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Antisemitism, anti–Zionism and modern Jewish identity: Is there hope?

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Someone suggested that had Descartes been Jewish, he would have proclaimed: “I worry, therefore I am”. Remember the quip about the quintessential Jewish telegram:? “Start worrying; details to follow”.

But we cannot build a Jewish identity based on worrying, on the attitudes of others towards us. Despite rising antisemitism and anti-Zionism, we cannot affirm who we are by being “anti-anti”-Semites, or “anti-anti”-Zionists. What is it that we stand “For”? How do we model a positive, hopeful, joyful, authentic Jewish identity and lifestyle?

If “racism” is America’s original sin, “antisemitism” is the original sin of western civilization. Both are endemic and systemic viruses that resurge and mutate with variant expressions and force. Anti-Judaism began as religious prejudice that informed nascent Christianity, and later, Islam. It evolved from religious hatred to racial hatred, culminating in the lethal antisemitism of Nazi Ideology. More recently, antisemitism has mutated into anti-Zionism, denying Israel’s place among the family of nations.

After the Holocaust, the Western world felt embarrassed by antisemitism’s lethal outcome. The birth of Israel, through edict of the United Nations, helped to assuage the world’s guilty conscience. But as Israel prospered and defeated Arab aggressions, as American Jews attained economic security, social acceptance, and political influence, Jews and Israel began to lose their “victim” status. Palestinians have emerged as the new victims, while Israel’s image as a beleaguered nation has faded. Despite the vicious actions of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizbollah, Israel is portrayed by the left as the aggressor, a symbol of Western imperialism.

Israel, like all countries, can certainly be faulted for political and social inequities, but the malicious charge that Israel is an “apartheid” state is intent on casting Israel as a racist and colonialist society. Yet, Israel is a place where Jews and Arabs, including Palestinians, receive equal excellent care at Hadassah and other hospitals; where Jewish and Arab students engage in groundbreaking university research; where Arab citizens sit as Justices on the Supreme Court, serve in the army and in the foreign diplomatic corps; where an Arab party is integral to........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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