Thursday, December 10, 2009


Lighting a Candle or Cursing the Darkness

One interesting thing about left-wing anti-Zionism is that Zionism is in many ways a response to a situation that lefties generally seem to grok whilst righties don't get: namely that in so much of the world Judaism is not the "default identity" but rather that Jews are always "othered", historically violently so.

Zionism essentially is an ideology that says "well, if we Jews are othered in the rest of the world, let's form a state where we our identity is the default". Certainly one can debate the wisdom of this on secular and especially on Jewish grounds (viz, part of Jewish "chosen-ness" is that Judaism is not supposed to be a 'default identity' but a 'separate' -- kadosh -- one). But somehow the left seems to have a big beef with the idea that we Jews have figured out a way to get around this issue of 'othering' by going off and forming our own state. When I read posts like this (and do see the comments, in particular the responses to my comment), I sometimes wonder if so many of my fellow lefties simply feel that we Jews are condemned to be "the other" and for us to try to be "default" is a grave sin. And this condemnation (from proud "atheists" and "Deists") is certainly not theologically motivated -- one must wonder about the motivation ... and yet those same lefties wonder why we Jews consider them anti-Semitic?

OTOH, it could just be that lefties don't like the example of Zionists lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness of being "the other" because it sets a standard that cursing the darkness is simply not the best course of action. Of course, cursing the darkness is a lot more fun than lighting a candle, so who could blame lefties here. Still, while I would consider myself a lefty in part because I agree with the analysis of "the other" vs. "the default identity" (as well as because I am a firm believer in saving capitalism from itself via strong government regulation and a solid safety-net and even a fully mixed economy), I find it odd that so many lefties, after agreeing with this analysis so vehemently object to non-default groups trying to find constructive solutions to the problem of "otherness". I guess certain lefties really are Puritans who cannot stand non-elect groups trying to claim the status of the elect.

Update: what does it say about me that whenever I hear some pro-Israel apologist touting all the good things coming out of Israel and how "Israel is so careful when it wages necessary wars" I feel "you just don't get it ... do you?". And yet when I hear anti-Zionists talk all I can respond is "you just don't get it ... do you?". I wish pro-Israel apologists would pause for just one minute to think how they'd feel if a group of people following Native American religions with some Native American identities formed a homeland here and drove them out of their homes and then bombed the locations where they were able to re-settle (even if said people were justified about the bombings and were "careful" to "target" them). And I wish anti-Zionists would pause for just one minute to think about the Jewish experience -- they seem to have empathy for everyone else, but they can't even bother to really listen to the Jewish/Zionist narrative before dismissing it? I thought the left was supposed to be all about listening to alternative narratives -- but I guess it's really about dismissing some narratives as "colonialist" while promoting others? How is that liberal? How is that anything but Puritan?

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