Liberal Zionism in the Age of Trump

Omri Boehm (ahem), assistant professor of philosophy at the New School for Social Research, has a piece in the NYT on “Liberal Zionism in the Age of Trump”.

In it, he points out the longstanding Double Standard when it comes to the political position (in Israel) espousing Jewish ethnocentrism as an end-in-itself, something that is deemed ‘white supremacy’ when espoused by whites in a white-majority, Eurocentric country:

In the last few decades, many of America’s Jewish communities have grown accustomed to living in a political contradiction. On one hand, a large majority of these communities could rightly take pride in a powerful liberal tradition, stretching back to such models as Louis Brandeis — a defender of social justice and the first Jew to become a Supreme Court justice — or Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched in Selma alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On the other hand, the same communities have often identified themselves with Zionism, a political agenda rooted in the denial of liberal politics…

Yet insofar as Israel is concerned, every liberal Zionist has not just tolerated the denial of this minimum liberal standard, but avowed this denial as core to their innermost convictions. Whereas liberalism depends on the idea that states must remain neutral on matters of religion and race, Zionism consists in the idea that the State of Israel is not Israeli, but Jewish. As such, the country belongs first and foremost not to its citizens, but to the Jewish people — a group that’s defined by ethnic affiliation or religious conversion.

As long as liberalism was secure back in America and the rejection of liberalism confined to the Israeli scene, this tension could be mitigated. But as it spills out into the open in the rapidly changing landscape of American politics, the double standard is becoming difficult to defend.

What, pray tell, has triggered this seemingly random introspection on the Double Standard issue?

That difficulty was apparent earlier this month at an event at Texas A&M University when Richard Spencer, one of the ideological leaders of the alt-right’s white nationalist agenda — which he has called “a sort of white Zionism” — was publicly challenged by the university’s Hillel Rabbi Matt Rosenberg, to study with him the Jewish religion’s “radical inclusion” and love. “Do you really want radical inclusion into the state of Israel?” Spencer replied. “Maybe all of the Middle East can go move into Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Would you really want that?” Spencer went on to argue that Israel’s ethnic-based politics was the reason Jews had a strong, cohesive identity, and that Spencer himself admired them for it.

The rabbi could not find words to answer, and his silence reverberates still. It made clear that an argument that does not embrace a double standard is difficult to come by.

Of course, Boehm doesn’t take a position on the Double Standard, concluding that:

… the following years promise to present American Jewry with a decision that they have much preferred to avoid. Hold fast to their liberal tradition, as the only way to secure human, citizen and Jewish rights; or embrace the principles driving Zionism. In the age of Trump, insisting on both is likely to prove too difficult to contain.

Let’s kick the can a bit further down the road, and hopefully the goyim will forget about it.

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