in “Homeland Grasp” 2008 , A.B. Yehoshua wrote: “In a certain tragic sense, anti-Semitism has become the most important and most natural component in crystallizing Jewish identity, so much so that for many Jews the absence of anti-Semitism … appears suspicious and unnatural.”
The greater part of the Zionist idea is based on Herzl’s experience in the face of the Dreyfus trial. Desiring to resolve the Jewish question and rid Europe of its Jews, Herzl conceived the Zionist idea. Ahad Ha’am (Asher Ginsberg ) immediately retorted: “Antisemitismus [anti-Semitism] begat Herzl, Herzl begat the Jewish state and Zionismus, and Zionismus begat the [Zionist] Congress. Antisemitismus is therefore the cause of causes in this whole movement.” But no one would listen to him then. Ahad Ha’am became one more gridlocked street in Tel Aviv and anti-Semitism was consolidated as one of the components of modern Jewish identity. I heard the joy of a potential increase in aliyah expressed in so many Zionist back rooms whenever the level of anti-Semitism rose. A modicum of anti-Semitism in the West is always sufficient proof of the rightness of the Zionist path as seen through the prism of “catastrophic Zionism” at its finest.
In recent years the situation has become far more acute. Israel sweeps all the criticism against it, both justified and unjustified, under the same anti-Semitic rug. It is actually we who are repeatedly mixing up proper criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. The reason is to avoid at any price having to confront the situation and make tough existential decisions: the occupation, the injustices, the discrimination, the persecution of the non-Jewish minority in our midst. As long as “they” are anti-Semites, we feel pure and justified in our own eyes.
there is no other colonialist left in the world, other than “the only democracy in the Middle East.” The world is still putting up with all this, but not for much longer – it will soon be over.
In a very short time we will no longer be able to evade the real questions: Are we capable of apprehending our existence without the hatred of others? Do we really need external anti-Semitism as a means to define our inner identity?
we don’t have a clue and don’t have experience when it comes to openness, acceptance and full equality for Jews, as for everyone else. That prospect threatens us in the deepest recesses of our being and confronts us with questions about our national existence as such, as “a people that shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.” This being so, we tend to return to the sick, pathological molds which are so familiar to us: junkies of hatred, we isolate ourselves from the haters, real or imagined. As though the evil we know is preferable to the potential – and threatening – good. From this point of view, the establishment of the State of Israel not only failed to solve the problems for the sake of which it was founded but, on the contrary, made them a great deal worse. Israel is the biggest shtetl in the history of the world.
as a collectivity we are continuing the pathological historical relations between Jews and gentiles. The goy is still a threatening figure, but absolutely necessary, because who are we without the Sartrean goy who defines us? We have done very little in Israel to develop an internal national-identity model that is not dependent on the definitions of the external persecutor.
There is an internal Jewish essence that is not dependent on external circumstances. It is buried deep below layers of historical trauma. But its heart still beats; in the form of humanism, responsibility for the peace of the world, universalism without boundaries. Israel’s establishment ought to enable the realization of this potential.