April 07, 2013

Israel refuses to define boundaries

Here's a small throwaway article in the Jewish Press about Israel's refusal to set any kind of boundary as a basis for negotiations with the so-called Palestinian Authority:
The PA is now demanding that Israel hand over maps of their vision of a final arrangement, to use them as a starting point for negotiations....
In response, Israeli government officials said they would not be delivering any maps or a list of other concessions...
 There are really two boundaries which are problematic for Israel's self-definition as a state for the world's Jews.  The titular nations for most states are defined by the territory they come from.  This of course doesn't define Jews.  Jews are not the citizens of the Jewish state.  So where are the boundaries?

There's also another problem.  Israel defines a Jew as a person with a Jewish mother and someone who is Jewish enough for an automatic right to citizenship as someone with a Jewish grandparent.  It doesn't take much analysis to realise that this is circular. I mean, if a Jew is someone with a Jewish mother, how do we define a Jewish mother?  So what are the boundaries of the Jews and what are the boundaries of Jewishness.

Now the way I see it there are two reasons why a state that is specially for the world's Jews cannot define its boundaries.  Jews are not an identity defined by boundaries.  That is, Jews are not a nation unless we use nation to mean any identity group, in which case we would have to say Jews are a non-territorial nation, like Roma, Sinti and others.  And then there's the problem of defining Jews.  No matter how you view it, the Jews are not the people of Israel.  The children of Israel, yes, but not people of Israel.

When I started this blog, Jews sans frontieres, was just a play on Jeux sans frontieres.  It turns out it's actually a truism.  No wonder Israel can't define its boundaries.  We are all Jews sans frontieres!


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