Thursday, June 03, 2010

The comment was directed specifically to Chris Bertram.
There are now about 5.5 million Jews in israel and no one thinks they’re leaving (that includes the 3 million arrivals since 1990) [the number is very off] but Zionism is not predicted in a defense of that fact but on an affirmative defense of expulsion and exclusion. That Jews have a right now to live in Israel is not to say they had a right to go there [to begin with] and expel the previous inhabitants, any more then to say that my own right to live in the US means that my ancestors had a right to drive the natives straight to hell. Zionists claim that expulsion was and is justified. The logic of Zionism to this day is not realism regarding the facts of history but idealism and racial isolationism. By any understanding of modern liberalism this can only be seen as anathema.
I wrote somewhere in the thread that Israel is to the middling liberal class what abortion is the the middling right. Later I amended that to global warming. Earnest concern for the violence of the resistance combined with generally passive acceptance of the violence of Israel; criticism arising only when Israel can be accused of using more violence than necessary to get the job done. Bertram's post is just and only that. But what exactly is the job? He can't be labeled a denialist regarding the Palestinian experience, he just thinks the claims are overstated. And no amount of data will change that.

Some more to add, in the context of this post specifically. The reasons for liberal support for Israel (Gentile and Jewish) are historical, not logical. To understand the origin and intellectual structure of this support you need to know the context of its development: you need to know the history of Europe in the 20th century, not the history of ideas but of acts, and their repercussions. Liberal Zionism as an oxymoron is a product, a reaction, a result. The terrifying fear to liberals is that their ideas are not cause but caused. The anti-historical rationalism of the contemporary academy -the hypertrophied idealism of "baroque" modernism, and of ideas- renders this understanding unacceptable. Support for Israel is religious in the sense of being faith based. But that faith is held even by those who claim to be immune to faith, acting only on reason.

The inability to recognize -and contextualize- your own capacity for faith means also that you're unable to understand that of others. The unwillingness to accept that we all slip into assumption makes you a lousy critic.
See a discussion of empiricism and the study of religion at the Oxford Practical Ethics blog.

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