Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Juan Cole:"Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State is like saying the US is a White State"

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is adding a fifth demand to his negotiations with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas: That the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.”
Now, that is a problem as you will see.  Just what will be the criteria to establish "Jewishness?"  It turns out the much of the science around the area of genetics has exposed a problem with defining Jewsihness in any terms than don't conflict with the facts of the true records.  As Mr. Cole says:
Of the some 6 million self-identified Jews in Israel, about 300,000 are not recognized as “Jewish” by the Chief Rabbi and there is no prospect of them being recognized as Jewish any time soon. They were allowed to immigrate to Israel because they had at least one Jewish grandparent, but if their mother was not Jewish neither are they.
So if Israel is a “Jewish” state, is it a state for these (largely Russian and Ukrainian) “non-Jewish” Jews? Many of them are Jewish by religion, but not all are. None of them are Jewish by the Talmud.
In fact genetic testing in Israel and elsewhere has established that most of the European Jews alive today come from Christian converts originating in tribal Turkey and who migrated to Europe when the Roman empire fell apart in the 700-800 A.D.:
It is worse. Genetic testing of European Jews (Ashkenazim) shows that most women in that community are descended from European Christians who converted to Judaism when they married into the Jewish merchant community, which was likely established at Rome and then points east from about 800 CE (A.D.) If the Grand Rabbi took haplotypes seriously, most Ashkenazi Jews would have to be declared “not Jewish” by the Talmudic criterion, since their mothers do not have the distinctive patterns in their mitochondrial DNA showing descent from the inhabitants of the ancient Levant. 
On many levels the demand that Netanyahu is making, demanding that Israel be recognized as a "Jewish State" seems just plain wrong and racist in the least"
Saying Israel is a “Jewish” state in the sense of race would be analogous to insisting that the US is a “white” state and defining Latinos as “brown.”(..........)While we can’t stop other countries from establishing state religions, we Americans don’t approve of it and won’t give our blessing to it, as Netanyahu seems to want. In fact our annual State Department human rights report downgrades countries that don’t separate religion and state.(........)Netanyahu’s demand is either racist or fundamentalist and is objectionable from an American point of view on human rights grounds either way (and I’m not just talking about the human rights of Palestinian-Israelis).
I have borrowed heavily from Juan Cole's essay about just how to define Jewishness.  He writes plainly and with many examples and links.  Please go here to read his whole essay:
 In any case, Sec. Kerry should simply slap Netanyahu down over this new demand, which is illogical and unreasonable and above all sinister. if Netanyahu won’t accept a two-state solution, then he or his children or grandchildren will likely have to accept a one-state solution. Kerry is trying to do him a favor, and if someone doesn’t want your favor, you don’t humiliate yourself to deliver it.