Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Israeli Faith

A letter in The Australian of 16 December 2011 from Vic Alhadeff, Jewish Board of Deputies, Darlinghurst, NSW:

"A Sydney school has shelved references to Santa, Christmas carols and Christianity so as not to offend Jewish and Hindu pupils. To be clear: we support the right of Christians to celebrate Christmas, just as Indians have the right to celebrate Divali [sic], Muslims to mark Ramadan and Jews to celebrate Chanukah. It's what makes Australia Australia."

A 25 July 2011 tweet from Vic Alhadeff:

"What a 'Jewish state' actually means."

Which takes us to:

"Judaism has never seen itself exclusively or even primarily as a religion; indeed, you won't find the modern Hebrew word for 'religion' anywhere in the first 5 books of the Bible. The Biblical terms for what we today call Jews are Am Yisrael - 'the nation of Israel' - and Bnei Yisrael, 'the children of Israel'. And that's precisely the point: From a Jewish perspective, the Jews are first and foremost a nation. Thus, the term 'Jewish state' is in no way analogous to 'Christian state'. Rather, it's analogous to 'French' or 'Danish' or 'German' state. Just as these are the respective homelands of the French, Danish and German peoples, a Jewish state is the homeland of the Jewish people." (Misunderstanding what a 'Jewish state' actually means, Evelyn Gordon,, 21/7/11)

Standard Zionist fare, of course. Whatever else they're up to the French, the Danes and the Germans are emphatically not in the business of urging foreigners, who can lay claim to 'French', 'Danish' or 'German' mothers, to pack their bags and emigrate forthwith to 'their' respective, alleged 'homelands'.

Nor do France, Denmark and Germany insist that they are the one and only 'homeland' for such foreigners, deeming them exiles. Nor do they scour the globe for supposedly 'lost' French, Danish and German tribes with a view to their uprooting and 'repatriation' to 'their' French, Danish and German 'homelands'.

All stuff and nonsense, of course, but it's all there in Gordon's chapter and verse: For political Zionists, Jews are not so much a faith community as a 'nation'.

Which brings us back to Alhadeff's letter, in which he presents as nothing more than a champion of freedom of religious expression. Yet, were he pressed on his interpretation of Judaism, as a political Zionist, he's bound to reduce it all to little more than unconditional support for a political entity.

In the interests of accuracy and transparency, therefore, shouldn't he have written: 'We support the right of Christians to celebrate Christmas, just as Indians have the right to celebrate Diwali, Muslims to mark Ramadan, Jews to celebrate Chanukah, and Zionists to whoop it up on Yom Ha'atzmaut'?

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