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Friday, May 27, 2011

Yglesias' strange definition of Jewish

Wondering why most Israelis don't think like him anymore, Matt Yglesias claims that Israel is afflicted with 'post-Jewish Zionism' (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
The existence of Christian Zionists is, of course, not new. But what is new is that Israeli politics has drifted toward the hawkish right over the past ten years even as Jewish Americans remain on the progressive left. That change in Israeli politics, meanwhile, has been in part driven by a demographic shift away from the kind of secular ashkenazi Jews who predominate in the American population. At the same time, Christian Zionist sentiment has boomed in America and the Palestinian cause has never been less popular among America’s overwhelmingly non-Jewish population.

This is all part of what I’ve called the trend toward post-Jewish Zionism. That’s not to say that there are no Jewish Zionists in the United States (or Canada, etc.) but merely to observe that Jews as such are decreasingly relevant to the politics of Israel. In Europe, too, we’re seeing a boom of far-right parties (True Finns, Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party, the Danish People’s Party) with strong pro-Israel stands.
But look at whom he is defining as 'post-Jewish.'
Daniel Levy's article on Israeli demographics is also relevant to this. If you're a typical Jewish American, this is quite literally not your father's Israel. The Palestinian, Haredi, "national Orthodox," and Russian immigrant shares of the population have all grown substantially.
While it's true that the Haredi, national Orthodox (by which I assume he means National Religious) and Russian immigrant (by the way, most of whom are not religious and many of whom are not Jewish at all) populations have grown, that does not explain why Israelis have become what Yglesias calls 'hawkish right,' nor does it explain why fewer and fewer Israelis are sympathetic to the 'Palestinian' cause.

The Likud gets very few Haredi votes and probably not a whole lot of National Religious votes or Russian immigrant votes either. What's driven Israel to the right is not changing demographics but changing perceptions of the possibility of peace (without scare quotes) with the 'Palestinians.' Most Israelis have realized the truth over the last 6-11 years (look up those dates): That it's not peace or a state that the 'Palestinians' want. It's that they want to destroy the Jewish state. We won't roll over and play dead for them.

Some people would call that kind of shift democracy.

And by the way, those Haredim and National Religious Jews are more Jewish (in practice) than Yglesias will ever be. I would definitely not call them 'post Jewish.' That's absurd.

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At 8:32 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Russians who may not be Jewish by birth are nevertheless culturally Jewish - they identify with Jewish culture and lifestyle and they do have Jewish spouses.

At least they love Israel! What are born Jews excuse for being alienated from the Jewish State?

I think the rabbis need to re-examine Halachic criteria. Jewishness should be more than just a matter of whose womb, one emerges from, don't you agree?

If one had the "wrong" Jewish parent, that shouldn't make them less Jewish than Jews born to Jewish mothers who long for the destruction of the Jewish State.

That criteria was supposed to identify who could be a Jew, not to enable treason.

At 8:38 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

And the same thing is true for many of the Russians.

I see Judaism in Israel including every one who accepts the Jewish religion and culture, regardless of whether they have formally converted to Judaism or not. That should be the new criterion for deciding who is a Jew.

And those born Jews who manifest antipathy to Israel, they should no longer be welcome in the Jewish family.

I think that's just common sense. Judaism should mean more than just an accident of birth. It should carry with it a feeling of kinship, of identification and empathy with, of responsibility to the Jewish people and Israel and to their future.

At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt Yglesias said

"At the same time, Christian Zionist sentiment has boomed in America and the Palestinian cause has never been less popular among America’s overwhelmingly non-Jewish population."

That is not quite true, the Christian Zionist Evangelical has split since the mid 2000's and more now are supportive of the Palestinians.

It should be noted that the hardline support during the early 2000's was more due to the 9/11 attacks than anything else. As time went by, you see that shift.

Christian Zionist influence retracting
By Daoud Kuttab
An unexpected result has emerged in the US following the one-day Annapolis meeting aimed at kick starting Palestinian Israeli negotiations. Christian Zionists admitted that their power has started to weaken. “The evangelical support for Israel is shrinking,” stated the Jerusalem Connection International in its latest newsletter entitled ”Post Annapolis where do we go from her?”

Christian Zionism has also been suffering of late from a strong theological attack of their hawkish ideas from fellow evangelicals.

Coalition of Evangelicals Voices Support for Palestinian State
Published: July 29, 2007
In recent years, conservative evangelicals who claim a Biblical mandate to protect Israel have built a bulwark of support for the Jewish nation — sending donations, denouncing its critics and urging it not to evacuate settlements or forfeit territory.

Letter to President Bush from Evangelical Leaders (July 29, 2007) Now more than 30 evangelical leaders are stepping forward to say these efforts have given the wrong impression about the stance of many, if not most, American evangelicals.

At 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're misreading his point. His post doesn't really have anything to do with Israeli opinion (though you can certainly quibble with that), but "Post-Jewish" clearly refers to the post-American-Jewish base of support. Yglesias argues that this is because American Jews are both becoming less strong in their support for Israel while Gentile support is becoming ever stronger; I assume your interpretation would be simply that there are more Gentiles who support Israel than there used to be, while the number of American Jews has not grown nearly as much.

At 4:15 PM, Blogger upyernoz said...

you seem to be seriously misunderstanding what yglesias said. his "post-jewish zionist" point is about the change in supporters of israel in the u.s., canada and europe. read that paragraphs you quoted again. the first paragraph talks about the split between israeli politics (which has drifted to the right) and the politics of american jews (which has remained to the left). the second paragraph, where he talks about "post-jewish zionism" claims that in the u.s. and canada christian groups are now a dominant pro-zionist force in the local politics.

your point is all about israel, while what yglesias is talking about is the u.s. being a jew in the u.s. i think that yglesias is on the mark on this one. the christian right is a huge supporter of israel, whereas american jews are facing a major generational shift, with the younger generation much less zionist than their predecessors.

At 6:59 PM, Blogger maha said...

It's both fascinating and horrifying to see Zionist use of the "dolchstoss" theme. Ultimately, zealots of all types are ore alike than different, of course. But you grossly mischaracterized what Yglesias was referring to by "post-Jewish." He is describing the political reality that Zionism in the U.S. is more and more being fueled by Christians, not Jews. He made no judgments whatsoever of the "Jewishness" of anyone currently residing in Israel. If you can ever get the venom out of your eyes, do learn to read.

Further, you failed to answer the critical question -- what good does support for Israel do for the U.S.? I do not oppose Israel and hope Irsrael lives long and prospers. But the fact remains that the U.S. is pouring a ton of money into Israel and getting nothing in return for it. And we don't have money to throw around any more.

At 6:30 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Oy vey!

Silly goyim!!!


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