Monday, September 27, 2010

For from Zion will go forth felafel

All things being given, I’d rather live in a post-Jewish society than a post-Christian one, but Israel is, I suspect, not sufficiently post Jewish in that the discourse of a rigid, absolutist Jewishness is a growing voice there, occupying an increasingly large slice of the public domain. By post I mean a society which may draw upon a coherent faith tradition to inform the different facets of its public life, without allowing that faith tradition to become a coercive, rigid, over defined and oppressive lid on creativity and the endless tendency for forms to diversify. Yes, modern Israel needs to be in dialogue with the tradition from which it emerges - that is what makes it such a unique experiment. It is not a new expression of Islam or Christianity - it is a new expression of the group whose organising principals are some relationship with Jewishnes as faith, culture, history, sociological and personal experience. But no, there is no quintessential Judaism that can be pinned on individual Israelis as a straitjacket, even while a dialogue with the idea of a quintesential essence is maintained. (Its as valid as all other ideas...)

Secular Zionism as a cultural revolution drew upon ancient forms that Judaism had evolved and renewed them or discarded them or was informed by them or combined them with other forms. But post 67, as a national religious discourse has occupied an increasingly strident place in public debate, voices that want to create and transform and hybridise "the other"/"modernity" with varying of the inherited legacy of Judaisms (s intentional!) are increasingly under attack, from purists and gate kepers of "authentic" Judaism or "authentic" members of "Am Yisrael" (the Nation of Israel) as opposed to "traitors, leftists, yafei nefesh etc. ) Ironically the national-religious are also creating new forms all the time, but it seems to me these forms are not the vehicles for liberation that I and many Jews seek.

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To paraphrase Ben Gurion: We must not let the reactivity and unconsciousneess of the Israel bashers distract us from the more urgent task of dealing with our own reactivity, conceptual rigidity and frequently low eq


1 comment:

Rose said...

So sad. So regressive. Ultimately so self defeating. :(((