With all the shit that has been going down in Israel, I figured it was about time I wrote about my take on the subject.
(See how you don’t even need a date to acknowledge that there is shit going on in Israel?)
Let’s start with a few premises. The first being that you’re an atheist, or at least agnostic enough to not claim that God speaks directly to you. Because in any other situation that would be called schizophrenia.
If God told you that this god-forsaken mountain is yours, and simultaneously told Muhammad over there that the same mountain is his, well, shit is about to go down.
Oh wait, it already has.
So this exploration will mostly be around secular Zionism, because as soon as religion comes into play it becomes a much larger, and more immobile
People talk about “does Israel have a right to exist?” but I really believe there is a question that supersedes this, which is “did Israel have a right to exist?”
Did Israel have a right to exist?
No. I don’t believe it had.
Look, I am a proponent of Jews, who have been historically disproportionately persecuted, having their own land and their own ability to defend themselves.
But I believe that choosing Palestine as that land of choice, for what is basically nostalgic reasons, was a gross miscalculation that has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people and the misery of so many more.
Let’s start with who is a Jew, which is a huge argument in itself, but I’m gonna go with the genetics and culture approach. Sefaradi and AshkenaziOne of the two main flavors of Jews, Asheknazi Jews hail fro... More Jews have almost nothing in common. They don’t like marrying each other. They get completely different results on genetic tests.
AshkenaziOne of the two main flavors of Jews, Asheknazi Jews hail fro... More Jews act like white Europeans with more neuroses and indigestion; Sfaradi Jews are glorified Arabs who choose to worship God instead of Allah, and whose prayers would be indiscernible to the casual observer from that of any mosque.
So to make the case that both of these parties have a claim to a specific plot of land in the Middle East requires us to travel so far back in time to a supposed common ancestry that it has no measurable trace in today’s reality.
We end up with a claim based entirely on a lot of folk songs and prayers (the latter of which the secular zionist has already rejected), and this is not enough to essentially show up as a white colonist and claim this land as yours.
It doesn’t matter how backward the current natives are.
It doesn’t matter that much of the country is swampland.
It doesn’t matter that your presence has introduced huge increases to everyone’s quality of life.
The British could make the same claim about India. And they were colonists.
Choosing to go back to one of the most contested, volatile places in the entire world in an attempt to escape persecution is a very, very bad idea.
I do believe that establishing a Jew country of some kind in Africa or Alaska would have been a far less dramatic and destructive move. Heck, Germany should have partitioned part of its own country and given it to the Jews, along with a whole bunch of tanks, after what they put the Jews through.
So yeah, Israel didn’t have a right to exist.
Buying land from a local colonizing power (The Ottomans) and then settling it, does not give you a claim to the land.
The United Nations voting in favor of Israel’s establishment, does not either.
In what world could you possibly describe Berel Shemerlotvitz of Lumza Poland as being indigenous to the land of Israel?
Another angle: Israel’s entire indigenous claim to the country is based on an ever earlier colonizing enterprise they undertook 3,000 years ago when they conquered parts of the land from other nations.
Maybe this land should really be Hitite land? We’re choosing a snapshot in time that happened thousands of years ago, pointing specifically to it, and saying “see, that’s ours.”
… Nor does anybody else
But here’s the flip side. Most of the countries of the world didn’t have the right to be established based on these same principles. They all colonized and conquered countries and oppressed the local indigenous populations.
The United States. Canada. They are all sitting on stolen, indigenous lands, with a track record of treating the remnants of those people like shit far into the 20th century.
So Israel pulled the same move, and for arguably more justified (desperate) reasons, ones that were not fueled by greed as much as the urge for survival. They initiated this during a time that all the major empires were still actively colonizing, my assumption is that similar attempts would not fly in today’s climates.
They then rebuffed attacks from foreign countries that had no real business getting involved – if Jordan really cared about Palestinian human rights, they might have done a better job treating Palestinian refugees in their own land.
I’m including the Six-day war in this. Preempting a strike against foreign countries who have repeatedly threatened to annihilate you is not some sort of absurd move. Needing to wait for someone with a murderous track record to make the first move is ridiculous.
So Israel conquers parts of the land that had been previously colonized by other countries – Jordan had been squatting on the West Bank, Syria in the Golan Heights. These lands were not more Jordanian or Syrian, they had all been Ottoman until a few years before.
The indigenous people of the land that we call Israel have been fucked for generations, and blaming Israel disproportionately for that is not ok.
So what is to be done about the state of Israel?
I have no real fucking clue. The Western world does not know how to contend with Middle Eastern tribalism, and Israel claims to be a western country, although that claim often feels tenuous.
A shift in attitude
I believe that the main shift that needs to occur is a shifting of perspective about what was.
Canada takes this to the extreme, as it plagues itself with guilt over being a colonist. That often results in pathetic lip service and empty claims.
Nonetheless, it would serve Israel to drop the entitlement, to take the attitude of “We fucked up in the past, how can we correct this?”
How would things be different if we didn’t pretend living in Israel was our God-given right?
To me, a solid way of doing this would be through education. Treat any Arab and Palestinian child within your political reach like Canada would treat an aboriginal child today (or better, if Canada is failing at doing what it claims to be doing).
Education lifts everyone up, and allowing Palestinians to teach warped views of reality and hate is a human rights violation to the children involved. All Israeli Arabs should be given a fair education and be required to learn Hebrew so they can function in Israeli society; their neighborhoods should not be neglected by municipalities as 3rd class ghettos.
Conversely, Israelis should be fairly taught about Israel’s own track record and failings. Arabic really should be a required second language in Israel, I have yet to meet a single AshkenaziOne of the two main flavors of Jews, Asheknazi Jews hail fro... More Israeli who speaks Arabic other than Robby Berman.
The current situation solves little
At this point, Israel is a shitshow.
A difficult place to live economically – houses are incredibly unaffordable; and politically – there have been five elections in the last two years and the current government is a bunch of far-right racists and fanatics.
They allow huge parts of the country to be run by a religious minority that believes religion supersedes democracy – and this demographic is growing with each passing year. There is little separation of church and state. Go try to get married as a gay man in Israel. Go try to catch a bus on Saturday in Tel Aviv.
Israel is destined to become one of the most crowded countries in the world in the coming decades, with the majority of that being the high birth rate of less-educated Arabs and Jews (Charedim). This does not bode well for a country where accidentally stepping on someone’s toe can start world war III.
Putting all the Jews in one shitty spot does not contribute to promises of their continuity. Especially when they are surrounded on all sides by countries that are committed to destroying them. Spreading Jews all around the world has ironically been a much better strategy for Jewish longevity if that apparently is a value (it’s one I don’t share).
The Jews were doing relatively well in the United States even before the founding of Israel as a country, and the fading away of the systemic anti-semitism that still prevailed there can be traced to the overall progress of society – the same way African Americans are treated better today and racism is publically decried now.
Jews should continue advocating on their own behalf, while also letting up a bit on their obsessive infatuation with being persecuted. I can understand the tribal inclination to look out for our own kind. This is necessary and has served us well in the past, while at the same time we should be fighting for the rights of all minorities, not just our own. A rising tide lifts all ships.
It is interesting to observe the many left-leaning secular Jews in the US still taking a more right-wing stance when it comes to Israel. It’s hypocritical. They create special loopholes in their mind when it comes to Israel’s aggression, racism and conservative behaviors.
You can say almost anything you want about Judaism and still find a synagogue you can attend in your city. Condemn Israel’s actions and you might find yourself out on the street.
Here’s my takeaway, the most practical thing I can suggest: stay away.
Israel’s continuous drive to encourage more people to move to Israel, through efforts like Birthright or Nefesh B’Nefesh, serves its own nefarious goals but does not keep in mind the needs of most individuals.
To get up and move to Israel from your comfy middle-class lifestyle in the United States or Canada, is to thrust yourself into a world of corruption and economic struggle, war and terrorism, and a guaranteed drop in your quality of life. It can be a really terrible experience for children in particular.
You may feel Isolated in North America, surrounded by people who are different than you. This is the nature of being a minority. Get therapy. Deal with the loneliness, with the need to belong. Getting up and moving to Israel so that you’re no longer a minority solves one problem and creates many others, often at other people’s expense.