When Israel Is Mighty
Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
June 18, 2013
In an otherwise excellent recent piece entitled “Implications of Israel’s Fraying Image,” Chas Freeman, like so many other respected critics of Zionism, attempts to distinguish between the increasingly discredited political ideology underpinning the self-defined Jewish state and the traditional religion of the Jewish people. Asserts Freeman:
Judaism is a religion distinguished by its emphasis on justice and humanity. American Jews, in particular, have a well-deserved reputation as reliable champions of the oppressed, opponents of racial discrimination, and advocates of the rule of law. But far from exhibiting these traditional Jewish values—which are also those of contemporary America—Israel increasingly exemplifies their opposites. Israel is now known around the world for the Kafkaesque tyranny of its checkpoint army in the Occupied Territories, its periodic maiming and slaughter of Lebanese and Gazan civilians, its blatant racial and religious bigotry, the zealotry and scofflaw behavior of its settlers, its theology of ethnic cleansing, and its exclusionary religious dogmatism.
One wonders if astute observers as Freeman genuinely believe these flattering descriptions of the Jewish religion or if they’re merely attempting to shield their political critique of Israeli policy from accusations of anti-Semitism. Rather than engaging in such a futile exercise, however, they would be well-advised to listen to Israeli journalist Yossi Gurvitz, who was raised as an Orthodox Jew and graduated from a religious yeshiva, describe what non-Jews can expect from Judaism “when Israel is mighty.”
Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship. You can follow him on and Twitter @O_Cathail.