Avraham Burg: Somewhere between Europe and Israel. Interviewed by Hanno Loewy

On February 24 we had Avraham Burg as a guest in a joint online event of the Jewish Museum Hohenems and the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue (Vienna), in the series Borders and Identities and in the program for the exhibition The Last Europeans.

The recording of the event (in English) can be found here:

Conflicts about the future of Europe have always been linked to arguments about the role of European Jews. Their emancipation was seen as a test case for the liberal hopes of the 19th century, and their transnational cosmopolitanism as a precursor of European unification – or as a scapegoat for nationalist ideologies. Today, the state of Israel seems to symbolically take its place – admittedly under the opposite sign, as the favorite child of right-wing populist and nationalist politicians. Avraham Burg has already crossed many borders in his life. After his political career, Avraham Burg is engaged in publishing and in various political initiatives for an ethnically and religiously neutral state of its citizens, a state that would follow the ideals of the European Union. While these ideals are admittedly coming under increasing pressure in contemporary Europe. In a recent interview with the newspaper Haaretz, he explained why he no longer wants to carry the entry “Jewish” as a “nationality” in the Israeli civil registry.

Avraham Burg, born in Jerusalem in 1955, is an Israeli author and former high-ranking politician. His Dresden-born father, Josef Burg, was a rabbi, leader of the National Religious, and minister in twenty-one Israeli governments. Avraham Burg, on the other hand, linked his political involvement with the Peace Now movement and the Labor Party. Between 1995 and 1999, he was chairman of the World Zionist Organization, then president of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, for four years. In 2004, he left politics after publicly calling for Israel to choose between democracy and discrimination against the Arab minority. “The patriarch Abraham discovered God outside the boundaries of the Land of Israel, the tribes became a people outside the Land of Israel, the Torah was given outside the Land of Israel, and the Babylonian Talmud, which is more important than the Jerusalem Talmud, was written outside the Land of Israel, the past 2,000 years, which shaped the Judaism of this generation, happened outside Israel. The present Jewish people was not born in Israel.”

In cooperation with the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue (Vienna).

 

 

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