Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What is a Jew

I just listened to an interview with Anti-Zionist Jewish Australian Antony Loewenstein with Radio New Zealand.

He makes a number of predictable statements, that Israel and a Jewish State should be dismantled and replaced with a bi-national state; that Israel’s “Occupation” is immoral and illegal; and that “Resistance” to occupation is legitimate or at least legal in international law.

The interviewer, Kim Hill asked a lot of good questions, including a question about the following quote from DR. PHILIP MENDES:

Most Jewish anti-Zionists do not positively identify as Jews in terms of any connection with other Jews. Rather, their Jewish identity Jewish identity is solely negative based on a fanatical rejection of Zionism and Israel, and their sympathies and loyalties lie with the Palestinians whom they see as defenseless victims.

“Can you see yourself in that at all”

Mr Loewenstein replies that he doesn’t feel that the quote represents him, but does admit that:

  • He is an “Atheist-Jew” and doesn’t have any Religious belief in G-d or Jewish Texts.
  • He regards himself as “Jewish Culturally”, that he enjoys Jewish “Culture” and “Jewish Food”.
  • That he does not have a “great many” Jewish friends, but has Jewish family, some of whom he gets on with better than others
  • Philip Mendes is wrong that there are only a “handful of definitions as to what being a Jew is”

He then goes on to say that many Jews have little connection to Israel or Judaism and have inter-married and therefore, you can make up any definition that you want for being Jewish.

Well guess what, it seems that Philip Mendes has exactly described Lowenstein and many other Anti-Zionist Jews. There seems to be nothing Jewish about Lowenstein’s self-identity.

Lowenstein basically says that no one has the right to determine what the meaning of the word “Jewish” is. I.e., the word ‘Jew” is quite literally meaningless – the word has absolutely no definitive meaning whatsoever.

Mormons, “Jews for Jesus”, and other groups define themselves as “Jews” would he agree that their definition of “Jew” is equally valid to his definition?

He also seems to claim that words like ‘Self Defence” or ‘Resistance” can have any meaning that you want to apply.

The fundamental problem with this type of argument is that if words have no meaning, it is impossible to have any type of discussion.

I once asked a Reconstructionist Rabbinical student if she believed in G-d, her response was “Yes I do, but I believe that god is that inner voice within me”. In other words, “I reject your definition of G-d as ‘Creator’, or ‘Divine Being’, so I have applied a new definition of the word to mean something else”.

Be redefining terms, she was making any type of discussion impossible, as we are talking about two different things when we use common terms.

Mark Twain once said that if we decide to call a horse tail a “leg”, how many legs would a horse have? – FOUR, changing the way we use words does not change reality.

I wish Loewenstein well, and hope that his latest book is successful. But if he really wants to have a meaningful discussion about Israel and its right to exist, I think that he needs to take a long hard look at his own relationship with the Jewish People, or at the very least admit that liking Jewish Food and having some Jewish Family, does not necessarily make you a spokesperson for a the Jewish Nation.

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