Apr 27, 2023Liked by Noah Millman

Your “normal attenuations of liberalism” is a very nice piece of writing, saying so much with so little. Brilliant craftwork!

Expand full comment

I wish I could share this with my Conservative shul’s leadership and have them (1) be able to digest this and (2) give a damn.

Expand full comment

Time for Jews (of which I am one, ethnicly and culturally) and everyone else to stop angsting over reality. No nation-state based on a theocratic concept can be a true democracy, and there are few actual democracies anywhere. America is a constitutional republic. No Israeli government can survive without seriously anti-democratic compromise with the religious parties.

Israel today is a place inhabited by Israelis; there is an Israeli culture made up of Jews from everywhere with considerable minority cultural influences too. It's uncomfortable for American Jews to realize that. Many of us retain the cultural influences of our Eastern European immigrant near ancestors but that influence is waning in Israel despite the huge numbers of Russian and Ukrainian Jews. Just as we became American, they are becoming Israeli.

And--you know what? As with every place ever where wars were won, territory was won too, and maybe everyone should recognize that there was never a Palestinian people--that's a political slogan and not an ethnic reality. Anyone whose mother tongue is Arabic is a descendant of migrants from the Arabian peninsula. It's painful how much suffering has been experienced by people not at fault for the choices or ill-fortune of their ancestors, and there have been plenty of atrocities and cruelties perpetrated against Arabs in territory conquered by Israel, but just as I'm not giving back anything to the present-day descendants of Native Americans, Arabs in that fictional Palestine will need to recognize reality. With the various trade and cultural treaties and agreements being made between Israel and the Gulf States and others, the Palestinian cause isn't anyone's priority now.

I used to feel badly about the West Bank and Gaza and the Golan Heights. I don't any longer, except for those aforementioned individual tragedies. There's no one in my family has any rights to the farm in Ukraine my great-grandparents had, and of course we weren't ethnic Ukrainians anyway. Just as the national borders in Europe have changed and changed back and changed again, and people had to adapt to living in places where their mother tongues were suddenly minority languages, so too with territories seized by Israel. This is the reality now and all parties must find a way to come to terms with them. The solution, longterm, I don't know, but this is the reality.

The Zionist dream was based on a socialist vision making Jewishness modern. But Judaism isn't a modern way of seeing the world. Jews have a country specific to the ethnicity again, and everyone might as well accept everything that means.

[edited for spelling]

Expand full comment

Your statement that Arab speakers are descendants of migrants from Arabia is mostly untrue. A lot of denial going on. Just as Moroccans are arabized berbers; Egyptians likewise, so the Arabs Palestinians are descendants of formerly Hebrew and Aramaic speakers. Palestinians and Jews are both surprisingly closely related peoples, since both these people originate in the same land. Of course there was some migration from Arabia and of course Jews have lots of (even greater) genetic input from outside the Israel/Palestine.

Regarding about the existence of a Palestinian people - before the fall of the Ottoman Empire there certainly was not a separate Palestinian identity. It has evolved slowly but it for good or ill it exists now, which is what matters. I would have preferred that Palestinians could find political expression under Hashemite rule but that ship has sailed.

You are entitled not to fell bad about Palestinian peoples - I'm not that concerned with them myself - but I do think that it's important to understand that the situation is untenable.

Expand full comment

Of course it's untenable, And all the political borders drawn by masters from afar that ignored ethnic boundaries and tribal loyalties and hatreds are as usual the cause of the problem, anointing fake royalty and carving out nation-states so they'll have something to rule over.

But of course that's nothing new in world history.

Expand full comment

i meant that the legal and civic status of palestinians is untenable. Most of them are not citizens of any country, for crying out loud.

Expand full comment