Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The first comment  by repeat commenter "js" on the most recent post by Corey Robin
(Around the time that I started commenting here, ~4-ish years ago, I remember being told that there was an informal avoidance of Israel/Palestine issues around here. I can imagine 15 very good reasons for such a policy, but I’m also glad you’re helping kick it right out the window, so to speak.)
Of course no one around is able -willing- to model the various changes in the Anglosphere that made this possible. People have been given permission to say things they would not have said in the past. A paradigm in the US has shifted; the situation of the Palestinians has not, etc.  "Value free science", "The disenchantment of the world", "Agnotology", The irrationalism of others,  ad infinitum

Robin gets into an argument (compressed here)
R--As someone who identifies as Jewish—who periodically goes to shul, celebrates some if not all of the holidays, and tries at least some (ahem) of the time to get off the internets for shabbos— 
MCJ--Since you mentioned it, may I ask, respectfully: ...are you a believer? 
R--The fact that you’ve since gone on to say that I am a believer — without me ever having said a damn thing about what I do or don’t believe of the Jewish faith — only confirms my initial impression of you (not just on this issue but several others): you assume you know more than you do.
Why not just read Philip Roth and Marx? "...get off the internets for shabbos."
What do you say to someone so confused about himself, and his motives for anything?

more comments, in order but unrelated except in their stupidity.
Roy Belmont- The point was that Polish anti-Semitism might have some real-world causes – not justifications, causes.

Robin- As for whether observant equals believer: the reason I don’t want to get into that is that in my experience many people come to that discussion with a lot of baggage about the relationship between ritual and belief, baggage that I think has its roots in Christianity.
Robin- To this Jew, when I hear that kind of talk — you’re a race, you’re a gene, you’re a this, you’re a that — I feel a bit like what I imagine some women feel like when men start talking at them about things they (men) know nothing about or at least know far less about than the women they’re talking to at the moment. Not a perfect analogy, but I hope you get the point.
Mattski- My perspective is shaped by being raised by parents, one from a Jewish lineage and the other Catholic, both of whom soundly rejected their religious traditions. But I have a lot of Jewish relatives and friends. So, how to understand? It is more of a community, or a tribe, and less a question of what you believe. Indeed, the whole belief fetish seems to me mostly a Christian thing.
MatF- Zionism… it’s pretty much a paradigm case of 19th century nationalism– particularly with inventing a new language…
Christianity was not the first religion to spread beyond its culture of origin, and Modern Hebrew is not Esperanto, but Jews don't proselytize. That's one of the reasons Judaism maintains not only a cultural but genetic continuity.  My father was bothered by the fact that the state would not allow him the option of claiming Jewish or Semitic as ethnicity. As it is he had to describe himself as white. Arabs now make the same complaint, except for those who can call themselves African American.

Robin's focus on religion is the result of his appearance; the remnants of faith are his only relation. In my own experience I've never met a non-religious Jew who worried about following specifically religious tradition. And Robin renders Judaism as Sheilaism, with added defensiveness and pedantry. Watching him I'm realizing he knows white people don't understand the Jewish experience, as they don't understand the black experience.  Whatever he'd said I'd never  really thought of him as Jewish; now I see his fear.

Zionism is Garveyism. Robin's insecurities make him sympathetic to fundamentalist nationalism but he can't allow himself to follow it. His moralism papers over his conflicts, but moralism is conservative by definition.  Hypocrisy creeps in. There's nothing religious about studying Yiddish, or even the Talmud. "The history of nonsense is scholarship." Robin wants think of himself as a humanist but he's too full of fear, and the pride that covers it like scar tissue.

Remembering an article I read by a religious writer who toured various immigrant religious organizations in NYC and became worried that the people he met and the communities they were a part of were isolated from the larger inter-ethnic community.  But of course he met people in temples and churches, not restaurants and bars.

Repeats of repeats of…  "The role of belief in religion is greatly overstated, as anthropologists have long known."

One mention in the post of the Palestinians as such. Four polite references to "Israel/Palestine".

Atrios has been on a tear recently. "I know almost nothing about Iran." He really is an amazing character.  A citizen of the most powerful nation in the history of the world and a proud know-nothing.
The posters and commenters at Crooked Timber would never be even that honest.

And the settlement expansion Netanyahu cancelled two weeks ago is back on.

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