Renouncing Judaism

Stephen Lendman

Decades of Israeli high crimes against peace are reason enough for all Jews [who are] for justice to renounce Judaism.

Shlomo Sand for one. On October 10, he headlined his London Guardian commentary " 'I wish to resign and cease considering myself a Jew.' "

Zionism harms Jews and non-Jews alike. Its roots date from the late 19th century.

In his book titled "Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine," Joel Kovel said:

Zionism seeks "the restoration of tribalism in the guise of a modern, highly militarized and aggressive state." It "cut Jews off from (their) history…It "led to a fateful identity of interests with antisemitism the only thing that united them." It "fell into the ways of imperialist expansion and militarism…(It) show(s) signs of the fascist malignancy." If you accept "the idea of a Jewish state," you mix its twin notions of "particularism (and) exceptionalism…" They're "the bane of Judaism…" They give "racism an objective, enduring, institutionalized and obdurate character." Doing so turns Israel "into a machine for the manufacture of human rights abuses…"

Three former prime ministers were terrorists. Menachem Begin (1977 - 83), Yitzhak Shamir (1983 - 84 and 1986 - 92), and Ariel Sharon (2001 - 06) dispelled the illusion of Israeli democracy, morality and respect for rule of law principles. Today's "world would be a far better place without Zionism('s) corrosive effects," Kovel stresses.

Shlomo Sand believes Zionist historiography turns truth on its head. Jews alone are entitled to Israel, it claims. According to Sand, it's not their historical right. Not earlier. Not now. Calling Israel a Jewish state is like saying America is an exclusive Anglo-Protestant one, he says.

Organized Judaism opposed Zionism until Hitler, he explains. It feared what's now Israel would replace God. Talmudic ideology is against collective holy land emigration. Against the notion that it's God's will to possess land. What God giveth, God taketh away. Eretz Israel (the land of Israel) theologically isn't a homeland, Sand explains. Nor is Christianity or Islam. Religions don't have them. Sand hopes Western nations will pressure Israel to change.

End its longstanding obdurate character. Its militarized occupation. Its racist ideology. Its democracy in name only. Its separate and unequal principles. Its persecution of Palestinians and Arab/Israeli citizens.

Sand supports a two-state solution. One based on pre-June 1967 borders. With most settlers removed. Living side-by-side on separate land in peace.

Without acknowledging Nakba reality, resolving Israeli/Palestinian conflict isn't possible, he believes. History can't be changed, he says. It can be corrected. Democracy and Jewish exclusivity can't co-exist. They're incompatible. Peace requires new thinking. The alternative is permanent conflict. It affects Jews and Muslims alike.

Sand's writings dispel myths most Jewish children are taught. Biblical nonsense about wandering the earth rootless. Enslaved, oppressed and tormented for centuries. Nonsensically believing God gave Eretz Israel to Jews alone. Rubbish proclaiming "A land without people for a people without land." If Judaism is a religion, not a people, how can a Jewish state be justified, Sand believes? Claiming otherwise justifies the unjustifiable. It spurns Palestinian self-determination. It does so to prevent it.

Understanding Zionism is essential. Its reliance on repression, violence and dispossession. Its belief in Jewish exclusivity, privilege and exceptionalism. Jewish ethnocracy with predetermined structural inequalities. Institutionalized racism at its ideological core. Judaization/Israelification and de-Arabization to preserve Jewish character. Democracy is pure fantasy. A convenient illusion.

In November 2004, the late Michael Mandel said:

"Israel's West Bank and Gaza settlements are war crimes in Canada." "Under the Canadian Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act 2000, c. 24, Israel's settlements in territories taken in the June 1967 war constitute war crimes punishable in Canada."

Mandel cited Section 8, paragraph 2 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC)."

"It prohibits "(t)he transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory."

Israel isn't party to Rome Statute law. Under Canadian law it's irrelevant. Grave breaches constitute war crimes. Israel and the US are criminally liable. According to Mandel,

"Israel denies it" irresponsibly. It's "an Occupying Power (under provisions) of the Geneva Convention, the Rome Statute, and the Canadian Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act."

Claiming otherwise doesn't wash. Accountability is long overdue. Sand's commentary explained why he renounced Judaism.

He "never (was) a genuinely secular Jew," he said. Its "existence is based on a hollow and ethnocentric view of the world." He "stubbornly remained" Jewish most of his life. He "accepted this identity on account of persecutions and murderers, crimes and their victims." He now recognizes the error of his ways. He "resign(ed) and cease(d) considering (himself) a Jew." He's unconcerned about what others think of him. Less so what "antisemitic idiots think." In light of 20th century tragedies, he's "determined no longer to be a small minority in an exclusive club that others have neither the possibility nor the qualifications to join." He wants his "future and that of (his) children (to be) guided by universal, open and generous principles."

His beliefs run counter to dominant Jewish thinking. It's "oriented towards ethnocentrism." He lives "in one of the most racist societies in the western world. (It's) deep within the spirit of (Israeli) laws," norms, standards and practices. It's taught in schools. From childhood through doctoral studies. Israeli and Western MSM spread it.

"(A)bove all and most dreadful," Israeli racists "in no way (feel) obliged to apologize," says Sand. "This absence of a need for self-justification has made Israel a particularly prized reference point for many movements of the far right throughout the world, movements whose past history of antisemitism is only too well known." Living "in such a society (is) increasingly intolerable," he says. At the same time, it's hard imagining home elsewhere. He can't undo his heritage. He's "part of the cultural, linguistic and even conceptual production of the Zionist enterprise." For better or worse, he's an Israeli. He isn't proud to admit it.

He's often ashamed. Especially witnessing militarized occupation. Its defenseless victims. They're not Israel's "chosen people." Early in life he hoped Palestinian Israelis one day could "feel as much at home in Tel Aviv" as Jewish Americans feel in New York or other major US cities. Living side-by-side with Israeli Jews in peace. Today he knows otherwise.

Zionists view equality as an attack on Jewish character, the state of Israel and anti-Semitism. "Most important, Sand believes, is "put(ting) forward ideas on changing Israel's identity policy…" "(F)reeing ourselves from the accursed and interminable occupation that is leading us on the road to hell." Ending generations of separate and unequal. Abandoning long discredited policies. Lawless ones making Israel a pariah state.

Increasingly, things look too late, Sand believes. "(A)ll seems already lost…(S)erious approach(es) (to) political solution(s) (are) deadlocked." Israel can't shake its colonial mentality. Its unjustifiable right to dominate another people. Its refusal to accept 1948 borders. To obey core international laws.

"Does this mean I, too, must abandon hope," Sand asked? He "inhabit(s) a deep contradiction," he said. He "feel(s) like an exile in the face of the growing Jewish ethnicisation that surrounds" him.

When traveling abroad, he looks forward to returning home. He meets people with "no interest in understanding what being Israeli means to" him. His deep homeland attachment fuels pessimism he feels towards it. He's despondent about today's conditions. What he fears ahead.

At the same time, he's not "completely fatalistic." He believes if humanity survived 20th wars without nuclear armageddon...

"...anything is possible, even in the Middle East." "As a scion of the persecuted who emerged from the European hell of the 1940s without having abandoned the hope of a better life, (he) did not receive permission from the frightened archangel of history to abdicate and despair." "Which is why, in order to hasten a different tomorrow, and whatever (his) detractors say, (he) shall continue to write."

His Guardian piece is an edited extract from his book titled "How I Stopped Being a Jew." On October 14, he'll discuss it at SOAS, University of London.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He has devoted his time and efforts to progressive causes and organizations, all involved in working for a more humane and just world for all people everywhere, but especially for the most needy, disadvantaged and oppressed. His efforts since summer 2005 have included writing on a broad range of vital topics ranging from war and peace; social, economic and political equity for all; and justice for all the oppressed peoples of the world like the long-suffering people of Haiti and the Palestinians. He also co-hosts The Global Research News Hour, gives occasional public talks, and appears frequently on radio and at times television. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. Also visit his blog and listen to The Lendman News Hour on Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening. His new book "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War" can be ordered here. He can be reached at



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