Tony Judt, the author of the best history of postwar Europe and a prolific writer on Israel as well as numerous world issues, died last week. Judt spent his youth in Israel, was involved in the Six Day War and began life as an ardent Zionist. As the years passed, he became increasingly disillusioned with right wing religious fanatics who have come to dominate the once secular state of Israel, and in his anguish at the loss of important Jewish values such as respect for human dignity and the right of people to express their views, he became increasingly critical of the Israeli government. In fact, he came to the conclusion the religious right in Israel would never grant Palestinians a true independent state which led him to the conclusion that a one state nation was the only way out of an apparently irreconcilable conflict. The most common complaint was that Judt was a “self hating Jew” because he not only believed in the rights of Jews, but also was concerned about the rights of Muslims.
It has become all too common for those defending current Israel policies to condemn any and all critics who are Jewish as “self hating Jews.” Apparently, God only speaks to the religious right in Israel. Judt, like so many of us raised in the radical East European progressive mind set believe fervently in the right of Jews to inhabit Israel. We were raised to believe that as Jews we had to champion the rights of ALL OPPRESSED GROUPS, because failure to defend black rights or Palestinian rights to live in freedom meant we had become the –anti-Jew. Those in Israel and America who interpret criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu would undoubtedly have hated the original founders of Israel who wanted to create a just nation founded on human rights for all, not just for Jews.
I take it as a compliment to be termed by the current group of fanatics in the Israel government as being a self hating Jew. In my view, the ultimate self-hating Jew is God.