One of the worst clichés in anti-semitic circles is that the Jews won’t tolerate criticism. Why should Jews accept being criticized qua Jews? No other group accepts this—certainly not those most “critical of Jews”, i.e., Muslims and (with respect to white people) the alt-right.
Readers may know me as a Zionist. This is an oversimplification. I am half-Jewish on my father’s side and was raised Jewish. But Judaism is not about about religion or identity for me. It’s just a memento mori.
The second intifada was raging when I got out of high school. Every several weeks there were murdered Jewish schoolchildren and elderly on the front page of the newspapers. Restless, romantic, full of deontological conviction, I decided to drop out of college and join the Israeli army. Obviously, I am not anti-Zionist. But I am not primarily a Zionist, either. In other words, Jewish identity is not my primary conceptual frame. If it were, I’d be poorer, spiritually and intellectually, which is why Israelis sometimes seem to me like poor relations—smug, stingy, and provincial. For an awful lot of them, Jewish identity is an ultimate end—a kind of idol—whereas for me, Zionism is quite contingent. If a vital Israeli interest contributes to making my life in America (or humanity as a whole) less free, then I am dead set against it. There is no cause worth losing your soul.
If this was the 1920s, I might not be Zionist at all, but Israel is a fait accompli. I’ve defended Jews from neo-Nazis not because neo-Nazis are entirely wrong about Jews, but because they’re stupid and monomaniacal. I’ve defended Israel from the pro-Palestine crowd not because Israel is innocent or unobnoxious, but because Palestine is not a human rights cause—it’s a medieval Islamic one. That’s not entirely a bad thing, but I think leftists in the West should be honest about it. Zionism is Israel’s only alternative to sharia, which any non-Muslim people is entitled to avoid.
Not long ago, I published a piece over on Affirmative Right, basically a polemic against the widespread alt-media view that Zionism is uniquely pernicious in U.S. politics. My argument was that America has always been ethnically and politically fractious, and activism on behalf of narrow interests is normal. A wignat reader seized on this, commenting that I was “deconstructing” (white) American identity, and declaring that I would never deconstruct Jewish or Israeli identity in this manner. Well, he was more than a little bit wrong. Over a year ago, I published a five-part critical deconstruction of Jewish identity (under the asinine title, “Make Judaism Great Again”—the Wayback Machine has my back) but it was windy, and lacked a tidy conclusion. In the aftermath of subsequent anti-semitic shootings, I removed it, intending to refine it and republish it later.
Well, later is now. Stay tuned.