mosaic Magazine. The “problem” of increased criticism of Israel and Israeli government positions by American Jews–by those on the Center-Left and Left tectonic plates–says Abrams, should not be blamed on what Israel has become, or on Israeli politics. The problem is that too many American Jews are “Bad Jews.”

“Bad Jews” don’t practice the religion and they marry non-Jews. For Abrams, the fact that many of these “Bad Jews” vote Democrat must make matters that much worse! All this non-Orthodoxy, this fading emotional attachment to Israel, this inter-marrying by “Bad Jews,” that’s the problem. It has resulted in a lack of ethnic solidarity with Jews here in America and abroad, i.e. Israel, says Abrams.

What Abrams says poses a challenge to the American Jewish community, but he is shooting the messenger.

The five pillars of emotional attachment to Israel (see above) are crumbling.  Abrams is correct that the familial bond is being watered down by a lack of observance and increased rates of inter-marriage and the fact that, today, there are no Jewish communities “in trouble.”  In the highly successful American Jewish community, and in a world where Israel is the undisputed military hegemon in the Middle East, fear of anti-Semitism is greatly diminished. For these reasons, Israel and the Holocaust are no longer so functional as a locus of Jewish identity. After 50 years of occupation and the rightward drift of Israeli politics, and the fading of the Holocaust into history, it is harder for young American Jews to “love Israel” unconditionally. Faith is less of a factor in a time of declining participation in organized religious life. Finally, with bad news from Israel featured in our news feeds on a daily basis, Israel is a much less idealized fantasy.

To lay this at the doorstep of “Bad Jews!” as Abrams implicitly does is to miss the point. To write off the secular critics of Israel as “Bad Jews!” is not useful.

Concluding Thought

The challenge for non-Orthodox American Jews is to find a new center for their Jewish identity.  “Love of Israel” and “the Holocaust” cannot serve this role for the long haul. But a fading emotional attachment to Israel and a fading identity with the Holocaust among the non-Orthodox and secular unaffiliated Jews does not mean they are abandoning their Jewish identity, of course. Even among the unaffiliated studied by the Pew ’13 study, 87% responded that they are “proud to be Jewish,” says Waxman. A significant number (57%) place this pride in working for justice and equality. That and tradition are two places to start looking.

Finding a replacement for “Love of Israel”and “the Holocaust” as a locus for Jewish pride in a secular world is a challenge for our time. Dov Waxman’s book will help with the quest.

This review was first published on Roland Nikles’s blog a few days ago. 

About Roland Nikles

Roland Nikles is a Bay Area writer and attorney. He blogs here: rolandnikles.blogspot.com. And you can follow him on twitter @RolandNikles

Other posts by .


Posted In:

115 Responses

  1. Mooser
    June 18, 2016, 11:45 am

    “as a locus for Jewish pride in a secular world”

    I know, I know! We could get a ton of Jewish pride by cleaning up the mess we made in Palestine. Maybe even make reparations for it.
    That should really help with the shame of being Jewish.

    • silamcuz
      June 19, 2016, 3:13 am

      We could get a ton of Jewish pride by cleaning up the mess we made in Palestine. Maybe even make reparations for it. That should really help with the shame of being Jewish.

      Your shame in being Jewish is on you, not the rest of the world. Palestinians don’t want to you feel shame and guilt, but to be accountable for your actions just as they and everyone else are. Also, Zionism is to Judaism as ISIS is to Islam. I don’t see why Jews have to feel shame due to their Jewish identity just because of the actions of some who hijacked their religion for their own, selfish gains.

      • Mooser
        June 19, 2016, 12:47 pm

        “I don’t see why Jews have to feel shame due to their Jewish identity just because of the actions of some who hijacked their religion for their own, selfish gains.”

        I’m very relieved to hear that.
        It’s good to know that Zionism is only a miniscule part of Jewish life, and Jews, as a group, devote their energy, their intellects, their money, our religious institutions, and their influence to other things, and Zionism is just the result of a few maladjusted individuals. It’s not at all like the system of white privilege, which is completely different!
        We should really leave Israel aloooooone!

        Oh BTW, “Simalcuz” how many is “some”? You say: “the actions of some”. How many is that?

      • silamcuz
        June 20, 2016, 6:42 am

        There is no need for such angsty passive aggressiveness Mooser. If you believe Zionism is actually rooted in Jewish identity, be that the Jewish religion or its cultural practices over millennia, you ought to state your case clearly and with concrete references to back you up. To me, it appears you agree with the Zionist lie that Israel’s action represent Judaism and Jewish people in its action from the moment it was conceived to the present day.

        Zionism is a fascist movement that is far more similar to other fascist movements which exploit identity and religion, than it is to Judaism itself. From the Young Turks of the Ottoman Empire, to the Nazis of Germany, to the right-wing White Christian Republicans of America, Zionism is one of the many nationalistic blights that has popped out since the Westphalian Nation state doctrines were put into place in Europe.

      • Citizen
        June 20, 2016, 9:18 am

        Interesting that Israeli leaders, & Establishment Jewish Diaspora leaders, claim to speak & act in the name of all Jews; ISIS leaders claim to speak in name of all Muslims. In USA, many pundits & news hosts say in public on main media that Muslim Americans need to speak up & dissociate themselves from ISIS to avoid being treated as complicit in ISIS dirty deeds, but there’s no similar push by anyone given main media exposure to demand or suggest Jewish Americans speak out in public against Israel’s consistent conflation of Israel’s policies and conduct with all Jews everywhere. There’s a doubt standard pressuring one, not the other–even a little bit.

      • echinococcus
        June 20, 2016, 9:52 am

        Silam etc.: your senseless fact-free yakking away reminds one a lot of Trump or Berlusconi.
        “I don’t see why Jews have to feel shame due to their Jewish identity just because of the actions of some who hijacked their religion for their own, selfish gains.” Because a majority went along with it, perhaps?
        “Zionism is a fascist movement that is far more similar to other fascist movements which exploit identity and religion, than it is to Judaism itself. From the Young Turks of the Ottoman Empire, to the Nazis of Germany, to the right-wing White Christian Republicans of America, Zionism is one of the many nationalistic blights that has popped out since the Westphalian Nation state doctrines were put into place in Europe. ”
        No shit. Like there was a “Jewish people” living in any area? Your carefully constructed persona of the crazy outsider comes tumbling down when you expose your unquestioned assumptions: you were raised a Zionist.

      • Mooser
        June 20, 2016, 2:28 pm

        “If you believe Zionism is actually rooted in Jewish identity, be that the Jewish religion or its cultural practices over millennia, you ought to state your case clearly and with concrete references to back you up.”

        Look, “Simalcuz” you don’t want to ask me, I would only lie to you.
        Ask the people who really know, and can explain it correctly.

        “Also, Zionism is to Judaism as ISIS is to Islam. I don’t see why Jews have to feel shame due to their Jewish identity just because of the actions of some who hijacked their religion for their own, selfish gains.”

        How many is “some”? A minuscule fraction? Well over half? Three-quarters to a virtual, for-all-practical-purposes a unanimity? Answer that, “clearly and with concrete references to back you up”

        And ISIS has it’s own country and a seat in the UN? ISIS has an illegal nuclear arsenal tolerated by the world? We got dual citizenship American-ISIS folks all over the world?

        Who the hell are you trying to kid, “Simualcuz”? But hey, if this is how you are going to deal with Zionist social panic, go ahead on.

      • Mooser
        June 20, 2016, 2:43 pm

        “There is no need for such angsty passive aggressiveness Mooser.”

        Yes, I know it. I can’t help it.

      • Sibiriak
        June 20, 2016, 3:08 pm

        silamcuz: Zionism is a fascist movement… Young Turks …Nazis… White Christian Republicans… nationalistic blights….Westphalian Nation state doctrines…
        —————–

        The (de-)white(d) man doth protest too much, methinks.

      • Mooser
        June 20, 2016, 4:11 pm

        Anyway “Echin”, This is all a due to clumsy wording on my part.

        I meant it to say “give us something to be proud of” and it wasn’t until “edit” was over I realized the words I used might bear a more invidious interpretation.

        Of course, I should have said ‘Cleaning up the mess we made in Palestine could give us a new “locus for Jewish pride in a secular world.”

      • silamcuz
        June 21, 2016, 4:11 am

        Echnincous

        “No shit. Like there was a “Jewish people” living in any area? Your carefully constructed persona of the crazy outsider comes tumbling down when you expose your unquestioned assumptions: you were raised a Zionist.”

        There were no specifically Jewish people living in any area during history prior to the advent of Zionism. Sure, there were plenty of people spread across the continents who adhered to religious doctrines and tenets of Judaism, but most didn’t identify themselves strictly on the basis on their religious ideals, which were extremely varied in themselves. The Judaism of Iraqi Jews was quite different from the Judaism of the Ethiopians, and likewise for the Ashkenazis and Yemenites. On top of major religious differences, there were lingual, cultural, racial, and nationalistic differences as well, all of which was erased when Zionism created a monolithic “Jewish identity” that everyone has to squeeze into.

      • silamcuz
        June 21, 2016, 4:35 am

        Mooser,

        I have no idea what you are trying to defend. You said you are ashamed of Israeli misdeeds in Palestine, because apparently they represent Jews. I believe every person is responsible for his own conscious, and unless you have done something wrong yourself as part of being a Jew, I see no reason why you have to feel shame.

        It is a not a noble emotion to feel shame, and to associate such a negative, unvirtuous emotion to the collective Jewish people, who many are becoming increasingly against Zionism and Israel btw, is an act of violence that must be called out. You should be held accountable for your actions.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 6:13 am

        “I have no idea what you are trying to defend. “

        Believe me, I know that.

        ” You should be held accountable for your actions.”

        Well, go ahead and try, but as you say, you don’t even know what I’m doing. That sorta makes it hard for you to do anything but make a fool of yourself. You do that with great elan.

        Oh, BTW, you friggin fraud, How many is “some”?

        With clear references, if you please. You said it was just “some”. How many is that?

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 7:01 am

        “On top of major religious differences, there were lingual, cultural, racial, and nationalistic differences as well, all of which was erased when Zionism created a monolithic “Jewish identity” that everyone has to squeeze into.”

        “That every one has to squeeze into”? No dummy, nobody had to squeeze into it. They wanted to, and came running to do it.

        Who was doing the squeezing? You can’t say. And you can’t even say how many or who that “some” is.

        You are so desperate to excuse Israel and Zionism that you forget who you are supposed to be. That’s what gives you away. On anything concerning the “white identity” the guilt is all encompassing, and grows to include whoever you want for any crime at any time. But when it comes to Israel, all you ever do is try to exclude the people who are obviously, willingly and enthusiastically involved in it from responsibility.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 7:19 am

        “It is a not a noble emotion to feel shame, and to associate such a negative, unvirtuous emotion to the collective Jewish people, who many are becoming increasingly against Zionism and Israel btw,” “Sillycuz”

        And how many is “who many”(sic)? ” Many are becoming increasingly against” How many? A percentage, and a “clear reference”, will do, I’ll wait. Or give it to me in numbers I can figure out the percentage.

        You can’t back up a single thing you say.

      • silamcuz
        June 21, 2016, 11:05 am

        Mooser

        “And how many is “who many”(sic)? ” Many are becoming increasingly against” How many? A percentage, and a “clear reference”, will do, I’ll wait. Or give it to me in numbers I can figure out the percentage. “

        You are a coward. What is the basis of your allegations that Israel represents Jews and Jewish interests, in its malicious existence on Palestine? Sure, it says it represents Jews, same way ISIS claim to represent Muslim and Republican bigots claim to represent Christians. But for you to slander Jews by co-opting with the fraudulent narrative put forward by the Zionist is unacceptable, and must be called out as a form of antisemitism.

        Young Jews are at worst, ambivalent on Zionism and at best, completely reject it and want complete justice for Palestinians and all others that were affected from Israel’s establishment on the land of Palestine. Source: http://www.mintpressnews.com/latest-gallup-poll-shows-young-americans-overwhelmingly-support-palestine/194856/

        In addition, one of the biggest, most influential Jewish organisation in the US, Jewish Voice for Peace, is one of the key players in the movement for Palestinian rights. As a proudly Jewish organisation, they are fiercely pro-Palestinian rights and anti-Zionist, in addition to being the foremost proponents of BDS within US universities and academic institutions. Source : https://www.thenation.com/article/jewish-voice-peace-conference-what-solidarity-looks/

      • hophmi
        June 21, 2016, 11:19 am

        “Zionism is to Judaism as ISIS is to Islam”

        Oh please. Mondoweiss rule #5: Zionism must always be compared to the most barbaric ideas known to man. What ridiculous nonsense.

      • silamcuz
        June 21, 2016, 11:46 am

        Hopmi,

        I would actually place Zionism as being worst than ISIS.

      • hophmi
        June 21, 2016, 12:18 pm

        “I would actually place Zionism as being worst than ISIS. ”

        I have no doubt that you would. It doesn’t matter.

        “In addition, one of the biggest, most influential Jewish organisation in the US, Jewish Voice for Peace”

        JVP is not large or particularly influential in the Jewish community. It is influential in the anti-Israel community because it provides non-Jews in that community with permission to say nasty things about the Jewish community. But one of the biggest, most influential in the Jewish community? Not so much. That doesn’t mean that it won’t change in the future, but right now, it’s not so.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 7:21 pm

        “Zionism must always be compared to the most barbaric ideas known to man.”

        No, Zionism is one of the premier frauds of the 20th and 21st Centuries.
        But be that as it may, it’s Zionism’s actions which can be compared to the most barbaric ideas known to man, like using military air power to attack trapped civilians, attacking hospitals and religious sites. White phosphorus. Illegal colonial projects, protected by the military, and now you’re right there in Nazi territory.Executing wounded. An apartheid society de jure. Racism and religious extremism.
        Or are those the marks of high civilization?

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 7:28 pm

        “What is the basis of your allegations that Israel represents Jews and Jewish interests, in its malicious existence on Palestine?”

        I’m sorry, I was misinformed. It turns out that the 6,335,000 Jews in Israel are simply there on a tourist holiday, and far from having a “malicious existence” they are providing an economic boom for Palestine. But they will all be going home at the end of the season. You know, I bet the Palestinians will miss them.

        “In addition, one of the biggest, most influential Jewish organisation in the US, Jewish Voice for Peace, is one of the key players in the movement for Palestinian rights.”

        And go JVP! Must be nice, to be sitting on top of the antizionist movement, toying with Zionism, and deciding when and where you will crush Zionism like a bug. Good job, JVP! “One of the biggest and most influential, Jewish organization, key player, Palestinian rights”
        Right “Hophmi”?

      • echinococcus
        June 23, 2016, 1:28 am

        Mooser,

        No clumsiness there. Both wordings are excellent.

      • Mooser
        June 23, 2016, 5:56 pm

        “No clumsiness there. Both wordings are excellent.”

        Thank you. Yep, I was so on it, as soon as I figured out it had nothing to do with grasshoppers.

      • Anti-Bigot
        June 26, 2016, 12:04 am

        On the contrary, we should all be ashamed of being human when we objectively consider all the atrocities committed by human beings for thousands of years throughout the world. Muslims, Christians, Jews, atheists and others are all guilty, we should all feel ashamed of ourselves.

      • Mooser
        June 26, 2016, 12:15 pm

        “On the contrary, we should all be ashamed of being human when we objectively consider all the atrocities”

        I was ashamed of being human, until we got some chickens. Then I saw what my dog did when we let them free-range a bit.
        I may be a homo atrocitus, but at least I don’t eat chicken-poop.

  2. Mooser
    June 18, 2016, 12:34 pm

    Hey, but don’t get me wrong, if there’s any way we can talk ourselves out of the social repercussions and consequences of Zionism, I’m all for it.

  3. ritzl
    June 18, 2016, 3:08 pm

    Being non-Jewish, I guess I have to ask. What was the cornerstone of Jewish identity before the Holocaust and Israel?

    • ritzl
      June 18, 2016, 3:09 pm

      If there was one…

      • mcohen.
        June 19, 2016, 5:40 am

        ritzl said

        “cornerstone”

        10 commandments is one of them but i find it interesting that you should have to ask.

        bruce lee in “enter the dragon ” said

        before you attack your enemy,learn his cornerstones,so they may strengthen your foundations.

      • ritzl
        June 19, 2016, 4:38 pm

        mcohen, is that supposed to make sense?

      • Citizen
        June 20, 2016, 9:23 am

        Perhaps the key cornerstone was & arguably still is, that a presumptive sole Supreme Being, Creator of the Universe, made a special contract with only a single group of people of all those said Being created?

    • Mooser
      June 18, 2016, 6:37 pm

      “What was the cornerstone of Jewish identity before the Holocaust and Israel?”

      What is the cornerstone, and how do we keep our identity? That I can tell you in one word: Tradition! Because of our traditions, everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do.

      • Talkback
        June 19, 2016, 5:51 am

        Now here’s the big question. Are Jews exercising new or old traditions towards Palestinians?

      • Marnie
        June 22, 2016, 12:39 am

        The zionist entity is prepared to go all out old testimony on non-Jews.

        FaceBook | Desertpeace
        https://desertpeace.wordpress.com/category/facebook

      • Anti-Bigot
        June 26, 2016, 12:10 am

        As an ex-Muslim, I truly wonder why only Jews and Arabs claim to have a “Holy book”. Why don’t Cambodians have a holy book for example, or billions of other people? Is God a Jew or an Arab?

    • Roland Nikles
      June 19, 2016, 12:48 am

      @Ritzl I think Mooser is right, it’s “tradition.” There’s a cultural tradition, a ritual tradition, and a Halakhic (legal) tradition. An interesting and clear book about the legal tradition is Roberta Kwall’s “The Myth of the Cultural Jew.” I did a review of it “HERE.”

      The orthodox have the legal tradition figured out, they can claim God as the sovereign power behind that tradition. For those of us who don’t believe in God relating to some of the details of the tradition is more difficult. I get the sense Mooser thinks about that. It may be obvious to him how this works. It’s not obvious to me.

      • Mooser
        June 19, 2016, 1:01 am

        “@Ritzl I think Mooser is right, it’s “tradition.”

        I really can’t take the credit, I was only quoting that well-known authority on Jewish identity Sheldon Harnick. He wrote the book. Jerry Bock wrote the music.

      • Mooser
        June 19, 2016, 2:37 am

        “There’s a cultural tradition, a ritual tradition, and a Halakhic (legal) tradition.”

        Yes, because of our traditions, we’ve kept our identity for many, many years. We have traditions for everything… how to eat, how to sleep, even, how to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our heads covered and always wear a little prayer shawl… This shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, how did this tradition start? I’ll tell you – I don’t know. But it’s a tradition!

      • Mooser
        June 19, 2016, 12:22 pm

        BTW, if anybody needs any more information on Jewish traditions, and the Mommas and the Poppas it’s all right here .

      • ritzl
        June 19, 2016, 5:00 pm

        Thanks Roland and Mooser. I was just curious if there was something to return to should the idolatry of Israel fade.

        Also, it seems like the Holocaust killed the benevolent God-half of Jewish tradition. Well, more temporarily erased or drastically de-emphasized than killed, but it left a huge hole to fill. Israel filled that positive-aspiration void. I was wondering if there was something big to fill that void. In my own fumbling terminology, will the benevolent God-half return to Jewish tradition in some emphatic way?

        I figured I’d try to explain my question. There’s about 10 Jews here in Alabama so it’s tough to do this in person, but it’s the preferable way so I think I’ll try to find a synagogue that might entertain big questions from total strangers.

        Anyway, thanks for a thought provoking article.

        Cheers.

      • Mooser
        June 19, 2016, 10:52 pm

        “I was just curious if there was something to return to should the idolatry of Israel fade.”

        Nope. If I remember correctly, Anatevka was destroyed, demolished and the Jewish people exiled, in a political reprisal for an anti-Czarist act by a young man from the village.

        And there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

      • Citizen
        June 20, 2016, 9:39 am

        @ Mooser

        I find it interesting that Tevye was a dairyman, just like the group of Jewish dairy farmers we meet under the floorboards early on in the more recent “Bear Jew” smash movie hit.

    • hophmi
      June 20, 2016, 3:41 pm

      There were, and are, many. I would select two. One is Judaism’s applicability to the religious and secular spheres, which is why there is always this universalist/particularist tension. The second is the emphasis on text study and analysis. These really form the crux of the religion. There is a striving to find the best and most moral answer, and the manner of understanding what that is is derived from text study and analysis.

      Today, I would say that for younger, more secular Jews, the cornerstone is Tikkun Olam, which is interpreted as an emphasis on social justice. For more Orthodox Jews, one cornerstone is definitely Israel, but ritual practice is much more important than Israel is on a day-to-day basis. To the extent that the Holocaust is important, it’s correlated with the proximity of the ancestors that Jews lost in the Shoah.

      Tradition certainly has a lot to do with it, but tradition changes a lot more than people may think. It is true that Jewish rituals can seem intimidating and quaint to secular people. Most of them do have explanations; understanding some traditions requires a knowledge of Jewish history and experience; others are harder to explain. The unifying theory is that for everything we do, there is either a Jewish way of doing it or a debate that informs the decision to act.

      • Mooser
        June 20, 2016, 6:43 pm

        I can’t believe “Hophmi” and Roland bit on that! Straight from the goddam script for “Fiddler”.

      • Mooser
        June 20, 2016, 11:16 pm

        ” It is true that Jewish rituals can seem intimidating and quaint to secular people.”

        Well, people love their pets, and don’t want to see Fluffy or Rover’s throat cut for Jehovah. And the rebuilt Temple folks mention that all the time.

        Other than that, “Hophmi” we’re not scaring anybody.
        Tell me “Hophmi” which Jewish ritual should I use to “intimidate” people?
        Oh wait, I can think of one which will terrify a lot of people! But I’d go to jail for battery if I threatened somebody with it.

        “Today, I would say that for younger, more secular Jews, the cornerstone is Tikkun Olam, which is interpreted as an emphasis on social justice. For more Orthodox Jews, one cornerstone is definitely Israel, but ritual practice is much more important than Israel is on a day-to-day basis.”

        I see. It must have been the Conservatives who do all the bad Zionism. The seculars are Tikkum Ollam, and the Orthodox are too busy being frum
        That must be it.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 12:24 am

        “It is true that Jewish rituals can seem intimidating and quaint to secular people.”

        Yeah, “Hophmi” it’s the Judaism going on in our Temples which causes all the problems , not the Zionism going on in our Temples?

        That’s it Hophmi, just throw Judaism right under the bus for Zionism.

        “The unifying theory is that for everything we do, there is either a Jewish way of doing it, or a debate which informs the decision to act”

        Tell me about the Jewish way to do Zionism! Or better still, tell me about the big debate, which informs the decision to act on Zionism.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 1:39 am

        “There were, and are, many. I would select two. One is Judaism’s applicability to the religious and secular spheres, which is why there is always this universalist/particularist tension.”

        Oh, look who is all ready to latch on to the universalists now! Now, the universalists are “Hophmi’s” friends. Wave those “universalists” at us “Hoph”

        Tell me, “Hophmi”, how did the “universalist” and “secular spheres” play out in Zionism? Oh, I know, we compassionately sacrificed our own religious ideals, and didn’t give the Palestinians the full Amelikite treatment? Is that it?

        Why do you think you can simply make Zionism, the most significant way Judaism and Jews relate to the world at this time, disappear when you want to? You’ll go to Hillel in a hand-basket and make Shammai run?

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 1:51 am

        “There is a striving to find the best and most moral answer, and the manner of understanding what that is is derived from text study and analysis.”

        Ah, so it’s the wonderful and moral exegesis which makes Rabbi Kook and the King’s Torah so popular!

        And Zionism and Israeli policy and laws, the policy and laws and actions of the “Jewish State”, are based on this search for “the best and most moral answer”?

        “Hophmi” do you think the readers here were born yesterday?

      • hophmi
        June 21, 2016, 3:25 am

        Are there any here interested in a serious conversation? Mooser clearly isn’t.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 5:29 am

        “Are there any here interested in a serious conversation? Mooser clearly isn’t.”

        Okay then “Hophmi”, you can be ‘serious’ and I’ll be Roebuck. We’ll start a store!

      • yonah fredman
        June 21, 2016, 6:42 am

        Hophmi, in the mussar movement, which specialized in self abasement, some of the exercises involved physical pain- rolling in the snow, for example, but some exercises involved incurring ridicule- going into a clothing store and asking to buy a hammer. Expecting serious words from mooser (whose name sounds like musar) is like going into a clothing store and asking to buy a hammer.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 7:36 am

        “Hophmi, in the mussar movement, which specialized in self abasement, “

        Is that as much fun as getting remanded to AA meetings, “Yonah”?

        But hey, you two can be the mussars and I’ll be Mooser, if you’re so eager to abase yourselves.

        “Are there any here interested in a serious conversation? Mooser clearly isn’t.”

        “Hophmi” on your own blog, you could ban me. Over and over again, if you wanted!

  4. Keith
    June 18, 2016, 6:04 pm

    ROLAND NIKLES- “The challenge for non-Orthodox American Jews is to find a new center for their Jewish identity.”

    Roland, do you realize what you have said? That the Judaic religion is an inadequate source of Jewish identity? That religion no longer unites the Jews, hence, Jews need a new source of tribal cohesion? That Zionism is no longer appropriate to function as the source of Jewish tribal identity, therefore, Jews need to find another source to ensure separation from the Gentiles and a continuation of beneficial nepotism? Multiculturalism for the Gentiles, tribal solidarity for the Jews? Yes, yes, how to obtain the benefits of tribal cohesion in a multicultural world without Zionism and the intrinsically anti-Gentile emphasis on anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. In a world coming apart at the end of an era, the main emphasis needs to be “Is it good for the Jews?” How is a Christian identity separate from the Christian religion? How is a Muslim identity separate from the Islamic religion? Why do Jews need a Jewish identity separate from the Judaic religion?

    • Mooser
      June 18, 2016, 7:28 pm

      ROLAND NIKLES- “The challenge for non-Orthodox American Jews is to find a new center for their Jewish identity.”

      Oh, that’s easy! The best, and only sensible thing to new-center our Jewish identity around is anti-Zionism, of course.
      Can anybody think of anything more consequential, more relevant, to center our Jewish identity around?

      • Mooser
        June 18, 2016, 10:36 pm

        But of course, that’s a challenges for us “non-Orthodox” Jews. The Orthodox, having spurned Zionism and other worldly distractions, never wavered from centering their lives around the Jewish faith and its practices.
        Why I don’t think the Orthodox will even notice if Israel disappears.

      • hophmi
        June 21, 2016, 3:30 am

        I don’t know what on Earth Mooser is talking about, but it is clear from his other comments that he knows next to nothing about Judaism or modern Jewish life. Maybe the guy is stuck in his apartment and never goes outside, but his views are about two generations out of date.

        First of all, there is no uniform “Orthodox” group.

        Modern Orthodox Jews are the backbone of the National Religious movement in Israel. So they certainly haven’t “spurned” Zionism. Most Orthodox Jews who are not in the Modern camp may believe that Zionism is too secular a movement for them, but with the exception of a few extreme sects, they are fervent supporters of Israel, and the notion that they would not “notice” if Israel disappeared is nuts.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 5:17 am

        “Modern Orthodox Jews are the backbone of the National Religious movement in Israel. So they certainly haven’t “spurned” Zionism. Most Orthodox Jews who are not in the Modern camp may believe that Zionism is too secular a movement for them, but with the exception of a few extreme sects, they are fervent supporters of Israel, and the notion that they would not “notice” if Israel disappeared is nuts.”

        Well, “Hophmi” you know, I thought the main way religious Jews related was by shared ritual. Didn’t know Zionism entered into it, what with all that ritual and getting the best morality out of the texts.
        So they are fervent Zionists! Well, surprise, surprise! Shows how little I know.

      • yonah fredman
        June 21, 2016, 6:49 am

        Hophmi- there is nothing wrong with your description of ultra orthodox anti zionism as a fringe phenomenon. If less than 10% is “fringe”, then I believe your description is accurate. But I would rephrase the attitude of the remaining 90%, They are not fervent supporters of israel, but rather fervently suspicious of Palestinian intentions. The net result may be the same, but there is a difference.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 7:30 am

        “I would rephrase the attitude of the remaining 90%, They are not fervent supporters of israel, but rather fervently suspicious of Palestinian intentions. The net result may be the same, but there is a difference”

        A difference, as you say, with no distinction. Well, thanks for weighing in to support me, “Yonah”, I knew I could count on you.

        And of course, this suspicion “of Palestinian intentions” can’t be blamed on the Jewish religion. Nope, there’s a more basic reason. Like consciousness of guilt, that they have stolen murdered and dispossessed, and their may be a harvest. Very sensible of them.

    • klm90046
      June 18, 2016, 8:18 pm

      In the good old days, Jews had national identities. They were German, Polish, Iraqi etc., just like any other religious community. Now it seems they have largely abandoned those labels, and the vast majority look for a connection to Israel.

      With increasing secularism, religion may not be enough of a glue to hold the tribe together.

      • Mooser
        June 18, 2016, 10:24 pm

        “With increasing secularism, religion may not be enough of a glue to hold the tribe together.”

        I think the leaders of the Jewish denominations agree with you. That’s why they latched on to Zionism. That’s why they never put even the obvious needs of the Jewish religion ahead of the demands of Zionism. They made their bets, they bet against their religion, and on Zionism. I guess they knew the odds.

      • aloeste
        June 20, 2016, 2:01 pm

        In the good old days, Jews had national identities. –

        — this is foolish. they were 3rd class residents in Germany, Poland,Iraq etc
        they were thus Verdamte Jude , Buzhe zido , dhimma etc.

        the same jew haters that wanted them out of their country now rail at the fact that they went back to the patrimony …. and ex-dhimmi remain dar al harb , or less politely ‘itbah al yahud’…..

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 3:08 am

        “— this is foolish. they were 3rd class residents in Germany, Poland,Iraq etc”

        “aloeste”, you shouldn’t let this bother you. You see, the Jews were “3rd class residents in Germany Poland Iraq” for the same reasons the Palestinians can’t be first-class residents of Israel.

      • hophmi
        June 21, 2016, 3:34 am

        I always wonder when I see comments like these. What on Earth do you think caused Jews in Germany and Poland to lose their respective national identities? I can’t imagine what historical event might have caused this. Could it be the one that wiped out 91% of the Polish Jewish community in less than six years’ time?

        In reality, few in Europe today are particularly nationalistic, but Jews living in Germany are generally proud to be there, and Jews in Poland are starting to slowly rediscover their roots after a couple of generations of being raised either without religion or being raised as Catholics.

      • hophmi
        June 21, 2016, 10:41 am

        “, I thought the main way religious Jews related was by shared ritual. Didn’t know Zionism entered into it, what with all that ritual and getting the best morality out of the texts. ”

        I’m not sure why you’re having trouble holding two ideas in your head at the same time. The primary plane upon which orthodox Jews, including Modern Orthodox Jews, relate to one another is through praxis. That doesn’t preclude the fact that Ahavat Yisrael is something that Orthodox Jews care about.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 3:31 pm

        “I’m not sure why you’re having trouble holding two ideas in your head at the same time.”

        O gee, I don’t know, maybe because I prefer sanity and reality to self-serving schizophrenia.

        But hey, you hold all the contradictory ideas at one time you want.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 8:22 pm

        “What on Earth do you think caused Jews in Germany and Poland to lose their respective national identities?”

        While all the Poles were fat and happy, the Polish regime being supported by Stalin and Hitler.
        It’s just awful the way Poland persecuted the Jews, when all Europe and Russia had always pledged themselves to Polish security, territorial integrity and self-determination in government through several centuries.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 8:23 pm

        “The primary plane upon which orthodox Jews, including Modern Orthodox Jews, relate to one another is through praxis.”

        No wonder so many Jewish performers have appeared at Canegie Hall! Praxis, praxis, praxis, that’s how you get there!

    • Roland Nikles
      June 19, 2016, 1:03 am

      @Keith See my response to Ritzl, above, and the Kwall book. I play Old-Time music. It’s a tribe of sorts. A sense of tribe and belonging to a tradition is part of Judaism…. and contrary to what you imply, tribal cohesion in tradition, is not all negative. We have a lot of tradition as Americans (constitutional, baseball, apple pie…) Traditions enriches us. And we all partake of lots of overlapping traditions. You seem to harbor some hostility against Jewish traditions. Judaism is a rich and old tradition. How to best carry it forward in a secular world is challenging. Zionism is a particular challenge for this tradition I think, for those who care about it. Obviously, if it’s not a tradition you care about, it’s not your problem.

      • Mooser
        June 19, 2016, 2:04 am

        ” Zionism is a particular challenge for this tradition I think, for those who care about it.”

        Zionism is not a “challenge”. It is all we are now.
        It is the most consequential way in which Jews relate to the world, and to each other.
        It is the biggest thing we do. Involves more money, more people, more power, takes life, dispossess other people, based on our religion.

        Like to tell me anything more consequential in the relationship of Jews to the world, and Jews to each other, than Zionism? Zionism is what we are. At this point, it is all we are. Does anything else in Jewish life come close to the assets, of every kind, squandered on Zionism? Until we face that, we ain’t going nowhere.

        And I don’t see that problem being solved, or us fooling anybody, by diving into the costume trunk for “Fiddler” and coming out clothed in a new “Jewish identity” and just leave all the bodies behind.

      • Mooser
        June 19, 2016, 2:15 am

        “A sense of tribe and belonging to a tradition is part of Judaism….”

        If you are a Zionist. If not, well, then tribal unity requires calling you a self-hater, an “anti-Semitic Jew”, etc.
        Please don’t try and fool people, just how conditional that sense of “tribe and belonging” is is shown here almost every day.

      • Keith
        June 19, 2016, 12:47 pm

        ROLAND NIKLES- “A sense of tribe and belonging to a tradition is part of Judaism…. and contrary to what you imply, tribal cohesion in tradition, is not all negative.”

        Roland, you are talking in circles. If the center of Jewishness is Jewish traditions, then why do “non-Orthodox American Jews (need to) find a new center for their Jewish identity.”? You are trying to minimize Jewish tribal solidarity, currently centered on Zionism, as little more than honoring traditions. As if Sheldon Adelson, Haim Saban, AIPAC, and the Conference of Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations were simply concerned with honoring traditions. That is BS and you know it. It is all about power. Why else would you feel the need to replace Zionism with some other means to maintain Jewish tribal solidarity? Not all bad? Certainly not for the Jews who preach multiculturalism while practicing tribalism.

        As for my “hostility,” imputing anti-Jewish hostility to Gentiles who question Jewish behavior is a traditional reaction of Jewish tribalists. Why else would BDS and other criticism of Israeli behavior be labeled as anti-Semitism? Likewise, any discussion of Jewish power and communal behavior which facilitates Zionism and support for Israel also be labeled anti-Semitic? As for traditions enriching us, I agree that traditions can be enriching in a multicultural society, however, if simply observing traditions was your goal, why the felt need to find something else to replace Zionism as the new center for Jewish identity? You are clearly after something more, something to replace Zionism as a tribal unifier. And “traditions” which sanctify tribal separateness from the surrounding non-Jews is profoundly anti-multicultural. There is a huge difference between the honoring of differing traditions in a multicultural society and emphasizing traditional sectarian differences inherent in a multi-tribal society. No good will come from the antipathy which tribal Jews feel towards Gentiles. In fact, the strength of this antipathy is a good measure of Jewish tribalism. Jews who see anti-Semitism as a serious problem lurking everywhere can never relate to their Gentile neighbors as their fellows. And discussing these issues should be an intrinsic part of the Mondoweiss discussion about American support for Israel, not at all indicative of anti-Jewish hostility.

      • Mooser
        June 19, 2016, 1:19 pm

        “Obviously, if it’s not a tradition you care about, it’s not your problem.”

        Can anybody give me an example of the demands of Zionism being defied, or even moderated, by the Jewish traditions or religion? I’d sure like to hear of one.

      • aloeste
        June 20, 2016, 2:07 pm

        Can anybody give me an example of the demands of Zionism being defied, or even moderated, by the Jewish traditions or religion? I’d sure like to hear of one.

        thus asks Mooser. since the current generation of israelis is maturing in the Hesder Yeshiva era, and the proportion of Dati Leumi grows, you will see a strictening of any of your concerns about zionism , since the leadership of Tzahal ,Police ,security services etc will be increasingly Orthodox —and thus religiously limited in ‘compromise’ as you would call it . eg it may be halachically assur to leave any of yehuda and shomron , not to mention yerushalayim. when these areas are in jewish hands, some of the mourning laws for the Churban as it pertains to those areas is lessened….

      • Mooser
        June 20, 2016, 6:45 pm

        “thus asks Mooser. since the current generation of israelis is maturing in the”

        I get you “aloeste”. You see the Jewish religion being used to make Zionism worse and worse!
        Yup, that’s what I thought, but I’m glad to have it confirmed by somebody who knows. Thanks

      • hophmi
        June 21, 2016, 3:43 am

        Mooser just doesn’t know very much about the Jewish community, and his ignorance is becoming more and more clear here.

        The primary way that religious Jews relate to each other is through shared ritual, and not through Zionism or Israel. Israel is certainly an important part of their Jewish identity, but it’s not what they spend the majority of their time on.

        For secular and highly assimilated Jews, there is, for the most part, nothing binding them together, including Israel. Tikkun Olam is the most popular idea among young, secular engaged Jews, which is why we’ve seen a proliferation of Jewish social justice organizations like Bend the Arc over the past decade and a half.

        You can see how self-hatred is Mooser’s most animating characteristic. He hates Zionism. He suggests that Zionism is “all we are.” Therefore, he hates all that is Judaism is today. If you spend no time at all in the actual Jewish community, you might come to a silly conclusion like this. Perhaps all Mooser does during the day is read Mondoweiss, so he thinks that the Jewish community is as obsessed as Mondoweiss is with every little detail of what occurs in Israel.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 4:25 am

        Oh, I see, “Hophmi”. How wrong I was! Zionism is just sort of a side-line for us, a part-time hobby, a few little tents pitched in Palestine. Nobody’s business but our own.
        It only involves a teeny-weeny number of Jewish people, hardly effects anybody else, and as far as money, feh a few Blue Boxes takes care of it. As far as the amount of intellectual and political energy put toward it, well, it’s barely noticeable.
        Barely a blip on the Jewish screen compared to Tikkum Ollam and eking out morality from texts.

        Of course, if the numerologists and Kabballists get it right, they can create a force with more power than a nuclear bomb! And I was worried about Zionism. Silly me.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 4:33 am

        “You can see how self-hatred is Mooser’s most animating characteristic. He hates Zionism.”

        Could somebody parse that for me? It’s beyond me. If I hate Zionism (I do dislike it quite a bit) therefore I hate myself, because uhh, Zionism is me, if I would but recognize it? Is that it?

        Or maybe “Hophmi” is projection-vomiting his own ego-identification with Zionism all over me?

        Sorry “Hoph” but “Annie’s” recent estimation of your cranial position is looking pretty accurate.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 4:43 am

        “Perhaps all Mooser does during the day is read Mondoweiss, so he thinks that the Jewish community is as obsessed as Mondoweiss is with every little detail of what occurs in Israel.”

        ROTFLMSJAO!!! Oh yes, “Hophmi”, I can perfectly understand why you take a “better they shouldn’t know” attitude.

        You are right, “Hophmi” they shouldn’t look, shouldn’t know, it will just get them upset.
        And of course, Zionism doesn’t need anything from us Jews, so why pay attention?

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 4:47 am

        “You can see how self-hatred is Mooser’s most animating characteristic. He hates Zionism.”

        You can see”? If you don’t mind me asking, who is “you” in this sentence. Is “you” all the good Jews you are warning about me, the dangerous renegade? I mean WTF?

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 4:56 am

        “The primary way that religious Jews relate to each other is through shared ritual”

        Absolutely. Not normal human relations like husband-wife-family, not economic or political relationships, not ideology. Nope, it’s all about the dahvaning with religious Jews. And definitely not the Zionism. They’d convert rather than be State or IDF Rabbis, for instance.

        “Hophmi” could you not lean so heavy on the “shared ritual” stuff. I keep on seeing the baby-picture stabbing ritual in my mind and it’s very disturbing. Sorta hard to un-see.

      • Annie Robbins
        June 21, 2016, 5:10 am

        the baby-picture stabbing ritual

        you mean the knife dance at the wedding? yeah. disturbing

        http://mondoweiss.net/2015/12/israeli-settlers-wedding-palestinian/

        recommended knife dance video here: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/11/lynched-jewish-extremists/

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 5:21 am

        “you mean the knife dance at the wedding?”

        Exactly! I mean, a wedding! Is there any better example of a “shared ritual”? Especially since marriage is religious, not civil, in Israel.

        Yup, “Hophmi’s right. That shared ritual is very important, and has nothing to do with Zionism.

      • hophmi
        June 21, 2016, 11:26 am

        Oh, you keep seeing a stabbing ritual? You mean this one? http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4041237,00.html

        I talk about shared ritual, and you jerks post an extremist video from some wedding. Yes, that’s orthodox Judaism, right Annie? A bunch of people waving knives in the air. It’s like talking about Muslim rituals and posting video of a suicide bombing. That’s Islamophobia. You’re practicing Judaeophobia.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 8:02 pm

        “Yes, that’s orthodox Judaism, right Annie? A bunch of people waving knives in the air.”

        Okay, so you found out it was a flash-mob assembled by “Annie” and all the costumes and props were supplied by Mondo.
        But you haven’t got a leg to stand on “Hophmi” at least two of the flash-mob claimed to be Jewish.

    • hophmi
      June 20, 2016, 3:44 pm

      “How is a Christian identity separate from the Christian religion? How is a Muslim identity separate from the Islamic religion? Why do Jews need a Jewish identity separate from the Judaic religion?”

      Is it really that hard to understand civilizational religions can give birth to cultural identities that are based in religious communities without necessarily being in the realm of ritual practice? When people get together to go to the mosque or to go to church, are these examples of tribal solidarity for you?

      • hophmi
        June 20, 2016, 3:46 pm

        “Jews who see anti-Semitism as a serious problem lurking everywhere can never relate to their Gentile neighbors as their fellows. ”

        Right, so if there’s a serious antisemitism problem, it’s anti-Gentile to point it out. Got it.

      • Mooser
        June 20, 2016, 4:49 pm

        “Right, so if there’s a serious antisemitism problem”

        No, “Hophmi” the serious problem is the social panic which is becoming evident among Zionist Jews. You are facing a loss in social status, and the consequences which come with it, and everybody is going nuts hoping there a way to avoid it.
        Don’t worry, I doubt any of our legal rights will be infringed upon.

        (And remember “Hophmi”, even in the matter of antisemitism, non-Jews are entitled to habeas corpus)

      • Mooser
        June 20, 2016, 5:01 pm

        “Is it really that hard to understand civilizational religions can give birth to cultural identities that are based in religious communities without necessarily being in the realm of ritual practice?”

        Thank you “Hophmi” that explains it exactly. Our religion, any religion is entitled to practice its rituals (as long as we aren’t sacrificing the neighbor’s Labrador or Persian). Anybody interferes with that may be breaking the law.

        Ah, but the culture, as you describe it: “cultural identities that are based in religious communities without necessarily being in the realm of ritual practice? ”
        Nobody is obligated, or legally compelled to like that, if they don’t.
        If they perceive it in certain ways, they can despise it. (You know, as settler-colonialists, criminals, evaders of the law, breaker of international law. Ouch, that’s a lot worse than just thinking we are close, or snobby about being Jewish) Not a damn thing we can do about it.

        And worse, we have made our religion itself the subject of political speech, so that doesn’t even apply now, but let it pass.

        We’re in for a rough ride, “Hops”. Sorry. But I don’t think our legal or Constitutional rights are in danger

      • Keith
        June 20, 2016, 9:00 pm

        HOPHMI- “When people get together to go to the mosque or to go to church, are these examples of tribal solidarity for you?”

        No, they are not. Neither is attending a synagogue which is why Zionism evolved as a unifier of the Jews following the enlightenment and the splintering of Jews into secular Jews, Reform Jews, Conservative Jews, and Orthodox Jews. It is also why Roland Nikles seeks a replacement for Zionism to unite the Jews into a tribal peoplehood. This manufactured kinship has proved highly advantageous to organized Jews in our otherwise multicultural society. Zionist tribal solidarity transcends Judaic religious practice.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 12:53 am

        “This manufactured kinship has proved highly advantageous to organized Jews in our otherwise multicultural society. Zionist tribal solidarity transcends Judaic religious practice.”

        Well, looky there! “”Keith” has finally written something “Hophmi” can’t possibly be upset by. In fact “Hophmi” may well be flattered. It could have come right out of a “Commentary” analysis.

      • hophmi
        June 21, 2016, 4:01 am

        No one is obligated to like another’s cultural practices. I would posit, however, that criticism of cultural practice is often taken by other minority groups as a phobia of their religion, or, as the case may be, their race or ethnicity. Criticizing the profanity and misogeny in rap music is seen by many African-Americans as racism. Criticizing the treatment of women in the Middle East is often seen as a form of Islamophobia. Even criticism of BDS is often cast as Islamophobia.

        The context of a critique matters. If rich European countries with colonialist histories and genocidal pasts are the critics of what they term Israeli settler-colonialism, the critique has very little real value, and it is callous and offensive when it is made in a historically decontextualized manner. If Arab dictatorships are the critics of the shortcomings of Israeli democracy, what relevance does that critique have? If the United Nations, a body which suffers from structural antisemitism, allows countries like Iran to sit in judgment of Israel, how can you take their judgment seriously? And if the Zionist idea arises from historical European persecution, and Israel exists, not in some utopia, but in the real world, where most people lack basic freedom, minority rights are not generally respected, and people are dying en masse throughout the Middle East, what relevance is the critique of an America that, though protected by two oceans, has caused the deaths of more – far more – people in the last fifteen years than have died in the entire history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?

      • hophmi
        June 21, 2016, 4:23 am

        “No, they are not. Neither is attending a synagogue which is why Zionism evolved as a unifier of the Jews following the enlightenment and the splintering of Jews into secular Jews, Reform Jews, Conservative Jews, and Orthodox Jews. It is also why Roland Nikles seeks a replacement for Zionism to unite the Jews into a tribal peoplehood. This manufactured kinship has proved highly advantageous to organized Jews in our otherwise multicultural society. Zionist tribal solidarity transcends Judaic religious practice. ”

        First of all, this denominational “splintering” took place mainly in the 19th century. Second of all, it took place mostly in Germany, which had a relatively small Jewish community, and it was carried over into the United States through German Jewish immigrants. There’s nothing manufactured about the kinship that Jews feel for one another. It’s the same kinship that Italians feel for one another or that Indians feel for one another or that Pakistanis feel for one another or that Muslims feel for one another or that Catholics feel for one another.

        What America do you live in Keith? You seem to think that America is this multicultural place but for the Jews. Maybe you don’t get out very much, but the notion is silly on both ends. Most American ethnic and religious groups practice some kind of solidarity and kinsmanship in American society, particularly immigrant groups. Look at the Asian community today. Look at the South Asian Indian community. Look at the Catholic community. All have well-established networks to help the advancement of their own. And at the same time, depending on how recently they’ve immigrated here, all of these communities work with one another on issues of common interest. The Jewish community works with the Latino community on immigration. The Asian-American community does as well. And at the same time, all of these communities advance the goals of tolerance and acceptance of the other.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 5:47 am

        I think I’m right. It’s “social panic”. Well, time will tell. I’m not all that perceptive (Uh, I guess I don’t really need to say that, huh) and if I notice it, I’m sure lots of other people will or already have.

        It’s the perception of losing status (or ‘face’ or informally, caste or ‘class’) and it provokes high anxiety and all kinds of avoidance, defensive, aggressive or fantastic responses, and it’s aggravated by not having any control over the situation.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 5:52 am

        “Most American ethnic and religious groups practice some kind of solidarity and kinsmanship in American society, particularly immigrant groups”

        Ah, so that’s what Zionism is, just part of the Jewish attempt to culturally assimilate and get along in American society?

        Why do you think you can turn Zionism on and off like a light bulb? Now you see it now you don’t.

        Okay Hophmi, what other American religious or ethnic group supports a project remotely like today’s Zionism? Any other groups supporting illegal settlements, occupation and expansion in accordance with extremist religious ideas. Could you name a couple offhand?

      • eljay
        June 21, 2016, 9:23 am

        || hophmi @ June 21, 2016, 4:01 am ||

        So many words just to say “Murderers exist, so it’s OK to rape.”

    • RoHa
      June 21, 2016, 7:49 am

      “ROLAND NIKLES- “The challenge for non-Orthodox American Jews is to find a new center for their Jewish identity.”

      Why bother? Why not say “Sod this for a game of Jewish soldiers”, and concentrate on centering their “identity” on being decent human beings instead?

      What’s the point in hanging on to an “identity” simply for the sake of hanging to that “identity”?

    • yonah fredman
      June 21, 2016, 8:31 am

      Maybe because I live in a part of Brooklyn filled with immigrants, where in fact, ethnic identity and church or mosque or synagogue attendance is highly related, do I think those who pretend that church and ethnicity are unrelated are full of it. But not so: have you never heard this line: the most segregated hour of the week is Sunday morning at 11?
      Aiming for a post ethnic society is fine, tho homogenization strikes me as boring and something is lost in this vision of the melting pot, the past warfare justifies the valuing of this ideal. But using this vision as an excuse for ignoring the facts as given and further as a means to badmouth the yehudim is just a new twist on an old tune.

      • hophmi
        June 21, 2016, 11:15 am

        “Ah, so that’s what Zionism is, just part of the Jewish attempt to culturally assimilate and get along in American society?

        Why do you think you can turn Zionism on and off like a light bulb? Now you see it now you don’t.

        Okay Hophmi, what other American religious or ethnic group supports a project remotely like today’s Zionism?”

        Many immigrant minorities foster positive relationships between their homeland and the United States. Look at the Indian-American and Korean-American communities.

        ” Any other groups supporting illegal settlements, occupation and expansion in accordance with extremist religious ideas. Could you name a couple offhand?”

        See, you’re falling into that trap where you make a lot of assumptions that aren’t warranted. Is settlement expansion about religious ideas, or is it about security? Or is it about national ideology? And who is this “group” that supports it? Is it the “Jewish community?”

        UJA doesn’t support the settlements. AJC and ADL don’t support them. J Street actively works against them. So do a number of other Jewish organizations. Far more American Christians actively support the settlement project than do American Jews. So “Jews” as a group don’t support settlements. Some Jews do, but they’re generally not secular; they’re religious. Modern Orthodox Jewish organizations tend to be the strongest supporters of the settlements, but they’re really not a very large percentage of the American Jewish community. If we’re talking about religious groupings, there are lot of things that religious groups may support that non-religious groups may not. Religious Catholics may support bans on homosexuality and abortion. Religious Muslims support similar social policy and some, albeit a tiny number, of religious Muslims support Salafist leaders.

        So Mooser, you need to learn a little bit about what you’re talking about here, because you speak in generalities that don’t have a firm basis in fact. And you need to understand, first and foremost, that American support for Israel isn’t just about Jews, or even primarily about Jews, and the settlement project is not one that has a great deal of support within the American Jewish community, and it really never did have much support. Of course, that doesn’t mean that American Jewry has done a great deal of speaking out about settlements, but I’d say that that’s because it’s quite unusual for members of a small minority community to speak out against other members of that community precisely because of the risk of the divide and conquer tactics that hegemonic communities in society use and have used to persecute minority communities. And of course, these days, Jews criticize settlement policy more and more.

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 6:53 pm

        “that American support for Israel isn’t just about Jews, or even primarily about Jews, and the settlement project is not one that has a great deal of support within the American Jewish community, and it really never did have much support.”

        Yes, every so often a Blue Box full of quarters gets diverted to the settlements, but I doubt it totals over a couple hundred bucks a year.
        And of course, affluent Zionist Jews in the US refuse, en masse to have anything to do with the settlements, and of course no Jewish organization in the US will have anything to do with the settlements or settlers. Most especially not Hillel.And only maybe a handful, 50 at most, American Jews will go and live or lead a settlement. It’s just a fringe thing. We don’t do fringes.

        “Modern Orthodox Jewish organizations tend to be the strongest supporters of the settlements, but they’re really not a very large percentage of the American Jewish community.”

        You said it, “Hophmi”. A tiny percentage, who have managed to be wrong about almost everything, are running us around by the nose, and all of Israel is wrapped around the settlement enterprise.
        Why is that, “Hophmi”?
        Do we have a Jewish obligation to support lawbreakers and extremists (and arsonists, and child-murderers, etc) if they are posture as Jewish? Not smart.
        Why do we do that, “Hophmi”?

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 7:08 pm

        ,” tho homogenization strikes me as boring and something is lost in this vision of the melting pot”

        Don’t worry, “Yonah”. They still haven’t signed the law which forces everyone to marry according to the State’s homogenization program.
        You don’t have to jump into the melting pot, nobody can stop you from marrying a beautiful Jewish woman, and having lots of beautiful, intelligent, and Zionist children.
        But you don’t know what might happen if Hilary ios elected, so ankle on up the aisle soon. Mazel Tov and I’ll come and do the Knife Dance at your wedding!

        “Yonah” has anything ever happened to the Jews that we are responsible for? Anything? The out-marriage? The fall-off in Temple attendance and affiliation? Unresolved issues between the denominations? The complete sublimation and subordination of Jewish religion for Zionist purposes, these are all things other people have done to us?

      • Mooser
        June 21, 2016, 7:15 pm

        “And of course, these days, Jews criticize settlement policy more and more.”

        Oh, the settlements are “policy”? Israel has a “settlement policy”?
        Gee, I didn’t know that. I thought it was just some fringe types, putting up a few shacks, despised by all the balebatisheh yiden , living off Blue Boxes which fell off the trucks along the Jews-only highway.

        So the illegal colonial settlement of Palestine by Zionists is Israeli policy? I never would have guessed.

      • Donald
        June 22, 2016, 11:17 pm

        “American support for Israel isn’t just about Jews…”

        Among Christians it’s two things. First a lot of Christians after WWII finally acknowledged the harm done by centuries of Christian antisemitism and atoned for their sins ( or the sins of their ancestors) by throwing the Palestinians under the bus. It’s more complicated than that, but that’ll do as a summary. Tied in with this is the fear of being called antisemitic if you criticize Israel.

        Second, the believers in an imminent Second Coming usually also think that God wants them to support Israel no matter what, so guess who gets thrown under the bus?

        Actually, I should mention a third– Islamophobia and/or prejudice against Arabs. But that’s implied in the first two.

  5. mcohen.
    June 19, 2016, 5:58 am

    this essay posted sort of fits with a few words that keep repeating themselves in my brain . uninvited..they just pop up

    “the fourth way”….maybe from “the way of the dragon”

    tell you what….bruce did… sooki yaahki ….soek nie kak nie like a champ

    not sure where this sentence comes from
    anyway i was thinking about m lerner and american jews and i had this vision that this is how christianity must have started.a breaking away from traditional judaism.
    is it possible that a fourth abrahamic relegion is being born in america
    will there be a prophet such as mohammed or jesus to lead the way?
    has this movement already started ?
    because we could do with a fourth cornerstone.

    • Mooser
      June 19, 2016, 12:36 pm

      “not sure where this sentence comes from”

      Don’t worry, “mcohen”, it’s happening to all of us.
      It’s called ‘social panic’. It is, as we can see, a very disturbing feeling, this ‘social panic’, the feeling one is losing ‘face’ caste or status.

      It’ll make people do and say some really weird stuff. And fantasize like crazy.

    • RoHa
      June 21, 2016, 1:16 am

      The American prophet Joseph Smith stated the fourth Abrahamic religion, though it is often considered a weird branch of Christianity.

      If we ignore Babism (and we should, since there are hardly any Babis/Azalis left) then Baha’i is the fifth Abrahamic religion.

      You want a sixth?

  6. mcohen.
    June 20, 2016, 5:58 am

    mooser

    the post is an old s african joke.this funny little chappie with his book reminds me of a garden gnome.

    • Mooser
      June 20, 2016, 2:05 pm

      .“this funny little chappie with his book reminds me of a garden gnome.”

      And your every post reminds me that a “Cohen” is a priestly class, a virtual nobility among the Ten Tribes.

  7. Edo
    June 20, 2016, 7:26 am

    As someone who isn’t Jewish, I have to ask, why is it necessary to be proud to be (secular) jewish. I mean I’m Dutch, and at this moment in time there aren’t really reasons to be proud to be Dutch. Even than it would be pretty irrational to be proud to be Dutch. I am irrational in a way because I still like it when Dutch people preform good in sports, but I’m not going to say ‘I’m proud to be Dutch’, people who say that are not really people I like to hang out with. Same thing with people who say ‘I’m proud to be an American’.
    I can see that when you are massively discriminated against, that you would claim ‘I’m proud to be (secular) jewish’ but is that really the case nowadays (in the west)? I also get it when you are a jewish person who actually believes in judaism, because than you have a believe system you may be proud of. But for a secular jew isn’t it a weight of your shoulders if you just think, I’m jewish, I’m me, I don’t have to be proud (or a shamed for that matter) because of the coincidence my parents (or only mother) are jewish).

    • echinococcus
      June 20, 2016, 9:41 am

      Exactly, Edo. Fact is, fake “Jewish” nationalism, a monster no different than Catholic or Hindu nationalism, is not limited to Zionists.

      • silamcuz
        June 21, 2016, 4:05 am

        Agreed Echinnocous. White, Jewish, Hindu…all of these are merely fake, constructed identities requiring a fake,laboured sense of pride to support it. No one would want to be proud whites without white supremacy, no one would want to be proud Jews without Zionism.

    • hophmi
      June 21, 2016, 4:05 am

      It’s not necessary. It’s a natural reaction to historical persecution and to living as a minority group. Persecuted people tend to be more proud of who they are, and minority groups tend to be reminded of who they are more regularly than others.

      Particularly in France, Jews face a resurgence of violent antisemitic attacks. Elsewhere, they face constant verbal abuse. Right-wing and left-wing extremism are on the rise. And Jews are a very tiny minority in Europe to begin with. So a sense of pride in their heritage is really quite a normal reaction.

      • Edo
        June 21, 2016, 1:53 pm

        Left-wing extremism in regards and antisemitism now, I don´t really see any concrete connection. There are people who blame people in the labour party for antisemitism, but that´s based on nothing, and a very ugly way to attack Corbyn and co. As far as right wing extremism, from what I heard Ukraine and Greece and Hungary do have a problem with antisemitism. But on the other hand in Holland we have Geert Wilders, who´s profile picture on twitter is him wearing a Kippah, he lived a year in Israel and he gets money from Daniel Pipes, and is constantly talking about our Judaic-Christian culture. I think this is the case for more countries and people on the extreme right nowadays. About the attacks in France, you´re right, but they come from people who hold no political power at all, which of course doesn´t´make it any better. France itself is one of the most extreme countries when it comes to censuring critics of Israel, and muslims are discriminated against by the society on a structural level, which feeds in to this awful hatred. Anyways, I get the natural tendency you describe, but I don´t think it´s really that helpful for anyone.

Leave a Reply