Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Neo-Paulinization of Zionism

In a conversation with a close friend, discussing the situation within the Jewish world and the status of Zionism as a necessary central component of Judaism and the Jews, an idea began to take form.

Blog posts, in my approach, are not for wasting words.  And so, in my formulation, my idea is based on what I see as a growing phenomenon of anti-Zionism, whether expressed minimalistically, but basically resulting in a distancing of oneself from becoming involved in any Israel-linked activity or "going over" to the Palestinian narrative or shades of in-between.

The matter is acute and here is another way of defining the problem:-

in some circles attitudes towards the ongoing existence of such a state are no longer as affirmative as they had been, and publicly voiced calls for the end of Israel are becoming more prevalent. These anti-Zionist views are emerging at a time when antisemitism is on the upsurge in Europe and elsewhere.  How, if at all, are these phenomena related? What exactly do people mean when they say they are not against Jews or Judaism but "Zionism?" What does “Zionism” signify to its present-day opponents? What motivates them to fixate, sometimes fervently, on what they see as the singular "injustices" and even "evil" of Zionism and Israel? Of what irredeemable sin do they find Israel to be uniquely guilty?

There are easily identified groups involved, across the spectrum of viciousness, such as the New Israel Fund, J Street (which can lead one away from Zionism), Jews for Peace, and many other groups that basically reject or are uncomfortable with nationalism.

They, I suggest, can be categorized as practicing a neo-Paulinism.

As we all should know, the former Shaul-cum-Paul

chose to ignore [the teachings of Jesus.] Instead he presented to the Gentile world a mystery religion in which he transformed Jesus into a divine spirit...One idea in particular must have caught his attention -- that of a sacrificial person who is offered as an atonement for sin.

Tolstoy's criticism of Pauline doctrine was expressed so:

...the centre of gravity of Christianity was permanently displaced till only the metaphysical portion was left...From the time of Constantine the Christian Church has prescribed no religious duties to its adherents...the Church, through affection for the world, expounds the metaphysical doctrine of Jesus in such a way as not to derive from it any obligation as to the conduct of life

Further, as has been succinctly noted

Paul's theology of the gospel accelerated the separation of the messianic sect of Christians from Judaism, a development contrary to Paul's own intent. He wrote that faith in Christ was alone decisive in salvation for Jews and Gentiles alike, making the schism between the followers of Christ and mainstream Jews inevitable and permanent. He argued that Gentile converts did not need to become Jews, get circumcised, follow Jewish dietary restrictions, or otherwise observe Mosaic laws to be saved. Nevertheless, in Romans he insisted on the positive value of the Law, as a moral guide.

These extensive quotations, I trust, make it clear that there is a clear, recognizable parallel in my suggested comparison to how this generation's non-Zionism is developing as a renewed stream of paulinization within Judaism.  It is not about bonding with the Jewish people and its future and fate.  It is not about caring for and comprehending the existential threats to Jewish lives and the very real possibility that it is a matter of national survival. 

It is about a new Jewish individualism.  About a desire to detach and to fulfill one's natural feelings for doing good by accomplishing good deeds outside the communal and national framework to justify one's human existence.  It is about freeing oneself from the burden of the 'group'.  Pressured by peers to seek out the universal, once again as happened with the Bundists and Communists, with those of the American Council for Judaism (and Neturei Karta) and others, we see these new Paulists at, for example, the J Street conference where they were proud, finally, to include a Republican guest: James ("F*ck the Jews") Baker.

The pro-Israel posturing of groups like these is simply a false portrayal to ease their way out, out of Jewishness, of anti-Semitism or in, into the general populace and its culture.

In centuries past, Jews like these simply converted or dropped out.  I presume that their Jewish quotient is still powerful enough to force them to attempt a justification for their betrayal.

Whatever, if they want to damage themselves, why injure and harm Israel, its Jews and Zionism?


Just after this was posted, I caught Stav Shaffir:

"We must occupy Zionism and reclaim it.”

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