I don't have much to add to Ira Chernus' piece in Salon, "Debunking Our Myths About Israel."
All I can do is quote from it and recommend that you read it in full:
When it comes to the all-important question of recognition, it's Israel that refuses to recognize Hamas as a legitimate party or the Palestinians' right to be a democratic state and choose their own government. Meanwhile, the Israeli government has been doing exactly what it accuses Hamas of doing -- opening the door to increasingly reactionary, racist, and theocratic laws. "Public opinion polls point to increasing extremism, bordering on racism, in Jews' opinion of Arabs," as Haaretz has noted, so "it's no wonder there is no public pressure on the government to advance the peace process."
Israel is fast coming under the sway of far-right theocrats, and "ever more Israelis are infected by the symptoms of Messianic thinking: ‘We are right, and the whole world is wrong; hence we must no longer listen to anybody,'" as one Israeli Jewish columnist observed.
"Messianic thinking" is the correct term. I don't know what to do about the phenomenon, but let's not pretend that it doesn't exist. Maybe Israel as a whole has come down with a case of Jerusalem syndrome?
In the thinking of many Jews, the Holocaust seems to loom larger now than it did in 1947. Finkelstein pinpoints the early 1970s as the time when the Nazi atrocity became not just a tragic event in history but a part of Jewish self-definition. A mental construction seems to have gained a hammerlock on Israeli consciousness: "If we let our hearts soften, if we weaken for even a second, they'll get out the Zyklon B again."
To a great degree, I can understand this fear.
The previous sentence may surprise quite a few of you, since my pro-Palestinian stance is on record. But the Glenn Beck phenomenon has kind of freaked me out, and I'm sure that it must worry many American Jews.
Beck may claim to adore Israel, but he popularizes conspiracy theories originally propounded by Cleon Skousen, an old-school bigot. Beck's whole shtick is to serve up Jew-free versions of classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. He gives you every slice of the sausage except for that really rancid bit at the end. One of these days, he -- or someone else of similar popularity -- may supply that final piece of the sausage. At that moment, the American populace's generally pro-Jewish attitude will make a 180 degree turnaround. Mark my words: It could happen overnight.
If I were Jewish, America's growing fascination with conspiracy theories would have me scared to death, because we all know where that particular bus is headed. We can't blame Jews for wanting a bolt hole -- a place of refuge.
But Israel ain't it. Historically speaking, the oft-invaded "Jewish homeland" is about as safe as the ice floe in The Great Race
. I honestly don't know why any Jew would want that ghastly bit of real estate when there are so many areas with more plentiful resources and more easily defended borders. Must religious zealotry always
Neither can I understand why the Palestinians, or anyone else, would want to live in that hideous place. It isn't holy; it's accursed. Ever been to northern California -- say, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest? Now that's
a holy land. Maybe we could give that lovely property to the Jews, give Israel to the Palestinians, let an international body administer Jerusalem, and then call it a day.