I've decided to subscribe to Post-Adulthood. Being an adult is overrated, and frankly, I'm over it. I've had enough of all the trauma of working and paying bills and shuttling little ones around. I'd like to usher in an entire new era of Post-Adulthood-ism, where society no longer promotes this utterly oppressive, ridiculously demanding, and overly complex philosophy around becoming an adult. I think we should just scrap the whole thing.
The way I see it, Adulthood is ready to go the same way as some other ideas that society has recently decided to declare Over. Modernism was perhaps the first – although I used to think that we were talking about art fads. No, Post-modernism is such a widely accepted Way of Thinking that the only way to avoid being Post-Modern is to be the even more chic Post-Post Modern.
Then there's Post-Feminist. I wasn't fully aware that we had finished talking about Feminism. Frankly, I was still figuring it all out – I was only born in the late 60s, so I had a lot of catching up to do. But I'm too late. Apparently, Feminism is over already – or, rather Post-Feminism is the New Feminism.
I thought about these issues when the shul I belong to here in Melbourne, a lovely liberal-Orthodox congregation, sent out an invitation for a cholent lunch over the topic: "The demise of Zionism: Is it just a matter of time?" The topic was not "about Israel" but rather "about Post-Zionism." So it's now official – Zionism is a thing of the past. It's passé, old, a passing fad. And somehow, this does not mean that Israel is over, but just that Zionism is.
I'm trying to digest all this, but perhaps my Post-Student brain seemed unable to grasp this nuance. Is there a such thing as Israel without Zionism? Can a Jewish state exist without Jewish nationalism? After a mere 57 years of having a national homeland, are we as Jews ready to abandon the idea in favour of something else, some post-national idea?
I wonder if this line of thinking will lead to Post-Judaism. After all, we have some troubling elements within our heritage – racist, sexist, homophobic and often just ugly practices. The Torah teaches us to keep slaves, to perform witch magic on seductive women, to kill gays, and in fact kill all men, women and children of the enemy under certain circumstances. So if can't cope with these aspects of our heritage, perhaps we should brace ourselves for calls for Post-Judaism.
There are several issues that bother me in discussions of Post-Zionism. First of all, I believe that the use of a term such as "post" is a cop-out, a way of completely dismissing and delegitimizing a point of view. Rather than presenting a competing idea in a positive way, the "post-" label simply says that one person's ideology is untrendy – a surefire way to kill it.
Second of all, while Israelis are grappling with this post-Zionism, no other country in the world, nomatter what its history includes, is expected to declare its nationalism completely illegitimate. Australians, for example, have dealt with the terrible treatment of Aboriginal peoples by simply relegating it all to history that is over. One of the Jewish schools, for example, has a sign on its front door that read, "This land used to belong to the Burruwundi People." That's it. At a recent JNF function at a five-star hotel in the city, an Aboriginal leader introduced the evening by thanking the community and explaining about her people's connection to the land upon which we were all dining. She received a lovely certificate and stepped down. Australians are perhaps not only Post-Aboriginal, but more importantly Post-Struggle.
I long for the day when we Jews would be as Post-Struggle as we are Post-Committed. We have such difficulty holding on to our ideas in the face of external attack. Indeed, I believe that Post-Zionism has its real roots in Post-Colonialism, a popular set of academic theories expounded upon from the 1970s by Edward Said to explain the oppression of Arabs. Perhaps Post-Colonialism was merely a shroud to cover the underlying desire to turn Zionism into oppression, to unglue Jewish passion for a national homeland.
Whether it began with Said or not, certainly the most popular academic trends today – as signaled most glaringly by the British boycott of Israeli academics – is to see Israel as a colonial, oppressive, illegitimate state.
But what pains me is the ease with which we have internalized that view of ourselves. I believe we need to be a little stronger in our commitment to the legitimacy of our cause. Jews are entitled to nationalism like every other group on the planet, and Israel, while certainly not perfect, should be allowed to struggle with this Zionism – which, after all, is still young – without having to toss Zionism out. I may be Post-thirty, but I'm not ready to be Post-Hopeful.
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Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman is an award-winning author, and leading Jewish feminist thinker, educator and activist. The former the Executive Director of JOFA, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, Elana writes and speaks all around the world about gender issues in Jewish life, in education and in Israel.