The two Israels and the two Judaisms

by Maskil on 31 May 2010

Although, strictly speaking, there are many “tribes” in Israel (to use Bernard Avishai’s terminology), just as there are many streams or denominations within Judaism, in effect we can reduce this to only two Israels, and two Judaisms. Which Israel is yours, and which Judaism?

  • One is welcoming, the other hostile.
  • One seeks to include, the other to exclude.

  • One seeks to integrate, the other to segregate.
  • One smiles, the other spits.
  • One is progressive, the other backward.
  • One seeks diversity, the other uniformity.
  • One learns from tradition, the other is its prisoner.
  • One accepts all learning, the other rejects much of human knowledge.
  • One is democratic, the other despotic.
  • One relies on merit, the other on nepotism and proteksia.
  • One embraces pride, the other arrogance.
  • One seeks justice, the other has forgotten that quality.
  • One defends itself, the other becomes what must be defended against.
  • One shows courage, the other cowardice and bullying.
  • One throws off the oppressor, the other becomes the oppressor.
  • One sees peace as a necessity, the other as a luxury.
  • One relates to the world, the other turns its back on the world.
  • One seeks to repair the world, the other hurls excrement.
  • One produces, the other consumes.
  • One recognises the divine spark in all of humanity, the other draws a distinction between the Jewish and Gentile soul.
  • One reflects the best that is in us, the other the worst.

Do you recognise your Israel, your Judaism here?

Which do you choose, which will you be a part of?

Which of these will be the face of Israel and Judaism in the 21st Century?

The way we answer these questions may well determine both whether Israel and Judaism will survive the century, and whether they deserve to survive; whether they will be an asset to us and to the rest of humankind, or a liability that will eventually blow away in the desert winds.

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