Where to start? It is almost always a conundrum for me because of the many different levels of thinking that intrude on each other as I consider one facet of the issue or another. Some of the most interesting people I have ever conversed with were Kabbalist, so obviously, these were conversations covering religious topics of concern to that particular group of Jews, some of whom were Israelis, and some whom were unable to distinguish the difference between the two as I do. (There are others,) and so discussing Israeli affairs can really get complicated, and even more so if you are not a Jew, or one of the evangelical smucks who wish to bring on teh Armageddon.
I would be interested in knowing what the understanding of the Jewish people is in the general American population, which I’m going to go out on a limb and say it begins in the fog of the Scripture and ends under the street light of the creation of the Israeli state, but then I may be being too generous too. But it is an easy trap to fall into given the Jewish population distribution in the US, which may explain some of the sense of their seeming ubiquity, having gathered in NY City where everyone else looking to make it in the “big time,” goes as well.
The presentation is almost always artificial coming across as it does through television and entertainment channels, and of course finance, which always seems to be brought up whenever the lower classes are in need of agitating and those doing the agitation need a convenient whipping post with other ethnic or racial groups being unavailable.
I wish it were understood that the Jewish people have been buffeted from pillar to post since the Romans put down the final revolts in Judea, and that they have carried their nation with them in the Torah and Talmuds through all those vicissitudes, and for many it is difficult if not impossible to divorce that from the existence of the Israeli state, and that this fact is used by many as a political tool on both non-Jews and Jews alike, whether in Israel or not.
To be honest I am on the most shaky of ground here, at this point, which is presented in hopes of clarification, not aggravation of the existing situation. It is the continuing ignorance of not only the Jewish people and their culture, but that of dozens of others in America that shape our debates. World history does in fact debunk exceptionalism, just as the human genome, our religions, and our philosophy do.