Jewish dual loyalty and false equivalence betw zionism and Nazism

‘Forward’ columnist says ‘divided’ loyalty is as American as cherry pie



Last week the Israeli Foreign Ministry was preparing to distribute a poll to American Jews asking them to which country they would feel allegiance during a crisis, Israel or the U.S., when Prime Minister Netanyahu stuffed the survey out of concern that it would raise an “explosive” issue (as Haaretz put it). In response, Hillel Halkin stands up at the Forward for dual loyalty on the part of Jewish Zionists. “Why American Jews Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Put Israel First.”

. . .

I believe that Louis Brandeis made a similar argument about Americans’ diverse cultural affinities in seeking to remove the dual-loyalty stigma from Zionists 100 years ago, after he was converted to Zionism.



Tribute to Justices Brandeis and Frankfurter  Nov 13, 1997 Conference of Pres. of Major Jewish Org.

A tribute to justices Louis Brandeis and Felix Frankfurter was held during a celebration of one hundred years of Zionism. Justice Breyer, Senator Moynihan and others talked about the role the justices played in the 1930s to help the Zionist movement attain a home for Jewish people.


Weiss continues:  “The poll sought to determine, among other things, which country American Jews would side with in case of a serious confrontation between Israel and the United States. As such, it was rightly criticized for conjuring up the specter of “dual loyalty” that Jews in America and elsewhere have been accused of by their enemies. There’s certainly no need to provide extra grist for the anti-Semitic mill. Yet it’s also time to stop pretending that the loyalties of some American Jews aren’t divided between Israel and America. Of course they are. There’s just nothing wrong with it — nor is there anything uniquely Jewish about this. You’ll find plenty of similar cases in other places.

The truth is that any American Jew who doesn’t care as much about a Jewish state as he or she does about the United States can’t be very identified with the Jewish people. Suppose vital American and Israeli interests were to clash. What would it mean for a Jew to say: ”I don’t give a damn what’s best for Israel. All that matters to me is what’s best for America”? What kind of Jew would that be? How deep could his or her Jewishness be said to go?

But one could ask a similar question about tens of millions of other Americans. Do Cuban Americans who have pressed for decades for harsh American policies toward Communist Cuba ask whether these are really in America’s interest? It’s enough for them to tell themselves that they’re in Cuba’s interest. Do Mexican Americans favor a relaxation of immigration laws because they think America’s general public will benefit? What they think, you can be sure, is that other Mexicans will benefit — and why shouldn’t they want them to?”

It is excellent that the Forward has run this. It is akin to Eric Alterman’s frank declaration at the 92d Street Y that he has dual loyalty (not going in for Halkin’s euphemism, divided). It’s plainly the case that many American Jews would choose Israel’s interest over the U.S.’s if the two countries clashed.

While Halkin regards that choice as just fine, the Forward opens the door on those who may disagree– citing the regressive Cuban example, or the Irish-American support for a revolutionary movement back where they came from. Or: Did the neoconservatives support the Iraq war because it was in Israel’s interest? Joe Klein said they exhibited “divided loyalties” in doing so.

Myself I believe in the honorable principle of Doykeit, hereness in the Polish Yiddish formulation of the 1900s. Yes it worked out badly for the Polish Jews, but it remains the ideal of a democratic polity.

Speaking of which, my people came from Poland and Rumania and Russia, not from the Middle East. Yet to be concerned for Israel, a place most American Jews have never laid eyes on, is in Halkin’s view to “be identified with the Jewish people.” This is the knot at the bottom of Jewish identity in our times. Marc Ellis would say that identification with the Jewish people means concern for Palestinian conditions.

 hophmi says:  November 4, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Ask this question again when Judaism is the preferred religion of an entire continent rather than the majority religion in one state.

What stupidity. Jewish-Americans take an interest in Israel because it’s where the world’s largest Jewish population is.

  1. “The truth is that any American Jew who doesn’t care as much about a Jewish state as he or she does about the United States can’t be very identified with the Jewish people”

    Absolute horseshit.

    “My mother drunk or sober” type logic should not be the main criterion for whether someone is Jewish or not.

    The Germans got over Nazism. Judaism will somehow emerge from the darkness of Zionism.

    see Norman Finkelstein on how Nazism was destroyed by destroying Germany.  Now Germany is the most morally conscious …

    •   pabelmont says:

      Recall that Nazism began with the (as it was perceived in Germany) horribly unfair treatment of Germany after WWI. Israelism (not quite the same as the various older Zionisms) came into focus by the horribly unfair treatment of Jews IN Germany. After Nazis were defeated militarily (nothing to do with the holocuast, BTW), THEN (and only then) did Germans either feel guilty as a people, or feel guilty as a nation, or feel the revulsion that others felt.

      This is a false equivalence based on flawed history.  The history is flawed because the real history is censored, by Jews.

      So, what’s needed is for a lot of Jews to feel revulsion for what Israel is doing (1948-2013 and continuing at high speed). This depends on information. IMO the morality is in place, but not the information, not the education. Jews are still in the “We didn’t know” phase, even though you’d think all Jews would know about the original 1948-slice of Nakba. But no. Big secret. False allegation. Lies, lies.

      Alterman says all the factual assertions of GOLIATH are true, but still the book is (somehow) wrong. He means that he personally or American Jewry as a group are NOT READY FOR THE EDUCATION.

      Education means to be led out. Out of darkness.

      And one CRITICAL piece of education is this: You can be guilty of failing in your moral duty IN THE PAST and still have a moral duty in the present and future. There is still time and still duty to correct the world including especially that part of the world which is “Jewish” .


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