Simple Answers to Stupid Questions: Zionism Department

Sometimes it’s easy to overthink things.  Sullivan asks:

My own view is that the interests of the US require pressuring Israel to agree to a reasonable two-state solution soon. Maybe I’m wrong. But could a Jewish person convinced of the same argument remain a Jew in good standing?

Yes.  Next question?

Is a commitment to Zionism in defense of Greater Israel a disqualifier from being part of the Jewish people?

No, but it is a disqualifier from being intelligent.

Andrew’s own position is evolving, so maybe they are harder for him.  But for those of us who follow the issue, this really isn’t that hard.  I confess  to being continually surprised by essays on both sides lauded by their supporters as “courageous,” which say absolutely nothing new.

Geuninely new and interesting ideas, such as Sari Nusseibeh’s inspired suggestion for having both peoples vote on an American proposal, get no traction because they shift the paradigm and so cannot be understood.  So we just rehash the old arguments, watch Zionism self-destruct, and return to Yavneh.

Comments

  1. Swift Loris says

    I read Sullivan’s post and all the linked material, which (as a non-Jew) I found fascinating and agonizing. I’m not sure Sullivan was “overthinking things”; I suspect that the questions you quote were more or less rhetorical. Since he isn’t Jewish, he doesn’t feel he can pronounce on the issue of who can be a Jew in good standing or part of the Jewish people, but his instinct, I think, is that the answers you gave ought to be the right ones.

  2. Jonathan Zasloff says

    @Swift — Something in me thinks that this is because Sullivan is a Roman Catholic. For Catholicism, there really is an issue if you consistently dissent from the bishops’ and the Pope’s position on things. In Judaism, saying that the rabbi is wrong is part of the tradition. There is heresy in Judaism, but it’s extremely rare, and since the 1700′s, virtually non-existent. And you are still part of the people, even if you are not practicing Judaism.

    I found Benedikt’s original essay precious and naive. Oh my God! Israel isn’t the perfect place that we were told about when we were in elementary school! I found her response to Goldberg quite wonderful and far more generous than he deserved. But I do find it interesting that people seem to be shocked and horrified that most things in this world exist in shades of gray.

  3. larry birnbaum says

    I’m more interested in the fact that you let him beg the question by the assumption that Israel would need to be pressured into a reasonable two-state solution, and more specifically that this is what the hold-up in reaching a peace deal is. I wouldn’t say that belief disqualifies one from being intelligent. But I do think it disqualifies one from being reality-based.

  4. NCG says

    As an aside: it is only a problem to consistently disagree with the bishops and Pope if you think the RC church belongs to them.

    Having said that, it’s hard to imagine many people who *could* consistently disagree with them, since their beliefs are such a mixed bag. I would have to be a person who hated immigrants and the poor but somehow also cared about women and gays. I’m sure there are a few out there, and I’m not sure I’d want to meet them.

  5. Sanvoy says

    “I found Benedikt’s original essay precious and naive. Oh my God! Israel isn’t the perfect place that we were told about when we were in elementary school! I found her response to Goldberg quite wonderful and far more generous than he deserved. But I do find it interesting that people seem to be shocked and horrified that most things in this world exist in shades of gray.”

    I wasn’t nearly impressed with Benedikt’s essay – nor her response – as you were. Frankly, while I can’t disagree too strongly with the conclusion she articulated in the conclusion of her response, I was somewhat appalled by her thought process. The essay (and certain post-essay remarks) indicated that she was largely unengaged with these issues prior to meeting her husband, and that her thinking was almost exclusively shaped by the imposition of his opinions on her own. Any substantive grappling with these issues was largely absent – and at her age, I’m a bit surprised. The overall impression was of someone who was simply utterly unengaged with these topics for a significant portion of her life, and that she had engaged them now as shallowly and naively as possible. While it doesn’t make her wrong, I wasn’t left with the impression that I should take her opinions particularly seriously. The fact that her response to Goldberg was profanity just reinforced this opinion.

    Additionally, while Goldberg probably picked on her a bit much – a professional journalist with deep experience in these areas taking easy potshots – she did apparently find this essay worthy of publication. Unfortunately, I had a lesser opinion of her after reading the article.

  6. Jonathan Zasloff says

    @Sanvoy — I see your point, especially regarding the conclusion. I suppose I was impressed that after he insulted her, she reached out to him in a generous and constructive way. Maybe I missed it, but the profanity was in the tweet, which she was “ordered” to do by her husband. HE, on the other hand, really seems like a piece of work.

  7. Swift Loris says

    @Zasloff: the tweet, which she was “ordered” to do by her husband

    It was a retweet of her husband’s tweet, which contained the profanity. But I took the “ordered” bit as jocular, a sarcastic reference to the perception of Goldberg and commenters that her husband was a controlling bully.

    I have to say I thought Goldberg’s initial response to her piece was way off base. Without getting into the specific issues about Israel, I interpreted the spirit and tone of her piece very differently; and her reply to him confirmed that interpretation.

    @larry birnbaum: you let him beg the question

    Sullivan wasn’t responding to Zasloff.

  8. koreyel says

    Genuinely new and interesting ideas…

    Here’s mine. I had it about 20 years ago. Maybe 25.
    Nothing has changed since then to alter my idea or make it defunct.
    If anything it is still as vital and viable…

    Think of the Israel-Palestinian thing as a huge wound: a gaping sore. Oozing and suppurating.
    Not a bad metaphor. So let’s leverage it: How do you heal a festering gash?
    By washing, applying ointment, bandaging and in general: careful monitored wound care.
    It takes constant attention, TLC, and a scab…

    Now back to the Israel-Palestinian thing: the only way you can heal the pus away is with the same level of TLC…
    How do we do that?

    The United States should propose a two state solution and the construction of a new city (New Jerusalem) with an attendant world health lab that sits atop the exact border. This world health lab will be funded by the world. The city will be funded by the world. It will employ Palestinians and Israelis in both construction, and when complete: research and support positions. It will include a medical college. It will focus on curing major human ills from Malaria to the new TB. It will contain the best and latest equipment. It will become a mecca for scientists and healers: a major global player in medical science.

    I submit that only that level of “healing” can cure the Israel-Palestinian sore.
    I also submit there is not a current leader on the planet big enough or man enough to propose it and make it so.
    There hasn’t been for 20 years. And there likely won’t be for another 20 years either…

  9. SamChevre says

    There is heresy in Judaism, but it’s extremely rare, and since the 1700′s, virtually non-existent. And you are still part of the people, even if you are not practicing Judaism.

    That would not be the impression I have from friends who are Messianic Jews.

  10. Richard W. Crews says

    Palestine & Israel solution SEP06

    The Palestinian/Israeli problem is the core of the MidEast Troubles. Without a solution here, there will be no solutions anywhere in the area. Without dwelling
    on history, I will go directly to the solution.

    First, Israel pulls back to the pre-1967 borders.

    Second, Jerusalem becomes an International City and the Israeli capital is re-acknowledged as Tel-Aviv. The Palestinians name their own capital.

    Thirdly, the City-State of Jerusalem is physically defined to form many functions :

    - The city will become host to most large-scale UN functions.
    - Jerusalem will have a local security force AND a small supervising UN security force.
    - The borders will be maintained by Israel and Palestine, either in tandem or separately.
    - There will be an International airport.

    - The area will be large enough to be physically defended and observe adjacent areas.
    - The area will control the major local highland aquifers, and oversee per capita national allocations.
    - The area will allow a transnational journey by either nationality. By passing through Jerusalem, an Israeli transits N/S, and a Palestinian travels E/W. This allows Palestine to have international borders with Jordan and Egypt, but not Syria or Lebanon, respecting current treaties and civilities.

    Jerusalem will be a service, marketing, light manufacturing,and tourism zone. The UN will demand a large service economy. Each family unit will be prorated by size, then entered into a lottery for both a plot of residential land and a plot of commercial value. The allocations will be random to negate ghettos and insularity. The residential and UN infrastructure will be internationally funded and built immediately. The residents will have startup funding of some sort. The residents of Jerusalem will have ownership, equity, involvement, and potential.

    The area will be a duty/tax free area, and the allocated ownership will be dispersed to the “right to return” Palestinians, the displaced Israeli colonists,
    and all who have lost their homes for any reason attributed to the strife. ( This could include the nomadic Bedouin.) Internal agriculture (because of crowded conditions) will also be “eminent domain-ed”, the owners compensated, and they and the land are then included in the allocation.

    There will be a local autonomous elected government, perhaps patterned after an American city’s structure, with a taxing and spending power.

    The Jerusalem area should be as small as possible, hence the agricultural exclusion. The land should be locally Israeli or Palestinian owned and occupied, as much as possible. The UN will have a large campus. Land will be allocated to public use, such as future parks, libraries, and infrastructure. A commercial sector will evolve from the segmented and populist ownerships.

    The interwoven residential and commercial ownerships will not abide terrorism; neither will the UN functionaries. The key to controlling terrorism is to remove the cause and the base. This will do both. If the Israeli/Palestinian situation was settled to both their satisfactions, then the world, in full clarity, could neuter a main talking point of both Al-Queda and Iran. This would be a huge step towards World Peace.

    ######^^^^^^%%%%%%*(##)##@**1000 characters below :

    The new City-State of Jerusalem will become host to most large-scale UN functions, requiring a large service economy and an international airport. Jerusalem will have an elected civil/civic government and police, with minimal UN supervision.

    The borders will be strategically determined regarding security and the local aquifers. It will be as small as possible. The area will allow a transnational journey by either nationality. By passing through Jerusalem, an Israeli transits N/S, and a Palestinian travels E/W. This allows Palestine to have international borders with Jordan and Egypt, but not Syria or Lebanon.

    Jerusalem will be a residential, service, marketing and manufacturing zone. Each family unit will be entered into a lottery for both a plot of residential land and a plot of commercial value. The allocated ownership will be dispersed to the “right to return” Palestinians, the displaced Israeli colonists, and all who have lost their homes for any reason attributed to the strife.

  11. says

    koreyel, Richard: If the Israeli-Arab conflict could be solved by outside powers telling the people who live there what their nation-states’ borders should be, it would have been solved in 1947, if not earlier.

  12. koreyel says

    Seth,

    The secret is in how you do the telling.
    And few things are more telling in life than a baited hook…

  13. Richard W. Crews says

    i HEAR YOU sETH, AND i SALUTE YOU Koreyel! The baited hook fot the Palestinians – and we bill Saudi Arabia! to start it up.
    I support Israel, but they are being outrageous. I almost support a hammer over bait. They can wise up and shape up, but they may need a loving tap on the head.
    In drug talk, an intervention.

  14. says

    You’re suggesting that some more powerful country intervene and force both Israel and the Palestinians to accept the boundary that’s issued to them, by sending troops who will be seen by at least one side as a foreign occupying power? Lotsa luck with that.