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Old 09-01-2010, 10:27 PM
soral soral is offline
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 5
Default Re: Poetaster Edition (Hussein Ibish & Eli Lake)

"I disagree. I'm a Jewish atheist, so I have no religious baggage to bring to the question. I am certainly steeped in Jewish culture, history and languages, but I have no interest (nor a right, in my view) to self-determination or my own state."

You say that you feel you have no interest in self-determination or your own state, and I commend you for it. That is your decision and it sounds carefully made. However, you assert that Israel has a "right to exist", in quote marks, while earlier stating that Israel's right to exist is suspect. As a Jew you feel you have no right to self-determination, (not that you waive this right, but that you positively do not have it to begin with) and consequently I must infer that if you are not accorded this right as a Jew, then no Jews are. Do you deny other Jews the right to self-determination on principle? Under what auspices do you call into question this universal human right for Jews? That is, irrespective of the present reality in I/P?

"Like most Jews the world over, I have declined the free overnight citizenship offer provided by the state of Israel, and I have chosen to live elsewhere."

There is hyperbole here. First I must point out that the process of Jewish immigration to Israel, Aliyah, is not overnight but takes months and often years to complete successfully, like many other immigration regimes the world over. Secondly of the world's Jews, about half are found in Israel, give or take a few hundred thousand.

"In fact, I would argue that Diaspora Judaism is a more legitimate expression of Jewish experience than Israeli/Zionist Judaism, since our historical experience is absolutely defined as minorities (just as it would be inauthentic to transplant African-American culture to Kenya or Nigeria.) But whether you would agree or not with that line of argumentation, I would still reject Jewish statehood."

'Our' historical experience? Are you including me in 'our'? I hadn't given that much away yet. Well, you should.

I believe one must be very careful about defining any historical experience in absolute terms, because we don't know how history happened exactly. Besides it's empirically wrong: there have been times and places throughout the world where Jews have been at or near majority status. And who is to say what is 'authentic Jewish experience'? It seems absolutely subjective, if you know what I mean.

Regarding the African-American analogy (always a fraught one in my view) I think you have this backward. As inappropriate as it may seem to transplant African-American culture to Kenya or Nigeria, it is as we speak being done, presumably authentically, by many Kenyans and Nigerians who love African-American culture. Further Kenya and Nigeria and other African nations are among the sources of what today comprises African-American culture, and are indeed seen by many African-Americans as homeland nations, receiving visitors and even emigrants from the African-American community. What's more, these African nations are nearly universally seen as legitimate entities despite ethnic cleansing, deprivation of human rights, war, apartheid-like conditions and starvation, along ethnic lines, committed by the governments of several legitimate nations I could mention.

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