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I know this link will expire in a short while and will regret not copying the article, but I think Aloni, who has been in the forefront of Israeli political life for many years expresses the differences between being a Jew in Israel and outside of it in a compelling and convincing way.

1. There is no more exile; there is a Diaspora. Every Jew can leave his country if he so chooses, can immigrate somewhere else, and can certainly come to Israel under the Law of Return and become an Israeli citizen. Equally, he has the right to remain where he is, with his citizenship and his community.

2. As long as he lives in the United States or in any other sovereign country, and is a citizen of that country, his obligations as a citizen are to his country, its laws and the community in which he lives, just as the obligations of every Israeli citizen are to the state, its laws and all that this implies.

3. Our connection to global Jewry and its connection to us is a historical and sentimental connection, an ethnic connection and a religious connection, with all the contexts of the land of Zion and Jerusalem.

We are “one people” in the sense of “folk” or “peoplehood,” but not in the sense of “nation,” which has to do with citizenship and sovereignty. Thus, for example, American citizens of Irish origin are connected to the Catholic religion and the Irish people, just like American Jews have connections with Israel and the Jewish people with respect to ethnicity and culture.

She continues to delineate several aspects of living both outside and inside Israel as a Jew. If you haven’t clicked on the link, do so now, this is one sharp woman.

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themiddle

28 Comments

  • Edit: I read only up to the numbered stuff. Her political crap is extraneous at best and insulting at worst.

  • Yeah, Catholicism isn’t really about a people in the secular understanding of ‘sovereignty’ or nationhood; it’s a community of believers. Jews have a connection to land and history, a tangible, here-and-now connection. That’s quite foreign to Catholicism (Jesus to Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world”).

    And, as an Irish-American, I don’t enjoy automatic dual citizenship or a right of return, or an industry (Lobby?) that encourages me to do so.

    No “next year in Dublin, and the Guiness is on me.”

  • And so according to Shulamit, if you are a Jew who lives in Syria or Iran, your main oblibgation is to one’s country, its laws and the community in which one lives, regardless of how abhorrent these laws and community standards are? How is a Jew supposed to pray daily for the redemption of Zion and Jerusalem, while still pledging allegiance to a country hell bent on preventing that? These are relevant issues to Jewish citizens of countries like Iran and Syria and they are not at issue to American jews only by virtue of the fact that American policy and Jewish interests do not contradict each other. That’s just a nice coincidence. But what happens when they do contradict each other? What happens if American policy in the middle east changes? Will American Jews serve in an army that invades Israel? Will American Jews support a government that funds Israel’s enemies? Undoubtedly many will, and some won’t, but the point is that Aloni’s somewhat simplistic analysis does not touch upon things that are uncomfortable to discuss. Why do you all think so many people got pissed at Yehoshuah?

  • Aloni’s article closely corresponds to what I hear from my secular friends and colleagues here in Israel, and what I’ve heard in the secular/religious dialogue group I have joined this past year.

    Paradoxically, much of Aloni’s “Jewish culture” manifesto needs only slight rewording to become indistinguishable from the “Jewish Culture is Tikkun Olam” manifestos of most Americans-of-Jewish-descent.

    The problem with all this is that it can’t hold water. None of it lasts beyond a generation, much of it evaporates on contact with the real demand that some standard of “Jewish culture” or “Jewish moral imperatives” be hammered out – these progressives having largely discarded the Jewish culture already created, and the binding Jewish moral scale that’s already proven itself.

    Aloni’s own grandson was convicted of one of Israel’s most shocking murders – admitting that he killed a taxi driver for the thrill of it. That’s why she left politics so abruptly.

    So what moral imperatives have been passed down by the Alonis?

    One of the most heated discussion topics in my dialogue group – second only to the Gaza expulsion – has been the growing possibility of intermarriage and assimilation here in Israel. The secularists basically wage a pitched battle against the Americans in the group – Ortho and Conservative – who know and speak a truth they are desparately trying to deny: “cultural” Judaism is insufficient as a basis for identity, personal OR national.

  • Amen, ck!

    My view is that the Jews are descendants of a nation (common language, religion, government, culture, etc.) that was forcibly dispersed from its homeland into exile. Many Jews around the world view their Jewish identity as such. Ever since the Haskalah, the nationalisms of the countries that Jews were living in came into conflict with their own Jewish nationalism, and there has been intense pressure in the Western world to reduce the Jewish nation into a mere religion, or ‘peoplehood’ (whatever that means). Napoleon’s famous quote on this is case & point.

    One shouldn’t use terms like ‘peoplehood’, and ‘folk’. They are weak, nondescript words. Nation. The Jews are a nation. That’s why Israel grants automatic citizenship to Jews. Its not because of religious chauvinism, its because of this nationalistic view of the Jewish people; Jews are and have always been part of the nation reconstituted as Israel.

  • Ben David, regardless of any other points, I take offense to your mentioning of her grandson’s actions as either her fault or the fault of “cultural” Judaism. Would you like me to point you to a story about a child molesting rabbi, or a rapist rabbi?

  • Yes ck, if you live in Syria or Iran you should be a citizen of those countries first. That doesn’t mean you cannot disapprove of the actions of a government or take steps to oppose or contest these policies, but you must do so as a citizen first and foremost.

  • Actually, ck, the difference between the USA and Syria is that the policies of the US government enjoy democratic legitimacy. The social contract here requires that all citizens respect the results of democratic decisionmaking, whether we agree with them or not. We can seek to change those results, but we are obliged to conform our conduct to them in the meantime.

    How would you respond to an isolationist German-American in 1941 who disagreed with America’s entry into WWII?

  • “There is no more exile; there is a Diaspora.”

    Look outside! There is a State of Israel; there is a Diapora.

    And there is ONLY exile.

  • Is Kelsey off his meds again?

    “There is ONLY exile”. Huh? What’s that supposed to mean?

    Is it an “ALL the Jews are in spiritual exile cuz we’re all so fucked up” kinda thing? Or something else?

  • The exile did not stop with the State of Israel. No such existential change. That is Zionist nonsense.

    Jews in the Land of Israel are still in exile.

  • Seriously, Kelsey, explain. I think I might know what you mean, but I don’t want to put words in your mouth.

    Is it because Moshiach hasn’t come yet, or is it something else?

  • The experience of living in Israel always has a different feel than in the Diaposra. Always has. Obviously if there are mostly Jews in Israel, that feeling is more intense.

    But there has been no “redemption.” The secular Zionists claimed this would end anti-semitism with the normalization of the Jewish condition. This did not happen.

    The religious Zionists claim this is “the beginning of the Geula.”

    Doesn’t look like that to most of us.

    The exile continues unabated.

  • Dkelsey, I didn’t take you for a secular messianist. But there you are again, basing your idea of redemption on a contested rabbinic belief. Dude, go the route of Shmuel: the messianic age will be when Israel is no longer subject to the powers of the nations. And we’re half-way there.

  • Ariel,

    We are in deep doo doo.

    I don’t know about a religious redemption, but I certianly see no secular redemption.

  • Two possibilities, TM.

    1) Normalization of the Jewish experience in the world. That is to say, no significant and sometimes very weird anti-semitism. And not because there are no Jews left.

    2) Triumph of the Jewish condition and narrative because of some great leader and massive rethinking on the part of the nations of the world and within the Jewish people themselves.

    Until then…

  • 1. Israel has definitely achieved this. It has civilians, non-civilians, a Western economy, a vibrant democratic political system, a robust and healthy judiciary. People live, grow, love, have families and mortgages, see grandchildren grow, etc. They also have criminals, pimps, prostitutes, druggies, police, military and prisons. They have a strong financial system, an economy that exports and imports with the rest of the world. And they do all of this under the auspices of a Jewish state with Jewish symbols, Jewish social laws governing marriage, divorce and other related matters, a national calendar that revolves around Jewish holidays and shabbat.

    I don’t see how that relates to a desire to eradicate anti-semitism and I don’t see how that’s even a realistic goal considering the Jews have been accused of deicide with the hatred of centuries that have followed.

    2. David Ben Gurion.

    2a. You mean taking a small group of believers and turning their ideology into a real and viable state in the Jews’ historic homeland, home of their forefathers, in a mere half a century doesn’t qualify in your book as a triumph? You don’t think that Jews around the world perceive themselves differently as a result? When Russian Jewry sought an escape, where did the imagination of many take them? Israel. Same with Ethiopian Jewry. You think people don’t take great pride in 1948 and 1967? That they have redefined for many Jews their perceptions of themselves? Sure they have, to the same degree that our presence in Gaza, Judea and Samaria has also colored the perceptions of many.

    Based on your comments, you should move to Israel tomorrow, Kelsey.

  • I am not saying what is realistic or not. I am saying without that very important point solved, we are still an exile.

    You see normalization in the State of Israel.

    Others see a bulls eye.

  • So then Americans should leave America? Sri Lankans should leave Sri Lanka? Chechnyans should leave Chechnya? Who doesn’t have enemies? Who doesn’t have wars? The state of Israel is only 58 years old and it takes time to achieve stablity. Don’t you live in NYC? Aren’t you a bull’s eye there?

  • TM, you said,

    “The state of Israel is only 58 years old and it takes time to achieve stablity.”

    Things are getting worse, not better. Our enemies are uniting (and plotting) against us.

    “Don’t you live in NYC? Aren’t you a bull’s eye there?”

    yes, I am.

  • Our enemies may be plotting and uniting against us, or you can look at it another way and say that as recently as 1973 Israel was surrounded by enemies whereas today it has a cold peace with two of four Arab states on its borders and could probably secure a cold peace with another two states when and if it decides to leave the Golan Heights. At that point, it will have the non-state (by their choice) group called the Palestinians as its primary foe. Even as I write, the elected government of Israel ran on a platform of removing Israel from 92% of the West Bank and completing a separation fence.

    It ain’t all that bad, Kelsey. Grab an El Al flight, they’re having a sale if you buy before May 22, and go check out Israel. I’m sure ck and the gang will show you around and just maybe you’ll fall in love with the place.

  • Muddled One – Shulamit Aloni set herself up as an arbiter of Israeli morality and culture, and spent most of her political career attempting to impose more “enlightened” and “progressive” values on her fellow citizens.

    When one steps into the public arena – and waves the flag/club of Morality in that arena – one’s own moral conduct, and that of one’s family and close associates, is open to scrutiny and examination.

    It would be just as correct to point out the personal hypocrisy of any Rabbi active in the public sphere like Aloni was. I don’t have any double standards.

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