A 21st century solution to 'the Jewish question'

By Peter Baofu

The recent events like the attack against a bus carrying Jews in Bulgaria on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 and the rejection by the London Olympic Games organizers on June 29, 2012 of the politicized call by Israel for "a moment of silence" honoring Munich Olympic Jewish victims raise anew "the Jewish question" in the 21st century, which requires a new solution.

As a start, the very idea of "the Jewish question" means different things in different historical eras, and hereafter are some examples (from Wikipedia).

(1) Back in the older days of 1843, Bruno Bauer wrote in "The Jewish Question" that Jews needed to get rid of their religion for political emancipation in a modern secular state. 

(2) But Karl Marx rebuked Bauer in his 1844 essay "On the Jewish Question" by arguing instead that the deeper issue is not religious but economic, in that capitalism in modern times imposes constraints on emancipation (freedom) by socioeconomic inequalities against the lower class.

(3) Later, "the Jewish question" had a different meaning and referred to the difficult relationships between minority Jews and non-Jews in Europe, especially during the period of anti-Semitism in the 1880s and the subsequent rise of Zionism for a Jewish state. 

(4) Then, in 1948, with the successful creation of the state of Israel, the meaning of "the Jewish question" was changed once more to refer to the continued difficult relationships between Jews and non-Jews, especially in the Middle East between Israel and its Muslim neighbors (and, to a lesser extent, in Europe and America). 

In any event, in the 21st century, "the Jewish question" requires a new solution, because many Jews continue to have difficult relations with their neighbors, especially in the Middle East (and, to a lesser extent, in Europe and America). 

The best way to fall into an insurmountable trap of going nowhere in any solution proposal is to play the endless hermeneutic game of historical mutual accusations. Good examples include the bitter history between Jews and the Roman Empire, between Jews and Christians in medieval and modern Europe, between Jews and the Nazis during WWII, between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East, and the like. This insurmountable trap we need not repeat.

The situation facing many Jews in the 21st century is very different from previous ones in earlier times, because Israel is now the most powerful state in the Middle East, due to the firm (spoiled) support of the U.S. (the sole superpower in our time), as a result of the influential Jewish lobby and the Jewish diasporas of more than 5 millions in the states. Without this firm (spoiled) support of the U.S., Israel could not have behaved in the way that it has.

This asymmetric power that many Jews now enjoy (due to the spoiled support of the U.S.) contrasts sharply from the relative impotence of many Jews in the pre-modern eras (as indicated earlier). Unfortunately, when this asymmetric power is mixed with a long historical memory of "perceived" persecution by non-Jews in pre-modern times (when many Jews were weak then), one serious consequence is to create a new problem for many Jews in the 21st century, in that they become so dizzy by the new found power that they fall into the fatal temptation of power to wreck havoc against all those who are perceived to threaten their existence (and domination).  

If Jews want acceptance by non-Jews, Jews also need to accept non-Jews. But many Jews in the 21st century refuse to accept non-Jews as equals, especially (though not exclusively) in the following three major ways (for domination):   

(1) Many Jews continue to seek unfair influence in mass media, business, politics, and academia to one-dimensionally propound only pro-Israel and pro-Jewish views in mainstream society and to intolerantly demonize (and silence) their critics as "anti-Semitic."

(2) Many Jews continue to frustrate proselytism to non-Jews, to pressure assimilated Jews to return to their Jewish roots, to discourage intermarriage, and to offensively regard themselves as the chosen ones (and to look down on, and discriminate against, others).

(3) Many Jews continue to support the militarist Israeli policy towards their neighbors in the Middle East (especially in relation to the Palestinians and others).

For illustration, consider the following 10 incidents in the 21st century to understand this essential point:

(1) Israel sent hit squad to kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, United Arab Emirate in January, 2010 and, with the help of the U.S., had rejected any attempt to open a formal investigation nor accepted any resolution to condemn it, much to the anger of UAE (and other states affected, whose national sovereignty was blatantly violated).

(2) Israel had sabotaged Iran's nuclear program over the years and even sent assassins to kill Iranian nuclear scientists (as reported by Ulrike Putz for Spiegel on August 02, 2011) - while privileging itself with the sole possession of nuclear weapons in the region.   

(3) Israel, for the critics, was behind the assassination (by poisoning) of Yasser Arafat in 2004, as reported by Reuters on January 21, 2006.   

(4) Israel refused to even apologize to Turkey in 2010 for "raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that killed...people," mostly Turkish, as reported by Associated Press on September 02, 2011.

(5) Israel assassinated Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the co-founder and spiritual leader of the Hamas movement, in a helicopter strike on March 22, 2004, even though he was a 67 years old (nearly) blind quadriplegic and was confined on a wheelchair at the time.

(6) In the Wikipedia article "List of Israeli Assassinations," no less than 77 prominent individuals (from the 1950s until now in the 21st century) who were critical to Israel had been killed, mostly through the operations of the notorious Mossad agents and other military units from Israel. This includes the now forgotten 1962 case in Munich, Germany, when Heinz Krug, "a West German rocket scientist working for Egypt's missile program" was killed, and "Swiss police later arrested two Mossad agents" and "found that they were responsible for the killing."  Ten years later, in 1972, the Palestinians struck back with their attack on Israeli athletes at the Munch Olympic Games.

(7) Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" showed, in 2006, that "Israel's continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Middle East."  

(8) Israel carried out a massive assault on Gaza in December of 2008 and January of 2009, with the death of many Palestinian civilians (many of whom were women and children), the destruction of homes and infrastructure everywhere, the disproportionate terrorization of the residents (especially among the young), and a catastrophic humanitarian crisis awaiting those who had nowhere to escape from the heavily bombed city (as already analyzed in an earlier 2009 article).

(9) John Mearsheimer and StephenWalt in "The Israel Lobby" revealed, in 2006, how the one-dimensional pro-Israel mass media and the "unwavering support for Israel...jeopardized not only U.S. security but that of much of the rest of the world." 

(10) "Egypt in April [2012] terminated its agreement to supply gas to Israel," because it was signed "in the Mubarak era" and "was unpopular with many Egyptians," because of the grievance against Israel for "not paying enough for the fuel," as reported by Patrick Werr for Reuters on July 22, 2012.  

Of course, there can be many other examples, but the point here is that, if Israel really wants to convince non-Jews to support "a moment of silence" during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games to honor Israeli athletes killed in a terror attack at the 1972 Games, it needs to look at itself first in regard to the killing and oppression that it has ruthlessly committed against the Palestinians and others over the years. And the same can be said in regard to the argument that non-Jews should support the prosecution of those behind the attack against a bus carrying Jews in Bulgaria on Wednesday, July 18, 2012.

The solution to "the Jewish question" in the 21st century is for Jews to accept non-Jews as equals too. But insofar as many Jews nowadays enjoy the asymmetric power of Israel (due to the firm support of the U.S.) that their forebears could only dream of, it will take tremendous courage and vision for many Jews to not fall into the evil temptation of power, with untold sufferings to others.

Thus is the challenge to many Jews (especially those in Israel, America, and others) in the 21st century: Can they stop supporting the oppression and killing of others (or the threatening of the very existence of others), while they keep telling the rest of the world that others should stop oppressing and killing them (or threatening their very existence and domination)? 

This challenge is all the more necessary, since Israel is not operating from a position of weakness (from which their forebears had suffered in earlier history), because it is currently the most powerful state in the Middle East, due to the spoiled support of the U.S. Yet, power has its dark side, because, as Lord Action once insightfully warned us, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

But there is an urgency for many Jews to meet this challenge in the 21st century quickly, because their complacent dependence on the firm (spoiled) support of the U.S. is historically contingent enough, since the days of the U.S. to remain the sole superpower are numbered, as already explained in "Beyond the World of Titans, and the Remaking of World Order" (2007).

In the end, the worst enemy of many Jews is Jewish, and any 21st century solution to "the Jewish question" must come to terms with this worst enemy in the Jewish mindset, which has been so much dehumanized (or poisoned) by perceived persecution in earlier times that it now exercises its asymmetric power to turn every single conflict in its relations with others into a toxic excuse for evil deeds against them, or into an unconstrained license to oppress and kill them. 

The price to pay, however, is a mortal danger that Nicolo Machiavelli had pointed out long ago: A prince, if he is to stay in power, "must consider...how to avoid those things which will make him hated...." To understand this already goes a long way to solve "the Jewish question" for the first time in the 21st century.

Peter Baofu

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov