In weeks to come, I am going to insist on the importance of Shlomo Sand's book, the Invention of the Jewish People. Caricatured in the U.S. as a tract on the Khazar theory of Jewish genetics, the book is in fact a liberal's assault on the racial politics of identity in Israel and the diaspora, a work of brilliant synthetic scholarship about nationalism and identity construction and the roots of Zionism that will resonate in Jewish and Palestinian life for decades. (By the way, the other criticism of Sand, that he was recycling others' discoveries about the migration of the Jewish religion through Europe, is horse feathers. Yesterday I heard Robert Wright talking religion on Krista Tippett's great show, Speaking of Faith. The fact that he is popularizing scholars' work is nothing against his ideas.)
I am told the following piece appeared in Yedioth Ahronoth, written by Yaron London, (and translated and circulated by the Israeli Press Review). It directly follows from everything that Shlomo Sand says:
[T]he proposed "egg donation" bill …will come before the Knesset for its second and third reading. It relates to an arrangement for donations of implantable eggs in barren women. The law, until now, had allowed using only surplus eggs, created during infertility treatments, and would now allow donations intended for this purpose. The donor would be recompensed by a small payment from the state.
The law is good in principle. It will redeem hundreds of barren families annually. The framers toiled at it for several years, but left a complex seed of ethical contention at its core. Sorrowfully, it also exposes the concealed racism in Judaism. The racism is embodied in the clause that rules that aside from exceptional cases, the donation is subject to the donor and recipient being of the same religion. It's clear that the intention is limit pollution of "Jewish blood" with that from impure sources.
I imagine that this clause was inserted to appease the Orthodox, and without it no agreement would have been reached. Legislative acrobatics gave birth to an escape clause: under certain circumstances, the exceptions committee can permit a "mixed cocktail" donation—that is to say a donation from a non-Jewish woman for a Jewish woman. Other "mixes," like Christian-Muslim, or Christian-Jewish are not mentioned in the bill. The bill also doesn't cover the possibility of a woman without a religion. A person has no legal standing in Israel unless they belong to some church.
The basis of these clauses assumes that Judaism isn't a culture but a biological breed. As a result, people are divided by ethnicity, in order to keep them pure the same way one would keep pedigree horses and dogs pure. This is racism. What is racism, if not relating to a human being according to his ethnic background?
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