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 Topic: How I stopped being a Jew - Shlomo Sand

 (Read 1903 times)
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  • How I stopped being a Jew - Shlomo Sand
     OP - October 10, 2014, 03:34 PM



    New book by Shlomo Sand: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/10/shlomo-sand-i-wish-to-cease-considering-myself-a-jew

    Quote
    During the first half of the 20th century, my father abandoned Talmudic school, permanently stopped going to synagogue, and regularly expressed his aversion to rabbis. At this point in my own life, in the early 21st century, I feel in turn a moral obligation to break definitively with tribal Judeocentrism. I am today fully conscious of having never been a genuinely secular Jew, understanding that such an imaginary characteristic lacks any specific basis or cultural perspective, and that its existence is based on a hollow and ethnocentric view of the world. Earlier I mistakenly believed that the Yiddish culture of the family I grew up in was the embodiment of Jewish culture. A little later, inspired by Bernard Lazare, Mordechai Anielewicz, Marcel Rayman and Marek Edelman – who all fought antisemitism, nazism and Stalinism without adopting an ethnocentric view – I identified as part of an oppressed and rejected minority. In the company, so to speak, of the socialist leader Léon Blum, the poet Julian Tuwim and many others, I stubbornly remained a Jew who had accepted this identity on account of persecutions and murderers, crimes and their victims.

    Now, having painfully become aware that I have undergone an adherence to Israel, been assimilated by law into a fictitious ethnos of persecutors and their supporters, and have appeared in the world as one of the exclusive club of the elect and their acolytes, I wish to resign and cease considering myself a Jew.

    Although the state of Israel is not disposed to transform my official nationality from “Jew” to “Israeli”, I dare to hope that kindly philosemites, committed Zionists and exalted anti-Zionists, all of them so often nourished on essentialist conceptions, will respect my desire and cease to catalogue me as a Jew. As a matter of fact, what they think matters little to me, and still less what the remaining antisemitic idiots think. In the light of the historic tragedies of the 20th century, I am determined no longer to be a small minority in an exclusive club that others have neither the possibility nor the qualifications to join.

    By my refusal to be a Jew, I represent a species in the course of disappearing. I know that by insisting that only my historical past was Jewish, while my everyday present (for better or worse) is Israeli, and finally that my future and that of my children (at least the future I wish for) must be guided by universal, open and generous principles, I run counter to the dominant fashion, which is oriented towards ethnocentrism.

    As a historian of the modern age, I put forward the hypothesis that the cultural distance between my great-grandson and me will be as great or greater than that separating me from my own great-grandfather. All the better! I have the misfortune of living now among too many people who believe their descendants will resemble them in all respects, because for them peoples are eternal – a fortiori a race-people such as the Jews.

    I am aware of living in one of the most racist societies in the western world. Racism is present to some degree everywhere, but in Israel it exists deep within the spirit of the laws. It is taught in schools and colleges, spread in the media, and above all and most dreadful, in Israel the racists do not know what they are doing and, because of this, feel in no way obliged to apologise. This absence of a need for self-justification has made Israel a particularly prized reference point for many movements of the far right throughout the world, movements whose past history of antisemitism is only too well known.

    To live in such a society has become increasingly intolerable to me, but I must also admit that it is no less difficult to make my home elsewhere. I am myself a part of the cultural, linguistic and even conceptual production of the Zionist enterprise, and I cannot undo this. By my everyday life and my basic culture I am an Israeli. I am not especially proud of this, just as I have no reason to take pride in being a man with brown eyes and of average height. I am often even ashamed of Israel, particularly when I witness evidence of its cruel military colonisation, with its weak and defenceless victims who are not part of the “chosen people”.

    Earlier in my life I had a fleeting utopian dream that a Palestinian Israeli should feel as much at home in Tel Aviv as a Jewish American does in New York. I struggled and sought for the civil life of a Muslim Israeli in Jerusalem to be similar to that of the Jewish French person whose home is in Paris. I wanted Israeli children of Christian African immigrants to be treated as the British children of immigrants from the Indian subcontinent are in London. I hoped with all my heart that all Israeli children would be educated together in the same schools. Today I know that my dream is outrageously demanding, that my demands are exaggerated and impertinent, that the very fact of formulating them is viewed by Zionists and their supporters as an attack on the Jewish character of the state of Israel, and thus as antisemitism.

    However, strange as it may seem, and in contrast to the locked-in character of secular Jewish identity, treating Israeli identity as politico-cultural rather than “ethnic” does appear to offer the potential for achieving an open and inclusive identity. According to the law, in fact, it is possible to be an Israeli citizen without being a secular “ethnic” Jew, to participate in its “supra-culture” while preserving one’s “infra-culture”, to speak the hegemonic language and cultivate in parallel another language, to maintain varied ways of life and fuse different ones together. To consolidate this republican political potential, it would be necessary, of course, to have long abandoned tribal hermeticism, to learn to respect the Other and welcome him or her as an equal, and to change the constitutional laws of Israel to make them compatible with democratic principles.

    Most important, if it has been momentarily forgotten: before we put forward ideas on changing Israel’s identity policy, we must first free ourselves from the accursed and interminable occupation that is leading us on the road to hell. In fact, our relation to those who are second-class citizens of Israel is inextricably bound up with our relation to those who live in immense distress at the bottom of the chain of the Zionist rescue operation. That oppressed population, which has lived under the occupation for close to 50 years, deprived of political and civil rights, on land that the “state of the Jews” considers its own, remains abandoned and ignored by international politics. I recognise today that my dream of an end to the occupation and the creation of a confederation between two republics, Israeli and Palestinian, was a chimera that underestimated the balance of forces between the two parties.

    Increasingly it appears to be already too late; all seems already lost, and any serious approach to a political solution is deadlocked. Israel has grown used to this, and is unable to rid itself of its colonial domination over another people. The world outside, unfortunately, does not do what is needed either. Its remorse and bad conscience prevent it from convincing Israel to withdraw to the 1948 frontiers. Nor is Israel ready to annex the occupied territories officially, as it would then have to grant equal citizenship to the occupied population and, by that fact alone, transform itself into a binational state. It’s rather like the mythological serpent that swallowed too big a victim, but prefers to choke rather than to abandon it.

    Does this mean I, too, must abandon hope? I inhabit a deep contradiction. I feel like an exile in the face of the growing Jewish ethnicisation that surrounds me, while at the same time the language in which I speak, write and dream is overwhelmingly Hebrew. When I find myself abroad, I feel nostalgia for this language, the vehicle of my emotions and thoughts. When I am far from Israel, I see my street corner in Tel Aviv and look forward to the moment I can return to it. I do not go to synagogues to dissipate this nostalgia, because they pray there in a language that is not mine, and the people I meet there have absolutely no interest in understanding what being Israeli means for me.

    In London it is the universities and their students of both sexes, not the Talmudic schools (where there are no female students), that remind me of the campus where I work. In New York it is the Manhattan cafes, not the Brooklyn enclaves, that invite and attract me, like those of Tel Aviv. And when I visit the teeming Paris bookstores, what comes to my mind is the Hebrew book week organised each year in Israel, not the sacred literature of my ancestors.

    My deep attachment to the place serves only to fuel the pessimism I feel towards it. And so I often plunge into despondency about the present and fear for the future. I am tired, and feel that the last leaves of reason are falling from our tree of political action, leaving us barren in the face of the caprices of the sleepwalking sorcerers of the tribe. But I cannot allow myself to be completely fatalistic. I dare to believe that if humanity succeeded in emerging from the 20th century without a nuclear war, everything is possible, even in the Middle East. We should remember the words of Theodor Herzl, the dreamer responsible for the fact that I am an Israeli: “If you will it, it is no legend.”

    As a scion of the persecuted who emerged from the European hell of the 1940s without having abandoned the hope of a better life, I did not receive permission from the frightened archangel of history to abdicate and despair. Which is why, in order to hasten a different tomorrow, and whatever my detractors say, I shall continue to write.


    Review: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/books/how-i-stopped-being-a-jew-by-shlomo-sand/2015979.article

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=emeyNJ_tGIY
  • How I stopped being a Jew - Shlomo Sand
     Reply #1 - October 10, 2014, 04:35 PM

    There will be peace in Palestine and Israel when religious nutjobs on both sides stop being influential. There is nothing holy about that patch of land, no divine presence ever manifested itself there, and there is nothing there worth dying for.

    Once Jews give up on their divine claim to the area and their status as God's chosen ones, once Muslims and Christians stop calling for the destruction of the Jewish people - only then can there be peace. Too much bullshit has come from the Abrahamic religions already.
  • How I stopped being a Jew - Shlomo Sand
     Reply #2 - October 10, 2014, 04:56 PM

    The Guardian publish stories of how Jewish people leave Judaism, how Christians leave Christianity, but never Exmuslims. It seems sometimes there is a virtual apostasy taboo there. They do publish stories of conversions to Islam though.

    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • How I stopped being a Jew - Shlomo Sand
     Reply #3 - October 10, 2014, 05:13 PM

    If they did, there would be cries of Islamophobia! from the rooftops. Or maybe they're afraid of their writers being hounded and possibly murdered by Islamocrazies, of which the UK has plenty of.
  • How I stopped being a Jew - Shlomo Sand
     Reply #4 - October 10, 2014, 07:01 PM

    The Guardian publish stories of how Jewish people leave Judaism, how Christians leave Christianity, but never Exmuslims. It seems sometimes there is a virtual apostasy taboo there. They do publish stories of conversions to Islam though.

    Has anyone tried getting something in the comment is free section? I've heard it said that it's not too hard to get things in there - though I've no Idea how true that is.
  • How I stopped being a Jew - Shlomo Sand
     Reply #5 - October 10, 2014, 07:18 PM

    I get the sense they don't like Exmuslims and would prefer not to talk about the issues

    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • How I stopped being a Jew - Shlomo Sand
     Reply #6 - October 10, 2014, 07:43 PM

    The Guardian publish stories of how Jewish people leave Judaism, how Christians leave Christianity, but never Exmuslims.  ....

    Noooo., Muslims can not be that smart ..

    In the eyes of guardian and their liberal political wing-nuts only Christians and Jews are smart to leave their respective religions.. Muslims.. Nah... they can not be that smart....

    fucking shit...
     

    Do not let silence become your legacy  
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
     
  • How I stopped being a Jew - Shlomo Sand
     Reply #7 - October 10, 2014, 07:54 PM

     Cheesy

    `But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.
     `Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: `we're all mad here. I'm mad.  You're mad.'
     `How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.
     `You must be,' said the Cat, `or you wouldn't have come here.'
  • How I stopped being a Jew - Shlomo Sand
     Reply #8 - October 19, 2014, 04:26 PM

    Shlomo Sand interviewed on Radio 3: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04l3987#playt=0h16m43s
  • How I stopped being a Jew - Shlomo Sand
     Reply #9 - November 17, 2014, 08:03 PM

    Shlomo Sand speaking at SOAS:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AuLoMmjFONE
  • How I stopped being a Jew - Shlomo Sand
     Reply #10 - November 19, 2014, 03:11 PM

    At the start of that talk at SOAS Shlomo Sand mentions that the idea of the book came from Bertrand Russell's essay 'Why I am not a Christian'. The audience hadn't heard of it but it's still worth a look.

    Why I am not a Christian - Bertrand Russell
  • How I stopped being a Jew - Shlomo Sand
     Reply #11 - November 19, 2014, 03:33 PM

    Review from Haaretz - which is interesting but I think not particularly fair to Shlomo Sand's argument.

    http://www.haaretz.com/life/books/.premium-1.626312
  • How I stopped being a Jew - Shlomo Sand
     Reply #12 - November 19, 2014, 09:21 PM

    I have never fully understood the definition of what being Jewish really is.

    Correct me if I am wrong here, it seems you can be Jewish but not believe in a god, ie an atheist Jew, so it doesn't seem to be a solely religious position.

    You can also be Jewish but have never lived in or have no or little ancestral connection to Israel, so it isn't a Nationality. ie converts to Judaism who married a Jewish person in another country.

    And it isn't a race or ethnicity, at least I don't see it that way.

    And I doubt that many on this site will accept the old testament patriarchal 'Abraham' connection.

    So does anyone have a concise definition or do I just have the wrong end of the 'schtick' (sorry for the pun).


    I am better than your god......and so are you.

    "Is the man who buys a magic rock, really more gullible than the man who buys an invisible magic rock?.......,...... At least the first guy has a rock!"
  • How I stopped being a Jew - Shlomo Sand
     Reply #13 - November 19, 2014, 10:32 PM

    It doesn't make a lot of sense to me but it passes down the maternal line. So in theory you're Jewish if only your mother is Jewish but not if only your father is Jewish. One result is that there are quite a lot of Israelis with Jewish ancestry who aren't officially recognised as Jews unless they go through a religious conversion. Which actually matters as, for example, it restricts who they can get married to (at least without flying to Cyprus for the wedding). This probably doesn't answer your question though.
  • How I stopped being a Jew - Shlomo Sand
     Reply #14 - November 20, 2014, 10:02 PM

    Thanks for the reply Zeca,, but how did the mother become Jewish in the first place?

    You are right, it doesn't answer my question, but thanks for trying to hone in on a definition. I am sure for every Jew I ask, I will get a different answer. Perhaps they cant even define it properly themselves?

    The waters only get muddier......... Roll Eyes

    I am better than your god......and so are you.

    "Is the man who buys a magic rock, really more gullible than the man who buys an invisible magic rock?.......,...... At least the first guy has a rock!"
  • How I stopped being a Jew - Shlomo Sand
     Reply #15 - November 20, 2014, 10:09 PM

    My very liberal Jewish friend is marrying a lady of African descent, who may well be an Anglican, ( don't know for sure as I haven't asked her) and I have heard that she will be converting.

    I daren't bring it up as I don't want to hijack a happy occasion with a theistic debate, but it would seem to me that she will be changing her beliefs, not through evidence, but by some cultural requirement.

    Eg. The day before her conversion she will believe in Jesus, then after the ceremony, she will think Jesus is nonsense. Seems absurd. How can one 'choose' to believe anything. Surely beliefs should only change when new evidence comes to light?

    I am better than your god......and so are you.

    "Is the man who buys a magic rock, really more gullible than the man who buys an invisible magic rock?.......,...... At least the first guy has a rock!"
  • How I stopped being a Jew - Shlomo Sand
     Reply #16 - November 20, 2014, 11:00 PM

    There will be peace in Palestine and Israel when religious nutjobs on both sides stop being influential. There is nothing holy about that patch of land, no divine presence ever manifested itself there, and there is nothing there worth dying for.

    Once Jews give up on their divine claim to the area and their status as God's chosen ones, once Muslims and Christians stop calling for the destruction of the Jewish people - only then can there be peace. Too much bullshit has come from the Abrahamic religions already.


    Amen!!!   Afro

    Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

    The sleeper has awakened -  Dune

    Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day Give him a religion, and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish!
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