Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lessons on "anti-zionism" from Passover

I read the phrase on the internet all the time: "I'm not anti-semitic, I'm anti-zionist".
It's interesting - it suggest that being anti Israel somehow supports Jewish people and their culture, and there is no connection to Israel.  Its even stranger when we hear people quoting the anti-zionist Jews as some support to their hypothesis.

There is nothing so obvious a connection to Judaism than the Passover Seder.  There is nothing so bound with Jewish Symbology - Matzah, the Seder plate and bitter herbs.  So it stands to reason that all those anti-zionists that are not anti-semitic will be supportive of the practices and teachings that Jews recite at the Passover Seder.

This post takes some real quotes from the Passover Haggadah - The order of the Passover meal.  This is the same meal that Jesus practiced when he was arrested by the Romans of the crime of practicing Judaism.

"Whoever is hungry, let him come an eat.  Whoever is needy, let him come and celebrate Passover!"

For non-religious Jews, if they practice no other aspect of their culture, they will often still celebrate the Passover Seder.  It is almost universal.  One wonders then, how it is celebrated by the like of Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, etc.  I expect that it is not.  I know that Anthony Loewenstein certainly doesn't.  Every year, he is the only Jew in Australia available for an interview to the ABC on some aspect or another of Israel's "crimes".  Last year he attended the Marrickville BDS meeting ("randomly" selected for Seder night).

"Now we are here; next year may we be in the Land of Israel!  Now we are slaves; next year may we be free men!"
The telling of the exodus is core to the Passover Seder.  One really wonders how the anti-zionist brigade would react if they knew that this was part of the Judaism they supported.  The current excuses are that Jews are a myth - although how that is not "anti-semitic", that is beyond logic.

Much of the seder was devised around 2000 years ago, at the time when the Talmud was written down.  Before that, it had been a biblical commandment, with practices passed down orally from generation to generation.  The seder itself references its authors Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon.

"For not only one has risen against us to annihilate us, but in every generation they rise against us to annihilate us."
The correct interpretation (unlike that espoused by Loewenstein 'quoting' from Uri Avnery) is not that "they" will rise but "one" will rise.  This is a scary prediction.  Scary, because it was made 2000 years ago, and has sadly proven to be true.  It is followed by a statement that the Jewish people will be rescued every time.  Many see the rise of Iran and Islam as a fulfillment of some kind of final prophecy.  More widely interpreted though is that Ahmadinejad is just the latest to rise in this series of terrors.

"Whoever has not explained the following three things on Passover has not fulfilled his duty:  Pesach, Matzah and Maror"
 This is a key section where we explain the symbology of Passover - the passing over of the Israelites houses by the tenth plague; Matzah - the unleavened bread, that did not have time to rise as the Israelites fled Egypt; and Maror - the bitter herbs which represent the bitterness imposed on us by the Egyptians.  It is sad that often the cited anti-zionist spokespeople (Loewenstein, Finkelstein etc) cannot explain the relevance of practicing Judaism.  Why then are they somehow shown as "Jewish" spokespeople - they are doing everything they can to get away from it.

Probably the most telling statement is the final statement made at the seder:
"Next Year in Jerusalem!"
If this is a key to practicing Judaism, then Israel is also central to the practice of Judaism.  I would then conclude that anyone who states they are anti-zionist but not anti-semitic (or anti-jewish) is either ignorant of the facts or deliberately distorting them.


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