On the Paradox of Jews in the Jewish State

I’ve seen this guy Ettinger referred to as a Zionist. But people who use the term Zionist in that way don’t really understand it. Zionism originated as a secular movement promoting a Palestinian homeland for Jews, to be run by a secular democratic government. And that’s essentially what it still is. For all Zionism’s failings – and there are many – it has little to do with this messianic belief, embodied by Ettinger, that Jews are G-d’s chosen people and everybody else is shit. If you study the history of modern Israel, you’ll see that these ultra-Orthodox extremists are, if anything, anti-Zionist. They hate the secular state and resist it at every turn. Their goal is to turn the land into a theocracy and then sit there and wait for the apocalypse.

This article is well-written and gives us a sense of the dilemma Ettinger and his ilk pose for Israel. First, he’s a Jew through and through, and so other Jews are reluctant to disown him, no matter how obnoxious he is to their own ideals. Beyond that, most Israelis have some connection to the settlements. They may have friends or family living there, for instance. Or they may have seen military duty in the Occupied Territories themselves. For better or worse, Ettinger is the face of settler politics, a politics that is intimately conjoined to Israel’s destiny as a nation.

Reference Article: Israel Detains a Scion of Jewish Militancy

Meir Ettinger

Graphic from New York Times. Credit: Ariel Schalit, Associated Press

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