My journey away from Zionism

FeaturesIsrael/Palestine
on 28 Comments

A friend who had read a number of my recent pieces on Israeli intolerance sent me a note the other day asking me whether Israel was ever good in my eyes, even as a child, when it changed, and why I left the place. These questions are all about my relationship with Zionism, a very long relationship indeed, and it seemed a good time to reflect on that experience.

Although I have written some things in that area before, as in this article from last year, I nonetheless thought that it was indeed time to write a more comprehensive article, relating more deeply to my personal experience, particularly vis-á-vis Israeli society, especially the society I come out from – the kibbutz society. 

Zionism is Israel’s fundamentalist religion’

I come from the typical secular socialist kibbutz (lived there for the first 20 year of my life), and most of my siblings are living there. That is a predominantly leftist Israeli-Jewish society, historically representative of Zionist socialism. It is a society that you could regard as ‘liberal-Zionist’. On the one hand, there is that ‘leftist’ element, and that can have various shades, but it’s rare to find a rightist in that society. On the other hand, the Zionist issue is generally not even to be questioned. Here we approach the first critical notion, concerning Zionism, which is the one that is a clear breaking point between me and my family, as well as most of Israeli society. As Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy recently succinctly summarized, “Zionism is Israel’s fundamentalist religion, and as in any religion, its denial is prohibited. In Israel, ‘non-Zionist’ or ‘anti-Zionist’ aren’t insults, they are social expulsion orders.”

I have clearly crossed that red line, and I know all too well what Levy is saying. I know it viscerally.

It’s not that my family won’t talk to me or anything – it’s that there is a clear ‘understanding’, that any discussion of ‘politics’ must steer away from relating to Zionism, or be avoided altogether – in order to keep the family together, as it were. My articles on Mondoweiss and elsewhere regarding Israel and politics are just not discussed, not mentioned.

The mask of liberalism and democracy

The thing with ‘leftist Zionism’ or ‘liberal Zionism’ is, that it’s often not so leftist and not so liberal – and those same leftists and liberals are often enraged when this is pointed out to them. With the rightists, it can be different, they could be proud of their Zionist racism: Less than two months ago, Israeli journalist David Sheen posted photos and videos from Prime Minister Netanyahu and Culture Miri Regev’s visit to southern Tel-Aviv, when they were “on a mission to give back south Tel Aviv to the Israeli residents” as Netanyahu said (“giving it back” meaning taking it away from the African refugees who supposedly “took it” from them). In Sheen’s posting on Facebook, May Golan, a well-known rightist political activist, television commentator and Knesset candidate, can be seen saying “I am proud to be racist”.

But this ‘pride’ is not something that leftist or ‘liberal’ Zionists share – they don’t generally want to be known as racists. And that’s why it enrages them when Zionism is called out as racist. It is worth mentioning, that when I say ‘liberal-Zionist’, that is, itself, a term that encompasses much more than the left. It is a general term that refers to those Zionists who retain the mask of liberalism and democracy (represented in the state’s self-notion as ‘Jewish and democratic’). So ‘liberal Zionist’ represents most Zionists, most Israeli Jews. It is only the few who boast their racism like May Golan. Thus, my family, my old kibbutz society, that’s a society that is on the left of that ‘liberal Zionism’.

But then when you look at the views espoused within this leftist Zionism, it can be downright shocking sometimes. I have mentioned Israeli historian Benny Morris, a self-proclaimed ‘leftist’, several times in the past. He happens to come from a neighbor kibbutz, 5 minutes’ walk from the one I grew up in. I have mentioned how he justified ethnic cleansing (“There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing”);  that he thought Ben Gurion didn’t go far enough in 1948 (“If he was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job”); and that he also justified genocide (“even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians”).   

Benny Morris is shocking precisely because he is supposedly meant to represent this leftist, liberal Zionism – but he drops the masks. Morris was aware of this when he told those things to Ari Shavit in 2004, he even said it himself: “I know that this stuns the Arabs and the liberals and the politically correct types”, he said after the sentence about Ben-Gurion’s ‘too limited’ expulsion.

So, there is that typical caution amongst liberal Zionists to not drop all ‘liberal’ masks, and Morris is a rather rare exception here. But whilst liberal Zionists, and certainly the leftists amongst them, would often try to keep a certain distance from outright overt fascism and genocidal advocacy (such as Morris’s), they have a rather equal and opposite concern, to protect Zionism. And that’s where the big clash comes with those who happen to not agree at all with basic Zionist notions, or oppose them outright. These are the non-Zionists or anti-Zionists that Gideon Levy is referring to above, those who are basically social outcasts in Israeli society today.

My departure from Zionism

But how do you get to that point, to being opposed to Zionism? Philip Weiss had asked me, “when did it start to change?” As I had mentioned in my earlier writing my story is not really that dramatic, I think. My leaving Israel to Denmark in 1995 was not politically motivated and I had very little critical political awareness then. My turning was about a decade ago, around 2007. I had begun to actually meet Palestinians and hear their stories, and at that point I read Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (which was released a year earlier, 2006). That book, a milestone in itself, was also a milestone for me in terms of waking me up to a reality which I had been comfortably shielded from by the Zionist narrative which I had been inculcated with from birth. From that point, I read a myriad of critical historical appraisals, which starkly contrasted the Zionist narrative, and which came to shed a shockingly real light upon what the Zionist narrative conveniently marginalized as “the Palestinian narrative”. It occurred to me, that Winston Churchill’s quip at the House of Commons in 1948 (“For my part, I consider that it will be found much better by all Parties to leave the past to history, especially as I propose to write that history”), was exactly the reason that the Palestinian history had been neglected and nearly erased in my Zionist upbringing – because it was us – the victors – who were writing it.

So that’s where a critical process began in me, in earnest – from 2007. And I came to build up an understanding of Zionism which was much less forgiving that the apologetic ethos of “self-defense” I was brought up with, and which kept informing my notions of ‘reality’ vis-á-vis Palestinians. My new historical awareness was often downright condemning, and it brought me to think differently about what I was seeing currently. If the roots of a conflict show you that it’s not really a conflict but rather a case of colonial aggression, then you have to think differently about its historical extension into the present. Back to Morris – he is undoubtedly a scholar that has unearthed much of those horrors that have been kept classified and hidden, as they were an uncomfortable challenge to the ‘righteous’ Zionist narrative. But we can see, that although he saw those uncomfortable truths, perhaps as clearly as I did, he chose another moral path. And you have to choose, once you face that reality – do you support ethnic cleansing, or not? That is the essential question that remains, as an insurmountable moral obstacle, for those who walk this path. Morris obviously took the Zionist path, and justified it. The logical extension of it is that once you’ve done that, you have to continue to do it – because the current state of Israel is an extension of that original massive 1948 ethnic cleansing, with its subsequent 1967 ethnic cleansings, and on to present-day ethnic cleansings which occur even in what is called ‘Israel proper’, targeting Israeli citizens who are non-Jewish.

So it’s not really that Israel has changed that much, in its essential Zionist character, since I was a kid growing up in that kibbutz. In direct answer to my friend’s mentioned question about “whether Israel was ever good in my eyes, even as a child”, I would say yes, I thought it was awesome, as a child, and also as a young adult. I loved the whole Zionist ethos, I loved the whole militarism thing. But it was only because I was brainwashed. You can’t really expect much dissent from people who were brainwashed from when they were kids, especially not when they still are kids. You can hope that as adults they may develop some critical angles, but really, only few do so. Although changes have been occurring in Israel, in terms of more racist laws and more overt fascism, they are, in my view, not as dramatic as the left would have them be. The drama often serves the Zionist left in order to chide the right as being wrong. This also strengthens the notion of ‘Zionist pluralism’ as well as the concept of a ‘democratic society’. But two wrongs don’t make a right. The Israeli mainstream left also has a natural aversion to being “Arab lovers”, as left leader Isaac Herzog had recently put it. In the bigger scheme, and from the Palestinians’ perspective, the differences between Zionist left and right have meant precious little for their reality. Both have ethnically cleansed them, both continued to colonize them. Some had prettier faces, like ‘centrist liberal’ lawmaker Yair Lapid, some less. But all in all, Zionism has been a horror for Palestinians.

Yet think – what does this departure from Zionism really mean in more practical terms? It means, that one is not in rejection of a democratic, secular state, a state that is not a “Jewish state”, but that accepts Jews as Jews, as it allows religious freedom, as it separates religion from state. That’s all. For me today, it seems so natural. But for the Zionist mind, this is anathema – it is simply heresy. Thus, like Gideon Levy wrote, I come out from, and against, “Israel’s fundamentalist religion” – Zionism. And it’s really like a cult. At best, I am tolerated, by some – as an outcast that one needs to keep a certain distance from. Those Israelis who accept me fully are but few, and they are basically the same social outcasts themselves.  

So here I am, telling about what departing from Zionism has meant for me. I didn’t go into the many details of the many insults, the many exclusions – I don’t want to burden with it, and I don’t think it’s necessary. I am also wary about not making this too personally overwhelming – particularly because I am aware, that the greater exclusion, the much greater, immeasurably greater, suffering, is that of the Palestinians. Their suffering from Zionism is a much more real and tangible one. After all, I am still, in many ways, one of the privileged ones, because I’m a Jewish Israeli. It would have been very different if I was a non-Jewish Israeli, or if I was a non-Israeli Palestinian, either under Israeli occupation or expelled from its territorial control. If the exclusion I speak of as a non-Zionist Jewish Israeli is societal, the exclusion Palestinians experience is national.

About Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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28 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    October 31, 2017, 12:44 pm

    Very good explanations of all points touched upon. Enjoy your music!

  2. Paranam Kid
    October 31, 2017, 2:00 pm

    Good article Jonathan !!

  3. Danaa
    October 31, 2017, 4:09 pm

    I loved the whole Zionist ethos, I loved the whole militarism thing. But it was only because I was brainwashed. You can’t really expect much dissent from people who were brainwashed from when they were kids, especially not when they still are kids.

    This says it all, for most of us, who carry a lifelong puzzle about how could we ever believe the “ethos”. And not just believe but buy it wholesale, like a self-evident truth. This is a question I once posed to Avigail Abarbanel, when I was confounded by my own acceptance – as a child and a young adult – of the Israel myth, given that I rebelled against much else, and early on.

    How can one make what seemed like radical departures from the mainstream yet be a conformist at the same time to the ruling ideology?

    Avigail’s answer – from the viewpoint of a psychologist – was probably the best I had: even as a child, and even as an already rebellious child, one knows – and recognizes – consciously and subconsciously – that there are red lines. Lines that if crossed, can result in the kind of expulsion that no child dares risk. So, someone like me could question much of what they were taught, and still remain just within the borders.

    In high school I was quite fond of taking out pages from the Tanakh book that we were forced to study daily (and which bored me to tears), and fashion them into paper airplanes, while complaining bitterly that the pages were too thin, so the planes didn’t fly far enough (not to worry, my just as boring Hebrew and jewish literature books (which were so uninteresting in my then view as compared with world literature) made for much better planes – they could reach the teacher’s desk from the back row which is where I was relegated to due to excessive noise making). But even such a student, one who kept receiving a near-failing grade in citizenry and promptness, never asked the obvious question: how come all those Arabs just upped and left? I – along with just about everyone else – probably even Gideon levy when he was young, accepted that those “Arabs” (as we referred to the ’48 exiled residents) were not ‘as attached” to their homes as we were. Ergo, why ask questions?

    So, the “rebel” is tolerated, as long as they rebel within the allowed parameters.

    My own experience cause me to take quite an interest in stories of people who escaped cults. It’s funny how complicated the internal de-programming process is. It’s never actually completed. Even after so much time, I am still expunging bits and pieces where I find them, sometimes buried quite deep.

    And Offir’s Kibbutz background is very interesting to me as well, since nowhere was the zionist myth, in all its secular glory , plated so deeply, as in the Kibbutz’s socialist dreamscape. After all, the Kibbutz was – and may still be – viewed as the epitome of the zionist experience – it’s best and brightest.

    You can hope that as adults they may develop some critical angles, but really, only few do so.

    Emphasis on “Few”. Indeed.

    • genesto
      November 2, 2017, 5:57 pm

      ‘My own experience cause (sic) me to take quite an interest in stories of people who escaped cults. It’s funny how complicated the internal de-programming process is. It’s never actually completed.’

      This, I think, is critically important for both Jews and non Jews in the movement to understand. Some anti-Zionist, non Jews, like myself, sometimes get impatient – and even angry – with Jews in the movement that seem to have trouble with being as open and honest as we feel we need to be to fight Zionism with all the strength and zeal we must to exceed. This creates conflicts, even misunderstandings of the seeming reluctance to take the questioning of Zionist-nurturing Jewishness beyond a certain, redline boundary.

      We who haven’t been raised with the burden of Zionism, and the difficult task of extricating ourselves completely from its spell, need to be more patient and understanding of this towards moving forward in the unified manner essential to our success. On the other hand, Jews in the movement who are still, say, a ‘work in progress’, also need to be prepared to accept that we may already be at a place to which they are heading, and not simply insensitive to their unique and personal history growing up as Jews.

      • Danaa
        November 3, 2017, 5:55 pm

        Well said, genesto. I agree with the part about impatience from different quarters. It is, I think, sometimes difficult to imagine for those who have never been part of a cult-like inculcation from early childhood, what it’s like for those who try – as adults to escape the bounds of their programming.

        To grow up in Israel for example, is to buy wholesale into an entire mind-frame and view of the world that becomes deeply embedded into the brain, even as it develops. Indeed the programming of children is very effective – as we know from countless examples. And the process of de-programming involves not only questioning aspects of one’s identity, but the acceptance of estrangement from friends and family to whom one was close once. Which is why not many do escape and of those who do, the escape is never really finished – it’s a life-long process.

        I have seen many people who are either Jewish or ex-Israelis – or even still resident israelis – who are accused at one point or another of being “gatekeepers”. That is Atzmon’s favorite labeling of anti-zionists, and as you probably know, this kind of “impatience” did not always serve him well. Truth is, not everything can or should be lumped under the “gatekeeping” rubric. I see people accused of that sometimes rightly, sometimes not so much. Many individuals just continue to struggle against their own boundaries while straddling a rather thin line. Also, in Gilad’s particular case – and may be others I don’t know or heard about – there’s the danger lurking of the pendulum swinging too far. In the process of undoing personal programming sometimes one excises too many healthy parts as well, which I think is something that could have happened to him (though he won’t agree, I am sure).

        I can also understand the exasperation of say, Palestinians and non-Jewish solidarity activists who have to go through any number of wickets to “prove” they are not “anti-semitic” (whatever that is). That while watching the Jewish people who are at various stages of post-zionist discourse, still go through those navel-gazing exercises ad-nauseum. You know the To-be-or-not-to-be stuff which you can witness on this very thread. And of which I am sometimes guilty myself (though at least I know it….).

      • Mooser
        November 4, 2017, 12:26 pm

        “To grow up in Israel…”

        A brocheh tzu Columbus!

  4. JosephA
    October 31, 2017, 9:26 pm

    Mr. Ofir,

    Thanks for taking us on your personal journey. May it inspire others who were and are similarly brainwashed into thinking that zionism is a force for good or has any redeeming qualities.

  5. yourstruly
    November 1, 2017, 2:06 am

    awakening the racist

    takes time

    waiting for that epiphany

    the ‘oh my god

    what a fool I’ve been’

  6. JeffB
    November 1, 2017, 5:52 am

    @Johnathan

    what does this departure from Zionism really mean in more practical terms? It means, that one is not in rejection of a democratic, secular state, a state that is not a “Jewish state”, but that accepts Jews as Jews, as it allows religious freedom, as it separates religion from state. That’s all.

    That’s not all. Meretz supports a secular state. The discussion about which powers, including none at all, the Israeli state church should have occur entirely within a Zionist framework. The Status Quo Agreement (https://books.google.com/books?id=iVJR9UZnTVAC&pg=PA58&lpg=PA58#v=onepage&q&f=false ) was an agreement reached because 1940s Zionists were divided on the role of religion. It is likely the majority of 1940s Zionists opposed any role for a state church but at the time simply didn’t want to fight that battle. The Israeli state doesn’t need a Jewish state church more than France’s move away from state Catholicism caused the state to cease to be French.

    Anti-Zionism is a desire to destroy the Jewish nation, not a desire to reform the Jewish state in any way including religious relations. A series of political reforms which left the Jewish nation intact and secure while merely changing some laws would be a failure of anti-Zionism not its completion.

    Let’s pick another example to make this easier. Ireland has for the last 150 years been slowly weakening their state church. One can support Catholic control of the education system, support the church’s influence or oppose either of those things without ceasing to be a supporter of the Irish Republic. The equivalent of an anti-Zionist would be someone who supported Cromwell’s policy of England conquest and the settlement in Ireland of a non-Catholic population. The equivalent of anti-Zionism is opposition to the Irish nation, not just opposition to particular state policies.

    • eljay
      November 1, 2017, 8:59 am

      || JeffB: … Let’s pick another example to make this easier. Ireland … ||

      Ireland is the state of and for non-Jewish and Jewish Irish.

      Israel should be the state of and for non-Jewish and Jewish Israelis.

      Zionists insist that Israel must be the state of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews.

      || … The equivalent of anti-Zionism is opposition to … ||

      … Irish colonialism, (war) crimes and supremacism.

    • John O
      November 1, 2017, 9:59 am

      Once again, JeffB, you can’t resist the temptation to hold forth on subjects about which you know nothing.

      “The equivalent of an anti-Zionist would be someone who supported Cromwell’s policy of England conquest and the settlement in Ireland of a non-Catholic population.”

      Are you serious? Why would anybody who is opposed the the settler-colonialist project that is Zionism think that the Plantation of Ulster was laudable?

      • JeffB
        November 1, 2017, 5:00 pm

        @John O

        Why would anybody who is opposed the the settler-colonialist project that is Zionism think that the Plantation of Ulster was laudable?

        Anti-colonialists at this point rather randomly choose which races are “indigenous natives” and which are colonists. There doesn’t seem to be any set of consistent rules to it. South Africa was one of the best examples where many of the tribes supported were 13th century settlers. Of course many of the Palestinians are themselves recent settlers. So if you are asking me to pick which side in any particular anti colonialist venture you will find appealing and which you will find totally beyond the pale I have no idea. I don’t understand leftists racism.

        That being said though the goal of anti-Zionism is to take the population that exists in Israel and overwhelm it with a bunch of Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians…

      • John O
        November 2, 2017, 8:53 am

        @JeffB

        I have now read your reply to me at least six times and I am still completely baffled as to what you are talking about.

      • Mooser
        November 2, 2017, 5:23 pm

        “and I am still completely baffled”

        “John O” it is very easy to understand all “Jeff b” says. He says to you what Zionists say to each other. He doesn’t know what else to say, never having considered the idea that Zionism might have to account for itself to anybody but other Zionists.

    • Misterioso
      November 1, 2017, 10:45 am

      Stark raving, blatantly obvious reality:

      Zionism is racism; Zionism is theft; Zionism is fascism. Its spawn, the entity known as “Israel,” is an historical anachronism, nearly 70 years of trying to pound a square peg into a round hole.

      When Zionism is inevitably relegated to history’s dust bin, not only Arabs, but also Jews everywhere will finally be freed from its curse.

    • gamal
      November 1, 2017, 11:13 am

      “Ireland has for the last 150 years been slowly weakening their state church”

      you are so obviously unfamiliar with the data you casually fling around, but 150 gave me a laugh, what 2070’s already, how time flies. All the calm assurance of the total poseur.

    • amigo
      November 1, 2017, 2:50 pm

      “One can support Catholic control of the education system, support the church’s influence or oppose either of those things without ceasing to be a supporter of the Irish Republic”jeffy boy

      If you are the former, then you do not support the “Democratic Irish Republic.”

      Jeffy boy , Ireland is in no way like the zionist entity which breaks the laws of man —even those not yet envisaged

      “Let’s pick another example to make this easier. Ireland has for the last 150 years been slowly weakening their state church. ” jeffyboy.

      Good for us.Israelis ought to give it a try.

      “The Irish constitution forbids ,, “Religion
      Main article: Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland

      The Constitution guarantees freedom of worship, and forbids the state from creating an established church. ”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Ireland#Religion

      So your analogy is as usual full of zionist gobshite .Stay out of Irish history jeffy boy.

      • JeffB
        November 1, 2017, 5:02 pm

        @Amigo

        You still have state supported church schools. The constitution may forbid but that’s still an established church. So no you aren’t finished.

      • Mooser
        November 1, 2017, 5:58 pm

        “So your analogy is as usual full of zionist gobshite “

        “Jeff b” keeps on offering the arguments (and the level of argument) that Zionists use to convince themselves and each other.

      • Kaisa of Finland
        November 1, 2017, 7:12 pm

        Oh Jeff,

        Since you are always trying to go through all the world and its history to find excuses for the Zionist’s actions, here is an example for you to follow:

        Today outside the police station in the town of Kuopio there stood a bicycle with a note:

        “I stole this. And now I am trying to return this. I was all too drunk. I am very sorry.”

        https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-9910922

      • amigo
        November 2, 2017, 8:56 am

        “You still have state supported church schools. The constitution may forbid but that’s still an established church”.jeffy boy

        70% of school buildings are the property of religious orders–a result of British invaders policies of denying the Catholic Population spaces where they could get an education.The Catholic orders provided both schools and teachers and filled this need.

        The Gov helps to maintain these properties from the religious orders in return for the right to use them as places of education.and is negotiating to buy some or all .In the meantime , the owners ( the religious) will not allow their property to be used as places of education if they do not have some input as to what is taught.. Hence , ending this arrangement is a long process , but it is being resolved.

        As Ireland has become a secular and more democratic nation , where , for example , civil Marriages and divorces are available –unlike Israel –and same sex marriage are allowed–again unlike Israel—.The church in Ireland has no say in such matters so it is not the official state church or religion.

        Israel on the other hand is going backwards where religious freaks –usually settler extremists have taken over the army and the Government which is unable to control the illegal squatters who are turning Israel into a nation based on religious laws and beliefs.

        Don,t lecture me about not being finished and no , it is not an established church.

    • Walker
      November 1, 2017, 3:21 pm

      JeffB, it looks like you didn’t read the article. Ofir says the state religion of Israel is Zionism, not Judaism.

      • JeffB
        November 1, 2017, 5:03 pm

        @Walker

        He is quite explicit in the article on his definition of a non-Zionist state, “It means, that one is not in rejection of a democratic, secular state, a state that is not a “Jewish state”, but that accepts Jews as Jews, as it allows religious freedom, as it separates religion from state.

    • Elizabeth Block
      November 1, 2017, 5:36 pm

      “1940s Zionists were divided on the role of religion. ” But not divided on the role of ethnicity – or, if they were, the ones who wanted Israel to be a state of all its citizens – names that come to mind are Hannah Arendt, Albert Einstein, and Judah Magnes – lost. There is to this day no such thing as Israeli nationality.

      As for Ireland – really? 150 years? I don’t think so! Maybe 30.

      • JeffB
        November 2, 2017, 7:39 am

        @Elizabeth

        But not divided on the role of ethnicity – or, if they were, the ones who wanted Israel to be a state of all its citizens – names that come to mind are Hannah Arendt, Albert Einstein, and Judah Magnes – lost

        Hannah Arendt and Albert Einstein weren’t Israelis. But absolutely Israelis have been divided on the role of ethnicity and citizenship all throughout history. Just to pick a few examples that are current debates there are Russian Christians which Shas party is extremely hostile to while the rest of Israel’s society is rather welcoming. The Labor party’s ethnic attitude towards Mizrahi Jews is one of the biggest reasons for Israel’s shift to the right. Early Zionists hadn’t really considered the role of Mizrahi Jews when the Palestinians started their attacks against the Jewish population in the 1920s they drove Mizrahi indigenous Jews (and Ottoman religious immigrants) into the arms of the Zionists. Zionism then had to address this issue. There was a similar issue in the 1950s when the Arab countries expelled their Jewish populations.

        Similarly on the Palestinians die. Circassians were originally classified as being Palestinians but have had their legal status changed and now serve in military sensitive roles. Something similar to what had happened to Druze earlier though mostly in the prestate days. The Israelis are trying to engage in something similar with ethnic Palestinian Christians.

        Part of what Zionists complain about when they talk about the demonization of Israel is a tendency to not look at actual policy and make blanket untrue statements about Israel. The reason you thought Israel has this blanket discriminatory policy is because you are getting your news about Israel from antizionist sources which almost always oversimplify and often simply lie about Israeli policy. Israeli ethnic politics in the real world are complex and nuanced dealing with all sorts of subgroups that have their own opinions and trends. The actual situation bears little resemblance to the version you are going to hear in leftist propaganda about “Jews” and “Palestinians”.

        There is to this day no such thing as Israeli nationality.

        Of course there is an Israeli nationality. That’s the nationality of the citizens of Israel, quite a lot of non-citizens in the area broadly influenced by Israel and broadly many children of expats. I think what you probably mean is that the courts have been unwilling to recognize an Israeli nation for legal purposes. To contradict your point above this is an active area of debate. There most certainly area members of the Knesset today that support the creation of an Israeli nationality which would allow Muslims willing to be loyal to Israel but who don’t want to convert to have higher obligations (military service) and greater privileges (no housing discrimination).

        In general though this is an area where the Western Left is simply intolerant. Israel is populated almost entirely from people whose origins were Byzantine (Orthodox Christians and Muslims) not the Western Roman Empire (Latin Rite Catholics and later Protestants). The West went through an evolution on the concept of nationality and state that the east didn’t. There are lots of issues in the Israeli / Palestinian conflict liking the Western European definition of nation instead of the Byzantine one is not one of them. Everyone involved in the conflict agrees with the Byzantine concepts and not the Western European concepts. A lot of your theology about religion and state are a product of the Reformation and the French Revolution. When you are dealing with Israel you are dealing with people for whom the Reformation and reactions to it are not part of their cultural heritage. In Eastern Europe the church and the state are still comfortably unified. Your choice of church is essentially a product of your ethnicity not your theology. A person is Greek Orthodox vs. Russian Orthodox because he’s Greek not because he holds that one does not need to take confession before every communion.

        If you talked to a typical Israeli they don’t even have the cultural background to even understand what you as a westerner mean by “separation of church and state” or how you were using “Israeli national” above. Their concept of both “state” and “religion” are too different from your concept of those terms. Israel really is a foreign country. I’ve never been able to understand why western leftists have so much trouble just accepting that Israelis aren’t westerners.

      • eljay
        November 2, 2017, 8:55 am

        || JeffB: … I’ve never been able to understand why western leftists have so much trouble just accepting that Israelis aren’t westerners. ||

        Blame Zionists and your Israeli government for continually promoting Israel as a “Western-style democracy” (and “the only (true) democracy in the Middle East”) and insisting that Israel has “shared common values” with the U.S. and other Western democracies.

      • amigo
        November 2, 2017, 9:05 am

        “Hannah Arendt and Albert Einstein weren’t Israelis” jeffy boy

        Wait a minute. Didn,t you claim that ALL Jews are responsible for what Israel does, ergo their opinion must matter.

        But not in jeffy boy,s selective zionist mind.Do I detect a fissure in the Tribal unity.

        I stopped reading the rest of your post at that point.I find hypocracy a terrible bore .

      • amigo
        November 2, 2017, 9:32 am

        ” I’ve never been able to understand why western leftists have so much trouble just accepting that Israelis aren’t westerners.”jeffy boy

        Hmmmm, better tell that to them.They are the ones claiming , Israel is a western style democracy and society.Must be all those blonde , blue eyed Israelis of european descent who so desperately wish to be part of the EU .

        Btw, I am sure circa 20% of Israelis don,t view themselves as Westerners but they don,t exist in your narrative , do they jeffy boy.

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