Thursday, February 12, 2009

Israel and civil society

First, the background: the French revolution and nationalism - assimilated Jews were infected by nationalism (who wasn't)? They wanted their own state: against the wishes of the pious Jews - there's a book by Max Simon Nordau [The Project Gutenberg EBook of Zionism and Anti-Semitism, by Max Simon Nordau and Gustav Gottheil, EBook #24186, first published in 1902], which says it very well:

"The premises of political Zionism are that there is a Jewish nation. This is just the point denied by the assimilation Jews [that is, those who believed in assimilation rather than separation], and the spiritless, unctuous, prating rabbis in their pay. Dr. Herzl saw that the first task he had to fulfill was the organizing of a manifestation which should bring before the world, and the Jewish people itself, in modern, comprehensible form the fact of its national existence. He convoked a Zionist congress, which in spite of the most furious attacks and most unscrupulous acts of violence,--the Jewish community of Munich where the congress was originally intended to be held protested against its meeting in that town,--assembled for the first time in Basel, the end of August, 1897, and consisted of two hundred and four selected representatives of the Zionist Jews of both hemispheres."

Here, we see civil society at work: civil society is the bane of civilisation. A determined group of people can hold an entire nation hostage, and generate violence (the expert on Civil society, John Keene, emphasises this point about violence).

There were other associations: the English evangelicals, the financiers, et al.

Today, civil society in America - the AIAPAC, evangelical Christians, the media - have demonised the Arabs (a major aspect of nationalism: according to Keene, The Other is everything and nothing. Nationalism needs enemies - this is an important point.)

It is fascinating how Zionist civil society in America gradually extended its grip - the early Jewish writers used to suppress their Jewish identity (in Dangling Man, only one brief paragraph is about the speaker's Jewishness; later, Saul Bellow would openly wear his Zionist heart on his sleeve - he admits in a short story that he hadn't thought Israel a great idea at one time).

Is Israel a democracy? Very much so! The relationship between democracy, violence and nationalism is deep - but is whispered only in academic circles.

But one thing's for sure - Judaism is not Zionism; they are two antithetical religions.


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