Monday, December 18, 2006

Give me a schtickle of fluoride: The relevance of Zionism is a debate that has a lot of currency in the Jewish community, since the collapse of the peace program in 2001 and the second intifada. Jewcy, a forthcoming magazine for intellectually minded young American Jews, posts a surprisingly intelligent dialogue between David Shneer and Stefan Kanfer. Shneer is of the belief that Zionism and the notion of Israel as the epicenter of Judaism doesn’t make any sense in an era when New York is as hospitable to and less dangerous for Jews than the Holy Land is:

Then why are [your French-Jewish friends] thinking about going to Canada and the United States? I presume you think that those two countries will soon be conquered by antisemitic Muslims running amok (they’ve already managed to manipulate Congressional representatives from Michigan [in not condemning Hezbollah for its attacks on Israel], or so you suggest), and then your French friends will have to leave for Israel anyway, no?

The actions of French Jews, many of whom feel more embattled now than they have in many years, show that, as I said in my opening letter, Israel is one part of a complicated Jewish map. It is a unique place with a unique culture that makes some Jews feel at home and drives other Jews up a wall. Some French Jews choose Israel, while others choose New York, Montreal, or other places. You would presumably tell those who don’t choose Israel that they should “wake up” (as you told me, again sounding like a turn-of-the-century Jewish ideologue).

I choose not to judge people’s decisions about where to call home. I choose to describe, rather than prescribe, and your French Jewish friends show that the world is much more complicated than you, or your hundred-year-old Zionism, would have it.

But Kanfer makes the point, worth noting even though I disagree, that the only way to guarantee safety for the Jews is for them to have their own country. He’s very concerned about the Muslim population in America and Europe, though he insists on describing it in the most xenophobic terms. For Kanfer, assimilation into American society is no guarantee at all.

But enough history lessons. Let’s concentrate on today, and the greatest danger to Jews, and eventually to the Western world itself, radical Islam. I realize that “diversity” is a favored term in academia, but that word has its limits, and those limits are growing more pronounced by the day.

Not to recognize that the U.S. is a safer haven to Jews today because it has only a small percentage of Muslims, and that most (though by no means all) of those Muslims are absorbed into American society, is to wear blinders.

In August, Britain reported the foiling of a plot to send planes to the U.S. where they would be blown up, either in mid-air or on the ground. Who do you suppose was involved in the plot? Ubangis?

Right now the world is at war. Israel is on the front lines. There is no more relevant group of Jews in the world than those in the Jewish State, and deriding the sentiments of the early Zionists, and failing to see the parallel with today’s events is a strange way to teach.

In any case, welcome home. Perhaps when you are settled in, back in Denver, you can look across the sea and realize that the enemy is as close as the officers who stripped Alfred Dreyfus of his medals in a public ceremony, while through the fence at the Hotel de Ville, a bearded Jew made notes…

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