Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Two Tablets

L'shana tova, everyone. Two article on Tablet caught my eye. The first is a joint review by David Mikics of two books on anti-Semitism: David Nirenberg's "Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition" and Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's "The Devil That Never Dies." The former I have and am now even more inclined to read, the latter I do not own and now know I need not intend to. And that's what book reviews are for, are they not? Check it out.

The second article is by Yair Rosenberg, responding to Peter Beinart's recent essay on the Jewish cocoon. I don't dislike Peter Beinart per se, but I agree with Jon Chait that he tends to take good points a step to far. In particular, he is far to enamored with the idea that he is a solo Jeremiah who is the first (and thus far only) prophet to notice the doom approaching the Jewish people. In any event, Rosenberg notes that while it is perfectly true that many Jewish organizations have historically been closed off from Palestinian narratives, that is becoming less true every year. At the same time, the burgeoning "anti-normalization" wing of Palestinian solidarity politics means that Jewish/Palestinian dialogue can't occur even if Jews want it to, because such talks are considered to be endorsements of the basic legitimacy of Jewish national aspirations. Hence we see how the BDS movement has made organizations like One Voice its public enemy number one, precisely because such organizations could provide the momentum for a grassroots settlement that would respect Jewish and Palestinian rights alike -- the anti-thesis of the maximalizt position taken by the BDS campaigners. As Rosenberg stresses, this is not to denigrate the obligation of Jewish groups to engage in dialogue; it is merely to stress -- as it is regrettably often necessary to do -- that the reason such dialogue is not proceeding is not simply because of intransigence on the Jewish side.


EW said...

Welcome back, David. Are you releasing the name of your new firm, or your specialty?

In a surprising move, Eric Rassbach, Deputy General Counsel for the religiously conservative Becket Fund, seems to embrace the One-State Solution":

“Those in power or majorities often fear relative demographic growth of those with different religious beliefs. For example, government officials in Burma recently adopted a ‘two-child policy’ that would apply only to Muslims. This even though Muslims are a tiny minority (approx. 4%) of the Burmese population. This population limitation targeting a specific religious minority is a textbook example of demographic panic, as exemplified by this statement from a government official: ‘This is the best way to control the population explosion which is a threat to our national identity. If no measure is taken to control the population, there is a danger of losing our own identity.’

Similar feelings of fear and loathing towards the religious were recently published in, of all places, The Forward. The author, Jay Michaelson, focused on the demographic trends, saying, ‘Call them what you will…. They will soon become the majority … and the religious majority in Israel. The results will be catastrophic. … [P]retty soon, the hierarchy will overwhelm us. Demographers tell us that …. within a generation, [most of us] will be fundamentalist, poor, uneducated and reactionary.’ This kind of attacking language is specifically designed to incite demographic panic among … Jews and others, and thus create support for government measures to suppress a certain disfavored religious group.

Aside from its crude and inaccurate description…, this kind of rhetoric and the solutions it offers are self-defeating. Government suppression of religious identity … will not make religious identity go away; it will simply drive religious expression underground, and increase the likelihood of an explosion of interreligious strife. The far better course is to publicly respect and honor religious differences among people, not because we seek to approve any one set of religious beliefs or all religions generally, but because we respect and honor the inherent dignity of each person and therefore the beliefs she holds.”

Ok, maybe this isn’t an embrace of the One-State Solution – but it kinda looks like one.

David Schraub said...

While (once I start at the firm) it won't be difficult to figure out where I work, I won't be putting in on this site to maintain some professional distance. The firm is nice enough to let me blog, but they do a lot of politically sensitive work and would thus rather not have their name attached to things like this.

And w/r/t the Becket Fund, I don't know what their "actual" position on 1 vs. 2 states is. A lot of conservative Christian groups have jumped on the one-state solution train explicitly, much to the chagrin of mainstream Jewish organizations.