Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Jewish Like Me

Jewish Like Me By Jesse Rosenfeld The McGill Daily

The McGill DailyLike most kids growing up Jewish, I loved Israel. I identified with the country and saw my Jewish identity expressed in it. Maybe it was because I found inspiration in an Israeli culture that seemed to focus on youth. I liked how David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, referred to the “New Israeli Jew” – strong, committed and independent – as opposed to the idea of a “European Jew” – weak, emasculated, and dependent. Or maybe I wanted to identify with something other than tedious family gatherings in Toronto complete with a grandmother who pinched my cheeks. Either way, as a short, underweight early teen looking to find a form of community and feeling of empowerment, Israel and its image provided me with a feeling of masculinity.

The Israeli myth allowed me to reject the stuffiness of North American Jewish culture while keeping a sense of an imagined community that was still accepted, and even encouraged, by my family and community. As I explored this more, I began to realize that Zionism was synonymous with a violent colonization and occupation of another people.

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