More Jewish Babies

February 23, 2010

I was reading this Amira Hass article when this huge advertisement saying “Have more Jewish babies” was blinking at me. This is the charity. It’s funny to see how pro-life politics in Israel are being framed in the context of the demographic “time-bomb,” as it is called in Israel, meaning that by common estimates, the number of Arab residents of Israel will outnumber the Jewish ones. Unfortunately, along with advocating higher birth rates for Jews, some are also calling for a reduction of the Palestinian population, aka genocide. Martin Kramer should be fired immediately from his post at Harvard. Recalling a class I took once on American electoral politics, I think it’s never a good thing when politicians start talking about babies. Really, babies need to be fed, cleaned up after and loved. That’s about it. Anytime babies start becoming the focus of politics, we should be alarmed. At best, it might be a shameless play for popularity; kissing babies, putting child-safety locks on car doors, etc. At worst, it locates the complicated issues facing contemporary citizens on the most vulnerable and un-responsible members of our society. Martin Kramer does this when he calls UN subsidies “neo-natal.” It sounds like he just threw in the only baby-related word he could think of, because  children in Gaza are surely not receiving neo-natal care.

See: Berlant, Lauren. The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship. Duke University Press: Durham & London, 1997.