I can probably confirm that the theme of vengeance permeates Israeli society so deeply that it cannot be rationally separated into layers. It's there all the time, one undercurrent among many others, seamlessly connecting every persecution that was ever visited upon any Jews anywhere. The way this comes to pass is simple: imbue every study of history and every bible class with the recurrent tales of jewish suffering, colorfully illustrated and tied up with the larger history of whatever place, whatever bad thing happened to whatever jewish community.
The suffering inflicted upon the jews is always presented as a direct result of their Jewishness. This idea is reinforced over and over with the notion that this persecution is foundationally irrational. What rationales may have existed anywhere for pogroms or for exiles or for ghettoization are usually brushed aside with a sentence or two, leaving behind an impression that for the goyim, persecuting jews and anti-semitic manifestations of antipathy towards jews, were all in a day's work.
As students go through the grades in Israel, the European history of the Jews, up to and including the Holocaust is tied together with the wars against Palestinians in Israel. The Jewish victims, like the jewish soldiers, wearing the white hats. Everyone else is black hat, with all the different tales - in their excruciating details - merging together until the boundaries between them dissolve in the mind's eye.
That's how the natural desire for vengeance due to unjust persecution so easily transforms facelss nazis into Abaya clad Palestinians. To the observer outside israel, this may not always be obvious. Not even to jewish people who were steeped in stories of progroms in Poland and nazi Holocaust. Kossacks on horseback, booted Nazis, Catholic bishops in Castille leading Jews on their auto-da-fe, Romans laying siege to Massada and Keffiah wearing fedayeen attacking a Kibbutz, all meld together into a single tapestry.
AS you study all that suffering, with all the gory imagery laid out several times over in the course of K-12 education, you grow a core of inexplicable hatred and desire for revenege that take residence in the deeper recesses of the heart. It is that core which allows israelis to have next to no compassion towards Palestinians.
I lay the blame squarely at the feet of israel's education system that is designed to instill just that kind of coldness towards others who are cast into the role of adversaries. Never mind the reasons for the adversity. It's enough that they be painted as ones who'd do the jews harm, whether true or not. That is how young 18 year old people can shove an old woman down the stairs and terrorize children. That is how they can kill young men - and women - without batting an eyelash. Without the core of cold steel buried in the heart, they might shed a tear or two, and god forbid, hesitate.
The loss of compassion born from deliberate shrinking of comprehension for the human condition is one of the great tragedies that happened to the Jewish people of israel (and by extension to many of their zionist sympathizers outside). Unfortunately for them all, the absence of empathy and respect for universal human rights is also how Judaism lost its soul, and became nazified.
Rabbi Heschel, and others like him, who sought to contribute to a Jewish theology mired in the religious, are, have become, irrelevant. Their thoughts, their writings, their descriptions of jewish life are doomed to be read by ever fewer, relatively speaking. Even in Israel, of the majority of the great Jewish writers, who were concerned with the 'Jewish' part of the vauned 'Jewish life' (ie, not so much with 'life'), only those who specialize in Jewish studies read them, and even then it is but a cursory reading for most who are not scholars. A few excerpts make their way into a High School text here and there, but those are quickly forgotten, submerged in a much larger pool where it is the tweets from the likes of Zuckerberg that are considered "essential readings".
Worse yet, Ellis' visions of the prophetic, as opposed to the exilic, as values to live by, are also doomed to the book shelves of the few studious one who still have books.
Unfortunately for the Jews of the world, their tradition of the Jewish, something many sought to equate with the universal and the humanistic, have fallen into disrepute. Indeed, with the spectre of the evil ultra-racist, bigotted and rudeness exporting israel looming above everything else, those few good books stand as sad witnesses to the decline and corruption of Judaism itself. Not just as a religion, but as a way of life - now equated mostly with oppression, authoritarianism, ethnic supremacy and nastiness towards one's fellow humans.
In one of the great ironies of history, Israel which sought to be seen as a "light unto the nations" has become equated with a "blight upon [western] civilization". That is not only a tragedy but is a fabulous fable about arrogance and its spiritual demise.
as long as they can sign up Russia (who netty has been getting real pals with lately)
Appearances notwithstanding, I wouldn't be so sure about the chumminess here. Russia does what it has to do to keep Israel calm about Syria. They got essentially a guarantee that they will not interfere when the operation by the SAA to recover Daraa province was going on. That took some doing.
The way Russian do things is "first things first". Their main purpose now is to secure Syria - especially all the main population centers. It may seem like they are giving way to israel, but everyone knows that these two - israel and Russia - are heading towards a conflict. A major one over Iran. That's why yahoo keeps taking little trips to Moscow. And he keeps receiving more vague "assurances' that Iran will not get "too close", which is left to be defined by each party as they wish.
FWIW, some have already pointed out that the current villification of Russia, and Putin in particular, that's part of the propaganda machine in the US, has tacit israeli - and Jewish support (no, not from the progressive wing, of course, which recognizes the Muh Russia thing to be the hoax that it is). There is a strong "behind the scenes" anti-Russia PR effort that Israeli elements are part of. Right along with many from the Russian-Jewish-American community. They all have their reasons of course, but ultimately, israel knows that it is up to Russia - and with it China - to circumscribe its dire plans vis-a-vis Iran. So they know that it was Russia that upended their plans (concoted with Saudi-Arabia/US/Qatar with Turkey as a side party) about regime change in Syria. They have seen the military capabilities Russia displayed in Syria as well as the general competence demonstrated by its strategic approach, where military success is accompanied by diplomatic/reconciliation efforts.
So Israeli planners know very well (at least as well as I do) that ultimately Russia is the biggest impediment to their nefarious plans. A Russia supported by China is a formidable adversary, of course (and the Chinese are busy playing their own little games re israel, but that's another story). But right now everyone is in a state of pause.
An aside: the pause will be broken once Turkey decides whether it wants to change camps. That's why the idlib and Lathakia plans are on hold (or seem to be). naturally, Trump administration is doing what it can to push Turkey away, so waiting seems by far the wisest policy.
I look at things a bit differently.
Asking a candidate for office - who has not yet been elected! - to weigh in on one vs two-state solution is ludicrous. What kind of an expectation is that, when the Palestinians themselves have still not come out in force one way or another, and when we - who unlike AOC - know quite well what's really going on - are still arguing about this or that version of whatever? and when someone like Finkelstein is on the record as saying - nah, the only international consensus is on some 2-state illusion....
Someone earlier pointed out that the 2 -state "solution" is a chimera, and that it is. The Israelis have no intention of going through with any "sensible" solution along these lines. On the contrary, the israelis have every intention of annexing Area C in the near future (ie, as soon as they judge they can get away with it, politically speaking). That as the power wielding Jewish donors in the US have every intention of keeping the charade of some ephemeral "2-state" up for as long as possible. Of course, not so for the up and coming and the wide awake other Jewish Americans, some of whom are younger and some just prey to reason and sanity. But this later cohort does not hold the purse strings, and opine as much as they want to, ultimately it is the donors that make whatever political reality they want to. just as donors do in every other area that's ever been brought up for political debate in the great US of A.
AOC, like Bernie, needs to walk this tight rope carefully to survive politically. She just got a rude introduction to the"facts of life" of a US politician. Much like the Palestinians, the American politician - even a new fresh face - ARE NOT the masters of their own fate, or their publicly stated opinions. Doesn't matter AOC did not avail herself of corporate monies. The pressure of the lobbies is exerted with or without it. There are ways, as anyone familiar with the mafia knows to get "action" on the political front. Which in the US is every bit as corrupt as the mafia ever was, except that unlike the mafia it pretends there is actually a Democracy somewhere. Whatever. . Poor AOC, I almost feel for her, because I/P is just the beginning of her true political education, which includes, unfortunately for her, learning to swim in the swamp, while holding one's nose. It's kind of a bargain with the devil, but heck, what's the alternative, some would say (some who are not me + a few other poor souls)?
Soon she'll find out that she better come out with the "Mah Russia" line. At best she can "finness" it, though this may not be enough. And that, of course, it just wouldn't do to mention Yemen. Neither would it be so 'smart" to point to the monstrous military budget (with all its tentacles) is the very one to cough up the dough for eg, medicare for All. No other place, as it's all been cut to the bone already.
One can go on, but for her sake and for the sake of future progressive candidates, I can only hope she'll l;earn the tricks of the rope tight walk, or else she might have to join in on that rope-a-dope, known as "American Politics".
VQTilley: I don’t know what Danaa means by “this scheme.” If Dr. Harel has a scheme, it would seem to be a secular democratic state.
I don't think I used the word "scheme" - you may conflate my comment with that of Echi...following it. I deliberately tried to use a neutral word, as in "entity" meaning, in this context, a political entity, such as a bi-national state. I believe that's what Harel was referring to and my comments addressed that kind of an outcome, speculative though it is. Harel specifically referred to Quebec to illustrate his point that a bi-lingual, bi-cultural state can exist happily ever after, even as part of, and side by side with a larger entity, namely Canada.
Harel went on to state that he is willing to exist within such an entity, which almost by definition means something other than a purely Jewish state. Of course, this type of a bi-national Israel can only exist within a larger secular context. One that would be more democratic as it would respond to the needs of ALL its citizens, whichever religion they happen to follow, and whatever ethnicity sets them apart. Belgium and Quebec-in-Canada are good examples for such co-existence, as is Switzerland with its cantons, as was Syria (before the regime change operation) though the latter had its flaws (yet was still unique in the Middle East, extending a measure of interfaith tolerance to most, if not all its citizens. Even the Palestinian refugees were allowed a large cil role in that Syria, unlike in many other countries, Israel included).
I do not disagree with this as a sensible model for modern times. But as you may have noted I had some doubts that the rapidly rising religious and ultra-religious segments of Jewish part of Israel will go along with such an arrangement; principally because "sensible" is not part of the zealous Judaic sub-culture that arose in Israel. To understand why that is one does need to read through Shahak's book, I think, because that streak of great intolerance was deeply embedded within the medieval jewish Ashkenazi societies from which Israel sprang.
Unfortunately, the Mizrahi version of Judaism which was considerably more tolerant (originally) did not prevail in Israel as those who came from Arabic and Persian societies were relegated to second or even third class citizenry. So nowadays, of course, the Mizrahi are super-zealous as they try to distinguish themselves from Arab societies (from whence they sprang) by hanging on to some elusive Jewish supremacist concepts that were not indigenous to their parents and grandparents. I say "of course" because that's often the way them who were second and third class try to raise their own self-esteem. Especially as whatever culture their ancestors have had was erased near completely by modern Israel. So naturally they hang on to whatever gives them a sense of pride, and "Jewish" is about it.
Also to this:
Danaa: sweepingly negating the sense of ethnic community shared by Jews through the centuries really isn’t helpful, I don’t think. If people feel such affinity, that’s all such identities are. . I rather agree with all Keith had to say. I would however add, that just "feeling an affinity" is not enough, by itself, to assert cultural commonality. The European and American jews do not speak Hebrew and Israeli culture, as most who grow up there understand it, is deeply deeply tied up with that language. Hebrew is vastly different than English for example, not only in tone, in touch and in feel, but is distinguished by its much much smaller vocabulary (an order of magnitude). The language thrives in its brevity and compactness, but only the very erudite speakers of Hebrew have any use for nuance. By contrast, English, as spoken and felt by the majority of, say American jews, is quite nuanced, and that nuance, the subtlety of the language crept into Jewish-American culture, which unsurprisingly is a fairly intellectual one.
Yes, there may be some shared history in Europe but by now that shared history is 1-2 centuriies old, and most, if not all of the culture that came from that old Europe (pre-WWII) was conducted and lived in Yiddish. The expressions, the jokes, the humor, the literature, the customs, and the interpretations of the medieval jewish sages, were all embedded within a Yiddish culture. One that israel saw fit to obliterate, just as it obliterated nearly all vestiges of of the Mizrahi's culture. In the US, what we know for example as East Coast jewish culture (and I am speaking of the mostly secular or mildly religious segments) sprang from Yiddish culture, its love of the theatre, its respect for a certain brand of wry humor, and its embrace of tolerance as a paramount virtue. Not so in israel (and I know I am generalizing here) which grew its own theatrical arts, music (much of it love-of-land themed), poetry, literature, etc., just about all of it in Hebrew.
So, there may be some "ethnic affinity" as you say, but there is still a very small intersection between American and Israeli cultures. I would go as far and say that there is only some "sentimental affinity" based on the fact that both people pay some respect to an older history, and to some very old scriptures (the Tanakh). Even those with vastly different emphasis.
Others have elaborated on the many differences between the different "Jewish" cultures inside and outside israel much better and more learnedly than I do. But those who have some familiarity with both can attest to the diverging trajectories, which is what I addressed, at least superficially.
RoHa, yes, the economic dimension is a critical part of my dire prognosis for this theocracy now being foisted on the world. Originally I had a whole paragraph devoted to this aspect also, but removed it in the interest of brevity - my new commitment (made very year, only to be broken within months, if not days).
You are right of course, that the near-exponential rise in the ultra-orthodox (Haredi) population comes with a major economic penalty as their contribution to the larger israeli economy is woefully low, be it as labor or as consumers. They are effectively a productivity drag on the country in almost every way one can imagine. They contribute much less than they consume, in welfare and in healthcare, and are also a net drag on the culture, that vaunted Israeli culture. After all, like you said, no singing and dancing from them. No technology either.
Already, the inequality index for israel is nearly the worst of all OECD countries, the US included. And that is exacerbated by the religious segment - both the haredi and the Mizrahi orthodox, which is also a major problem area.
The other dimension in the impoding culture of that israel is corruption, with the Rabbinate a major force in that. You cannot have religious authorities scrambling for maximum influence and zealosly guarding their role in civic life, without corruption being a side-effect and without the larger culture taking a major hit. This corruption is endemic to israeli culture making it a bit like Sicily, where the mafia rules over most aspects of life.
In the total absence of any cultural element common to the different species of “Jews”, the only “cultural Jewishness” that can be invoked with a semblance of reality is the Zionist entity culture.
(1) I think that in this connection (cf. my comment) it's important to differentiate between "Jews" of Israel and "Jews" of the world, even if it's clear from the subtext. The two are not only on diverging trajectories in their attitudes and practice of the religion, "Judaism", but also culturally. The Jewish Israeli's culture is that something known as "Israeli" culture, and it wouldn't do to deny the existence of a culture that is intimately wrapped up with the language spoken there, namely, Hebrew. It is not all wrapped up with religion and not always with extreme nationalism, though some of it may be. I could go on more about that but another comment another time. For now, I'll just throw in the fact that it is very much a Meditarranean type culture in many ways where the sea and the sun and political cynicism play a big role. . "Jewish culture" outside Israel is another thing altogether but generally gives more prominent role to religious symbols and oftentimes, an outsize role for zionism. Both in ways that are basically in a cultural vacuum, since they only have the languages spoken in their own countries to wrap it in. The French have theirs and the American theirs, and in each one "Jewish values" as interpreted in thier countries are dominant themes, with the "Jewish culture" grafted unto them.
(2) my own comment to which you replied had to do with the depiction of zionism and nationalism take-over as described by Yossi Gurvitz in that article about a week ago here. Ideally I'd tie them together - his diagnosis and my prognosis in more detail but I need to leave that to another day.
With regard to that elusive bi-national entity, I would go further than Harel and suggest that such an entity is essential to saving what can be of the israel project. Indeed, I maintained for some time now, that the jewish israelis desperately need the palestinians to be with them in such an endeavor. Or else, it is the very soul of Israel that will be lost, not to mention what's left of the country's reputation.
I believe - along with many israelis - that the encroaching religious takeover of the country is not far off. Already, the religious school system is gaining by leaps and bounds. Already, over 60% (need to check latest) of elementary school children are in schools affiliated with one orthodox Jewish movement or another. Already, more and more people in Israel - including many who were raised secular - are becoming more religious as time goes on - for any number of reasons. May be because religion is the one thing that allows them to self justify an apartheid state. It is for example, estimated that by 2025 over 30% of the Jewish population will be ultra-orthodox, with another 30-35% orthodox or at least deeply observant, among which are the many who identify as orthodox nationalists.
That is changing the discourse in Israel already, because, as many there understand (not in the US of course) Judaism, as taught in Israel, is a deeply reactionary variant of the religion. This is not the more tolerant Reform or Conservative Judaism known to Americans. The Israeli version of Judaism, or even more "Jewish culture", is on a trajectory leading away from the principles of enlightenment (Haskala) not towards a more inclusive future.
Yossi Gurvitz penned an article here just a few days ago, addressing some of these concerns, stated quite uncompromisingly (and he should know, having been raised in that very Jewish tradition). I am trying to go a step beyond his dire diagnosis and prognosticate about an even darker future ahead.
The only way out for the slowly suffocating secular population of israel is to team up with the Palestinians, and create new models of co-operation. The seculars of Israel need not only the israeli-Palestinians, but as many as they can have on their side from the West bank and Gaza. Sure, many Palestinians are religious too, but even among those who are, their version of Islam does not preclude tolerance of others. At least not in the way reactionary forms of nationalist Judaism - the kind I was taught - do. many among the Palestinians also identify more as culturally Arab than a people set religiously apart. Not unlike Jews in israel who consider themselves culturally Jewish, rather than religiously so. Unfortunately, a great subset of the latter are quite nationalistic, often blindly so. But not everyone and not across the board.
Can such a rapprochement happen? I don't know. But stranger things have happened in history. The will is certainly not there now, but as Israel moves ever closer to a theocracy, and as it becomes increasingly obvious that this is happening, there is a possibility that there'll be at least some in israel willing to look at more radical options for a way out of perdition.
It might all happen too late, of course, and very bad things will happen long before reason will come to prevail. But as harel's piece shows, there are those in Israel, who at least are willing to start thinking outside the box.