Monday, November 05, 2007

Yes, I know I missed a day...

I just came across an interesting post on "The Atheist Jew" about a particularly anti-semitic remark by Richard Dawkins. Crawling my way through the blogosphere, I found quite a lively discussion going on about Dawkin's characeterization of the "Jewish lobby" and his anti-Zionism. (Just Google Dawkins and zionism for hours of interesting if often sickening reads.) I also found a surprising amount of anti-Semitism amongst a group that so loudly proclaims its "rationality."

We'll bypass the obvious ignorance and bigotry of anti-Semitism and instead delve into the anti-Zionism running amok as anti-Semitism's more publicly "acceptable" little brother. (Debunking the Jewish lobby myth would be far too easy.)

The thing I find so fun about some atheists' response to Zionism is that they condemn it, in part, because it's a theistic or "religious" movement in their minds. Odd thing is, Zionism began as a secular movement and still is for the most part, with Zionists predominantly focusing on Jews as an ethnic group. Devoutly religious Jews are predominantly OPPOSED to Zionism, as they believe that only the Messiah is supposed to rebuild Israel. Many Orthodox and Haredi Jews refuse to even acknowledge the existence of Israel. Some even attended Ahmedinejad's Holocaust denial conference, not because they don't accept the fact of the Holocaust but because they're opposed to the use of the Holocaust as justification for the creation of Israel as an independent nation in 1948.

In addition, many like Dawkins and Sam Harris cite the Israel-Palestine conflict as proof of the danger of religion and the inevitability of conflict wherever religion exists. The truth behind this so-called religious conflict is far more complex and puts a lie to the favored ideology of men like Dawkins.

Although allowing some unconscionably theocratic giveaways to the Orthodox in matters of family law, Israel was founded predominantly as a secular state for predominantly secular reasons. The Jews, as both religious minority and ethnic minority were oppressed, repeatedly exiled, ghettoised, massacred, etc. for 2,000 years, culminating in the Holocaust. Is it any wonder that some would see a Jewish state as the only hope? (Zionism, not so coincidentally, didn't become popular amongst most Jews until the pogroms and the Holocaust.) Interstingly enough, the Palestinian Liberation Organization was also originally a secular organization made up predominantly of Marxists with some Christians amongst the leadership. The religious elements came into the Israel-Palestine conflict only after the 1967 war, a generation after the founding of Israel and the beginning of the conflict. Even to this day, the "religious" elements both liberal and Orthodox have limited influence on Israel's policy-making apparatus and are often opposed to its policies.

Why would Dawkins and his ilk distort the well-known historic truths about Zionism, Israel and the so-called "Jewish lobby?" Blurring the lines between fact and fiction, between reason and bigotry suits the ideology of certain elements within the atheist community, specifically those antitheists and antireligionists who go far beyond the desire to live freely and openly and instead pursue fantasies of dominance and superiority. The former is an admirable goal held by most reasonable people, atheists and theists alike. The latter is a bigoted ideology and a form of extremism that should be anathema to reasonable people of all faiths and none.

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