1. See Sander Gilman, who writes, “The concept of ‘race’ is so poisoned in Western society that it is difficult to imagine how it can be resurrected” (Gilman 1991, 242). [BACK]
2. Witness the “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims and Croats from the space of Serbian “autochthony.” This double-edged sword of accounts of origin is precisely captured by Spivak: “The notion of origin is as broad and robust and full of affect as it is imprecise. ‘History lurks in it somewhere,’ I had written, but now I think that sentence would have to be revised: History slouches in it, ready to comfort and kill” (Spivak 1992, 781). [BACK]
3. Augustine, Tractatus adversus Judaeos, vii, 9. [BACK]
4. For the disturbing nature of women, see Saxonhouse: “The poets introduce the female as a constant reminder of the diversity out of which the world was made and as a constant warning against the attempt to see the world as a uniform whole and, therefore, subject to simple answers and rational control” (1992, 53, and see also 57). See also Bloch 1991, 31–32. [BACK]
5. At least until new “pagans” were discovered in the early modern period. See next note. [BACK]
6. Lawton 1993 is, inter alia, a remarkable documentation of this process. One of the most stunning moments in this book (from my point of view) is Lawton's citation of the recent (1985) translation of the gospel for the benefit of the Panare People of the Amazon, a translation that reads:
Lawton cites this text from Lewis 1988, and then glosses it:
The Panare killed Jesus Christ because they were wicked Let's kill Jesus Christ said the Panare. The Panare seized Jesus Christ. The Panare killed in this way. They laid a cross on the ground. They fastened his hands and his feet against the wooden beams, with nails. They raised him straight up, nailed. The man died like that, nailed. Thus the Panare killed Jesus Christ.
The new theology is used to predict the Panares' punishment; and that punishment is of course the destruction of their rainforest habitat and the traditional life-style that goes with it. God wants the Panare to wear American clothes, use soap, and have sweet-smelling orifices. The discourse of guilt for the Crucifixion is treated here as a transferable discourse justifying persecution and exploitation. Seeing it in this form, we can recognise it for what it is, and so identify the traditional role of the Jews in it. The Panare are non-Christians; they are therefore blasphemers, and so must be the subject of conversion whether they wish it or not. As blasphemers, they are able to assume the role of the Jews in the trial of Jesus. From the gospels onward, blasphemy is Greek for Jew.
7. This “Jewish” resistance to dualism and the Ideal can even be claimed for the christology of the Jewish Christians, the Ebionites, who into the third century claimed that Jesus was the crucified and risen Messiah but “solely and normally human.” This insistence on a single, physical, literal existence for Christ was paralleled, of course, by literal observance of Jewish Law including, of course, circumcision. (Fredriksen 1988, 213). [BACK]
8. The analogy itself has been previously remarked by Anthony Appiah (1985, 35). [BACK]
9. Cp. Balibar (in a quite different historical context): “In fact racism figures both on the side of the universal and the particular” (1991b, 54). Also Connolly (1991, 41). [BACK]
10. Fredriksen cites abundant evidence to the effect that in antiquity Jews permitted gentiles to attend the synagogue without conversion, even if they continued to worship idols (1988, 149–51)! “As long as a group thinks that its moral code applies only to itself, it will make no effort to impose it on others. Orthodox Jews, believing that the dietary laws of kashrut are binding only on Jews, have never tried to prevent gentiles from eating pork and shellfish” (Greenberg 1988, 6–7). [BACK]
11. Thus, as Marc Shell points out, “Moses Mendelssohn in his Jerusalem tried to steer the ideology of a universalist Enlightenment…away from what he took to be its probably inevitable course towards barbarism.…In the Germany of his day Jews were pressured to renounce their faith in return for civil equality and union with the Christian majority. The pressure was kindly, but it was also a form of intolerance towards non-kin” (Shell 1991, 331). [BACK]
12. On this point see Gilman (1991, 25–27). [BACK]
13. In California, certain missionaries had thousands of Indian babies killed, so that their souls would be saved before their bodies could sin. [BACK]
14. “Virtually” no one, because Judith Butler (1990), for one, denies precisely this reality. See also Butler 1991b, 19. My position seems to me closer to that of Luce Irigaray, for instance, who writes, “The human species is divided into two genders [sic] which ensure its production and reproduction. To wish to get rid of sexual difference is to call for a genocide more radical than any form of destruction there has even been in History” (Irigaray 1993, 12). I have my problems with the apocalyptic tenor of this comment; even disaggregated bodies can, after all, get pregnant. But I do think that it answers to a fundamental sensibility of how culture has always been built on the material base of reproduction, and how, therefore, the difference between male and female may indeed be somatically “hard-wired” into our psyches/cultures. See also in quite a different vein E. Cohen: “You see, I feel there is something ‘different’ about the body: I believe feeling is the difference that bodies make, a difference that moves people to action” (1991, 84). [BACK]
15. I am not ignoring the qualification in the “may be.” This leaves room for positions such as that of Judith Butler. [BACK]
16. It is important for me to emphasize that it is a category error to assume that social constructionism is coextensive with the notion that gay and lesbian people can change if they want to (Epstein 1992, 242). Sedgwick (1990, 40) has remarked the confusion of these two categories, which she refers to as the “phylogenetic” and “ontogenetic” questions. She is absolutely correct in the ways that the debate has been willy-nilly implicated in homophobic projects, but only, I would claim, insofar as the question of “ontogeny”—the determination of the causes of heterosexuality in the individual—is concerned. I, for my part, think that this question of “ontogeny” has never properly been part of the issue to start with. Below I will return to this question, for I think that in this distinction lies the key to a proper understanding of Aristophanes's speech in the Symposium as well. I could not agree more with Sedgwick when she says “that gay-affirmative work does well when it aims to minimize its reliance on any particular account of the origin of sexual preference and identity in individuals” (41). The historical constructionist position has nothing whatsoever to say about the origin of sexual preference in individuals. It has only to do with the sociocultural characterizations which determine whether people who prefer this or that kind of sexual behavior are anatomized as a taxonomically significant human type. Preferable, perhaps, to thinking of the issue as a question of the origins of homosexuality would be thinking of it as having to do with the origins of homophobia—or maybe with the origins of heterosexuality. It certainly has nothing to do with “gay [!] origins” (pace Sedgwick 1990, 43). Insisting on a constructionist position will not, then, deprive gay people of the right to their identity but only of homophobia of its claims to be natural. [BACK]
17. Similarly, Epstein seems to me right on target when he writes that “a gay or lesbian identity might have a clear resonance for individuals without necessarily binding them to any specific definition of what that identity ‘means’” (274). I would suggest that this is true of other types of identity as well. [BACK]
18. “A racism which does not have the pseudo-biological concept of race as its main driving force has always existed, and it has existed at exactly the level of secondary theoretical elaborations. Its prototype is anti-Semitism. Modern anti-Semitism—the form which begins to crystalize in the Europe of the Enlightenment, if not, indeed, from the period in which the Spain of the Reconquista and the Inquisition gave a statist, nationalistic inflexion to theological anti-Judaism—is already a ‘culturalist’ racism” (Balibar 1991a, 23). See also Thompson (1989, 16). [BACK]
19. This last point is, however, an excellent argument for the social constructedness of races, because only fifty years ago there were physical characteristics that marked Jews' bodies off from the bodies of others. Sander Gilman's recent book (1991) is a sustained demonstration of this point. Not only gentiles but Jewish doctors were absolutely convinced, for instance, that the Jewish foot was constructed differently from the gentile one. [BACK]
20. On this point, see also the very moving and convincing discussion by Sedgwick (1990, 42–43). [BACK]
21. In his remarkable Identity \ difference: Democratic Negotiations of Political Paradox, William E. Connolly has asked the same question in quite different terms. Referring to the formation of identity as an attempt to solve what he calls the “first problem of evil,” he argues that this very formation often produces “a second problem of evil,” namely, the violence toward Others that shores up identity. Then, “the Augustinian definition of Manicheanism as heresy and of Greek polytheism as paganism provides two exemplifications of the politics of identity and difference. That politics contains the second problem of evil moving silently inside the first one. The question now becomes: Is it possible to counter the second problem of evil without eliminating the functions served by identity” (8). Although I read Connolly's book just as I was finishing this manuscript, it seems to me that he anticipated in quite different terms some of the directions of my argument here. It is fascinating to me to see the different results achieved when Augustine and not Paul is the starting point for the inquiry into identity and difference, since Paul, after all, did not set out to define an abject Other in quite the same way that Augustine did. [BACK]
22. As Connolly argues, “to engage the second problem of evil [see above n.21], it is necessary to practice the arts of experimental detachment of the self from the identity installed within it, even though these are slippery, ambiguous arts hardly susceptible to full realization” (9). [BACK]
23. And as such was hotly contested within Spanish Christendom. See Balibar (1991b, 52). Also Simms (1992, 45–46). [BACK]
24. Among the telling points that Shell makes is the very fact that Spain was defined as a Germania, that is, a union of siblings-german, siblings by seed, consanguinity (311). [BACK]
25. This move is not by any means limited to gentile critics. Certain “liberal Zionists” blame everything that has “gone wrong” with Israel on the residues of biblical sensibility that have not been eradicated successfully enough. [BACK]
26. Note how such an utterance completely reproduces precisely the ideology that it would question, for the societies under consideration would have us believe that Scripture underwrites their practice directly. Akenson's position, which I will further criticize below, demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of, at least, traditional modes of Jewish biblical interpretation. In general, his reading of the Bible is highly unbalanced. He is certainly right in opposing apologists who would gloss over the corrosive or “sulphurous” aspects of the Bible (10), but he is hardly justified, for instance, in his conclusion (based on one verse in a psalm) that “it is a small and natural step in covenantal thinking to affirm that the possession of might (whether in the form of economic prosperity or military power) is evidence that one is morally right” (16), since myriad biblical texts that directly contravene such a claim could be adduced. In other words, those who would derive the “Protestant ethic” from Hebrew Scripture are not obeying a genetic code but producing a reading of the text, one that, like all readings, is tendentious and ideologically informed. By suggesting that it is a “genetic code,” then, Akenson simply endorses the hermeneutical stance not only of the society but of its most reactionary elements. [BACK]
27. The attempt of some modern ultranationalist groups calling themselves Orthodox to reconfigure the Palestinians as the “five nations” and thereby reactivate the command to drive them out of the Land is thus an act of radical religious revisionism and not a continuation of rabbinic Judaism. The so-called ultraOrthodox in Israel reject such views—as indeed many Orthodox nationalists do also. As I correct proof (in March 1994) I note that such nationalist revisionism has now borne the bitterest fruit of all—the Hebron mass murder. [BACK]
28. This proposal, of a diaspora deterritorialized Jewish identity, is hardly new. It has a genealogy ranging from the historian Shim‘on Dubnov to George Steiner and Philip Roth. [BACK]
29. “It is easy for us now to read, say, Proust as the most expert operator of our modern technologies for dismantling taxonomies of the person. For the emergence and persistence of the vitalizing worldly taxonomic energies on which Proust also depends, however, we have no theoretical support to offer. And these defalcations in our indispensable antihumanist discourses have apparently ceded the potentially forceful ground of profound, complex variation to humanist liberal ‘tolerance’ or repressively trivializing celebration at best, to reactionary suppression at worst” (Sedgwick 1990, 24). [BACK]
30. It should, however, be emphasized that political Zionism is not the only form that the movement historically took. Prior to the formation of the State of Israel, there were various movements calling themselves Zionist that proposed creating concentrations of Jews in Palestine without seeking political hegemony or statehood, including some, indeed, for whom such aspirations were anathema. The ideas of some of these groups, including the highly progressive ones of Judah Magnes and Martin Buber, could come much closer to my notion of multicultural—Diasporized—states than the eventually dominant political Zionism has. [BACK]
31. A highly ingenuous, or more likely egregiously disingenuous, claim of Abba Eban's (from a letter to W. D. Davies) is given the lie in every page of Israeli history and particularly the last ones. Beersheba may have been “virtually empty,” but that provides little consolation to the Bedouin who were and continue to be constantly dispossessed there and in its environs, and the refugees in camps in Gaza as well as the still visible ruins of their villages would certainly dispute the claim that Arab populations had avoided “the land of the Philistines in the coastal plain…because of insalubrious conditions.” Abba Eban quoted in Davies (1992, 76). [BACK]
32. Early in the Intifada, the Palestinians, acknowledging that the Zionists would never accept a secular, democratic, binational state in all of Palestine, reverted to the notion of two separate ethnic states. The Palestinian version of this vision still expresses much more interdependence and contact than most “liberal” Zionist versions. [BACK]
33. As this is being written (June 1993), the Palestinian people are being held behind military roadblocks, cut off from sources of livelihood and even from their cultural, administrative, medical [!] center, Jerusalem. This so-called “closure” has divided the Palestinian West Bank into three hermetically sealed Bantustans—and this by the so-called liberal Labor government with the full support of its coalition partner, “The Citizens' Rights Party.” Advertising campaigns in Israeli elections for parties that support “two states” tend to portray their solution as one of (relative) ethnic purification of the Israeli state. Nor, obviously, is this only true in Palestine/ Israel, since it is also taking place in both south-central Europe and central Asia as well. (Nor has much changed, in my opinion, as I review these observations in December of that year, famous handshakes notwithstanding.) [BACK]
34. Note that this point is not incompatible with the notion of Zionism as a national liberation struggle (a description that I neither fully ascribe to nor entirely reject). Balibar has shown the complicity, indeed implicature, between national liberation struggles and racisms. “Racism is constantly emerging out of nationalism.…And nationalism emerges out of racism, in the sense that it would not constitute itself as the ideology of a ‘new’ nation if the official nationalism against which it were reacting were not profoundly racist: thus Zionism comes out of anti-Semitism and Third World nationalisms come out of colonial racism” (Balibar 1991b, 53, and see also 57). Following this line, it is not only anti-Semitism that is “the socialism of fools.” [BACK]
35. For the ideological functions of myths of autochthony, see Saxonhouse (1992, 51–52, and esp. 111–31). [BACK]
36. Davies remarks there that this sense of “bad conscience” can be found in texts as late as the first century B.C. I think that he underestimates; this factor can still be found much later. The classical midrash on Genesis, Bereshith Rabba, a product of the fourth and fifth centuries c.e., begins with the question: Why does the Torah open with the creation of the world, and answers, so that when the Nations will call Israel robbers for their theft of the Land, they will be able to point to the Torah and say: God created the earth and can dispose of it at his will! [BACK]
37. See Schwartz (1992, 142) for an even more nuanced reading of tensions within the Davidic stories themselves. Schwartz's forthcoming book will deal with many of the themes of identity in the Bible that this chapter is treating, albeit with quite different methods and often with quite different results. [BACK]
38. It is important to emphasize that this analysis is indifferent to the historical question of whether there were nomadic Israelite tribes to begin with or the thesis (made most famous by the work of Norman Gottwald ) which ascribes to these tribes a “retribalization” process taking place among “native” Canaanites. For discussion of this thesis, see Berger, 131–32. For my purposes here, the representations of the tribes as nomadic and the ideological investments in that representation are indifferent to the “actual” history. [BACK]
39. Classical Zionism was, after all, a secular movement. This is why claims that Zionism is based on the Promised Land theology fall rather flat. [BACK]
40. Also: “The desert is, therefore, the place of revelation and of the constitution of ‘Israel’ as a people; there she was elected” (1992, 39). Davies's book is remarkable for many reasons; one of them is surely the way that while it intends to be a defense and explanation of Zionism as a deeply rooted Jewish movement, it consistently and honestly documents the factors in the tradition which are in tension with such a view. [BACK]
41. I think that Davies occasionally seems to lose sight of his own great insight, confusing ethnic identity with political possession (90–91n.10). The same mixture appears also when he associates, it seems, deterritorialization and deculturation (93). It is made clear when Davies writes, “At the same time the age-long engagement of Judaism with The Land in religious terms indicates that ethnicity and religion…are finally inseparable in Judaism” (97). I certainly agree that ethnicity and religion are inseparable in Judaism, but fail to see the necessary connection between ethnicity, religion, and territoriality. Moreover, a people can be on their land without this landedness being expressed in the form of a nation-state, and landedness can be shared in the same place with others who feel equally attached to the same land! This is the solution of the Natorei Karta, who live, after all, in Jerusalem but do not seek political hegemony over it. [BACK]
42. This has led, moreover, to a discourse within Israel whereby liberal Israelis, such as the followers of the Meretz party, blame Judaism itself for the racism of Israeli political and cultural life, not noticing the difference in meaning between expressions of dominated minorities and the same expressions in the hands of a dominating majority. [BACK]
43. I dissent from the conclusion of W. D. Davies that, “For religious Jews, we must conclude, The Land is ultimately inseparable from the state of Israel, however much the actualities of history have demanded their distinction” (1992, 51). Clearly, many religious Jews have not felt that way at all (Rodinson 1983, 56). Although I do not deny entirely the theological bona fides of religious Zionism as one option for a modern Jewish religious thought, the fact that Zionists are the historical “winners” in an ideological struggle should not blind us to the fact that their option was, until only recently, only one option for religious Jews—and a very contested one at that. Even the theological “patron saint” of religious Zionists, the holy Rabbi Loewe (Maharal) of Prague, who, as pointed out by Davies, “understood the nature and role of nations to be ordained by God, part of the natural order” and held that nations “were intended to cohere rather than be scattered”; even he held that reestablishment of a Jewish state should be left to God (33). Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav's desire to touch any part of the Land and then immediately return to Poland hardly bespeaks a proto-Zionism either (33). Davies seriously nuances his own statement when he remarks “Zionism cannot be equated with a reaffirmation of the eternal relation of The Land, the people, and the Deity, except with the most cautious reservations, since it is more the expression of nationalism than of Judaism” (64). Davies is surely right, however, in his claim that something vital about historical Jewish tradition is surely missing from Petuchowski's statement that there can be a “full-blooded Judaism which is in no need to hope and to pray for a messianic return to Palestine.” The desire, the longing for unity, coherence, and groundedness in the utopian future of the Messianic Age is, as Davies eminently demonstrates, virtually inseparable from historical Judaism (66). There is surely a “territorial theological tradition.” At issue is rather its status in pre-Messianic praxis. There are (at least two) historically viable and religiously authentic responses. Religious Zionism is only one. The following document will make this alternative Jewish theology absolutely clear:
Statement of the Palestinian Jewish (Neturei Karta) Members of the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Conference in Washington, D.C.
We, the Neturei Karta (Guardians of the City—Jerusalem), presently numbering in the tens of thousands, are comprised of the descendants of the pioneer Jews who settled in the Holy Land over a hundred years before the establishment of the Zionist State. Their sole motive was to serve G-d, and they had not political aspirations nor any desire to exploit the local population in order to attain statehood.
Our mission, in the capacity of Palestinian advisers, to this round of the Middle East Peace Conference, is to concern ourselves with the safeguarding of the interests of the Palestinian Jews and the entire Jewish nation. The Jewish people are charged by Divine oath not to seek independence and cast off the yoke of exile which G-d decreed, as a result of not abiding by the conditions under which G-d granted them the Holy Land. We repeat constantly in our prayers, “ since we sinned, we were therefore exiled from our land. ” G-d promised to gather in the exiled Jews through His Messiah. This is one of the principles of the Jewish faith. The Zionists rebelled against this Divine decree of exile by taking the land away from its indigenous inhabitants and established their state. Thus are the Jewish people being exposed to the Divine retribution set down in the Talmud. I will make your flesh prey as the deer and the antelope of the forest (Song of Songs 2:7). Our advice to the negotiating contingent of the Palestinian delegation will remain within the framework of Jewish theology.
Zionist schoolings dictate a doctrine of labeling the indigenous Palestinian population “ enemies, ” in order to sanction their expansionist policies. Judaism teaches that Jew and non-Jew are to co-exist in a cordial and good neighbor relationship. We Palestinian Jews have no desire to expand our places of residence and occupy our neighbors' lands, but only to live alongside the non-Jewish Palestinians, just as Jews live throughout the world, in peace and tranquility.
The enmity and animosity towards the non-Jewish population, taught to the Zionist faithful, is already boomeranging. King Solomon in Parables 27:19 describes reality: “ As one's image is reflected in water: so one's heart towards his fellow man. ” (so an enemy's heart is reflected in his adversary's heart). The Intifada is exhibit A to this King Solomon gem of wisdom. We hope and pray that this face to face meeting with imagined adversaries, will undo the false image created, and that both Jew and Arab in Palestine can once again live as good neighbors as was the life of yesteryear, under a rule chosen by the indigenous residents of the Holy Land—thus conforming with G-d's plan for the Holy Land.
The last word is the traditional Muslim prayer: “May it be God's [Allah's] will.” The document has been transcribed here from the New York Yiddish weekly יד טפירשנכאוו עשידיא issue dated September 4, 1992. [BACK]
44. Cf. Judith Butler, “How is it that we might ground a theory or politics in a speech situation or subject position which is ‘universal’ when the very category of the universal has only begun to be exposed for its own highly ethnocentric biases” (Butler 1991a, 151). [BACK]
45. This is not to be taken, of course, as an uncritical affirmation of all aspects of Natorei Karta society, specifically their gender practices. [BACK]
46. Shell argues, following Spinoza, that temporal power is necessary for toleration (1991, 328n.75). I am suggesting the opposite: that only conditions in which power is shared between religions and ethnicities will allow for difference within common caring. [BACK]
47. There simply is no gainsaying that Israeli definitions of who is and who is not a citizen are most similar to those of Germany, with two major differences: the spouses of ethnic Germans are automatic citizens, while the non-Jewish spouses of Jews are not, and Palestinians living within the Green Line are citizens of Israel, and others (but not Palestinians currently living “outside”) can become naturalized as citizens of Israel. Cp. Balibar: “Racism underlies the claims for annexation (‘return’) to the national ‘body’ of ‘lost’ individuals and populations (for example, the Sudeten or Tyrolean Germans) which is, as is well known, closely linked to what might be called the pan-ic developments of nationalism (Pan-Slavism, Pan-Germanism, Pan-Turanianism, Pan-Arabism, Pan-Americanism.…)” (1991b, 59 [ellipses in original]). Zionist liberals have tended to think that the solution is a change in the definitions of “Who is a Jew?”—a topic of Israeli public life since the foundation of the State—whereas the whole force of my argument is that traditional definitions of Jewishness have to stand, or Jewishness ends up meaning nothing and depriving people of “their” identity, and the answer to the Israeli problem is to completely sever Israeliness from Jewishness! Definitions such as “born of a Jewish mother or converted by a Rabbi (even if Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist Rabbis are included—the solution of the ‘liberals’)” cannot possibly be constitutive in any way of citizenship in a democratic state. [BACK]
48. The first option was the program of the group called “Canaanites,” who argued for a total break between the Israelis and the Jews both past and present and the invention of a new People, the Canaanites, former Jews and former Palestinian Arabs, who would together restore the glory of our common “indigenous” ancestors. This is a coherent—if to me unattractive—project in ways that Zionism is not. [BACK]