Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Israel does not practice apartheid. But is it on a path to do so?

Jay Michaelson makes some good points in his article If Israel’s Occupation Is Permanent, Why Isn’t It the Same as Apartheid?

Some thoughts:

The time to separate into 2 states would have been 20 years ago, when support was still high. Now it's hard to imagine how it'll happen. The Palestinians missed chances and then their violent responses hardened Israeli public position.

I don't know what the answer is. I agree with the article, but I don't see a two-state solution happening anytime soon. Israel is stuck in a morass of it's own making and the making of the Palestinians.

One other point - many on the right will take exception to Michelson's 2nd to last paragraph, that the long-term demographics aren't on Israel's side. Caroline Glick, for instance, asserts that the Jewish birthrate is rising and the Palestinian birthrate is dropping. Is that true? It's hard to know. It may just be selective reading of the data by a right wanting to believe that there will always be a Jewish majority.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Brit Milah

I tend to be a rationalist religious Jew, and try to contextualize the mitzvot and make them meaningful to my modern, western self.

But there's one mitzvah that defies contextualization or reinterpretation.

Standing alongside the mohel at my son's brit recently. I realized that there's no way I would be doing this were I not living the life of a religious Jew. It's an ancient ceremony that may or may not have medical benefit. But a roomful of people sitting there celebrating as a helpless baby's genitals are cut? It really does seem barbaric and bizarre.

I've adjusted my Judaism to my doubts about most of the ikkarim and made it work for me. But with brit milah, I just had to let go of my modern mind and accept that some things in Judaism cannot be rationalized. It's an ancient mitzvah that smacks us in the face and says to us that choosing to live as a Jew means accepting that not all of Judaism is rational. Rather, we do it as part of avodat Hashem, and because it's the continuation of a chain of numerous generations of my ancestors.