Those Jews who judge the New York Times by the standards of Judaism believe that the creation of the state of Israel was one of the few redeeming events in a century of blood and shame, one of the greatest affirmations of the will to live ever made by a martyred people, and the most hopeful sign for humanity since the dove returned with the olive branch to Noah. They tend also to cling to Orwell’s view that some ideas–like the virtue of Jewish powerlessness–are so stupid that only intellectuals can believe them.
Those who judge Judaism by the standards of the New York Times boast
of not having “danced in the streets when Ben-Gurion declared that the
Jews, like other peoples, had a state of their own.” They believe (as
does a majority of today’s Germans too) that Israel is the chief
obstacle to world peace, a diversion from such compelling goals as gay
marriage and unlimited access to abortion, and indeed the principal
cause of most of the world’s evils with the (possible) exception of
Professor Levine’s polemic draws on sources both ancient and modern.
It harkens back–albeit in the clumsy and verbose manner of somebody who
“unpacks” rather than articulates
ideas–to the earliest known ancient, non-Jewish document that mentions
Israel by name. It is found on a monument from 1215 BCE (possessed by
the British Museum) in which King Merneptah, the Egyptian forerunner of
Chmielnicki, Hitler, Nasser, and Ahmadinejad, declares that “Israel is
extinguished, its seed is no more.”