Tony Greenstein | 17 May 2012 | Post Views:

The Negation of the Diaspora and Hyphenated Jews

A B Yehoshua is an outspoken supporter of the Zionist concept of the ‘negation of the diaspora’.  He is also an honest Zionist who doesn’t indulge in euphemisms and propaganda sound bites.  He says it as he sees it.  The Negation of the Diaspora isn’t much talked about now, because of its anti-Semitic overtones but basically it means that Jewish life outside Palestine/Israel was worthless, debauched and degenerate.  It was no wonder, given the state that the Jews had sunk into, that anti-Semites objected to them.  So unless you emigrate to Israel you can’t be a real Jew.  People like Pinhas Felix Rosenbluth, who later became Minister of Justice in Israel, called Palestine “an institute for the fumigation of Jewish vermin.” Studies in Zionism, Vol 8, Autumn 1983.

Yehoshua has come in for a lot of criticism, mainly because he says what he thinks and doesn’t hide behind Hasbara and slogans about ‘Jewish self-determination’ ‘shalom’ etc.  Yehoshua is one of the most famous of Israeli novellists, particularly for his Face the Forest, one of the few times he has come to terms with what Israel did to the Palestinians. 

Yehoshua has got into hot water again for his description of American Jews as ‘partial Jews‘ but again he is only being honest.  Most American Jews, if they came to Israel, could enter without difficulty but if they died or wanted to marry another Jew then problems would arise as most of them are Reform or Conservative Jews, not recognised by Israel’s Orthodox Rabbinate. So in fact America’s Jews are considered partial by the Israeli state.

On 22nd January 1981, he gave a talk to the Union of Jewish Students, for whom any criticism of Zionism is ‘anti-Semitic’.  Some of its members do actually oppose anti-Semitism, albeit not very vigorously.  One can only imagine that they were utterly perplexed, after having spent years calling supporters of the Palestinians anti-Semitic to be told that true anti-Semites were Zionists!

Yehoshua told them that:

‘Anti-Zionism is not the product of the non-Jews. On the contrary, the Gentiles have always encouraged Zionism, hoping that it would help to rid them of the Jews in their midst. Even today, in a perverse way, a real anti-Semite must be a Zionist.’

Novelist Yehoshua labels American Jews ‘partial Jews’

March 18, 2012

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli writer A.B. Yehoshua at a public lecture called American Jews “partial Jews.”

Discussing the relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jews, Yehoshua said last Friday at the Land of Israel Museum, referring to American Jewry, “They are partial Jews while I am a complete Jew,” Haaretz reported.

“In no way are we the same thing — we are total and they are partial; we are Israeli and also Jewish. In recent years, my friends and I have needed to defend Israel against the matter of the state, as if it is merely an issue of citizenship, while Israel is the authentic, deep concept of the Jewish people.”
He went on to say that “in no siddur is there a mention of the word ‘Jew’ but only ‘Israeli.’ The name of our country and the territory is Land of Israel, and it is about this deep matter that we must defend against a Jewish offensive.”

Yehoshua also said that living outside Israel “is a very deep failure of the Jewish people,” according to Haaretz, and called immigration from the United States minimal and embarrassing.

Yehoshua has made such statements in the past. In May 2006 he told the centennial celebration of the American Jewish Committee in Washington that Jewish life is experienced more completely in Israel than anywhere else. The comments set off a firestorm of angry recriminations from Diaspora Jews who felt that they were being marginalized.

Two years later he told a Paris conference sponsored by a French Jewish author lecture group and Yehoshua’s French publishing house that “I am a total Jew because I live in Israel, but you in France are partial Jews, though one is not better or worse than the other.”

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Tony Greenstein

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