Saturday, 11 January 2014

Israel and Pakistan: Ghetto States

Muslim Zion: Pakistan as a Political Idea by Faisal Devji

An Interpretation 

You can take the Jew out of the ghetto, and you can take the ghetto out of the Jew as well. This has always been my view. Cosmopolitanism is a prerequisite to intellectual achievement, and if you consider the history of the Jews, you will find that the Jews who have excelled in the intellectual field were precisely those who turned their backs on the ghetto.

Living in the ghetto has its benefits: mutual solidarity, extended families, and a sense of belonging are all prized assets. The severing of the ties that bind one to a group so as to confront the world like the matador faces the raging bull is not a challenge that most men would be wont to embracing. In the heart of every single man, a Jew is to found: the ghetto Jew or the cosmopolitan Jew. You need to ask yourself the following question: What sort of a Jew am I? Schlomo the Schmata or Spinoza the Sage?

A terrible tension is to be found not only in the souls of men, but even at the core of many nation-states. It was the ghetto instinct that prompted the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent as well as the Zionists to seek and create a separate homeland for themselves and their brethren. Inherent therein was a veritable antinomy: how do you reconcile your quasi-transcendental ghetto with the socio-political context in which it was created?

The Jews who emigrated to Israel dissociated themselves from the history of the countries in which they had been living for centuries and sought refuge in the mythology of the Israelites instead. Likewise, the Pakistanis rejected their Hindu heritage so as to live like parasites off the past triumphs of the Arabs, to whom they have no blood relation whatsoever. Add to this the grim social realities facing both the Israelis and the Pakistanis: the former thought they had come to a land without a people, only to discover that the country was already populated by its native Palestinians, whereas the latter came to realise soon enough that the regional interests of the various ethnic groups always override the desire for unity on religious grounds. Both the Israelis and the Pakistanis sought the security of the ghetto, only to realise that they had crawled into the lion's den. Israel the hi-tech fortress, with its citizens popping themselves full with antidepressants in order to come to terms with the harsh reality of being surrounded by enemies on all corners, and Pakistan, the world's second tallest dungheap, surpassed only by the dungheap that is India, are failures in the realms of the ideal as well as the real. Unlike great ancient nations such as China and Russia, who have developed organically during the course of millenia, both Pakistan and Israel are modern aberrations and the hideous byproducts of colonialism - nations that should never have been created in the first place.