At theROI Summit in Jerusalem. An incredibly diverse crowd. Orthodox, secular; gay, trans, hetero Jews from India, Ucraine, Prague, Russia. The Jewish World is a geopolitical cauldron.
Israelis a country of minorities and splintering of identities. Of Occupation. The Palestinian issue has dominated the national agenda, but there are also issues below the line: the exclusion of Ethiopian and Russian minorities, the increasing inequality outside of Tel Aviv, the poverty of orthodox families, the relationship with Arab countries at large.
I had a strong talk with someone that worked for AIPAC. He claimed that Jews had been a people for over 2,000 years. He even suggested that, when Jews arrived here, there where only nomads tribes on the land.
It was a heated discussion: I am convinced that the original Zionist ideology was colonial in nature, but this is not necessarily something that could be avoided. Herzl was, after all, an Eastern European illuminati at the turn of the 19th century: Edward Said hadn’t been born yet to critize Orientalism.
The idea of the Jewish State is problematic, there’s no way around it. That doesn’t mean its illegitimate, but if we don’t understand the identity tensions engrained in it we will not understand what makes it such a neuralgic talking point, worldwide.