Tikkun Magazine

Tikkun Magazine, Winter 2011

The Nakba, 1948

We Don't Need Israel to Feel Secure

by Antony Loewenstein

As an atheist Jew, I've long believed that Judaism and Zionism must not be joined at the hip. I've spent time in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel and seen the effects of decades of an intolerant ideology determined to isolate and demonize the Palestinian people. Judaism should be a religion of tolerance, peace, and understanding, not nationalistic posturing. We can bring social change by telling rabbis, Jewish leaders, and teachers that Israel isn't the Promised Land that needs blind support. If anything, it demands a stern hand and tough love to realize that diaspora Jewish support isn't unconditional; many young Jews now share this view.

Future Jewish generations may have to imagine a world without a "strong" Israel, but they will feel safe. Anti-Semitism in the West is mostly nonexistent and post-Holocaust generations don't need an imaginary homeland to feel secure.

When I was in Jewish Sunday school many years ago, I was taught that Jews arrived in Palestine in the late 1940s to an empty land. It was a lie. Just like being told at an Anglican school that in 1788 the British arrived in an Australia without Aborigines. I was ill-served by both myths.

Modern Jewish thinking should be alive to difference, open to dissent, and critical of authority. History has taught us the grave errors of avoiding such advice. Present-day Israel is a lesson in how not to marry democracy and decency.

Antony Loewenstein is an Australian, Jewish journalist and author of My Israel Question. His website is http://antonyloewenstein.com/.

Source Citation: Loewenstein, Antony. 2011. We Don’t Need Israel to Feel Secure. Tikkun 26(1): online exclusive.


tags: Israel/Palestine, Vision for Israel/Palestine