Writing on Max Blumenthal’s “bleak exchange” with the revered Israeli writer David Grossman, described in Blumenthal’s new book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, Corey Robin finds himself unsettled by a settlement, vexed by our great unvexing of the once-upon-a-time “Jewish question”:
[Blumenthal] also exposes the deeper impasse of the eternal outsider—from whom the most ancient cries of justice, justice were heard—come in from the cold. Whether in Israel or at the highest levels of American power, Jews have become insiders. Whether we’re in Israel or without, that’s what Zionism means for us: we’re on the inside. The people of exile, the wandering Jew, has come home.
To reach this Inside, to “come home” in this way, is to lose touch with the tradition that prophesied the selfsame homecoming. The new identity replaces the old one, and, where it does not appear as an amalgam of contradictions and imitations, it puts dimly grasped and highly uncertain possibilities ((…reiteration and un-reiterability approaching indistinction asymptotically.)) next to moral deprivation: self-realization as self-annihilation in the current epoch, an epoch which also cannot be understood except as a product or sum – result, not mere aftermath – of another equation in a parallel format. To use Blumenthal’s term, our double and divided “Golden Age” of Judaism is the greatest thing ever to happen to the Jews since the commencement of Jewish history, or since the commencement of history at all in the specifically modern sense, specifically modern because the specifically post-modern “sense” of history is the sense of senselessness, but this greatest thing is or would be necessarily the end or culmination of a uniquely Jewish purpose in the world as the Jews had understood it, and as had made the Jews understandable to themselves: So also a loss that neither “inside,” or neither half of this peculiarly distributed Inside, which is also an outside of the Outside, can now comprehend without threatening or seeming to threaten all that has been gained since the worst thing to happen to the Jews, or at all to anyone, since the commencement of Jewish history, or ever.