The Jewish Experience by Gilad Altzon

For more than half a century, those who have been trying to combat the forces that are behind the Israeli paradigm have been identifying Israeli policies and practice with Zionism and Zionist Ideology. I am afraid to say that they were wrong all the way along. Indeed, Zionism’s project dictates the plunder of Palestine in the name of Jewish national aspiration. It is also true to argue that Israel has been rather efficient in translating the Zionist philosophy into a devastating oppressive and murderous practice. Yet, Israelis, or more precisely, the vast majority of Israeli-born secular Jews, are not motivated or fuelled by Zionist ideology. Its spirit or symbols are virtually meaningless to them. As bizarre as it may sound to some, Zionism is either a foreign or just an archaic notion for most Israeli-born secular Jews.

Since the vast majority of Israelis are confused by the notion of Zionism, most forms of criticism that would label itself as anti-Zionist would have hardly any effect on Israel, Israeli politics or on the Israeli people. In other words, in the last sixty years, those who have been using the paradigm of Zionism and its antipode have been preaching to the converted.

A total review of the amalgam formed by Israel, Zionism and Jewishness is now overdue.

Intimate Departure

Once a year around Easter, my family leaves me behind for two weeks. My wife Tali and our two kids Mai (12) and Yann (7) make their way to Israel. My wife calls it a family visit, she insists that the kids must see their close relatives and my views on Israel, Jewish identity and global Zionism should never stand in the way or interfere with family matters. For the obvious reasons, I myself never go to Israel. I had decided ten years ago that unless Israel becomes a state of its citizens, I have nothing to do there.

In our first parental years in London Tali and I had some discussions about her favourite choice of Easter break. Initially I didn’t approve. I insisted that schlepping innocent youngsters to the apartheid ‘Jews only state’ would contribute little to their future well-being, and in fact, it may distort their ethical senses. In those early parental years Tali dismissed my fears, she argued that our kids should be treated as free human beings. They must be entitled to see their family and it is down to them to make up their minds when they are ready to do so.

When our kids were very young, I found it pretty difficult to sustain my argument. Mai and Yann didn’t have any interest in political or ethical complexities. However, as my kids grew up, their journey in and out of the Hebraic shtetl had become a major education chapter for myself more than for anyone else. Observing my kids transformed into light Israelophiles opened my eyes. I happened to grasp the impact of Israel and Zionism through the juvenile eyes of my British kids. I had learned to admit how easy it may be to fall in love with Israel.

My kids love it there. They adore the blue sky, they go on and on about the sea and the sandy beaches. I guess that they love humus and falafel. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that everything I have mentioned so far belongs to the land – i.e., Palestine rather than the state – i.e., Israel. However, it doesn’t end there. They also love to talk in Hebrew surrounded by Hebrew speakers, to laugh in Hebrew and even to get upset in Hebrew. They love the Hebraic Chutzpah that is inherently entangled with the Israeli openness. At the end of the day, Hebrew is their mother tongue.

When Tali and the kids land in cloudy London they happen to be confused and lost for a while. Tali becomes slightly nostalgic about the successful theatrical career she left behind. This obviously makes a lot of sense. The case of my kids is slightly more complicated. They are Brits. Though Hebrew is their mother tongue, English is their first language. In London they clearly miss some liberties they celebrated there: they want to keep on playing in the open fields, to bathe in the glorious Mediterranean sun overwhelmed by the dry spring blossoms. But far more noticeably, Israel resolves what seems as their inevitable emerging identity complex. While here in London they are troubled with their ethnic identity, they can never decide who they are, whether they are ex-Israelis, ex-Jews, Secular Jews, Christian by culture, the descendents of a Hebrew speaking Palestinian, the son and daughter of a notorious proud self-hater and so on. In Israel, and especially with their family around, none of those questions come into play. The Israelis tend to accept you as a qualified brother as long as you are not an Arab. While in multi-ethnic London my kids are often confronted with some obvious questions regarding their origin, questions they find hard to tackle a lot because of myself and my stand, in Israel those questions are non-existent.

 

full article: www.insight-info.com

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