The Jewish community as a whole needs to start getting a grip on the insane zealotry inherent in lock-step support of Israel.
As someone who was raised in an orthodox community which supports settlements, anti-Arab racism and the sort of awful tendencies that have gained so much more prominence in both Israel and the American Jewish community in recent years, I also understand that the violence reported below, directed at two personal friends of mine whom I know to be non-violent, is not typical of most supporters of Israeli policies.
But it is also the inevitable result of zealous nationalism, a force which not only leads so many Jews to support massive human rights violations by Israel but also to a growing split in our community between those who are willing to have a rational discussion about Israel (a group which includes many pro-Israel voices, ranging from supportive but critical ones like mine to others who believe that Israel is usually right but that discussion should remain free) and those who display the fanaticism that extremist nationalism so often produces.
And, while it’s true that criminal extremists like those who attacked my friends in Berkeley are the exception, they are also always to be found when people condone fanatic ideas and excuse behavior we would otherwise condemn because we identify in some way with the perpetrators. Sadly, that describes too much support of Israel, something that certainly need not be.
One can also make the point that criticism of Israel, crucial of course for the rights of Palestinians, is critical today more than ever as Israeli policies and actions lead it to the precipice of national suicide. But for the sake of the Jewish future, we must, in any case, confront the zealous lunacy that support for Israel has become in some quarters. We should, most of us, be able to band together for that.
If any readers would like to express solidarity or support for Alexei Folger or Glen Hauer, the two JVP members who were assaulted yesterday, send me a message using the contact form here and I will pass it along to them. Continue reading