Sifting through the complexities of the current Middle East situation, one can easily assume all Jews support the state of Israel. Not so: a deep discord has erupted between avowed Zionists advocating Israel and Jews, both secular and religious, who reject the state, albeit for very different reasons. Not everyone is aware of the desperation and suffering of the Palestinians, who now suffer at the hands of Zionists. Not Jews, but Zionists.
After the horrors of the Shoah, natural instinct lead Jewish survivors to seek safety, a land to call their own, the land promised by God. Perfectly just, perfectly reasonable, perfect in all respects.
Except for one critical issue: although Jews and Arabs had lived together in reasonable harmony for centuries there, the influx of massive numbers of Jews, replete with the support of the world (guilt for turning away?) had profound and devastating effects on the native Palestinians. The latter remember all too well the start of the "Nakba", an excruciating travesty that continues today.
But Professor Rabkin's book does not touch upon the current political and legal situation, although his perspective is clear. This book is difficult to categorize: it touches upon history, philosophy, spirituality, ethics and delves into the deepest levels of being Jewish. These are truly eschatological issues, issues that affect the Jewish soul in this realm and the next; beyond the narrower, but highly relevant, dimensions of international law and politics.
Here we see the profound difference between Zionism and Judaism from a historical and ethical aspect: Zionism, a modern offshoot, actually contradicts the essence of what it means to be a good Jew. This new schism is not based on traditional, expected lines such as Ashkenazi and Sephardic, observant and non-observant, religious and secular Jews, etc, but rather, how one regards the state of Israel in relation to oneself and God.
Professor Rabkin speaks from the orthodox perspective - in that God did not give Jews land unconditionally, to take and prosper upon. Indeed, God merely promised such land if - and only if - Jews returned to the ways of God. God, Orthodox thinking held, punished the Jews for sin, and sinning deeply. Pride, arrogance, idolatry - all resulted in exile. The Jews could only return to the land in a state of humility, kindness, peace, justice, and subservience to the laws of God, not man. Observant Jews in exile over the centuries eschewed all forms of violence, including symbolic. In humility, one finds strength; in striving to live whilst accepting one's suffering as God's will, one becomes closer to God. Job is perhaps the greatest illustration of dignified acceptance. Of course, this is rather bewildering to our modern society, which values aggression, force, materialism and pride. The Jews offended God, but will always be welcomed back into God's good graces, provided the effort is made. Jews must live peacefully among all peoples, not in their own land, according to God. God will provide the land when the Jews learn, not before, and Jews are not to take land.
And it is with force, power and ferocity that the Israelis claimed the state of Israel - devastating Palestinian land, homes, people, driving out thousands, all in the name of this 'promised land'. It is for these reasons the Orthodox reject the concept of a man-made Israel, constructed on the blood and bones of murdered Palestinians; this is against God's admonition to the Jews. Also, the more taciturn, aggressive and critical Zionists become, the more God is offended. It is interesting to note Stephen Spielberg examined the price of violence in his film "Munich".
Israel, in effect, has become the new "Golden Calf", the new idolatry.
No, Anti-Zionism is not Anti-Semitism; to question and/or reject the existence of Israel is not to be an Anti-Semite or a self-loathing Jew. Indeed, it seems that to oppose the state of Israel as it currently exists is the means by which one can be a better, and wiser, human being.