16 Comments
Mar 4Liked by Tana Ganeva

I did birthright in 2019 and had a very different experience. I formed strong friendships with about 6 other anti-zionist jews and the ‘counselors’ on the trip derided Netanyahu.

While we sat in a similar room and had to listen to a similar presentation most if not all of us fell asleep or spent the entire session on our phones.

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My field of study was primarily religious history. I enjoyed your article, and to kind of underscore your article, the elements of Zionism, and the Jewish religion itself (in the eyes of most contemporary archaeologists and religious historians) began during the Babylonian captivity. The thing that is often missed in discussions of Judaism is what you point out---the inextricable link between the religion and the place where Judaism (should) reside---zionism.

Most of the world's larger religions practice their religion that has nothing to do with where they reside. Studying Judaism throughout history, although they might adapt to the "home" they reside in, they remain separate because they are taught (throughout the centuries of the diaspora) that Jerusalem. is their "true" identity, that that identity of ethnicity, religion , and the culture that comes out of that have always

been tied to place. Even the great Philo, whose ancestry fled to Egypt during the first diaspora and never returned can't help identifying Judaism as a religion with Judaism as a place

The pro to this is Judaism probably wouldn't have survived through the centuries of the diaspora without that identification with place---at least as an ethnicity, the religion might have survived, but the ethnic identitification with a religion is singularly unique.

But the problem we are facing today is not the first go-round, and your thought that there will never be another diaspora may be untrue, as you suggest, The Persians allowed them to return to Judah they couldn't stay put, they wanted "Israel." In fact attempting to move into what had been the northern kingdom probably is why they were swatted by the Babylonians in the first place So after returning they annoyed the kingdoms around them and lost Jerusalem a second time. The Maccabees a century or so later during a time of contested regional conflict were able to re-establish a brief tri-generatiojn presence before they were removed again. The Romans tried giving them a kingdom, but his palace was outside Jerusalem, even though Jerusalem was part of his kingdom, so they refused him and Roman historians at the time found them troublesome enough to report they created more problems than the Britons and Germanic tribes but their were not enough to build a barrier and they were in the middle of the Roman middle eastern empire. Livius says they were cast out of the region simply because they were like mosquitos that had to be continually swatted.

So here we are once again, unsatisfied and wanting more.This time they gave us a hint when they called their nation "Israel", most mortal enemy of their history, even when Ezra leads their religious revival he warns against mingling with the Israelis.

I don't know the answer, but if history is any guide, they will once again lose their control of their land. But it is the Zionist component that has always led to their downfall. Zionism has a lot of history that contemporary Jews should look at and perhaps they might realize that Zionism often does lead to anti-semitism, and perhaps minus the Zionism there would be less anti-semistism.

So there is an equation, as you suggest, and there is a good reason why Jewish people might equate anti-zionism and anti-semitism. But the distortion, I believe Is that looking to identify a religious identity with an ethnic-centered-place-identity removes them into a self-identified non-participatory group that seems their religious identity totally interconnected with their religion's birthplace.This is the Zionism and that zionism of separateness creates a backlash that results in persecution of the Jews.

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This is a wonderful piece, although I think you're being way too easy on Netanyahu, a criminal whose government is based on the two principles of (1) keeping him out of jail and (2) placating his partners who want to continue stealing land from the Palestinians, and who understands that once this war is over, his time in power wll end, and his incarceration will soon begin.

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Thank you for sharing this perspective. This is why we should take the time to understand each other. We need to understand the indoctrination that is received. We all need to take a more nuanced view and not make assumptions about intent or support. We need to ask respectful questions. Americans have been told not to ask any until we are told and many, myself included are ashamed to have been bullied this way. It has but everyone in a double bind. We don't want to be seen as anti-Semetic or pro-Genecide. I notice many more are speaking out than used to so I feel I'm not alone in this realization.

Those feeling defensive have work to do (this is general to humans). We need to separate "this act from this group of people is not okay" from thinking they are automatically part of that group or that having an opinion is intended as persecution.

I always tell people, if it doesn't apply to you, I don't mean "you" - no need to justify anything to me. But mostly, they are justifying to themselves because humans project. Trauma and generational wounds are a mess to untangle. Entire countries are traumatized. This is not an easy nut to crack.

I just want humans to get along, live and let live and stop being greedy. I know many others do too. <3

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If personal embarrassment is the worst outcome (compared to on the flip side, idk, entire family lineages being wiped out), id say that's acceptable and motivating to take action to change things and publicly renounce Zionism and the state of Israel full stop. I get that it's hard and I get that. People have been brainwashed their whole lives, but this has always just been a colonial enterprise, in modern history, to ethnically cleanse a region of arabs to make way for European settlers. This is thoroughly documented by Israeli historians themselves.

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