love is in the air again

The definition of “the Jewish people” is still rabbinical, as a result of the conditions of Jewish existence in the Diaspora, where “the Jewish people” were not defined as a “nation” but as a religious body. Self-definition as a “nation” would have raised problems of loyalty to the states within which they lived, whereas self-definition as a religious community was a diplomatically sensible adaptation. However, zionism is quite precisely the reconstruction of “the Jewish people” as a “nation” – but, a compromise was made by zionist leaderships with the rabbinates, so that now one can only “become a Jew” by conversion. I myself would like to “become a Jew,” but I am not prepared to surrender my freedom of thought to the rabbinate, any more that most Jews-by-birth in fact are. Perhaps if Shelhevet, who sounds awfully nice, were to marry me, we could blackmail the rabbis into “converting” me pro forma! Then I could come and live in Israel, and help humanise the place!

Another comment by moi to Johann Hari, Independent

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