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My great-grandmother: Orthodox and anti-Zionist

The Jewish diaspora didn’t always march lockstep behind Israel. My great-grandmother–who escaped pogroms and lost family in the Holocaust–was an anti-Zionist.

Rampant anti-Semitism drove my great-grandmother from Eastern Europe. There’d been pogroms; there were restrictions on the type of work Jews could do. My family made their way to New York City with little more than the clothes on their backs; the relatives they’d left behind disappeared during the Holocaust, never to be heard from again.

So when the United Nations voted in favor of the partition of Palestine in 1947, my great-grandmother’s son, my grandfather, rejoiced. He ran into the street and danced. He sang HaTikva. And when fighting broke out in Palestine, he decided that he would make the trip east and join the Haganah, which later became the Israeli army. Sure, he was only 16, but he would lie about his age and enlist.

It was my great-grandmother—an Orthodox Jew who’d fled anti-Semitism, who’d lost family and friends in the Holocaust—who stopped him.

“No way are you going to fight the Arabs,” she said. She was an anti-Zionist and, as such, there was a lot packed into those words.

Even though I never met her, I always find myself thinking about my great-grandmother a lot this time of year. This is the period in Israel when we enter the cycle of nationalist holidays that starts with Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Day). Never mind that Israel treats Holocaust survivors so poorly that they have protested the issue. Never mind that many Holocaust survivors are still struggling to survive in Israel and that, according to Ynet, that state is cutting their benefits by twenty percent. Never mind that Israel cynically uses the Holocaust as a political tool to defend indefensible policies of occupation and expansion and to beat the war drums against Iran.

After Yom HaShoah, the flag-waving continues with Yom HaZikaron (Remembrance Day) and culminates with Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day). Stacked one on top of the other, the three holidays maximize feelings of victimhood, self-righteousness, and unity. For many Israelis, that the sad Yom HaZikaron rolls straight into the joyful Yom HaAtzmaut gives a feeling of triumph, of exhilaration. It’s intoxicating. And it’s dangerous.

Maybe that’s why my great-grandmother didn’t want her son to fight in a war that wasn’t her own. I think she understood that Israel wasn’t the solution to the Jewish people’s problems. Today, I’m watching the bits of democracy that exist here tremble under the weight of the occupation. I watch the conversation about Israel grow increasingly divisive in the Diaspora. I consider the vibrant Jewish cultures and languages that were virtually wiped out for the sake of forging an Israeli identity. I see Jews turn away from Judaism because of Israel’s ill-doings. I wonder if my great-grandmother saw all this coming, if she knew the trouble that lay ahead.

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    1. the other joe

      Did she stay in NY for the rest of her life, Mya? Also, were many of the original Haganah from the USA? It would be interesting to know about how the existing Orthodox Jewish community in the USA treated the refugees and how many of them went on to fight in the ME. It seems fitting to think about the Holocaust survivors today, thanks.

      Reply to Comment
    2. A

      Mya, its the first time I really like something you write..

      Reply to Comment
    3. XYZ

      (1) Your great-grandmother was on the wrong side of Jewish history. The time for the Jewish return to the Land had come and it could not be delayed any longer.
      (2) The only reason you can live in Jerusalem is because of all those “militant Zionists” who fought for Israel and gave us the ability to be in Jerusalem. Had the Jews lost the war in 1948, the Jews would have been expelled or forced out of the country, just like they were expelled or forced out of all the other Arab/Muslim countries of the Middle East.
      (3) It is the Palestinians who take the prize for what you call “victimization and self-righteousness”. It was no less than Avrum Burg who told the Palestinians that the success of the Zionist movement was based on the fact that when they were offered something , they took it without rejecting it because it wasn’t perfect.

      Reply to Comment
    4. the other joe

      @xyz – harsh. have more respect for the views of people, particularly elders, who disagree with you and your view of history.

      Reply to Comment
    5. XYZ

      I wonder what your Orthodox grandmother would think about the degeneration of Jewish life in America…the mass assimilation, intermarriage, decline in Jewish oberservance and identity, the moral decline due to the secular, consumerist, materialist culture and value-system in the US. Conversely, Jewish life is thriving in Israel and getting strong overall, against what you claim in your piece.
      The Jewish birthrate in the US is below replacement levels, in Israel it is above it and INCREASING. The Jewish future is in Israel…America served as a good way-station from the traditional Jewish communities of Europe and the Middle East, virtually all of which were destroyed, to the ultimate Jewish renewal and revival in Eretz Israel. However, it has served its purpose but now is just another dead-end for the Jews, whether or not the Jewish community in the US realizes it or not.

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    6. BOOZ

      As for the war drums , I am not sure on which side of the border they are beating . Did I hear anything on this side akin to “wipe out so-and-so from the pages of history”?

      My dad was a member of Hashomer Hatzair between the 2 world wars in Rumania. Instead of making alya , he went to France to study in an engineering school.

      Had he made alya, he would have partcipated in something instead of staying 5 years in a POW camp (he had enlisted in the Foreign Legion).

      Mya, sorry to say so but your reconstruction of your great-grandmother views is but your own fantasy.

      Reply to Comment
    7. booz: how patronizing and condescending of you to try to speak for my family. it is well known in my family that my great-grandmother, like many orthodox jews of her day, was anti-zionist. period. i will not allow YOU, someone who doesn’t know a single member of my family, to try to reconstruct my family history. just because you don’t like my family history doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

      further, you’re right, no one has said anything about “wiping” israel out. even dan meridor admits that was a mistranslation of ahmadinejad : http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4216986,00.html

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    8. XYZ

      As I understand it, Ahmedinejad supposedly never said that Iran will wipe Israel out. What he has said is something to the effect that it is a cancer and a danger to all of mankind and will definitely be wiped off the pages of history. He is leaving it to everyone’s imagination as to how it will happen. Since the vast majority of Jews in Israel aren’t peacefully going to wipe themselves off the pages of history, then how is it going to happen unless someone like Iran takes positive action to rescue humanity from the Zionst curse? Only people like those whom Lenin called “useful idiots” (those in the West who believed his Bolshevik propaganda) can say he ONLY means that it will happen peacefully. One CAN NOT rule out him meaning more violent actions.

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    9. caden

      There has been a drastic DECREASE in the number of Jews killed since the establishment of Israel vs any similar time period that came before. Post holocaust without Israel Judaism would be finished except for small poskets of hasids who would be intelelctual curiosities.

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    10. caden: a majority of jews actually live OUTSIDE of israel. in statistics 101, we learn that correlation doesn’t equal causation. just because less jews have been killed since israel was created does not mean that the reason is israel itself. and that a majority of jews live in the diaspora actually suggests that the two have nothing to do with one another.

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    11. booz: no, i deleted your comment because i felt it was irrelevant and does nothing to push the discourse forward. best, mya

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    12. Richard Witty

      The significance of the criticism of your citation of your great-grandmother, is that you are in fact using her to support your opinion, not so much independently articulate her reasoning (which you likely don’t know).

      There are also MANY stories, of Jewish refugees in Eastern Europe, who needed a haven to come to after returning to their villages to find that they were still hated, still chased from their homes. (My mother-in-law was a first-person example. Tens of thousands others, maybe hundreds of thousands.)

      I have met many elders that have cited a gross change in their status in Europe and US in particular resulting from sympathy for unjust victims of the holocaust, multiplied by admiration of the bootstrapping and actual grass-roots community and economic development that Israel achieved.

      Israel is a tarnished jewel (needing determined reform), but not a fraud, not an original sin, not an abuse of democracy.

      Your grand-mother provides a suggestion, an interpretation, not yet a truth. Let it be that, a suggestion, an inquiry only, a search for truth rather than a predetermined conclusion.

      Reply to Comment
    13. BOOZ

      Richard :

      Lucky you, I had been posting here to convey exactly the same idea, my posts have been deleted twice……

      Reply to Comment
    14. XYZ

      The fact that Jews are more or less safe in the US, Europe and other places today IS BECAUSE OF THE EXISTENCE OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL. The fact that Jews are respected around the world is because of the state of Israel. This includes anti-Zionist Satmar Hasidim in New York, no matter how much they may deny it. It is a historical fact that before 1948 Jews were considered garbage by much of humanity. Jewish blood was cheap. Jews were largely viewed as pathetic cowards plus other unsavory things. The British thought they could impose their own way on Palestine’s Jews because they thought the Holocaust had proved that the Jews were finished. They were surprised instead when the Jews rose up in armed revolt against them. They though right up May 1948 that the Jews would beg them to stay in order to protect them from the Arabs. Instead the Jews fought and defended themselves. This made people around the world wake up and notice that the Jews were not the same as they were before 1945. Every Jew around the world must be thankful for what the Jews of Israel did in order to bring Jewish pride and toughness to the world’s attention.
      THE WORLD RESPECTS TOUGH, PROUD PEOPLE, NOT ‘PATHETIC VICTIMS’, unlike whwat that Progressive/Left seems to think.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Leen

      Sorry what’s the correlation between Israel and the safety of the Jewish diaspora? If anything the jewish diaspora is safe in the Western liberal democracies is because of the overthrow of totalitarianism, and its exorcition from Europe. As for the US, I was not aware that Jews were exclusively discriminated against, in fact I would argue that there are many other minority groups who suffered more than the Jews in the US. For all I know, the US never participated in the Holocaust, never had a programme to exterminate Jews, so I would argue that Jews were always safe in America.

      Reply to Comment
    16. caden

      Mya, you have the correlation backwards. Israel has insured the safety of Jews in the diaspora by its very existence. In fact this entire question was settled at Treblinka. Your grandmother was an out outlier in 1948. And would be an outlier today.

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    17. A

      I think this was exactly what Mya did, suggesting an alternative viewpoint, in the name of here grand-grandmother. It is a very personal post, and its why I liked it, although I’m not sure I agree with everything. It made me think of things from a different viewpoint, and I like to do that.
      Particularly I felt connected with a point made in the last paragraph. The holocaust erased many Jewish communities, and evaporated Jewish life in many places. But the establishment of Israel caused the same thing to many more Jewish communities which disappeared both physically when their members immigrated to Israel, and culturally when they assimilated into the Israeli society. It might be a good thing for many many reasons, but it is also sad. We lost so much in the process in ways we don’t even begin to realize.

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    18. AYLA

      this is really moving, Mya. Thank you.

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    19. Jill

      Interesting perspective(s):
      Don’t do unto others what you find loathesome to yourselves.
      The fact that Israel does exist does not excuse its citizens and supporters from the above. As such I think Mya makes a good point of pointing out the danger of the “victimhood” meme. Each “side” has taken it to extremes and it wounds everyone, perpetuating a cycle.
      In the end it comes down to making a better decision, one of building a future together. As such equality and dignity must prevail. Sharing is good. A messianic era demands it. If not lessons will not have been learned and the cycle of destruction continues. Each person makes a difference. Choose a better future for all.

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    20. Yuval

      According to personal communication corroborated by Wikipedia (if you consider that a reliable source), Jews were discriminated against in admission to Ivy league universities in the early 20th century. This is also mentioned in a New Yorker piece, “Getting In”.

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    21. Mitchell Cohen

      @Mya, I’m SINCERELY glad your great-grandmother made it safely to America, as I am thankful my great-grandparents got the heck out of Poland and the Ukraine when they did and were allowed into America (in the late 1890s). However, many Jews (including no small number of kids) escaping the Nazis wrath were NOT so lucky and were turned away and sent back to their certain death. Imagine if Israel has been established only ten years earlier. Countless lives would have been saved. Anti-zionist protestations to Israel’s establishment aside, that is a fact!!!!

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    22. Shlomo Krol

      Israel is not just a “solution to the Jewish problems” – it’s the only place where Jewish culture is modern and productive. It’s the only place where Jewish life is normal, or has a chance to be normal. All Jewish museums and Jewish studies faculties of diaspora assembled are less important for the future of Jewish people than one shop on Carmel market. All those passeist lamentations about Jews with their millenial sadness and Hassidic sages with their wit don’t worth the Hebrew slang of Tel Aviv night club goers and all Chagall’s goats flying over schtetl are less important for Jewish people than graffitti on the walls of Florentin. The struggle against inequality, racism, occupation and apartheid should not obscure this simple fact.

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    23. annie

      mya, thank you, i really liked this. i like personal stories about real people and this glimpse of your family history, while short, is very moving.
      xyz, it’s very strange reading about an alleged “moral decline”in the american jewish community coming from an israeli. there are things worse than assimilation, like consistent ethnic cleansing. might i suggest the mote in your own eye before that of your brother.
      richard, again, prefacing your opinion with the words “in fact”, does not, in fact, mean ones opinion becomes fact. try reading it again and appreciating it all on it’s own without squeezing some alleged intention out of it to support your criticisms. that is, if you are truly interested in the significance of what it means to the author.

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    24. annie

      shlomo, you should really visit san francisco sometime. i can assure you jewish culture here is thriving, modern and very productive. new york and la too from what i’ve heard.

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    25. The biggest travesty of the Holocaust worship cult is that it makes people wallow in past miseries and makes them desensitized to other people’s sufferings, as we are witnessing in Israel. In addition, it creates a false bar that “anything less than killing 6 million people is a petty crime”. Add to this the fact that it is used to indoctrinate and traumatize and turn an entire nation into a collective paranoid psychosis patients, and you can understand why so many people in the world see Israel as a threat to world peace and a precursor to a nuclear armageddon.

      Reply to Comment
    26. AYLA

      Hi Mitchell Cohen–it’s true, what you say. And that is how the Israeli Government gets away with (or tries to get away with) using Holocaust rhetoric manipulatively, to justify everything about the State and the State’s actions. I object to this not only because it obscures justice, but because it makes those of us who object to this talk about these things on Holocaust memorial day, rather than simply mourning and self-reflecting.
      @Shlomo–jewish life and culture is quite rich and diverse in the U.S., where people don’t feel they have to identify as “religious” or “secular” because of a lack of separation of church and state, and where people don’t feel that jewish religiosity is intrinsically linked to right wing politics. People feel much more freedom there, religiously. I don’t know many Israeli-born leftists counting the omer with spiritual intention right now, as I, an american immigrant, am. I bring that with me thanks to my American jewish spiritual circles. Such circles exist here, but in small numbers.
      @Annie–What is happening here is not exactly ethnic cleansing, and I find that when we use terms that strong that link to other atrocities, they take away from really strong and important arguments about the immorality of the occupation, including crimes that are, indeed, about removing Palestinians from certain land unrightfully, and based on ethnicity.

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    27. caden

      I’ll say this for Annie. Not a day goes by that She, Phil, Adam, and the rest of the boys and girls don’t get up in the morning and spend their whole day monitoring American Jewry. Every thought, every deed. Counting who is Jewish, who isn’t. If we only still wore yellow stars it would be easier for them.

      Reply to Comment
    28. AYLA

      AhadHaadam–you lost me at the end there… (whoa), but: I agree that if our Holocaust legacy doesn’t serve to make us more empathetic and to ensure that others don’t life in safety and freedom, we have lost the meaning of “never forget”. This is one reason I prefer “always remember”.
      I think one thing that gets lost in all this discussion is that when the 1947 Partitian Plan was carried out in 1948, and the Arab World did not accept it, many newly relocated Holocaust survivors in Israel suffered another bout of trauma in the 1948 war, and the is the emotional legacy of many Israeli families. Please: I’m not saying Israel’s hands are clean. Dier Yassin, for one. A lot was suffered by a lot of people around that time, and I don’t know the half of it. I’m just speaking, on this thread about Holocaust Memorial Day, about the emotional legacy of The Holocaust among Israelis. We talk a lot about Palestinian trauma on this site, and we should. On this thread, I am bringing in Israeli trauma. It’s hard to call this “wallowing” when the history is so close among so many Israelis. A friend of mine here has survivor parents who were both orphaned in the Holocaust. When he was three, in Israel, his mother lost her mind and was in the hospital for many years, thus abandoning her children. This is not wallowing. But what the Israeli government does, tying this trauma to justifications of immoral actions, is dangerous and immoral in itself. Many separate issue. We should do our best to separate them out, despite our leaders’ bad examples.

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    29. AYLA

      a comment of mine is awaiting approval, and this will probably get posted first, but there’s an unfortunately typo: it should read, I hope obviously: If our Holocaust legacy doesn’t serve to make us more empathetic and to ensure that others LIVE in safety and freedom, we have lost the meaning of “never forget”.

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    30. Steven

      This is independent commentary? Pretty one-sided to me. I hope to those reading this that this commentary doesn’t represent the opinion of most Jewish people who have more respect for Israel and Jews than the author.

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    31. Robynne

      I have asked this question before and have not gotten a legitimate answer yet. I do not mean this as inflammatory or negative or with any malice – I truly want to understand. Judaism is a religion. There are Jewish people all over the world of many different ethinicities. Why does a religion need their own country?

      Reply to Comment
    32. Shlomo Krol

      Annie and Ayla,
      Jewish life in diaspora cannot be modern because being Jewish in diaspora means clinging to old tradition in some way, to some extent, from Orthodox Judaism to cherishing ancestors or telling jokes about Jews or something of this kind. There’s nothing modern or productive in this. Much was said and written from Talmudic times to our own about observing the tradition in diaspora vs. Israel: in the diaspora it is just an imitation while in Israel it is a real thing. There’s no need to repeat all this. I am talking about something else. About modern Jewish life and culture: it is simply impossible in diaspora. The culture of Jews in diaspora can either be passeistic or not Jewish. In Israel, the Jewish life and Jewish culture is everything by the virtue of the fact that Jews live here, they are not community, but majority, they speak and write in Hebrew and just live their lives sometimes without even reflecting on the issues of identity or Jewishness. Just like English life and English culture is everything that goes on in England.
      The world without Israel is unjust world, just like the world without Palestinian state is unjust world.

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    33. aristeides

      Mitchell Cohen – there is no such thing as a fact based on counterfactual speculation. You are free to conjecture, not to call your conjecture a fact.

      Has it never occured to you that an Israel established in 1938 might have been seen as a target for Hitler to bomb into oblivion? There are as many ways to conjecture that it would have led to disaster for the Jews as salvation, and none of these are matters of fact.

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    34. pERson


      Have you ever been to India?
      The Hindu people and their spirituality is deeply tied in with the land and countless sites of deep significance (that are so much more than merely historical)

      It is the same for the Jewish tribe and our accompanying spiritual tradition called Judaism.
      Israel and countless places within it are intrinsic to Judaism. Intrisic!!
      In the few thousand years that the Jews were exiled from Israel (although there was always a presence of appx 10,000 mainly in Hebron, Jerusalem, and Tiberias) Jews never even slightly let Israel out of they’re conciusness, there are several daily ritual which mention Jerusalem and other places in Israel.

      All peoples are chosen, All lands are sacred
      But some lands are especially sacred to specific people.

      I spent much time in Australia with Aborigines. They’re spirituality is Completely tied down with Australia, just to cite one more example

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    35. Shlomo Krol

      Jews consider themselves a people (and always have) and who you are to tell them that they are not? Denying that Jews are people is like saying that there’s no Palestinian people. There will be no peace between Jews and Palestinians without mutual recognition of national, historical, political rights, this is where the peace should start.

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    36. Mitchell Cohen

      @Ayla, one can be critical of some of Israel’s policies, yet simultaneously be happy Israel exists. They are not mutually exclusive. Nor is there a “right way” or “wrong way” to reflect and mourn on Yom HaShoah.

      @Robynee, I believe what you are asking is off topic (Mya will decide), but I remember you well and I remember you asking the same question then and me and several others giving you the same answer. It hasn’t changed since: if Judaism is just a “religion” and there are no “Jewish people”, then how do you explain the phenomena of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of atheist/agnostics identifying themselves as “Jews”?

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    37. Robynne

      Shlomo…I was not telling anyone they are or are not anything. I asked a question and I am trying to understand. Jews are people, Catholics are people, Buddhists are people, etc. Is Palestine a religion? I don’t understand the comparison between a religion and an ethnicity.

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    38. Y.

      A) The self-righteousness isn’t convincing. Based on that one conversation, Mya or us know nothing about what your great-grandmother would have felt today. That specific conversation doesn’t even peg her as an anti-Zionist…
      What we do know, is that modern Orthodox’s political POV is pretty much on the right (both in the US, where they vote Republican – and in Israel where they prefer right-wing governments) and are appalled by the far Left. Perhaps Mya should pay attention to what appalls Orthodox today, rather than politically-motivated imaginings of what supposedly appalled them yesterdays.
      B) The biggest Jewish community in the World lives in Israel. The Israeli Jews are also the only clearly demographically increasing Jewish community, so even if one tries very hard to pick the lowest estimates for Israeli and the highest for the diaspora, one ends up that soon enough Israeli Jews would end up as the majority regardless. The Zionist experiment seems pretty successful in this regard.
      [e.g. The US CBS for 2009 measures 5,128,000 Jews, compared to 5,664,000 Jews in Israel per Israeli CBS for 2009].
      C) The biggest “wipeout of Jewish cultures” happened in the Diaspora,
      by both local authorities (literally) and assimilation (What happened to the Yiddish culture of those who left for America?). Israel – for all her faults and the policy of the founders – is where these cultures did best (which is not well, but still). That some people want to extend this destruction to Israeli culture is a tragedy.
      D) It is curious the comments missed the description of Yom HaShoa as mere victimhood. Maybe that’s because this description is not untrue in Left-speak – after all, ‘victimhood’ is political-speak for ‘memory the Left doesn’t like’. Let us remember this when the Left starts speaking about groups it does like.
      P.S. Iran’s official news agencies translated Ahmedinejad’s comments exactly as ‘wipe out Israel’ (e.g. [1]). Somehow, they strike me as better speakers of Parsi than Meridor or anyone on the Left, and not exactly as agencies controlled by Zionists…
      [1] http://web.archive.org/web/20070927213903/http://www.iribnews.ir/Full_en.asp?news_id=200247
      P.S.S. Ayla, can you please even more arrogant and haughty? “I don’t know many Israeli-born leftists counting the omer with spiritual intention right now, as I, an american immigrant, am”. Snort.

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    39. mya guarnieri

      Y: that is the modern orthodox’s stand TODAY. it wasn’t always that way.

      you compare the israeli and US jewish communities as “proof” that a majority is in israel. i didn’t say where the largest single community is. i pointed out that a majority of jews reside in the diaspora. i did not say the US.

      you’re seriously going to argue that israelis were welcome of galut cultures here? the whole point was to shake off the yoke of the diaspora and build a new culture. i’m sure you know that yiddish speakers were absolutely shunned here. for a little bit about the pressures mizrachim faced to assimilate, pick up rachel shabi’s book not the enemy.

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    40. XYZ

      Mya, like so many people, including the Haredim who do not identify with Zionism, you conflate the state apparatus with the Zionist enterprise. You are quite correct that the state apparatus was used, especially in the early years, to repress many aspects of traditional Jewish culture (and religious life is an integral part of this). Yes, the Yiddish language was suppressed, so was Ladino, so was the Arabic-language culture of the Jews from Arab countries. This was partly to create a national ethos (which is a good thing) and to impose the values and political power of the ruling MAPAI-MAPAM-General Zionist clique on the whole nation (which was bad).
      The SHAS phenomenon is a major reaction against this cultural hegemony. Yiddish theater is making a comeback as well. There is a general revival of interest in religious thinking even among the non-observant population.
      To me, it wasn’t the MAPAI that built Israel, it wasn’t Ben-Gurion, it wasn’t even the Zionist Movement…..it was the Jewish people that built Israel and I rely on the common wisdom of the people, as expressed in a democratic fashion, to guide the direction the country is heading. I am sorry if you don’t like the direction it is going in, but the will of the people, which supports Zionist values and Jewish identity can not ultimately be stopped.

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    41. Robynne

      Thanks for replying Mitchell. I guess I don’t think the same way. Judaism IS a religion, is it not? Saying that does not mean I would not call the collective group the Jewish people, I would. I would also call the collective group of people Christians, or Muslim or Hindu. I still don’t understand how that equates to being a country. But I guess maybe I’m not supposed to or maybe that is my journey…

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    42. It should be known that 52% of the Jewish survivors of the death camps did not choose to go to Palestine but went elsewhere as they had a visa. Those who did not have a visa due to the intervention of the Zionist movement went to Palestine. that is to say a lesser number.
      Zionism did nothing to help the European Jewish communities survive except for party members; 60,000 out of 1 million Jewish Germans and only some 4000 on the 400,000 Hungarian Jewish community. The Zionist movement should stand trial for such collaboration.

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    43. Jan

      To XYZ – If “Jewish Renewal” means the oppression of another people who were on the land long before the first Jew from New York or any other place claimed the land solely for our tribe, just count me out.

      If “Jewish Renewal” means racism and bigotry as it does, count me out.

      This Jew thinks that Israel and Zionism has destroyed all that I believed was good about Judaism.

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    44. Y.

      “that is the modern orthodox’s stand TODAY. it wasn’t always that way.”
      True, but again, modern far Left stands weren’t exactly their POV even then. Again, if you really wish to inquire about their position, I suggest you do rather than exploit an imaginary one for your own politics.
      “you compare the israeli and US jewish communities as “proof” that a majority is in israel. i didn’t say where the largest single community is. i pointed out that a majority of jews reside in the diaspora. i did not say the US.”
      And I talked about the largest single community (which is in Israel), not as proof for being the largest. If you actually read what I wrote, you’ll notice I said Israeli Jews will soon become a majority – not that they already were.
      “you’re seriously going to argue that israelis were welcome of galut cultures here”.
      You may again wish to reread what I wrote. I said the cultures did better in Israel _despite_ the policy of the founders. It doesn’t change the fact the galut cultures did even worse in the diaspora. Ultimately, their disappearance has more to do with modernity, the local authorities’ hostile attitude, and assimilation.
      Since Israel is no longer hostile to them and assimilation not as much of a problem here, Israel can be a vehicle for their survival rather than for wiping them out.

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    45. Shlomo Krol

      ROBYNNE, there are many Catholic nations and many Buddhist ones. Jews are one people. There is also Jewish religion. Not only Jews have their national religion. For example, there is Shinto – national religion of Japanese people. It doesn’t mean that Japanese people have no right for self determination.

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    46. Aaron the Fascist Troll

      I agree with your great-grandmother. Zionism *was* a mistake. It *did* destroy diverse, living Jewish cultures. It *was* unjust to the Arabs—indefensibly so. If I’d been around a century ago and Herzl had asked my advice, I’d have said he was making a big mistake.
      What does all that have to do with the State of Israel today? Very little, as far as I can tell. It exists, it’s legitimate, and even if it’s not the best solution to the problems of the world’s Jews, it’s the best solution to the problems of Israel’s Jews. So let’s wave a flag and be patriotic.

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    47. the other joe

      It seems to me to be an unproven (possibly unprovable) argument to suggest that Judaism is an ethnicity. In one sense though, it doesn’t need to be – there are plenty of countries with a national religion bound up with their identity. And Judaism isn’t the only religion that considers itself to be a people in and of itself. In Islam there is a concept of the wider faith, in Christianity the concept of the Church or the Kingdom of God – both of which transcend national or cultural boundaries.
      I suppose the problem is not so much the concept as the practice – creating an modern Israel on religious grounds in a country with an existing population who were largely non-Jewish. It makes some kind of convoluted sense to declare a land to be a religious homeland if you are living in it, but to claim a land that you have a historical link to.
      It is hard to imagine the Bah’ai getting international support to build a state in part of Iran (substitute other religion/place). So what is so special about a Jewish homeland? Is it just that the Jews have been persecuted for so long that this is the only possible safe alternative? If so, how do such large communities of Jews exist outside of Israel?

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    48. the other joe

      Actually I think I mostly agree with Aaron. Many states were built on stupid ideas and it is too late to go back and undo them.

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    49. Robynne

      Thanks everyone. And The Other Joe…I think I agree with you too! Mya, thank you for this article and allowing my posts. 🙂

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    50. Palestinian

      @Shlomo ,Judaism is a religion ,a belief not an ethnicity.I agree nobody has the right to determine your national identity but ,and here comes the but, if you are using your claimed identity to kill and rob others then others have the full right to question and refute your claims.Palestinians dont ask you or anybody to recognize them as a “people” nor pay millions of american dollars to emphasize their identity and culture through biased media ,powerful lobbies and manipulative presidential candidates.

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