Thursday, December 4, 2008

enemies of the state

Okay kids, here’s a quiz: They throw stones at Israeli soldiers, they deny the legitimacy of the Israeli government, they threaten the security of the Israeli state. The organized Jewish community should consider them

a) Friends of Israel

b) Enemies of Israel

You’ve got ten minutes.

This shouldn’t be too hard, but for far too long we’ve refused to take the radical settler community for the danger that they are. In fact, the Israeli government has frequently subsidized them, subsidizing even those actions that have broken Israeli law. Now, when the government spends money on building infrastructure supporting illegal settlements, or on the defense of illegal settlements, that’s money they’re not spending on social services, or settlement of immigrants, or the like. Which means that the money you and I give to support those services, well, we too are subsidizing those illegal settlers. Again, I’m making the easy case; I’m only talking about those settlers who are breaking Israel’s own law.

And for all kinds of reasons having to do with, I don’t know, the romantic hold of the story of the pioneers, or a belief that Jews should be nice to other Jews (a belief the settlers certainly do not hold), or a fear that at some level they are more authentic Jews than we, we continue to grant them a presumption of legitimacy. Even if they’re misguided, we say, they’re still living out the Zionist dream.

Enough of that nonsense. Zionism is a political movement that had at its heart the establishment of a state. The settlers have abandoned politics for a strange volkish messianism, and they have nothing but scorn for the state, its system of government, and its founding documents.

The settlers are anti-Zionists, and until we start insisting on that basic truth at least in our own internal discourse they will continue their stranglehold on the government.

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