The French literary critic Roland Barthes said that only things that seem obvious can be shocking. To this category belong the repeated failures of strong Israel. The Palestinians are also failing, in their own way. Violence is the only thing winning in this play, whose subject is the conflict between two peoples. And Israel is responsible for the violence. Anyone who does not see in an agreement a supreme interest from Israel’s point of view, and a very essential interest from the Palestinian point of view, and does not work to bring it about, transforms the obvious into a deep historical swamp. From time to time we hear Israelis describe Palestinians as champions at missing opportunities. Someone should warn the Israelis so they do not become the champion of lost opportunities.
Also, apparently Zach Braff has a thing for Israel:
Braff: “As an American Jew it’s an amazing feeling to come to a place where you feel you belong. You know we’re such a minority in the U.S. Even though I grew up in New Jersey, which was very Jewish, and then I went to school in Chicago, which was Jewish, and then I moved to New York, which is very Jewish, and then I went to Hollywood, which is very Jewish. But they say we’re only 2 percent of the population and shrinking because of intermarriage.”
Braff says that when you come here, “you just feel this amazing sense of community. We hear so much about Israel and politics with the Palestinians and you feel so separate from it. So I really wanted to see for myself.” He says he was “lucky” to be able to come and see things firsthand and to talk to Israelis. “As a Jew I think it’s really important to come to this place. There is such a tremendous sense of community, tremendous bond for obvious reasons. I don’t know if Israelis have a sense of it because they live here, but I love it.”
A tremendous sense of community, yes. Unless you’re half-Jewish. Or not converted the right way. Or married to a non-Jew. Or supportive of Palestinian autonomy. I’m officially not Jewish enough to emigrate to Israel (not that I have plans to) because I don’t adhere to religious law. So where’s my community? What does it say about the Jewish state that California, not Israel, is the place where I feel I belong? I really liked being in Israel when I visited, but come on.
Also, I know Braff isn’t saying this, but could we please get away from the myth that Israel is the center of the Jewish world? I know lots of Israelis like to believe it is, but it just isn’t. Especially when ultra-Orthodox white guys are beating women and keeping Jews of color in poverty because only ultra-Orthodox white guys are qualified to decide who’s a “real” Jew. (Fun thought experiment: let’s say Ethiopian Jews declared themselves the authorities on Jewish identity, and announced that all other Jews on Earth had to look, act, and think like them in order to be Jewish. That would seem pretty ludicrous, wouldn’t it? So what is it about European Jews that everyone agrees is more authentic?)
Also, I’m with Jay – could we please cool it with all the Christmas music? Please? I’ll pay you.