Friday, June 11, 2010

From the article Two-State Dissonance by Gershom Gorenberg:
What strikes me as I listen to the family fight between the hawkish Jewish establishment and other American Jews -- the pro-peace Zionists, the furious anti-Zionists, the "don't ask me about Israel" non-Zionists -- is that they're all dealing with a shared family problem: They have a hard time fitting Israel as it actually is into some of their deepest assumptions about the world....

...As Festinger wrote, one way of dealing with facts that "disconfirm" a belief is to try to convince as many people as possible that the belief is true: "If more and more people can convinced that the system of belief is correct, than clearly it must, after all be correct. " [emphasis in the original]. Hence, the efforts of establishment Jewish groups to convince us that the year is always 1938, that Israel is about to be wiped out, and that it is a paragon of liberal values serve a psychological as well as political need. Another response to dissonance is to accept that the belief is wrong - and then direct the fury of the betrayed at "the God that failed." Hence the obsessive anger of some Jewish anti-Zionists. Yet another response is to simply try not to think about the problem. As Beinart notes, it's the response of many American Jews.

I don't expect to settle the family argument, but I'll note here: Yes, Jews can be as stupid as anyone else. They have no inborn immunity to being racist, intolerant, or brutal.

However, there's also something decidedly unprogressive about believing that the country of the Jews must be progressive from the outset, inherently liberal, with no effort needed. Progressives are supposed to be people willing to work very hard for a better society. The only thing that a state of the Jews offers is an arena in which Jews can work for such a society, without the excuse that other people are responsible for the failures. For American Jews willing to look at the illiberalism of Israel in 2010, turning away isn't the only answer. There are organizations ready to harness your dissatisfaction. Don't give up, get involved.

Green emphasis mine.

The other thing I'd add: the weight and, occasionally, the burden of Jewish history seems to demand that all of us as Jews have to have a position on Israel - and that's correct.

What we who don't live in Israel haven't gotten over is the idea that a Jewish state is not an isolated entity fighting against the world. Jewish people, after all, are human. We are influenced by everyone around us, even those who would wipe us off the planet if they could (and no, it isn't 1938, but those folks are still around). The Neturei Karta view that only the Messiah can found a Jewish homeland is convenient and excuses current imperfections and mistakes. That's not what we can afford to subscribe to in Israel or in any other Jewish organizations today. That's not reality. It's well past time for all Jewish people to start facing it head-on.

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