Israel and the Loss of Objective Jewish Self-Criticism

A Critical Overview on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

By David Ramirez

Der Raub der Dina (Genesis 34). Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Gemäldegalerie, Inv. Nr. 1554. 16th century. Giuliano Bugiardini (c. 1475–1554). Source: Wikipedia.

Der Raub der Dina (Genesis 34). Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Gemäldegalerie, Inv. Nr. 1554. 16th century. Giuliano Bugiardini (c. 1475–1554). Source: Wikipedia.

Nationalist and Patriotist fervor, I feel, is much like—sometimes—a parent’s love happens to be for their children: Blind! No matter how descent or wicked a child happens to be, however young or old he or she happen to be, there will be parents that have that special and unchanging soft spot for their child, that no matter what he or she does, they will always come to his or her defense, jettisoning any kind of objective judgment in favor of just standing for his or her child for the sake of he or she being their child. I call it just being stupid, and in its extreme it goes against certain cardinal Jewish and universal principles.

In the end, this kind of stupid is not love, being that letting a child do whatever he or she wants may be against his or her own well-being, leading to cause harm to him or herself or others. I do not think any reasonable parent would disagree with that statement.

God’s love for Israel is not blind. The Bible is a down to earth record of a people who have faced many challenges, showing the best and ugliest of our humanity. Scripture, as Israel’s national document, is very unique in human experience because no other national narrative shows the full complexity of humanity particular to Israel’s own physical or moral debacles and triumphs.

Other national narratives are composed of archetypes, where those archetypes show a side of “history” beneficial to the victors, and damning on the vanquished. The victors are always presented as lily-white innocent people, full of virtues and goodness, who at some point had to struggle with the unwanted evil “other” which they had to conquer, submit or destroy. The story of the vanquished is never told, or recedes unto the background by some honorific mention, of course, pronounced by the ever-benighted victor.

Therefore we have the history of the United States in its eastern expansion, where the histories of the indigenous populations, from whom they were stealing their lands, are never told. In fact, most of the national debt the U.S. incurred in its first decades of its existence was because of the loans it took to pay for the wars the U.S. army launched against the indigenous populations who were pushed, victimized and ultimately exterminated by the Anglo expansion and conquest. I bet none of your knew that.

The Mexican history narrative is even more cynically sinister and incestuously Oedipal. Not only did the Spaniards managed to vanquish an indigenous population, but used the very indigenous populations as tools to vanquish other indigenous populations. Then, to add insult to injury, the descendants of the victor Spaniards used the story of the vanquished Aztecs—as if it had happened to them—to blame their own ancestors for what they did throughout the Americas, which they themselves continue doing to the indigenous populations until the present day. Propping up the vanquished to hide the victor’s sins. In other words, it is all Spain’s fault, although Spain today has nothing to do with the social and economic disastrous disparities that Mexico suffers. Let’s all expediently blame Spain, la madre patria. Why not!!

Contrary to the world’s national narratives, Jewish tradition’s Israel does not recur to self-serving archetypes. It minutely records the misdeeds of a nation and its leaders, as well as its brave prophets speaking against their wrong ways, many times at great personal risk, with the hopes to lead everyone to redemption.

Jewish tradition also makes it a national obligation to study this national book some people call the Bible as part of our daily and weekly rituals. The very name we give to the first five books of the Bible, Toráh, signifies “teaching”/”instruction”, or as I would say, “teachable moments.” Explained in layman’s terms, Jewish tradition reads the Bible on two main different levels. One level informs the legal requirements of the Jewish nation; the other its ethics. From the first level we obtain the legal corpus, or halakháh; from the second, the ethical stories or legends, or midrash. Both ought to be read conjointly, and in parallel to each other. This is why the Talmud combines both, however, at the end of the day, once subtracting the gist of the lesson, all we are left with is halakháh from which Jewish ethics stem from.

This is a reason why Jews, across history, have developed a high sense and practice of self-criticism, due to the critical approach and process we are trained to follow with our national texts.

The genesis of this self-criticism goes back to the very beginnings of the Jewish people. In one of its most controversial examples, we have the Patriarch Jacob who rebukes, and later curses, his two children Shime‘on and Levi for carrying out the revenge for Dinah’s rape (Parasháh Vayishlach, Genesis 32:4–36:43). The story itself has been subject to divergent commentaries by our rabbinic scholars across the ages because it wrestles with difficult moral questions, the right or wrong of the actors of the story. As it becomes clear from rabbi Sacks’ analysis, some vindicate Shime‘on’s and Levi’s actions, while others vindicate those of Jacob. The important thing is that all these commentaries co-exist in Jewish tradition, and we can respectfully argue, agree or disagree, about them.

A more recent example of rabbinic analytical clarity happened in Italy during the 19th century. In Faur’s words,

“When Rabbi Hazzan came to Rome in the year 1847, he discovered that certain practices connected with the synagogue services and Jewish rituals gave rise to mockery on the part of some elements of the non-Jewish population… After analyzing the content of the mockery, Rabbi Hazzan showed that it did not reflect any disrespect toward Judaism. Rather, it was connected with the fact that the behavior displayed by the Jews in these occasions offended the aesthetics standards of the society in which they lived. Moreover, he went onto demonstrate that the behavior in question was not prescribed by Jewish Law, and in many instances was explicitly forbidden by the Rabbis. Furthermore, on the basis of an exhaustive analysis of the problem, Rabbi Hazzan demonstrated that according to the Jewish law one is to take cognizance of the standards of the society in which he lives. Accordingly, he issued a series of Responsa prohibiting the continuation of these practices.[1]

Even when it comes to one’s own children, Jewish law prescribes due process for the rebellious progeny disrespecting his or her parents or acting indecorously (see M”T Sefer Mishpatím; Hilekhót Mumarím, Chaps. V, VI and VII). Even though the Rabbis point out that these laws, according to tradition, were never enacted, their very presence indicate the severity of having a misbehaved child, not only for his or her parents but for society at large.

Sephardic communities across the ages were keenly aware of the delicate balance Jewish and non-Jewish relations represented, not as a matter of good neighborly relations, but for the sake of human fellowship.

In Muslim Andalusia, before the invasion of the extremists Almoradives and Almohades, in keeping with Talmudic and Biblical law, Sephardim did not engage in money lending on interest (usury) to non-Jews. On the other hand, Ashkenazi communities of central Europe had made usury permissible, who were used by European lords as front to finance their wars, and also expendable when they needed to cancel their debts through the use of pogroms. The consequences have been catastrophic for Ashkenazi communities ever since.

Often taken as an episode of religious intolerance in modern Europe, the excommunication of Benedict de Spinoza, the darling philosopher of totalitarian states and disaffected Jews, is another example of the Jewish critical approach to safeguard the community’s standing. The existing documentation, which very few scholars have bothered to peruse, indicate that the community’s representatives were concerned about Spinoza’s heretical views, of which he was public about to his Christian friends.

The perceived danger they wanted to avoid is to have the Jewish community be accused of Spinoza’s views by association. At a time of intense religious persecution in Reformist and Counter-Reformist Europe, this was a question of life or death. According to Jewish legal protocol, the community’s representatives did everything in their power to convince Spinoza to renounce his views. As it is well known in history, Spinoza did not retract, and Amsterdam’s Sephardic community saw no other option but to build a complete disassociation from Spinoza through the edict of excommunication (hérem) pronounced by the community’s lay representatives.

I do not claim to fully understand the historical background of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I do not think most do. The narratives on both sides are so rife with their own ideological idiosyncrasies, local and personal interests, angry emotions, twist and turns, that it is very difficult to obtain any clarity on the issue in popular media and conversations.

The books written by academics who have done the arduous homework, duly documented and footnoted, to untangle the maze of the conflict are prohibitively expensive, so for all this time I have put the issue on hold.  Nonetheless, as Jews it is an issue we cannot escape, and no matter how much we would like to distance or disassociate ourselves from the subject, soon or later the issue comes back to haunt us one way or another, and we have to unwillingly confront its many dilemmas. This later round between Hamas and the Israeli government is such an example.

The little I know of the conflict is when Israeli government and army classified documents come to the surface, or we get the insights from former Israeli army officers, some now-turned-peace-activists, regarding the politics and operations of the Israeli state vis-à-vis the Palestinians. And by all appearances, the actions of the Israeli state have not been precisely done in good faith, regardless of what the Hasbara public relations teams would like us to believe.

Also, as of lately, I have made myself pay attention to the Palestinian grievances, trying to look beyond the polemic or apologetic rhetoric on both sides. It is of note that the Hasbara propaganda never really engages the Palestinian grievances, unless it is to make a point that would benefit the Israeli nationalist narrative, or bring shame or evidence the Palestinian one.

The State of Israel came into being under very exceptional circumstances, even by the standards of Jewish history. The only time when the People of Israel held true autonomy was during the 1st Temple period, and even then the conquest of Canaan never was complete. Ever since, an Israelite polity has depended on a bigger or lesser degree on a foreign power. After the Babylonian exile, it depended on the Persians, then on the Greek-Ptolemies, then on the Romans; it this latest iteration, first on Britain and the U.N. and then mainly on the United States. I’ll come back to the last point in a moment for those who think the Israeli state enjoys full autonomy.

The exceptional circumstances were the growing Jewish nationalist movements both in the Holy Land and the Diaspora, as well as the tragedy of the Holocaust. The 1948 U.N. resolution to partition the region of Palestine, and assigning a portion to the Jewish people, in a way put an even bigger magnifying glass on the “Jewish question.” Whereas before Jewish repatriation depended on a foreign power, now it would find consent by a body of nations.

This created a new circumstance in the history of the modern nation-states. Previous to the State of Israel, nations-states have been formed by a willing or unwilling coalition of former kingdoms, principalities or duchies, as it happened in the cases of countries in Western Europe. Another way was when foreign powers redrew maps along ethnic or religious lines, or against them too, as it has repeatedly happened to the Balkans and Eastern Europe. In any case, all these have been done by and to populations that had a local critical mass of people who have inhabited a zone for a long time already.

The case of the Israeli state is exceptional in that most of its critical mass were recent arrivals from Europe and North Africa, and while we are able to argue our point of being a nation in exile, it is unprecedented in World history that a group of people so dispersed around the globe be assigned a portion of land to which they lay ancient claim to, with approval of several nations after 2,000 years. This on itself represents a cognition anomaly in the formation of modern nation-states, all of which have been established by the violent tool of conquest. So I would suspect it already is an uncomfortable notion to accept in the minds of most, although due to the Holocaust it is (or maybe, was) a notion that most Western peoples would overlook out of guilt.

Already beginning with the Romans, and down and through Western and Eastern Christian civilizations, the Jewish people had been targets of a 2,000-year long existential and political delegitimization campaign, much in part due to the story narratives found in the New Testament, whose ultimate consequences were forced conversions and genocide. Fernando’s and Isabella’s Spain took the crown for the former with the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th c., and Nazi-Germany the latter with the Holocaust in the 20th. If you really want to bring the issue of an existential threat, there is that.

The rebirth of a Jewish polity in our times was not without its dilemmas. The first and more glaring of them was the necessity of a Jewish majority for it to become a “Jewish” state. The Israeli government quickly resolved the issue through the use of expulsion of the Arab Christians and Muslims, who fled to mainly Jordan and the West Bank, and who have been living in subhuman conditions ever since.

For those who want to bring the racist argument that the Palestinians did not exist prior to 1948, they are absolutely and 100% correct: The Israeli state created “the Palestinians” after the 1948 expulsion. Before 1948, Palestine was merely a regional designation, just like let’s say the New World or Asia: Therefore the existence of Palestinian Jews, Palestinian Arabs, etc., prior to 1948, just like there are European or Israeli Arabs today.

The second major dilemma is to have created—not without expressed U.N. approval—a state exclusively drawn along ethnic-religious lines. At the time it made sense, because that is how most of the West had operated, but then the West was already moving away from those concepts, especially after the Civil Rights movement in the United States, and particularly after the formation of the European Union.

It is no accident that when referring to the state Israel, pro-Israeli writers prefer to use the term “Western-styled democracy” rather than “Western democracy” due to the fact that no modern democracy accepts practices or legislates a state along exclusive ethnic and religious lines. It is like saying the difference between a Beef-styled Soy product and actual Beef.

However, unlike Western nations, the State of Israel does not enjoy an overwhelming ethnic majority that would allow it to absorb the Palestinian population—even if it wanted—under the One State solution idea without losing or putting in peril its own Israeli national character—not to mention the civil rights disaster it would create.

I do not think any Western nation would allow putting its own national character in peril, why should the State of Israel be expected to? This has been one of the major contention issues in U.S. immigration history, where foreign nationals were and are seen as a threat to its national character; at one point the Catholics, then the Irish and Italians, and now the Mexicans. And the Two-State solution, especially with full-autonomy (meaning Palestine having full control of its land and maritime borders, air space and natural resources), would increase the threat for the Israeli state even higher due to the existing animosity at present, thus creating another Hamas situation in the West Bank, and logically the state of Israel would never permit it.

So what to do?

From any vantage point one looks at it, the State of Israel has put itself in an untenable position. On the one hand because the colonialist European model, where the local populations were either put into submission, expelled or exterminated, went out of style during the course of the 20th century—and we got to thank Hitler for that, which was the last drop that overflowed the cup. Now the West prefers economic-ideological domination over a political one, sort of like the Matrix where each individual is blindly slaved as a power source which works for the masters of the Matrix, but that is another conversation for yet another time. And on the other, because no other state that currently exists does exist by expressed International approval, except the State of Israel, and potentially the state of Palestine.

As Qasim Rashid succinctly put it,

“Israel cannot have it both ways. It cannot on one hand claim legitimacy by citing the United Nations decision to create Israel, and then ignore UN enforcement to hold Israel accountable to international law. If UN decisions are invalid now, then they were invalid at Israel’s creation.”

Elementary, my dear Watson.

And here is precisely where the rub lies. Are we the Jewish people really exercising our right to self-determination when we depend on an International body to legitimate our existence as a land-nation? Or are we, as obviously the Israeli settlers and those who support them, with the Israeli government backing (who in turn are being bankrolled by the unwilling and quite unaware U.S. Tax payer at the White House, the U.S. Congress and Senate request), have to resort to conquest—albeit a very mild and indirect one in comparison to what the West has ever done—that would really enable us exercise our right to self-determination and to exist as a land-nation? And by the same token, aren’t Hamas and the sector of the Palestinian people who support it also not exercising their right to self-determination by resorting to violence?

Because let’s face it, what nation today exists without ever having resorted to violence? And isn’t self-determination, as it has been practiced since the dawn of history, intrinsically linked to violence?

The People of Israel, and by this I mean all the Jewish people, are caught in a dialectical conundrum that ultimately cannot be resolved in any reasonable way or means, at least in a way or with means that would resolve peace with justice and nominal satisfaction for all sides. In the meantime, Jewish voices on the right and on the left are not arguing their points in ways that are helpful or realistic in any way, nor care to think or project the consequences of their words and actions.

The right-wing (pro-Israeli nationalist) Jewish voice has been deploying its message, of course, to its greatest advantage. The Hasbara talking points[2] are a careful psychological examination to appeal to its most powerful audience and allies, the people of the United States of America. Fairness, balance and objectivity are never their purpose, but semantic manipulation, with the end goal to convince and win the media battle.

The left-wing Jewish voice tends to be very diverse. On one end of this spectrum, there are Jews who wished the state of Israel did not exist, for whatever reason they may have, whom I would characterized as anti-nationalist. On the other you will find Jews who do not subscribe in part or in toto to the beliefs and aspirations of the Israeli-nationalists (generally that of the idea of “Greater Israel”), and argue for the borders proposed by the U.N. in 1967, and whom I would describe as non-nationalist.

Both voices present problematic Public Relations consequences for the Jewish people. On the one hand because the first voice is not interested, nor seem to have the intention, to resolve the status of the Palestinian people, be it having their own state or absorption into the Israeli provenance. The consequence of this is that whatever past or present complains the Jewish people have had historically, against those nations that once mistreated us, will ring hollow in relation to current Israeli-nationalist deafness to the Palestinian issue. The second voice present problems, especially when becoming incendiary, because their arguments play right into the hands of real anti-Semites.

The little moderate Jewish voices that do exist get drowned and lost in the cacophony of the former two. The rabbinic voice of Jewish objectivity that has sustained Jewish existence for almost 2,000 years has been lost at present.

The State of Israel is a veritable Pandora box for the Jewish and Palestinian people, and its palpable consequences are beginning to unravel on the world stage for Jews everywhere.

I had mentioned in my previous post “Zionism in Sephardic Thought” that a few years ago I felt we should be expecting a Holocaust and Inquisition all rolled up into one, but I did not know how to articulate it.

In that post I listed articles that exposed the halakhic basis 19th c. Sephardic rabbis were using as seminal scaffolding for the formation of a Jewish polity in the Land of Israel. Their project was left incomplete, and what took its place, though coming from the same set of Jewish aspirations, adopted ways of appropriation foreign to Jewish tradition.

For centuries, a successful Jewish leadership has stroke a balance between the requirements of Jewish law in Jewish life, and the norms of the society in which we lived. The pseudo-Jewish leadership that replaced it, most of which has been invariably non-observant at best and anti-Toráh at worst, have slowly but surely eroded whatever hard-gained reputation and sympathies Jews ever had.

The quickest analogy on leadership replacement I can make is as if the likes of the Senior or the Caballería families, both known influential Spanish Jewish families who converted to Christianity out of sheer convenience, would have taken the leadership reigns of the Jewish people in 15th c. Spain.

Jewish historical experience has shown us the dire consequences of assimilation to pagan modes of thinking and behavior. The Rabbis of the Talmud describe us such august personalities:

“One verse says: ‘You have done after the laws of the nations around you’ (Ez. 11:12).  While another verse says:  ‘neither have you done after the ordinances of the nations around you’ (Ez. 5:8).  How are we to explain this?  Like those who are upright among them (the nations)—you haven’t done; but like those among them that are corrupt, you have done!”[3]

The phrase “worst than a [corrupt] non-Jew” in rabbinic parlance is not some casual vacuous statement of passing dissatisfaction and disappointment regarding an assimilated self-hating Jew, but a dismal indictment to those Jews who have opted to abandon Israel’s ancient and time-honored code of behavior meant to raise descent and respectable people, and replaced it with convenient and expedient ways where the ends justify the means, which in a Faurian explanation that is where the core of pagan thinking lies.

The so-called Western values the Israeli-nationalists are so proud to tout are not limited to “democracy,” “freedom,” and “equality,” among other things, but also its will to dominate and silence the victim at all cost, whether by means of forcing submission or ultimate destruction. A quick review of the recent histories the U.S., England or Germany in comparison to the behavior of the modern State of Israel makes the latter point quite evident.

And it is here that I would like to take a pause and briefly redirect the focus from the state of Israel to the West, particularly to the United States.

I am with many pro-Israeli-nationalist critics that it is pure hypocrisy the Western and Islamic media magnify the conflict, and criticize the barbarity of the IDF and the political actions of the Israeli government. This in contrast to what the U.S. has done in Afghanistan and Iraq—not to mention Central America and Indo-China—and what Western-backed Arab dictators and current Islamic insurgent rebels have done and are doing to their own populations, the Israeli military actions on the Palestinians are risible and child’s play. But as a Jew I must cite the rabbinic ethics that every human being “complete a total universe” (Misnnáh, Sanhedrín 4:5)[4] and hence sacred, and that those who practice death shall death also reach them (Mishnáh, Abót 2:7).

One innocent life lost is one life lost too many, no matter who that happens to be. We have ancient standards to live and by which we have lived. Modern warfare is unconscionable and morbid. It used to be in the not so distant old days that armies met in the field to confront each other, away from population centers. The victor, if ruthless, would wipe entire populations at worst, and at best just the men, sparing the elderly, women and children. If magnanimous, it would forgive at best, even allow the vanquished rule themselves with certain limitations, and at worse enslave them all. Kings, princes and generals had at least the decency to meet face to face, mano a mano on the battlefield. Modern warfare with its drones and weapons of mass destruction does not discriminate, and its death blows are exponential. Technology has turned men into cowards!

A troubling question that has been bothering me for quite sometime is, exactly what is the U.S. interest to unilaterally economically, politically and militaristically support the state of Israel?

As a Mexican citizen I do understand Mexican history from its perspective, and how it has been manhandled by the interest of the U.S. economic elite, which instruments how U.S. foreign policy is ultimately drawn.

The U.S. government does not hand anything to anybody for free and out of sheer and purported Christian love and compassion; there are always string attached. My paternal grandmother, of blessed memory, in a stroke of Sephardic clarity and truth had a seminal saying that has proven all so true to anything the U.S. government has ever done in foreign policy, el gringo no da brinco sin huarache. It roughly translates to, the U.S. does not jump without first having its sandals on.

There is always a calculated risk dependent on expected gains, and the non-American political actors who fully cooperate with U.S. interest are the ever more hypocrite, self-serving, but ultimately the more damaging to their own people’s lives and livelihood.

Nothing good does or has ever come out of cooperating with agents of tyranny, nor from receiving gifts from self-serving hypocrites. In the Sephardic tradition, the after-meals prayer has a very poignant phrase, which apparently is being overlooked by Israeli-nationalist politicians and media handlers who knowingly and cynically cooperate with the U.S.,

“Lord our God, may we not be brought to need gifts or loans from the hand of flesh and blood (for their giving oft is grudging and great the humiliation), but only from Thy hand so generous and liberal, so bountiful and open. Thus shall we not be put to shame either now or hereafter.[5]

Or like the Americans say, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

So the big-picture question that has eluded me whenever I am confronted with the conflict goes, what is exactly the tactical game the U.S. is playing in the region?

In a CounterPunch article, “NATO’S True Role in US Grand Strategy,” Diana Johnstone recovers a morsel pronounced by then Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, who said back in 2006,

“The alliance between NATO and Israel is only natural….Israel and NATO share a common strategic vision.  In many ways, Israel is the front line defending our common way of life.”

Translate “front line” as cannon fodder, and realize that NATO is nothing more than an international militaristic instrument—a lackey—of U.S. foreign policy.

Anti-war activist Noam Chomsky gave yet a more intimate angle on Israeli utility to U.S. interest. In a meeting that took place at the MIT campus on May 6, 2014, professor Chomsky begins explaining [at min. 47:36] about (a) what National Interest means, (b) that for the Pentagon the state of Israel is the most significant country to protect due to its strategic importance for the U.S. military industry, (c) how it is used as a sales pitch for military technology, and (d) that Israeli-Palestinian conflict is used as a testing ground for new military technology.

Also on the same meeting, Chomsky explains how the so-called Jewish lobby (miniscule if compared with the rest, and which the Hasbara says it does not exist) would be put out of business within minutes if other lobbies within Washington decided to do so. He also brings to our attention that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will end when the United States tells the Israeli government to end its shenanigans, as it once did with South Africa’s Apartheid government.

It does not take a whole lot of research to figure out the power that U.S. government exerts on the Israeli one. It takes a bigger bully to shut down the smaller one, as Chomsky would put it. Uri Avnery reminds us of one such instance:

“When Israel conquered the Gaza Strip and all of Sinai in the course of the 1956 Suez war, David Ben-Gurion declared the founding of the ‘Third Israeli Kingdom’, only to announce in a broken voice, a few dates later, that he had promised President Dwight Eisenhower to withdraw from the entire Sinai Peninsula.”[6]

So much for sovereignty, indeed!

So to diffuse a bit the magnifying glass the world has on Israel, we ought to put close attention how the state of Israel is being used by the United States, which essentially is no different how the European feudal lords used Jews in Medieval Europe: Scapegoating and expendable collateral.

Dreamland apologetics against the core facts are just dangerously delusional.

Personally I think that what magnifies the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is precisely this client relationship that has been established and solidified over the last 40 years. The state of Israel benefits, the U.S. foreign policy and military complex benefit. Not only is the preferential treatment obvious, a source of resentment from most nations, but also the unwillingness of the Israeli-nationalist narrative to engage Palestinian grievances, which by the way that is what nationalist narratives do, belittle or ignore the little people.

There is another layer of magnification. Since the 1960s, American Jewry has been very accomplished to remind everyone of the horrors of the Holocaust through grass-root activism and the media. If the Bible had not brought the drama of a persecuted people for mass consumption, the Holocaust narrative cemented the Jewish people’s reputation as the poster boy of victimhood. There are major differences how the victim’s narrative are treated and deployed in both, yet another subject to be developed at another time.

The latter has not only brought a lot of attention, I would even say a monopoly, to the historical Jewish plight in the midst of all the victims in history. As non-Jewish society began to slowly drop whatever prejudices they ever had against Jews, and we in turn began to become more integrated in non-Jewish society, ultimate gesture of which is expressed in the International, though not absolute, consensus for the “right” of a Jewish state to exist, how does it not that we are held to a higher standard as a result?

The core of the tension and dissonance in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict boils down to the golden rule, or rather the lack of it; specially in its most basic Jewish interpretation, that which hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. Religious Jews may debate whether or not to extend this courtesy to the Palestinians, and the halakhically aware Jews will know what I mean by this. But regardless, what remains a basic fact of life and self-preservation is that one cannot expect to continuously mistreat someone without having any reaction.

Being that the Jewish people as stateless people through history have been objects to dispossession, expulsions, persecutions, ghettoization, discrimination, racist objectification, and we have done a pretty good number on guilt tripping Western civilization because of all that and more, how can we in turn do the same to the stateless Palestinians?

And then we have the heavy rhetoric of the state of Israel being compared to Nazi-Germany, and the resistance that goes on to fight that rhetoric from the Israeli-nationalist propaganda apparatus, when for years it was the same propaganda apparatus who deployed that same rhetoric on anybody it wished, even for the most miniscule and ridiculous thing. So how did it not expect to have a taste of its own medicine in return?

Looking at the big picture, it is more than clear that the pseudo-Jewish leadership has acted in immature, irresponsible and reckless ways. This leadership, which has been holding the existential discourse of the Jewish people for the past 60 years, has absolutely no sense of balance—a balance once carefully cultivated in Jewish tradition—, and it does not look like it will gain any in the foreseeable future.

On a more personal note, I began this article as a way to explain globally of what I think of this conflict in my own words, as I find practically every article lacking something, and say no more on the issue. The more I read about it, the more apprehensive I become about how things are evolving. Although I will find it impossible not to continue speaking about it, I want this article to be a departing point for any future argumentation.

The gist of the present essay is basically to say that a bad leadership engenders bad consequences. And I have explained the basis of what makes a bad leadership, at least in Jewish terms.

That most pro-Israeli nationalists cannot see the connection between what is happening in Europe, partly in the United States, and the core grievance of the conflict shows the kind of cognitive disconnect that exist at present in the Jewish world.

Yes, the Arab and Christian worlds have their issues, and we hear plenty what those are from any imaginable Jewish apologist and polemicist. There is nothing wrong to protest against someone who had wronged you; in fact, it is an obligation in our religion, in the hopes it will diffuse a sustained and bottle-up resentment that may lead to revenge. The problem has been that the pseudo-Jewish discourse for the past 60 years has evolved in a repeated one-directional accusative barrage, without ever taking into consideration of how this may in turn affect us negatively.

We as the Jewish people should know better than anybody else that mankind is slow to change. After all, isn’t our history the ups and downs of a nation, the struggle between self-defeat and self-betterment, and the hope that at the end of all we can shine God’s image within us through?

It does not matter how much ballistic and diplomatic power we think we have in our favor, the bottom line is mathematically simple: There are more of them than there are of us. There is no amount of accusative rhetoric or protection on the offensive that will be able to ensure the safety of each and every Jew. The Patriarch Jacob knew this instinctively, and acted accordingly.

We need to bring back the cautionary Jacob back into our midst.

[1] Faur, José. “Modern Sephardic Thought: Religious Humanism and Zionism.” The First Congress on the Sephardi and Oriental Jewry. The Sephardi and Oriental Jewish Heritage. Studies, Issachar Ben-Ami (ed.), Jerusalem, The Magness Press-The Hebrew University, 1982, p. 337.

[2] The story was first revealed by Newsweek Staff, “How to Sell Americans on Israeli Settlements.” Newsweek Mag., March 13 2010. Web. August 9 2014.

[3] Sanhedrin 39b. Cited in José Faur’s The Gospel According to the Jew. Moreshet Sepharad (November 16, 2012), Kindle edition. Footnote 24.

[4] Cited in José Faur’s The Horizontal Society.  Academic Studies Press (January 1, 2010), p. 107.

[5] Edited by de Sola Pool, David. Book of Prayer: According to the Custom of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews. Union of Sephardic Congregations, New York 1974, 2nd edition; p 437.

[6] Avnery, Uri. “Eyeless in Gaza.” CounterPunch, August 15-17 2014. Web. August 17 2014.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s