Emanuele Ottolenghi, Jewish Chronicle
[..] Since the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000, prominent Jews criticising Israel have become louder and more assertive. Increasingly frequently, they feel it is not enough to denounce Israel’s policies publicly — they must do so “as Jews”. And going even further, they routinely renounce Israel itself as part of their identity, and appeal to other Jews to do the same. In some cases, despite the secularism of their proponents, these appeals feature the salvation language of Christianity.
Israel’s creation is dubbed “original sin”, or derided as not exactly “an immaculate conception”. Jews, formerly “blinded” by the Zionist narrative, should “see the truth” and forgo Zionism as a “redeeming” act that will ensure “justice and reconciliation” with Palestinians. And so on.
What is behind this trend?
It started with Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm who suggested, long ago, that Jewish identity need not include religion, language, culture, tradition, historic background, kinship, or what he deemed “a certain attitude toward the Jewish state”. That doesn’t leave much, other than being part of the left.
The change was really spelled out, though, in late 2001, when the Italian columnist Barbara Spinelli wrote that today’s ultra-nationalist Israel constitutes nothing less than a “scandal”. And it is a scandal, above all, for Jews themselves — since, as everyone knows, Jews are the quintessential victims of modern nationalism (nationalism being, for Spinelli as other like-minded intellectuals, virtually coterminous with Nazism). It follows, then, that Jews everywhere have a special duty to speak out against Israel, to apologise to its victims, and to do so publicly.
“If one thing is missing in Judaism,” Spinelli wrote, “this is precisely it: a mea culpa vis-à-vis the peoples and individuals who had to pay the price of blood and exile to allow Israel to exist.” She called upon world Jewry to undertake such an act of contrition forthwith:CONTINUE