Rabbi Avi Weinstein

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2016 at 11:28 am

How is Jewish “Ethno-Nationalism” not a thing?

Okay, ever since Bila’am, and even before, we have carved out a unique clique that has a Divine mandate. As a faith, we are multi-racial, and multi-ethnic. Anyone can join, and be a part of us—all you have to do is follow the rules. Of course, whose rules is another problem, but let’s leave that for now.

Had we remained a landless religious entity, a people in exile, all of our “whose in/whose out” issues would be internal, and of little interest to the world outside. It is the Jewish state state that exacerbates a not so dormant enmity among our detractors, and enemies. Once one is on the international scene, one becomes everybody’s business. More worrisome than the anti-Zionist participants in the “longest hatred”, are those who passionately endorse Israel as a particular ethno-national state and see it as justification for their racist vision of the world. The NPI has articulated as much with great clarity.

A.D. Gordon, darling of the Zionist socialists of days gone by, echoed this sentiment when he talked about the ethnic self being nurtured by the “land” of our forefathers. Rav Kook used Kabbalistic language to reach the same conclusion. Worse than being accused of being an apartheid state by our detractors is to be loved by neo-Nazi organizations for exactly the same reasons.

Once we bristle for perceived ethno-centricism by the left, are we offended for being beloved for exactly the same reason by the racist National Policy Institute? And if we are, how do we thread that needle in a way that is easitly understood.? It is this conundrum among many other factors that exacerbate, exaggerate perceived Israeli human rights abuses against the Arab other.

No doubt, the sui generis experience of Jewish history pervades the Jewish/Israeli defense of these challenges. After what the world did to us, why do we owe them any explanations? We have a state founded on democratic principles no less imperfect than other nations, but we manage to thrive in a neighborhood of hostile, repressive autocratic ethnic states. Why single us out?

It is in this context, I would like to consider the policies of the National Policy Institute (NPI) whose little gathering of angry white men has gained much media attention.

The NPI position that Jews belong in Israel with “their culture” allows them to theoretically take advantage of Jewish innovation while still making the United States Judenrein. They say let us pluck the fruit of Jewish ingenuity, but let them do it from afar so that we don’t have to deal with their more insidious qualities. They freely admit that Asian achievement may even supercede that of their own race, but that they should go back to where they came from. Behind this is the fact that white people belong with their own kind. Emergent Israel based on the law of the Return is quite useful in the fulfillment of this dream.

These past few weeks have not made me more fearful of Israel’s enemies, but I am terrified by the discovery of Israel’s newly found “friends”.

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