Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

A very revealing affair (1): Gad el Maleh & the Jewish/Israeli Quagmire

Posted by worriedlebanese on 01/07/2009

A little test before stating the facts behind what can be termed the “Gad el-Maleh affair”.

How do you read this bumper striker?

Picture 5

Here are the most common answers:

  • I love Israel
  • I love Jews
  • I love Judaism
  • Now try to think how a Jew would read this sticker. And try remembering that in conclusion of two of the most important jewish holidays and services (Yom Kippur and the Passover) the words ” Next Year in Jerusalem” are recited. And that since the 1960s, Israel and Jerusalem have once again become the cultural and religious centers of Judaism (in terms of pilgrimage, religious publishing, and religious authority). For most Jews living in the West (or anywhere else in the world), it’s not really easy to make the difference between the three answers. And most people who identify as Jewish won’t find the differentiation very meaningful.
    Now imagine what Gad Elmaleh’s answer would be

    To complicate things even more, look into some statistics. Try to see how many Jews in the US or France (the two western countries with the largest jewish communities) consider Israel as important and relevant (or even vital) for them as Jews… Try asking most representatives of jewish communities throughout the world if they are zionist or not… and listen to their answers.

    All this to say that the comfortable distinction between “Jews” and Zionist that some Lebanese hide behind isn’t really operational anymore (it’s not that easy to make), and it’s mostly irrelevant for most of the world’s jewish population. Israel (defined in zionist terms) has become central to world jewry. And except a very small number of jewish groups and individuals who identify as non-zionist (mostly Iranian Jews, a minority  left leaning Jews or some hasidic leaders), and who are usually attacked by other Jews and accused of being “self-hating” or wrongly condemned as anti-Semitic (sometimes by court, c.f. Eyal Sivan’s case).


    3 Responses to “A very revealing affair (1): Gad el Maleh & the Jewish/Israeli Quagmire”

    1. […] engage in “anti-israeli” or “anti-zionist” overbidding (c.f. my former posts on the inoperative distinction between “Jews” and “Zionists”). Two days […]

    2. thanks for the post 🙂
      Though I think the largest Jewish communities in the western hemisphere are the US and Russia.

      • Hey Jester. Thanks for the compliment.
        But the follow up of “A very revealing affair (2)”is not this post (that actually preceded it) but “A very revealing affair (3)”.
        As for Russia, I wouldn’t situate it in the Western hemisphere, and anyway, most Russian Jews have immigrated (less than 250 000, while in France, the most conservative estimate is of half a million).

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