Thursday, January 20, 2022

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I Forgot You Were Jewish When I Said I Support Your Self-Determination

by Entirée Szyst, progressive activist

man with shadesLondon, January 20 - Oh, goodness, I'm so sorry. Your ancestry and heritage had totally slipped my mind a few minutes ago, and had I remembered, I'd not have mindlessly agreed that you and your people deserve to govern yourselves in your own land and not remain at the mercy of host cultures. I hope you didn't misunderstand.

As a progressive, I live by a certain set of principles, high among them that every identity group deserves respect and may define itself and its needs without seeking approval from others or the dominant group. My political path, decisions, and rhetoric all draw heavy influence from that principle, and if I neglect to take it into account in my choices and my speech, I risk compromising the very values I claim to hold dear. But I also forgot for a moment that your specific identity group is Jewish. My colleagues and I in the progressive movement carve out an exception to that principle when it involves Jews. I'm sorry I gave the wrong impression earlier when I expressed support for your people's self-determination, let alone in their ancestral homeland. The opposite, I assure you!

In fact I oppose the very notion of Jewish peoplehood, simply because the implications of that phenomenon undermine so many of the causes I espouse.

Jewish faith, or membership in a Jewish faith community, poses no problem. As long as you restrict your Jewishness to matters of ritual, doctrine, or even morality, I'm with you! Just don't claim that Jews are a distinct people, because if I acknowledge Jewish peoplehood, I must perforce concede that Jews have a collective right to manifest that peoplehood in political terms, and that the most appropriate - indeed, the only historically viable - venue for such an endeavor is the very place where Jewish peoplehood came to be. That conflicts with the Palestinian cause, the crown jewel of all progressive causes. I apologize for, however briefly, implying that the two are not mutually exclusive, or worse, that even for an instant I might neglect the primacy of Palestinian claims and narrative.

Now you must apologize to me for causing me to violate one of the cardinal values of progressivism. That is correct: progressives, as ontologically your moral superiors, cannot fail; we can only be failed. Therefore, culpability for my erstwhile neglect of Palestinian supremacy lies with you, my Jewish-and-possibly-Zionist interlocutor, and not with me. Axioms, dear fellow; axioms.







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