Stephen Harper and “The Jewish Community”
It is often quite irksome to see how language is so often abused in the mass media and by the politicians, resulting in a distorted and perverse perception of reality. Eventually such distortions and perversions of perception must have consequences, not least of which is the potential for a society to become “unviable” — to simply fail the test in the “struggle for survival” because perception and reality (or image and reality) no longer correspond.
Ideology is not consciousness. This is, today, even the very meaning of “delusion”.
And so it was, this morning, that I read in The Globe & Mail how the “Jewish community finds a friend in Stephen Harper“. This “Jewish community”, however, is no more real than what is called “the international community”. It’s what is called a “glittering generalisation” that tends to subordinate and co-opt all other voices — and dissenting voices — beneath its banner, or leaves them completely outside the pale.
Only later in the article is this “Jewish community” — seemingly so eager to celebrate Stephen Harper — identified as Zionist and that only 42% of Canadian Jews actually self-identify as Zionists, or that about 52% of Jewish Canadians backed the Conservative Party in the last election.
Hardly an overwhelming endorsement of Mr. Harper by “the Jewish community”.
Just as “the international community” doesn’t typically include you or me, so “Jewish community” doesn’t apparently include dissenting Jewish voices like Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) or The Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians whose “Jewishness” becomes suspect because they don’t share the premisses of ideological Zionism. And this use of the term “Jewish community”, which is a usurpation, has real political results, and insults, insofar as non-conforming Jewish voices (which may, nonetheless, even be a majority of Jews) have even been denied a hearing in government forums regarding Israel and Canada’s foreign policy.
The use of the phrase “Jewish community,” when what is actually meant is “Zionist,” is therefore perniciously propagandistic. As much as the phrase “international community” really disguises the practice of oligarchic collectivism behind a pretense of wholism, public consensus, or universality, so “Jewish community” serves also to suppress, and as a justification to ignore, dissenting Jewish voices as merely belonging to “self-hating Jews” or “anti-semitic Jews”. It has the pernicious effect of deliberately conflating and confusing the names “Jew” and “Zionist”, suggesting that the only proper Jew is one who adheres to the premisses and aims of a singular ideology — that of Israel as a Volksstaat or ethnic state. It’s precisely that ideal of Israel as a Volksstaat, with all its old fascistic connotations, that is rejected by more liberal or anti-Zionist Jews.
What “Jewish community” as an identity actually means in contemporary usage is a collective of shared ideology, not a “community” in the proper sense of the word at all. Not many non-Zionist Jews are going to be celebrating and feting Stephen Harper, who has done as much as anyone to actually divide this “Jewish community” through his wedge politics of separating the sheep from the goats, as it were. And in this wedge politics of segregation and isolationism, the so-called “Jewish community”, or Zionism, has been itself complicit and equally duplicitous through its presumption of speaking for all Jews everywhere and always, ironically leaving dissenting Jews “outside the pale” of this “community” through essentially monopolising, controlling, standardising, and legislating the very meaning of the name “Jew” as a matter of ideology, and of political correctness or party affiliation. The phrase “Jewish community” is, therefore, less a community than it is a political party and a partisan ideology.
Just as a doorway may be an exit or an entrance, the stock phrase “Jewish community” is simultaneously both exclusionary and inclusionary in absolute terms. Exclusionary not only in the sense that it defines itself in terms of non-Jews, but also excludes even non-Zionist Jews as “self-hating Jews”, as the typical hasbarah would have it (for such “self-hating Jews” can’t participate in “Jewish community”). It is, however, also a presumption of inclusive totality insofar as this “Jewish community” presumes to speak for all Jews, everywhere and always and also implies consensus, universality, and ideological uniformity.
That leaves dissenting Jews in a very awkward position, caught between a rock and a hard place, as it were. On the one hand, they have to defend themselves against the tendency to conflate the meanings “Jewish” and “Zionist” (thanks in large part to the State of Israel’s own propaganda) while on the other hand suffer exclusion from this same “Jewish community” because they don’t share the ideological premisses and aims of political, secular Zionism. So the very phrase “Jewish community,” in the sense it has been used, leaves a great many Jews still homeless in a deeper spiritual sense.
(And that might explain the odd fact, it seems, that so many Jews end up dis-identifying with Israel and even end up converting to Buddhism).
The irony is that the State of Israel may end up negating itself in the end. Zion was never the secular or political state to begin with. It was the spiritual city — the spiritual state. Nor was “Israel” ever a state. That was “Judea”. It was a nation born through an e-vocation. No state existed when Israel was born from the twelve wandering Hebrew tribes. The real “Jewish community” was only born with Jehovah’s “Harken, Israel!”. Israel has always existed since then, even during the Diaspora when “the wandering Jew” was homeless and stateless. It was that loyalty to the vocation that created a spiritual Israel that made the Jew suspect to more “pagan” mentalities that only knew of “nation” and “state” as Blut und Boden — blood and soil — or secular concepts of space and territory ruled over by local and tribal gods. And to that extent, at least, the secular State of Israel conceived and constituted as a Volksstaat, and the equation of “Jew” with “Zionist,” belong to a new paganism.
And so does the phrase “Jewish community” as a political and ideological concept. It’s a vulgarisation and paganisation of the meaning of the vocation, “Harken Israel!”