Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Zionism in Space

The 2009 version of Star Trek, directed and produced by JJ Abrams, shocked many long time Trek fans by destroying the planet Vulcan.

Shortly after the unthinkable act, actually perpetrated by a time-travelling Romulan seeking to take revenge for the destruction of his world, Spock (Zachary Quinto) speculates that only a few thousand Vulcans may have survived the destruction of the planet.

His race has immediately become an endangered species.

As mentioned previously, the allusion to the Holocaust is plainly evident. And if the 2009 Star Trek film is interesting in its allegorical treatment of the Holocaust, it may prove to be outright provocative in its allegorical treatment of Zionism.

Interestingly enough, the Zionist theme of the film's ending -- in which the elder Ambassador Spock (Leonard Nimoy) has located a distant world for the remaining Vulcans to settle on -- seem to seldom be the subject of any commentary on the film.

In many respects, this seems unfortunate. If there remain many venues in which controversies such as the Israel/Palestine controversy can be discussed at least relatively safely, it should be the way that we represent such controversies in fiction.

One could -- and likely should -- wonder how the story would unfold if the planet in question turned out to be populated or, moreover, if another alien race turned up to stake a previous claim on it.

While there are numerous historical claims to the land that contentiously incorporates modern-day Israel, these historical claims pale by comparison to the importance that conflict over that land be settled peacefully today. The Palestinians certainly have the most recent claim to most of mordern-day Israel, having so recently occupied it.

By the same token, however, the oldest historical and archaeological evidence available also suggests that the Israeli claim to that land may be the oldest.

In a future Trek film, the Vulcans could find the allegorical table essentially turned on them: occupying the planet in question, only to find that another group has an older -- and just as legitimate -- claim to it.

Moreover, those familiar with the Star Trek universe could easily surmise that Vulcans, prone to making the most coldly logical decision available to their capacities (which can just as often be clouded by their actually-irrational disdain for people who decline to live up to their logical standard), would respond by whatever means they deemed necessary -- including violence that could prove to be as brutal as necessary.

Whether or not JJ Abrams and his associates are brave enough to actually take Star Trek in such a direction won't been seen for a good while yet -- the next film doesn't begin pre-production until the new year.

But in the face of a more blatantly Zionist theme in the new film, we could glean new insights into precisely what we really think about this simmering issue in the Middle East.

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