Postscript to Marc Ellis: End of Jewish Ethical History

judaism_does_not_equal_israel

Maybe this much needs explaining about my recent repost of the Marc Ellis “Amira Hass and the End of Jewish Ethical History.” The part that I agree with has to do with the claim regarding the end of Jewish ethics as the best way to describe Jewish life and Jewish history.

In an odd way Marc’s position re-enforces the political Zionist concept of normalcy, that the Jews represent a normal people, no different in their morality or statecraft than any other, and that it’s a mistake to look to some “Jewish ethical tradition” as a normative core and guideline by which to morally assess Jewish political life.

As I read Marc and as I think through them myself, those ethical guidelines would be universal, not “Jewish ethical” per se.

In other words, what I like about the piece is that it tugs Jewish philosophy away from a one-sided focus on ethics (perhaps not Marc’s point, but what I read out of him, against the grain), and towards a universal moral posture for Jews that does not claim to speak in a particular or privileged Jewish name or idiom.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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3 Responses to Postscript to Marc Ellis: End of Jewish Ethical History

  1. DMS says:

    “Marc’s position re-enforces the political Zionist concept of normalcy, that the Jews represent a normal people, no different in their morality or statecraft than any other, and that it’s a mistake to look to some “Jewish ethical tradition” as a normative core and guideline by which to morally assess Jewish political life.”

    YES! That’s why we have folks like Chomsky, Butler, Blumenthal, Weiss, Greenwald, Haas and so on who stress Israel’s fallibility. They have unrealistic expectations — some sort of weird Jewish snobbery about “Jewish ethics” — about Israel which no nation state can meet and so they hate Israel. And yes they do “hate”.

  2. DMS says:

    Putting it another way, if Israel was Moslem nation and doing exactly what it is doing to Palestinians, there would be no headline except on page 30: “More Arabs killing more Arabs. Ho-hum.”

    The ONLY reason Israel is getting so much attention (and btw I do NOT think what it is doing seems wise in real politik terms) is because it is a Jewish state. QED. Just take a look at Syria and Iraq which is an unquestionably producing more blood.

    I don’t bother reading anti-Zionists anymore. (Of course I don’t read idiot pro-Zionists either.)

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