I was in desperate need of a headline for that post, and then someone's helpful entry on Facebook provided a link to an admirably short funny Belgium State Ukulele Orchestra meets expectations. So there, we can forget the Belgian ukulele players for now. And move to my expectations of Open Zion, the brainchild of Peter Beinart.
And I am happy/sad to observe that my expectations from Open Zion are being confirmed again and again, this time by an article Israel as a Totem for Jewish Identity by Lisa Goldman. The article has little to do with its headline, while the headline has a lot to do with a statement in that article that drew my attention.
Lisa describes a social event that in normal circumstances would hardly draw any attention from yours truly: Yeshiva University panel discussion on the future of the Jewish people. The panel was manned by a group of people that I can't very well sympathize with, and the proceedings (at least as described by Lisa) confirm my (possibly non-patriotic) lack of sympathy. Of course, I have a good reason to suspect the reporting as tendentious, but even when suspected, ideas like lobbing a nuke at some Iranian desert are not my cup of tea. On the other hand, Yasser Arafat standing for the destruction of Israel or Mahmud the Mad believing in "something called a Hidden Imam" are more than a fruit of the panel's imagination. Whatever...now we can move to the statement I mentioned, which is a sarcastic soundbite, singled out as a standalone paragraph in the article:
Israel, it seemed, was not actually a country filled with disparate, flawed individuals, but an identity totem for Jews of the diaspora.Now that one is a doozy for sure. In the sense that it allows for at least two different (disparate?) readings, mutually exclusive at that. This "country filled with disparate, flawed individuals": how should one read it? As in "a country of exceptionally disparate and flawed individuals" or "a country which, as any other country, is filled with disparate, flawed individuals"? I really wouldn't know and prefer to hope that the latter reading is true. But how can one be sure with such glaring ambiguity and the general trend of the article? Flawed and insecure individual as I am, I can't trust my judgment in that matter.
As for Israel serving as "an identity totem for Jews of the diaspora": let me see - what exactly is wrong with that thesis? Israel, as such (which means me and the other 6+ million Jews living here) didn't exactly choose the role of the totem. But take a look at any group of diaspora Jews congregating for any purpose: be it a Bar Mitzvah of a younster or a Yeshiva University panel discussion or, for that matter, a strictly anti-Israeli demo by Jewish Voice for Peace folks or a J-street gathering - what exactly will be on the agenda? For that matter, what exactly provides bread and butter to the Open Zion team, if not that "identity totem"?
Speaking of bread and butter, I just have to mention an unsuccessful dig addressed by Lisa at one of the panel members, one Bret Stephens:
“We have to find a way to keep them in Israel,” declaimed the man who left Jerusalem to take up a position with the Wall Street Journal.Which dig could have sounded much better, if not made by a lady who left Tel-Aviv for Brooklyn to become a senior editor at the Daily Beast's Open Zion blog. Oh well, you can't win them all, Lisa...
But then, this again conforms with my
Methinks I shall look for some ukulele ensemble on Youtube...