Middle East Monitor / March 1, 2021
In another example of the racism within the state of Israel that’s driving Jews to question their identity and relationship to the occupation state, the son of a veteran Israeli soldier has said that he actually renounced Judaism after migrating to the Zionist state.
“My dad’s an IDF [Israel Defence Forces] veteran and my grandparents founded a kibbutz,” explained Jotam Confino in Haaretz. “Growing up in Denmark, I took my Jewishness for granted. But my experience of Israel’s degrading, racist immigration process changed all that.”
Confino returned to the country of his birth in 2017 having moved to Denmark with his parents when he was just six months old. He says that he is the product of a classic kibbutz love story from the late 1980s. His Danish mother met his Jewish father while she was working as a volunteer in a kibbutz founded by his paternal grandparents.
The couple moved to Denmark in 1982 because of the “trauma” of the Lebanon War and to shield their new-born son from the same horrors that his father had experienced, recalled Confino, who works as a web editor at Haaretz and has covered the Middle East as a journalist for Danish, Turkish and US media.
Back in Israel, he faced one hurdle after another to prove his Jewish identity. Although Israel claims to be a secular state, the process of determining who is and isn’t a Jew and thus finding out who is entitled to automatic citizenship is in the hands of the religious establishment. He recalls the difficulties he faced as a “half-Jew” to prove his attachment to the Jewish community.
“Israeli Jews in general seem to have to categorise me: like them/not like them, one of them/not one of them.” He mentioned the “obsession” in the Zionist state of being 100 per cent Jewish.
“And with a political discourse that only seems to reinforce this obsession with being fully Jewish and a nation state law that makes it clear to whom the State of Israel belongs, it makes perfect sense that Israel is moving toward a racist abyss where only ethnically pure Jews are fully part of society,” Confino wrote. “I don’t consider Judaism an ethnicity but a religion, but since those in power do in fact consider Jews a race, their obsession with purity becomes racist when they legislate from that viewpoint.”
Confino’s remarks echoed comments made by a former Speaker of the Israeli parliament, Avraham Burg, who in January gave up his “Jewish nationality” in protest against racist laws. Burg said that the current State of Israel “has very little to do with historic Judaism and the essence of Judaism.”