On being Jewish: Is Tribalism good or bad?

By Sultan Knish

Over at Jspot, (the folks who pioneered the “Let’s Stop Talking About Dead Jews in Israel and Talk More About Global Warming” liberal Jewish campaign) there’s a post titled “Tribe or Faith”.

The premise of the post is that there’s such a thing as Tribal Jews, which are the bad kind of Jews who care about other Jews and the good kind of Jews who are very spiritual and care about all of mankind equally as only good liberals can.

In the progressive lexicon, tribalism is the worst accusation that can be leveled at Liberal Jews. Back during the French Revolution, the new progressive French government determined that Jews were to be given rights but only at the cost of eliminating their individual communities and Jewish communal identity.

Ever since then it became the favorite invective hurled at liberal Jews by liberal antisemites and by those same liberal Jews who had learned to be good Uncle Toms at the “wrong kinds of Jews”. In the Soviet Union, accusations of tribalism were commonplace and was the initial means used to crush the Jewish communities and parties by the Bolsheviks.

The Soviet Union organized the Jewish section of the Communist party, the Yevsktsia to take over synagogues, destroy Jewish communal institutions and stamp out all Jewish life. And then in turn were stamped out, because the paradox was that even the Yevsektsia, the Jewish collaborators dedicated to destroying Jewish identity, represented a form of Jewish identity.

Liberal Jews are coming to meet the same fate in Europe as the European left swoops deeper into antisemitism, and European Jewish liberals are given the choice of backing anti-Jewish measures such as boycotts of Israel or being shoved out of the progressive camp. It happened in America when even the hyper-liberal “Rabbi” Michael Lerner was considered too Jewish to be allowed to speak at an anti-war event.

Why is tribalism so hateful to the left? Because the left values collectivization above all else. Collectivization destroys the identity of the individual communities to create a greater whole. While modern day liberals tolerate and even encourage ghettoization among the minorities on their voting booth plantations, in order to isolate and control them, tribalism is the accusation that continues to haunt the liberal Jew. The accusation that he is working to help other Jews rather than “all of mankind”.


July 13, 2007 | 5 Comments »

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5 Comments / 5 Comments

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  2. Sultan Knish has here something very much in line with some of what I was seeking to convey in my article Antisemitism and Collectivism

    I agree with Ted that tribal instincts are natural. What I see taking place however, is the attempt by leftist elitists to supersede tribalism/nationalism by way of multiculturalism. Under the guise of “diversity” different groups are the become tribes within a supreme tribe which has Marxist underpinnings and there is tolerance to all. They would like, as much as possible, to dissolve borders and internationalize the globe, but especially Jerusalem which is seen by them as the point of convergence of the world’s main religions and a necessary step to consolidate all of the different tribes into their larger multirelgious one.

    What they don’t get is that the goal of some tribes is for others to disappear, and these tribes are willing to facilitate in the process of disappearance in as much as it is necessary to make sure it happens.

    Nazism was tribalism also, but where tribalism goes awry is when it becomes enforceable by decree and there is no choice to be a part and no individual freedom. There is nothing wrong with identifying with a nation, race, or religion, however, when membership becomes mandatory these can groups can also become predatory.

    I wrote more on global tribalism/Neo-tribalism in Sophisticated Savages whereby multiculturalism is an invention to consolidate nations, races, and religions into one big international controlled system.

  3. Tribalism is a product of human nature or socialization. It can’t be done away with much as the collectivizing left wants.

    The tribe takes on many forms. It could be a family or clan, a religious based one or even an idealogical one.

    People will always identify with tribes. Those who fight it are those whose tribal links are weak and they resent those with strong tries.

    This is what the Zionist debate is all about. Is Zionism racism or tribalism. Is it ipso facto bad.

    The fight against tribalism is the fight against nationalism.

  4. I have a real dilemma with this subject (a very difficult subject indeed) because we sometimes justifiably criticize the Burka and other symbols that purposely separate people into political and religious groupings that, in the case of the Burka, are sometimes an outward manifestation of an inner identity with violent political dogma and conquest and represent the negation of civil and human rights (though it is presented as innocent cultural headdress).

    I also do not support the funding of separate schools because I do not want Al Qaeda schools popping up all over North America even though the case could be made that with public funding at least the separate schools could be monitored and inspected (usually ineffectively). I do not like the fact that the Catholic schools in Ontario are treated as a separate and special group that takes funding away from everyone else – funding to which others have no access.

    We need to find a balance in a society where pluralism and democracy are important foundations. Most religious clothing (and I also include the beards and black garb worn by religious Jews and the Catholic ceremonial garb) is very innocent but is it not just a carryover and a relic from the past that is sometimes carried to extremes? Over the years man embellishes these symbols and soon we believe that they are necessary and mandatory instead of just traditional and optional. Soon a holier-than-thou attitude sets in and that is very destructive. As you might gather, I am not a religious person.

    I am for freedom of religion (and freedom not to follow any religion) and I have always defended a person’s right to his/her religion but I do not want any one group telling another what to believe and how to conduct his beliefs unless those beliefs, as in the case of Islam at this time, are infringing on the life, liberty and freedom of other people and even subjugating their own people to death who do not fit the strict fundamentalist interpretations.

    One cannot live in a ghetto forever and integration is important. One can maintain an identity and an individual way of life within a larger “collective.”

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