Phoning it in Phriday: Must Reads for 6-12 April


I’m working on a piece on a particularly anti-Semitic grounding of Zionism, which will probably come out tomorrow or Sunday. In the meantime, here are my picks from the best and most interesting pieces I read this past week.

  • Chemi Shalev has an important rejoinder to my analysis of Gallup’s Israel poll (part 1, part 2) earlier this month, arguing that recent Pew polling indicates falling support for Israel among U.S. citizens.

Thus, while Israel’s continues to enjoy substantial overall support in the American public, its weakest links are to be found among the groups that are now on the ascendant on most domestic and social issues of the day. Generational gaps and demographic trends have combined to produce a significant shift in American public opinion, as the National Journal wrote this week: “The culture wars now favor the Democrats. The wind is in their backs.”

  • Anshel Pfeffer has an interesting op-ed in Haaretz in which he argues that Jews in Europe are doing a terrible job responding to anti-Semitism. Despite his highly offensive conflation of criticizing Israel with anti-Semitism, I find his broader point rather compelling:

Jews in Europe seem increasingly unwilling to engage with anti-Semitism – real, suspected or imagined – in open and free debate. They prefer to use legal means or public pressure to shut down any conversation in which offensive and hateful remarks or accusations may be addressed toward Jews. This campaign that is being waged with, on the whole, the best of intentions, is proceeding full steam without anyone to my knowledge considering a fundamental question. Is it at all in our interest to try to create a climate where any anti-Jewish discourse is forbidden by law or so socially reprehensible as to be publicly unutterable?

  • Electronic Intifada responds to allegations that BDS hurts the Palestinian employees who work in Jewish-owned factories located in the Occupied West Bank.
  • Don Futterman over at Haaretz traces out the problematic ideological heritage of the date chosen for Yom HaShoah, which this year fell on April 7-8. Yom HaShoah is the day to commemorate the 6 million Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust. (International Holocaust remembrance day, in which all 12 million victims are commemorated is celebrated annually on 27 January.)

Instead of commemorating loss, death and destruction, the young state’s socialist leaders wanted Holocaust Remembrance Day to focus on the courageous and self reliant New Jew that the Zionist enterprise was meant to create and embody. The day was an opportunity for education, or indoctrination, and the government chose to highlight Jewish armed resistance against the Nazis. The focus on wartime Jewish resistance was a rebuttal to the passivity of Jews who had been murdered across Europe for centuries, and the lesson that Jews should be comfortable taking up arms was no less important. If the easily-victimized ghetto Jew associated weapons with non-Jews, with goyim, who were seen as essentially violent and misguided, then in the new state, every Jew would engage in armed self-defense.

If Israel continues to occupy conquered territory for an extended period, say two to three years, it will find it increasingly difficult to relinquish control. Domestic pressures to establish paramilitary settlements in occupied areas would grow, and it would be harder to turn back to the Arabs land which contained such settlements.

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