Hath hitteth the fan…ith

Lieberman’s proposed loyalty oath inches closer and closer to becoming official and with it, the government here further alienates anyone sympathizing further left than fascism.

Though it’s been in the works and in the news for quite a while, yet another obstacle fell to the wayside and we are that much closer to living in a complete theocracy…or worse. “Ministers approved a draft of the proposed oath, which would require anyone taking Israeli citizenship to swear allegiance to Israel as a ‘Jewish and democratic state’.” Thus was rejected Netanyahu’s proposed revised wording: “the nation state of the Jewish people which grants full equality to all of its citizens”.

The proposition is being attacked as racist, anti-democratic, ultra-nationalist, fascist…the list goes on. It’s all of these and more. It’s the beginning and an integral part of a terrifying trend not only of religiosity but of ultra-ethnic-nationalism that needs to be recognized.

No citizen should have to swear loyalty to a state that does not even make overtures to protect them. Would you swear loyalty to a white, Protestant United States of America? Wouldn’t that mean that Protestant doctrine bests all others in official discourse? I know Israel and the U.S. aren’t the same, and I am going to play this on the assumption that the state of Israel is a necessary evil to create the sanctuary some Jews feel they need to future-protect. But that does not give them the right to withhold equal right from all citizens, and certainly does not give them the right to force a religious-ethnic-national state down everyone’s throats. This isn’t just Arabs, although they are by far the largest minority. What about migrant workers? What about legions of secular or leftist Jews who are made uncomfortable by the idea of a Jewish state?

It also begs the question, what does Jewish state actually mean? Jewish homeland? Theocracy? How do we define Judaism? Is it a religion, is it a nation, a race, a culture? Another Ha’aretz article explains the proposal as “a controversial proposal that would require any non-Jew taking Israeli citizenship to swear allegiance to Israel as a ‘Jewish and democratic state.'” Which, when combined with the Conversion bill…

Here’s the real problem, as I see it. To characterize Israel (or anything) as a Jewish state leaves you with two options. In the first, a Jewish state can be a theocracy in which Judaism means religion and the Jewish state encompasses in its governmental structure all aspects of religion. I vehemently reject this idea, and it disadvantages anyone who sees religion – theirs or otherwise – differently. On the plus side, theocracies can have systems to protect their religious minorities/dissidents, the Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages notwithstanding. The second option is seeing Judaism as a nationality or an ethnicity, which is much scarier. Once you have a Jewish national-ethnic state, you have an ethnocracy. You have a new final solution. You have a new superior, supreme race. A “race” which is defined by no tangible characteristic other than matriarchal lineage, self-affiliation subject to someone else’s approval, and a roughly defined shared history. (Oppression, broadly defined, did not manifest the same in Eastern Europe as it did in Northern Africa. We are from different cultures.) A third option is a combination of these two, but that is self-evidently scary as hell.

Supremacy is created by exclusion, and here it’s no different. To declare allegiance or loyalty to a Jewish state would validate someone else’s vision of Judaism to the exclusion of all others. It would let someone else define who is a Jew, and what it means to be a Jewish state and be a part of a Jewish community. It means that only those who are approved by the Ministry of Deciding Who is Jewish (better known as the Jewish Agency) can be full participants of this state. I means people like me, life-long Jews who love and respect their religion and culture, would be rejected – even if I chose to swear loyalty, which I never would – based on the fact that my mother’s blood is impure. She’s a Muggle and I’m a Mudblood in Lieberman’s Israel. If I had wanted to be a loyal member of the German state and the Nazi party in the 30s, I would not have been allowed because of my father’s blood. In Israel in the 2010s, if this passes, I will not be allowed to be a full citizen because of the exact reason that might have given me a chance in hell of surviving the Holocaust.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. This is the Catch-22 and the irony of it all.


2 thoughts on “Hath hitteth the fan…ith

  1. Not to push my metaphysics or supernaturalism on you, but your post today exactly joins up with what I was cooking up overnight. I had to look up “muggle” and “mudblood”. I tried reading the first Potter book and found it offensively rubbery.
    In my reverie, I pictured Israel (present constitutional arrangement–“the state”) as a rickety house (maybe one of those Sukkoth booths) which was sturdy enough in resisting pressure from above, but which, pushed from the side, would fall right over. This morning, somewhat more awake, I was broadening the theory to see US society–the state, again: can I say, “the Establishment”?– as interlinked currently with Israel in this rickety arrangement, which once again would collapse if pushed on from the side.
    Haaretz’s emailed news items just now headlines the “liberal spirit” of Barak’s alternative oath. How much of US support for Israel comes from “liberals”? Most of it. For all kinds of nasty reasons. None of that pure idiocy of the fundamentalist millennialists–and that harmless, too–a murderous bunny.
    Now I don’t see where there is a side of Israel to be pushed on, but I can see the side of US liberalism. Obama’s seal falls off his podium and he “quips” that some guy back there is really nervous right now–he’s sweating bullets. That’s modern liberalism’s culture. Nothing matters but respectability, which is tribal membership by no discernible criteria but which seems to have to do with acting smarmy and yet cold. “I am in charge here, so I obviously know what’s going on.”
    It–this liberal respectability– is an off-shoot of Protestant spirituality: textual literalism, predestination (proving you’re saved–“okay”–by being successful–but success is defined as furthering the state in its arbitrary (“and capricious”) trajectory), etc. Mobilized and coordinated solipsism. “You’re okay if I’m okay.” (Play on ’70’s “transactional analysis’s” “I’m okay and you’re okay.”) The interpersonal entirely engulfs the “I-it” relationship of the person with the environment external to the imagination, the latter relationship being the way we discover we’re not God, either severally or collectively. But this interpersonal is spurious, since the “thou” in it is not external to the imagination of the “I”, so the means of coordinating this solipsism (“self alone”) are necessarily insane and crude. Oh, let us merrily shoot a cruise missile, and merrily may we await the casualty report, tra la, tra la.
    This culture is so weak you can’t really say it “stands” (the root of words like “institute”, “constitution”, and “statute”). It sort of leans on itself like an over-tall momentary accumulation of litter.
    The last ten years have been very turbulent for this dust-kitty culture of liberalism. The strands of hair and textile fiber, the cast-off human cellular debris, the pollen, the discarded larval cases (do you see yourself in this picture?), they’re all starting to wander and wonder and drift apart from one another. This crisis is actually a birth pang of US culture, as people crawl out of the wreckage of the existing structure: A Wake for the Living, in the words of the title of a family biography written by a professor at Sewanee U. (whose mace bears the “stars and bars”, or did until quite recently–a scandal!) on my mother’s side. I finally, after thirty years of looking at it, cracked it open and scanned it, and he was condemning society for not welcoming change–I’d thought he was condemning our family, but he turned out to be saying what I’ve lately discovered, that we’re among the energetic good citizens, for all our frailties.
    What would happen to Israel if the US, in despair and terror at this ongoing train wreck, this disarray of ritual, ran away and joined a real cult, with uniforms and everything? Which is to say, I can’t imagine what the second half of my comment has to do with the first half. I suppose I, it, may mean that the tea partiers are the fear of uniformed fascism that is driving the liberal culture, well, I can’t say “crazy”, but out of its dead-end mind, and this is the shove from the side that is collapsing the house of cards (ah, a more conventional analogy), which in turn is bringing forth all these odd policy initiatives from Israel.
    All of which may be my latest rationalization of a hunch I’ve had for five years or more that it would be Israel that saves the US, not vice versa, in recovering from this current descent into hell that our cruise ship for some reason is taking us on, I must speak to the Captain about it.
    Recover: from Old French recoverer, from Latin recuperāre recuperate
    And, ah, hah, the root there is once again capere, as in con-capere, to conceive, as in “concept”. To take.
    So the universe is saying to us, take. Take the wheel. Take command. Take hold. Take a break. Take something.
    Shove. It’s time to do something; don’t just stand there: the transposition of which clauses has for a long time been wisdom.

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