Everybody Knows. As Palestine steps up to the plate with a request, a demand to be granted statehood. Like the story Casey at the Bat by Ernest Thayer, we know the game is fixed, and Casey will whiff. Is this entire exercise a charade, “a stunt” based on political survival, according to Diana Battu. In any event. Irrelevant. What is significant is its reproductive capacity; the ceremonial ritual of the spectacle, an artistic drama in the service of ritual. Instead of something magical and creative becomes merely another “incident” in a long series, something dissipated with no sense of autonomy. Look at it as large-scale fund raising banquet. A roast.
Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died… ( Leonard Cohen, Everybody Knows )
Perhaps the real purpose is to focus on the existential. But as in all the faiths involved, particularly Judaism, the so-called existential threat is more within; a crisis of identity between conflicting poles of spirituality and the materiality of blood and soil. Zionism , like other national movement, created a national story based on synthetic myths : a composite of European ideas and choosy interpretations of Jewish history. The results have been political, economic, and war making advances , but in the 21 st century, it can be seen as an educational and cultural failure coming into full flower. The death of the pioneer ethic has resulted in an emptiness, an alienation of national culture from both its soil and its history. In this transitional phase, Israel has returned to a rootless state, and the secularization is characterized by a cultural and economic dependence on Western ideas both social and economic. A vassal state. A colonists guard dog fed a diet of cheap fads.
As a cultural project of Zionism failed miserably in a revolution in consciousness. A hundred twenty years of zionism and and sixty years of national status has flunked the Ben-Gurion test, the dream, of the creation of a “new jew” attached by an organic,steadfast connection to his “motherland”. No. Its simply a repackaging with a new label. Same product. Its not a slam-dunk to break with history, to be the Marcel Duchamp of nation building and create a dada nation while negating a past going back to the origins of the earth.
For Franz Rosenzweig, there was a justification of exile, in which the biblical negation of the aboriginal, the nativist bent is turned on its head. Biblically, negation acted to vindicate the conquest of the land, but for Rosenzweig there is an undermining of any valid connection with the land, and compelling evidence that a spiritual and ethical mission of the nation of Israel can only be fulfilled in exile. Rosenzweig’s position collapsed the literal essence of the Bible, and the overriding desire therein expressed to conquer and settle a promised land. And Rosenzweig had company: Arendt, Steiner etc. were also probing alternative interpretations while regarding political expedient Biblical pretexts as manipulating sophisticated fairy tales as an exercise in clever sophistry.
So, In Zionism unique in Jewish history, an attempt is made to adopt the nationalistic myth, an imitation of European nationalism. It was predictable to embody political models encountered elsewhere, even though it was an artificial form of political consciousness, that had only a faint likeness to the older national Jewish experience.However, the old ghettos of Europe were simply transplanted into a larger new ghetto; a golden ghetto. A five-star version of the Warsaw ghetto? The rhetoric used to sell the “new jew” made traction: generational revolt against tradition, realizing infertile longings, overcoming the will for redemption, create and build on the soil of the motherland….
The nationalist principles quickly put down roots in the new national experience. The big selling point was an existential-spiritual mission: re-estalishing a lost attachment between Jew and earthly reality, environment and soil, of which a quasi-nationalist consciousness was a required element. The problem was and remains how to differentiate Zionism from colonialism, something which did not concern early immigrants, first and second wave who were unperturbed by the complexity of the Arab presence, and its multiplicity of tribes and cultures in the land of Israel. Essentially regarded a common livestock. For the early pioneers, a right to the land was not divine, but originated on a legitimacy due to their toil, which transformed abandonment and desolation into a productive asset. It was in consequence to the Arab uprisings, antifadas of the 1920s and later 1930’s, after “the lull” did a historical, biblical claim to the land become useful, a reinforcement of the racial-tribal claim in opposition to an equal territorial justification by nativist Arabs.
…israel should be the fist nation to vote “yes” at the united nations and offer full recognition to the state of palestine. the u.s. should follow. it is not just in the best interests of the peoples of israel and palestine to recognize each other’s right to independence and security, it is the most fundamental call of human rights….in 1947 the u.n. voted for the partition of palestine leading to the establishment of a jewish state without a prior negotiated accord with its neighbors. but israel took it anyway. in september 2011, the u.n. is poised to vote for a palestinian state without a prior negotiated accord with its principal neighbor, israel. i think both palestine and israel should take it, and use this as an opportunity to negotiate peace as equal recognized members of the international community…. ( Hune at Martin Buber Institute )
So, a Zionist enterprise, thats what it is, a business; created and distorted mythic roots from which it could validate the pioneering aspect. One could discard religious heritage, that connection with Judaic exile, but use the Bible as historical tract to justify this ancient attachment between individual and soil; an earthly, natural life of the land. The motherland that one could cleave to, which meant rooting out the other like a bad weed.
The present social malaise is conducive terrain for the flowering new ideas which promote current flavors drawn from academia and political factions. Now, Rosenzweig, Arendt, Benjamin et al. a being re-packed in new contexts where a consciousness of exile is peddled as a more desirable and humanistic choice in the face of militaristic Jewish nationalism. Compellingly, and honestly, writers like Rabkin cook up a Macbeth like potion exposing the contradictions between Zionism and Judaism, where tribalistic, racist and oppressive natures are juxtaposed against a liberated morality,which unbeknownst to them holds the identical dynamic. A severe romanticism, an academic version of suicidal Masada complex where modern Zionism is attacked, and the aggressive Hebraic nationalism of the conquerors of the land of Canaan.
Much of the current malaise is a consequence of design flaws in Zionism’s push, hasty and impatient, to revolutionize a Jew’s relationship to historic lands as well as being part of more generalized post-modern dynamics that separate the individual from nature in the face of a technological society. So, the national element copied from European nationalism, is now connected to American style exploitative, market based materialism. Land as a concept has little inherent value. The pioneer mastery of resistant soil has transformed into the real estate empire of the motherland.A Hong-Kong on the Jordan. The Israeli demonstrations this summer, ostensibly about housing, is more deep-rooted in an identity issue: An experiencing, painful, of the alienation from reality that the zionist ideology had sought to correct. The alienation is not from its citizens exiled, in a precarious situation as minority, sometimes visible, in a foreign land, but as people existing on their own land, in a post-modern global economy which views land as simply a resource: revenue/cost per square foot; a commodity bought and sold for political gain.
…Writing after the Holocaust, Richard L. Rubenstein, a leading Jewish theologian, discusses the conceptual significance of the return to Zion. Rubenstein claims that the return to the land implies modification of the concept of deity. The Israeli Jew is not guided by the God of history, who imposes a burden of guilt” upon his believer; it is the deity of “earth fruitfulness” which evokes the liberating notion of “fertility, fecundity, and joy” in the returning Jew. Interestingly, Rubenstein’s view of Zionism reiterates Klein’s perception. Imbued with the consciousness of the Holocaust, the ultimate phase of humanist disintegration, Rubenstein speaks of the need for spiritual rebirth and regeneration that Klein presaged long before the Holocaust became reality. The return to nature enacted by Zionism is of primary humanistic importance to both writers. Like Klein, Rubenstein discerns in Zionism an expression of a universal need for renewal: “. . . . Zionism can be far more than a provincial strivings of an insignificant people. In Israel the Jewish people has finished what it and fate had long ago begun. Spirit has in principle returned from its estrange ment; and history, man’s inescapable negativity, has returned to the nature which gave it birth.”‘Like Klein in his reaffirmation of man’s unmediated contact with nature, Rubenstein sees in the return to the land a release from the restricting ties of collective memory: “historical man knows guilt, inhibition, acquisition, and synthetic fantasy, but no eros. The return to the soil of Israel promises . . the return to eros.” “Eros,” the notion of liberation from the haunting and enslaving past, informs Klein’s vision of universal rebirth Read More:http://www.uwo.ca/english/canadianpoetry/cpjrn/vol26/brenner.htm
Gail Asper, a died-in-the-wool right wing Canadian zionist has made a video to educate young people about voting. Now, if she could apply the same fervency and energy to voting for Palestinian statehood:
Judith Butler:In order for democratic principles to have a chance in Israel-Palestine, there has to be a recognition of the ways in which Zionism, though understanding itself as an emancipatory movement for Jews, instituted a colonial project and the colonial subjugation of the Palestinian people. In order for this contradiction to be understood and effectively addressed, we have to be able to tell two histories at once, and to show how they converge, and how the claim of freedom for one became the claim of dispossession for another. Benjamin made use of Jewish intellectual resources to criticize the kind of progressive narrative that underwrites Zionism, and he concerned himself with the question, avant la lettre, of how the history of the oppressed might erupt within the continuous history of the oppressor. …
…One doesn’t need to turn to Jewish sources, and I’ve never argued that one should. One could criticize not only present-day Israeli militarism but the occupation, the history of land confiscation, or even Zionism itself, without any recourse at all to Jewish sources. One could do it on the basis of universal rights, human rights, a history and critique of settler colonialism, a politics of nonviolence, a left understanding of revolutionary struggle on the part of the stateless, legal rights of refugees and the occupied, liberal democracy, or radical democracy. In fact, if one only used Jewish sources for the critique of Israeli state violence, then one would be unwittingly establishing the Jewish framework, again, as the framework of reference and valuation for adjudicating the competing claims of the region. And even if such a framework were Jewish anti-Zionism, it would turn out to be effectively Zionist, producing a Zionist effect, since it would tacitly hold to the proposition that the Jewish framework must remain dominant…. Read More:http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2011/04/01/implicated-and-enraged-an-interview-with-judith-butler/
Franz Rosenzweig perceived the rationale behind the nationalist argument as a symptom of fragility, of hubris , instead of strength. A manifestation of a primitive consciousness. But, his emphasis on the blood bond betrays the argument, being the other half of the blood/soil dimension. A rapprochement with Heidegger?
…We were the only ones who trusted in blood and abandoned the land; and so we preserved the priceless sap of life which pledged us that it would be eternal. Among the peoples of the world, we were the only ones who separated what lived within us from all community with what is dead. For while the earth nourishes, it also binds. Whenever a people loves the soil of its native land more than its own life, it is in danger.…
The motif of Jews as fighting Maccabees resurges in Klein’s poetry. In “Sonnet of Time of Affliction,” the poet deplores the war enforced upon his Jewish brothers in Palestine:
Ah, woe, to us, that we, the sons of peace,
Must turn our sharpened scythes to scitimars,
Must lift the hammer of the Maccabees,
Blood soak the land, make mockery of stars…
“Greetings on This Day,” however, concludes with a vision of peace. When the war is over, the humanistic ideal of brotherhood will finally materialize:
Izak and Ishmael are cousins met.
No desert cries encircle Omar’s dome,
No tear erodes the Wall of ancient pain;
Once more may brothers dwell in peace at
Though blood was spattered, it has left no
The greeting on this day is loud Shalom!
The white doves settle on the roofs again.
(CP, p. 128)
The concept of national rebirth redeems the Jew from his passivity and presents him with a new self-image of a proud, independent human being. The long tradition of queries, complaints, and arguments addressed to God by the self-pitying, weak Jew has been transformed into a song of triumphant self-assertion. Klein, therefore, celebrates Zionism not only as a political movement, but also as an indication of possible redemption. The undertaking of an active role in forging man’s present and future signifies a process of emotional healing and maturation. Weakness has been replaced with potency; the restoration of Jewish self-respect and self-reliance will result in renewed brotherly relations between “Izak and Ishmael.” In Klein’s representation of the future, Isaiah’s prophetic vision of universal peace comes true. The Jewish farmer and the Arab fallah will cultivate the land together. The moral rebirth of human society will start in the Promised Land: the Zionist orientation transcends the limited concept of a political answer to a national need and reminds mankind of its sacred responsibility to strive towards peaceful coexistence among individuals and nations.
The focus on the return to the land signals an affinity with the pantheistic notion of the divine. The return to nature foregrounds the indelible ties between man and the divine forces of life. Man no longer arrogantly claims a central position in the scheme of creation, but rather reaffirms his organic ties with the universe; the returning son reclaims his natural parentage: nature is a part of him to the same extent as he is a part of nature:
He has said to the sun, Thou art my father
that gives me strength;
and to the cloud, Thou art my mother suckling
me thy milk.
A son has returned to her that bare him;
at her hearth
he grows comely; he is goodly to behold.
(CP, p. 126)
Klein’s ironic use of Maimonides’ The Guide for the Perplexed as the title of the penultimate sonnet underscores his derogatory view of man tragically misled by his own conceit and ignorance:
The tongue is bitter when it must declare:
matter is chaos, mind is chasm, fool,
the work of golems stalking in nightmare . . . .
(CP, p. 135)
Klein’s perception reaffirms both Maimonides’ and Spinoza’s observations of man’s erroneous perception of his position in the universe. As Leo Strauss notes in his comparative study of the two philosophers, “Maimonides finds, as does Spinoza, that given man’s insignificance compared with the universe, man’s claim to be the end for which the world exists is unten able.”18Man, according to Spinoza, misunderstands the world because “we have but partial knowledge of things. . . and because we want everything to be arranged according to the dictate of our own reason.”19In the same manner, Maimonides contends that the misconception of the divine princi ples which govern life originates in man’s narcissistic sense of centrality and importance, because “an ignorant man believes that the whole universe only exists for him.”20 Read More:http://www.uwo.ca/english/canadianpoetry/cpjrn/vol26/brenner.htm