Sunday, August 17, 2008

Armchair Zionists

Turns out Jews did create the Neocon movement (at least according to my mom) and since they made Israel their top priority (and single-issue vote), it is important to discuss a prevailing American-Jewish phenomenon; Arm-chair Zionism.

Let's start with a definition of terms. Arm-chair Zionism (ACZ) is a phenomenon in which Jews, living outside of the Israel (not limited to but primarily American Jews) take up the Zionist torch with a gusto and agenda which tends to be far to the right of most Israelis. They are more hawkish in their stance towards Palestinians and neighboring Arab countries, and tend to be single issue voters (See Zuz's earlier post on Obama and the Jews). Many of them also see Israel as simply a summer resort, a place to relive Birthright experiences, a break from reality.

This is enabled by the fact that these ACZ do not have to truly live with the immediate results of the policies they champion. They don't seem to truly understand the negative consequences that dragging the United States into Israel's business often has, not only on the US, but on Israel as well.

Most of the ACZ don't want to live Israel, which is ironic because Zionism's ultimate goal is a natural redemption of the Jewish people through the creation of a Jewish national entity in Israel, a central part of which is living in that entity.

From Of course, there is also an inherent conflict for Jews in the diaspora to fully celebrate Yom Ha'atzama'ut. As long as the idea of living in Israel was a theoretical construct, one could be an 'armchair' Zionist. It is in fact a mitzvah to make aliyah, to 'go up' and live in Israel. Now that the State of Israel exists, (and needs immigration), the celebration of Israel's Independence Day invites individuals to consider their relationship to the Jewish state. If one wishes to 'walk one's talk' it is difficult to truly celebrate Yom Ha'atzma'ut while residing permanently in the diaspora.

This is not to say that there has been no value in the Diasporic experience, but rather, that our feelings toward Israel should not lead us to engage in policy which ultimately negatively affects Israel's security. Wars negatively impact Israel's security, a lasting peace ultimately positively impact it. Saber-rattling aside, wars have not truly helped the security situation in Israel, in fact, the current occupied-territory/annexed territory/mishandled harbanah is a direct result of the handling of territory conquered/liberated/reclaimed/etc during the 1967 war.

To the Armchair Zionists, the US and Israel are both better off with fewer enemies and less blood shed. When pax Americana is brought down, I will scrutinize your actions as a precursor.

Please know that you don't speak for me. Israel will be my top electoral issue when I move there.

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