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Jewish diaspora « Previous | |Next »
August 9, 2006

Norman Birnbaum's op. ed. in The Age raises some good questions about the Jewish diaspora's relationship to the policies of the Israeli government in the context of the Israeli lobby. His op.ed. can be seen as part of the miniscule oppositional voice to the Israeli lobby in Australia.

Birnbaum asks:

Is it the supreme duty of American Jews to use our considerable influence to align US policy with that of Israel? There is, the Jewish organisations tell us, no conflict of loyalties and responsibilities; the two nations have common values and common ends. The assertion is nonsensical, but its repetition does negate one stereotype about Jews, our supposed intelligence. It is often accompanied by the claim that there is no Israel lobby, only ordinary US citizens spontaneously expressing opinions to their elected representatives and government.

The latter claim is not persuasive, even in Australia given the tactics of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council and the Australian Jewish News. As Anthony Lowenstein points out 'the Zionist lobby, through aggressive and counter-productive tactics, is undermining the Jewish community and the wider community view towards Israel.' As Lowenstein argues some of those tactics include suppressing debate. And the aggressive bellicosity of much of the Zionist section of Australian Jewry is counter productive.

Evan Jones over at Alert and Alarmed asks a good question:

Why do significant sections of the divergent Jewish communities around the world support Israel? And not merely support Israel in their bosoms but passionately in the media, with Jewish organisations actively pressing media outlets to inhibit coverage critical of Israel, and actively lobbying national governments to take stances favourable of this foreign power’s interests.

Birnbaum says that American Jewry's enjoyment of its success has been troubled by a bad conscience over their inability to help European Jewry during the Holocaust. That experience, and the inexpungible memory of genocide itself, is a primary component of an American Jewish identity that now centres on unconditional defence of the state of Israel that assumes the role of US enforcer in the Middle East.

Is that the same for Australian Jewish identity? I don't know the answer to why there is the uncconditional support for the aggression and militarism of Israel's political culture amaongst the Australian Jewish community.

Birnbaum goes on to say that:

American Jewry might serve Israel better by eschewing total identification with Israel to take a more reflective position... A Jewish state was supposed to protect the Diaspora, but now it is the Diaspora that protects the Jewish state. The American Diaspora, however, is living well beyond its political means.

Is the Australian Jewish diaspora living beyond its political means? Maybe for the Zionist section with its attribution of ‘anti-semitism’ to gentile criticisms of the actions of the Israeli government and the attribution of self hatred to Jewish criticisms.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:50 AM | | Comments (0)