Over the years there has been a constant spate of books containing the testimonials of American Jews proclaiming their teary-eyed and deeply emotional love of the state of Israel. These books are part of the larger program of Israeli Hasbarah, the form of advocacy that seeks to assert the total primacy of Zionism as the centerpiece of Jewish life the world over.
In order to establish what Israel means to me as a Jew, the first thing I need to do is figure out what it means to other Jews and how that relates to the reality of the Jewish past
American Jews have been conducting a romantic affair with an Israel whose contours are outlined in two recent movies: In Adam Sandler's comedy You Don't Mess with the Zohan and Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, we find that the American Jewish love affair with Israel is based on an almost erotic identification with the perception of Zionism and Israel as a form of revenge fantasy. Sandler's Zohan is a figure whose sexual potency rests in his skill as a Jewish superhero, a man who kills Arabs to defend the Jewish people. Similarly, Tarantino's Nazi-era fantasy is a phantasmagoria of violence in the name of Jewish self-doubt and an inferiority complex.
These fantasies bring to mind the idealist aspects of the original Zionist program and its rejection of traditional Jewish identity
Two current examples -- just in time for last week's commemoration of Israeli Independence Day -- are the Anat Kamm affair and the ongoing demonization of South African judge Richard Goldstone. Kamm has been charged with leaking confidential military documents to the press, while Goldstone continues to be vilified for the report that he prepared for the United Nations on the 2009 Gaza incursion. Kamm is currently under house arrest in Israel while Goldstone has found himself pressured from attending his own grandson's Bar Mitzvah.
In the end, those who are on the receiving end of the Israeli whip understand all too well the pressures that have been placed on Jews to conform: Israel is the new God, the new revelation from on High, and all those who reject its commandments are to be excommunicated from the community, marked as Jewish heretics who deny the new order.