Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2003 21:07:54 EDT
Subject: Political question: reply # 2
Shalon, David !

I appreciate discussing this with you and Nachum, although Nachum and I agree on most points.   And, I probably have more 'free time' than either of you !  [Both of you ?]

YOU WROTE:    1.  <<<My mom (who was born in Germany and left in 1938) was always leery of putting
all the Jews in one place.>>>

I understand and respect that point of view, and find it a 'wonder' that the Rebbe as well as the Satmir and Bobovitch villages, plus thousands of other Europeans, moved within the Diaspora recently, even to Argentina, Mexico, Cuba and South Africa.  However, that 'good idea,' surely, does NOT make the State of Israel,  a 'bad idea,' does it ?  It may be an argument against putting all the Jews in one basket; which nobody is advocating in any case.

[It is ironic that many Europeans say, 'Not Here !' only to have that echoed by many Muslims and Arabs.  The truth is, HaShem created the Jewish Nation uniquely:  without a home of our own, in a foreign country and a desert.  Never done before, or, since.  Had I been at Sinai, with my present hindsight, I may have been able to suggest some changes to Him/Her.    : - )

2.   <<<
Having said that, obviously though, there are plenty of places inhospitable to Jews who might not be able to get into the US or Canada; and of course even the US has no guarantees of long-term safety ("but we've been safe here in Poland for hundreds of years..."); >>>

This is the powerful 'we need a place of refuge' argument, which erupted strongly after W W I I.  It is strangely similar, perhaps, to the 'cities of refuge' provisions in the Torah, isn't it ?  but it is NOT the whole story, by any means.

YOU ADD:  3.   <<<And having said that, I think that it could be argued that for many, Zionism has morphed a little bit from having a critical component be safety and equality to being a lifestyle choice (e.g., I like it here).  To some extent, that is actually a development from a negative vision (i.e. avoiding discrimination) ... >>>

On the other hand, it has, with much reason, been pointed out that the State of Israel is NOT 54 years old, but over 100 years old.    Before the turn of the previous century [1900 C.E.]  Jews lived sporadically in Israel, and many came there only to die.  But the Zionist movement changed all that, and people began coming for religious as well as 'safety' reasons.  The Jews actually began a virtual 'State within a State,' with educational, economic, religious, political, intellectual, cultural and, eventually, military institutions.   By W W I I this infant State was able, obviously, to defend itself.    Again, the motivation was mixed, and included religious, socialist, nationalist and idealist impulses.  Not simply 'defensive' ones.   Many Arabs, of course, deny this, and try to label Israel an outpost of Capitalist imperialism.

YOU CONTINUE:   <<< 4.    to a positive [vision] (i.e., living as a Jew).   But with personal safety seemingly on the line in Israel (I know this probably
seems overstated, but even you told me you personally know someone who was killed), it is a much more complex analysis now - that's for sure.>>>

Of course, personal safety is 'on the line in Israel.'   In fact, it is on the line in the Philippines, in Guatemala and in Bosnia and New York City.   More people die from traffic deaths in Israel, annually, than from terrorists.  Death is a constant risk which the living face, perpetually.   The automobile is up near the # 1 killer in most industrialized countries.  Do we 'accept' this, or, ban the automobile ?  Nobody can be permanently 'saved' from death.

Israel is a tiny country, and the number of deaths from terror there, realistically, is a drop in the bucket when compared with what takes place in Zimbabwe, the Congo, India, Chechenia, etc., etc.,  but we Jews, and Americans alike, tend to focus on Israel.   I do not mean to sound cold or cruel, as I live with this knowledge daily, but it hardly seems very significant in the formulation of national policy, especially when one considers the alternatives.  Arm the PA ?  Constrict Israel's width into a nine-mile wide 'indefensible area' ?  

The current U.S. policy, IMO, even with its myopic domestic policies, seems finally to understand that if Israel is to survive peacefully, the attitudes and values, the education and culture of the Palestinian Arabs, and Islam in general, would have to  change.  Which prospect, unfortunately,  is not bloody likely.

he peace now guy eventually admitted that '[the legality of the settlements] ...  didn't really matter because the settlers had pressured  the Government to authorize it and anyway such a small place should be demolished now as a first step.  So the question of legality is unclear.   i think that eventually the terminology illegal will/can be applied to all settlements.  and we know where that is leading.>>>nd we know where that is leading.>>>

REPLY:   These abstract discussions have little importance, IMO, except as they prop up and create impressions and attitudes in the 'court of world opinion.'  Wasn't it Chairman Mao who said, 'Power emanates from the muzzle of a gun' ?   Isn't that what determines the situation in the Middle East ?   In Africa ?  In Tibet ?   And in most of the rest of the world ?    Call Israel an 'Act of G-d.'   Call it immigration.  The Laws of Human Migration have not be repealed.

2.   <<<Where
can we Jews go to live in peace?  Perhaps the idea of Zionism is
outdated.  I mean the idea that Jews need a safe "country" per say.  BUt now that country does not provide much safety.  It really makes us into more of a target. ... . 
So why do we need such a primitive ism as nationalism?   It seems it causes too much strife.>>>

Well, perhaps 'we' do not 'need' nationalism.   But the fact is, many Jews simply WANT to live in Israel.  Who is to tell them that they cannot ?  Anti-Semitism is on the rise in France, Argentina and in U.S. colleges and universities, so even these areas in the Enlightened Diaspora are not rock solid.

Nobody ever said that being a Jew was easy.

2.   <<<The only trouble is I like living here.>>>

That is the simple answer to a complicated question.