I have long wondered what it is about the Jewish sensibility that is so internally divisive it will often jeopardize the very survival of the Jewish people in a perennially hostile world. What is the psychological factor that generates what often looks like a deeply harbored suicidal impulse, an irremediable tendency to set itself against itself, to consort with anti-Semites and even to collaborate with feral enemies who wish for nothing more than the suppression, ostracism or annihilation of every trace of Judaism in the world?
The long saga from the initial brother-slaying after the Biblical expulsion to the war between the Two Kingdoms to the virulent sectarian tensions over the ages that would result in episodes of mutual excommunication and even bloodshed, as amply chronicled in Yoram Hazony’s The Jewish State, to something like virtual warfare between competing political factions, defeats speculation as it defies belief. That this epic of fratricidal strife occurred, for the most part, to a population living in tenuous exile among peoples and nations that regarded so fractious and vulnerable a community with suspicion and hatred is equally bewildering.
These thoughts were brought home to me once again after AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee), the largest and most influential pro-Israeli organization in the U.S., recently gave President Obama a ringing, pre-election endorsement, praising him for his “steadfast” support for Israel.
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