For over a century, liberal Zionists have attempted to reconcile universal humanism with Zionist nationalism. A review of two prominent thinkers who failed. By Ran Greenstein The prospect of impending doom facing Liberal Zionism has been raised time and again in recent months, from the inane apologetics of Ari Shavit to the more sophisticated discussions of Jonathan Freedland in the NY Review of Books and Roger Cohen in the New York Times, culminating with the highly critical approach of Antony Lerman, also in the Times. While the war in Gaza played a role in this wave of lamentation, it is in…Read More... | 34 Comments
A name is more human, more familiar and more expansive than any label can ever be. It is something that everyone in the world has in common. It is therefore in that name that I refuse to step in line behind a massacre masquerading as an existential and moral crusade. By Natasha Roth "Dyke, go live in Gaza." This directive was sent to me yesterday afternoon through Facebook, from a complete stranger. A little while later another message arrived, with an attached picture of the body of a murdered child, still lying on the floor of his bedroom – the…Read More... | 6 Comments
Liberal Zionism has had 65 years to prove Israel can indeed be both a Jewish state and a liberal democracy. Given its track record, is it time to put the ideology to rest? By David Sheen Imagine if you would, for a minute, that Liberal Zionists have been proven correct: that it is totally possible for a state that accords privileges to members of one specific ethnic group only - Jews, in this case - to be a flourishing democracy. Imagine that Israel is indeed a Light Unto the Nations, and that people from all the other nations who see the…Read More... | 17 Comments
With Israel and Palestine no closer to a peaceful two-state resolution 20 years after the start of Oslo, the burden of proof is on its believers, not its detractors, settler leader Dany Dayan says. Even the woman set to be in charge of any future peace process, Tzipi Livni, is speaking about the need to formulate backup plans. Tzipi Livni, the only person in the soon-to-be-formed Israeli government who genuinely believes in the importance of the two-state peace process, splashed cold water on the prospect of it ever happening Tuesday. It’s time to start looking at alternative plans in case…Read More... | 26 Comments
Jewish nationalism, in its belligerence and paranoia, is watching the world pass it by - and the overwhelming majority of Jews in America, Israel and elsewhere do not want that to happen to them. The split between humanistic Judaism and nationalistic Judaism goes back a very long time, but in recent years, the complete takeover of both Israel and the Republican Party by nationalist radicals has obviously sharpened that split, nearly creating schism within Judaism. (By "Judaism," I don't mean just the religion but all of Jewish civilization.) Every Israeli election is a battle between these two opposing Jewish camps,…Read More... | 13 Comments
Well, that's a painful visual metaphor if there ever was one. A young Israeli man by the name of Yisrael Yehudai (lit: Israel Judean) has decided to express his hatred for Arabs not by a sticker, and not by actually attacking anyone (to my knowledge), but by carving the words "Death to Arabs" into his own arm. He posted this as a profile picture back in July, and the pic recently went viral: Although the immediate reaction is indignation that someone would be hateful enough to do that to himself - our man didn't make do with the mild discomfort,…Read More... | 22 Comments
Nationalism is inherently illiberal in its distinction between citizens and non-citizens. But are all nationalisms equally illiberal? And should we hold Israel to different standards than other countries that claim to be liberal democracies? By Sean Lee Two of my colleagues make the point that it is not only Zionism, or Jewish nationalism, that is illiberal, but rather nationalism in and of itself. I think that there is a lot of truth in this, especially given that much modern nationalism is rooted in 19th century European nationalism, which was decidedly illiberal in the way we define liberalism today. What I…Read More... | 44 Comments
Everyone knows that Israel has become a much more racist and nationalist society over the past decade, and particularly since Bibi Netanyahu came to power and formed the most right wing coalition to ever rule the land. So, I can’t say - taking into consideration the persons involved - that the boycott law or loyalty oath come as much as a surprise. And I’m not terribly surprised when foreign workers are deported, when Arabs can’t live in Jewish communities or when Ethiopian Jewish children can’t learn with the white folk. But lately I have this feeling that the nationalism is…Read More... | 50 Comments
The recent spike in ultra-nationalist legislation is by no means confined to MKs and grand issues like separation of powers and freedom of speech: The Education Ministry has released new regulations stipulating that beginning next year, all kindergarten teachers in the Jewish sector will start each new week with raising the flag and singing the anthem. They will also be required to teach national symbols to the children once a week, so that by Independence day (within six months) all the children know the national anthem by heart.... the ministry told Haaretz these regulations will not be implemented in the…Read More... | 13 Comments
The shift in terminology in the prayer reflects more than just a victory in the tug-of-war between secular and religious factions within the IDF, but rather deeper changes underway in society as a whole. Haaretz reports this morning that Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has issued an order altering the phrasing of the official military memorial prayer. If for decades, the prayer began: "Let the people of Israel remember its sons and daughters," then from now on it will open with "Let God remember His songs and daughters." This brings to an end a tug-of-war over the prayer that has…Read More... | 7 Comments
The following gem has been circulating the web in the past few days. The author, music critic and blogger Guy Hajaj, says he took the pic at a synagogue in Akko. I'd spin some yarn about how it exemplifies Israel going from trying to move on from the Holocaust to being perpetually consumed by it. But the sign speaks for itself, really: EVEN IF YOU'RE FEELING REALLY GOOD REMEMBER THE HOLOCAUST. -Yaakov So what happened to "Don't worry, be happy?" The Holocaust. The Holocaust is what happened.Read More... | 4 Comments
Getting to Nabi Saleh is not easy. The army closes all entrances very early on a Friday, the day which has seen demonstrations taking place for the past two years. This forces Israeli and international activists that wish to join the unarmed and largely nonviolent demonstrations to park kilometres away and hike through valleys and up small hills to reach the village. Israelis soldiers were inside the village long before the demonstration began on Friday, creating an uncomfortable air of uncertainly amongst villagers. Adding to the uncertainty were the aggressive comments of one particular group of soldiers who had taken…Read More... | 43 Comments
"I was struck by the similarity between the role gay rights play in Israeli national politics and the role it plays in some European countries, specifically Netherlands, where the conference was held. In both contexts the self-perception of the state as being committed to sexual equality is used to justify exclusionary politics that are especially targeted at Arabs and Muslims." Notes following the Amsterdam Sexual Nationalism conference By Aeyal Gross When I saw the call for papers for the Amsterdam Sexual Nationalism conference, which suggested a focus on Europe, I decided to try my luck and send in a paper proposal. I…Read More... | 13 Comments
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