Monday, February 21, 2011

Seder, Schmeder, there's nothing politically progressive about this made-for-Zionism fairytale

--R. Congress

"Next Year In Jerusalem" is a reactionary Zionist phrase

I know I should be more tolerant, but I'm generally appalled by leftist Jews who celebrate Passover. Most of them say it's a cultural thing, they don't really believe in god, but the Passover narrative is a nice story, or some how about freedom from bondage. And "besides we're secular Jews."

I understand the idea of being a secular Jew, but it doesn't ring true to me. Being secular is good. But being secular means transcending any narrow religious, cultural or tribal viewpoint and becoming a universalist. To paraphrase Isaac Deutscher in his essay "The Non-Jewish Jew," you have to transcend the sectarian confines of a particular religion or culture (Jewish, in this instance) in order to progress and embrace the cause of all humanity. I'm for an identification with humanity as a whole, with no group superior to others. That's why I'm against celebrating Passover (to name just one holiday).

But I'm especially anti-Seder, because the Passover narrative, besides being factually false, is a made to order advertisement for Zionism, and it's key phrase "Next Year in Jerusalem," has become a Zionist watch word along with "Never Again." The Exodus myth, that after being enslaved in Egypt the Jewish people were led by Moses to Caanan which god had promised to them (after doing a bit of house cleaning by killing off the Caananites...with god's permission, of course) has been utilized by the Zionist movement to sanctify the colonization of Palestine and the driving out of its inhabitants.

Putting aside the ridiculous, such as a plague of frogs and the Red Sea parting for the fleeing Israelites, the Exodus never happened. During the time frame that Biblical literalists like to cite as accurately dating the “historical events” of the Exodus, Egypt ruled not just Egypt but Caanan! So Moses led his people from Egypt to Egypt (to cite a point in a blog post by Juan Cole).

Serious scientists have searched for evidence of large numbers of Jews being in Egypt during the relevant time periods (there would have to have been dwellings, graveyards, household items—pottery shards?) and come up empty. Pharaonic era records were kept by government officials and no mention of Jewish slaves or a mass flight across the Sinai, or the Red Sea parting for the Jews and then swallowing up the Pharaoh and his army.

“Modern archaeological techniques are able to detect evidence of not only permanent settlements, but also of habitations of hunter-gatherers and pastoral nomads all over the world as far back as the third millennium B.C. However, there are no finds of a unique religious community living in a distinct area of the eastern delta of the Nile River (“Land of Goshen”) as described in Genesis.”--David Voron, The events of the Passover story never happened.

But Passover is not just some innocuous religious celebration. It has been politicized and enlisted in the Zionist cause. When “Next year in Jerusalem” is recited at the end of the Seder, its contemporary meaning is “Jerusalem for Jews, not anyone else.”

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