Tuesday, October 5, 2010

has Zionism run aground?

The number one priority for the Israeli government is to make Jews worldwide feel that Israel is their project, their priority and vital to their lives. This is why Israel denies that there is no such a thing as an Israeli, distinct from being Jewish.

The zealotry of the Zionists is legendary. They were determined, no matter what, to make the Jewish state in Palestine a reality, even if it meant working behind the scenes to close off other options than Palestine for Jews evicted from their European homes. The use of terror to make a physical place for Israel was embraced.

The Arabs living in what was to become Israel, didn't have a chance. There is an interesting account of Harry Truman's involvement in recognizing the new Jewish state in 1948 and his rejection of the position of the pro-Arab U.S. State Department, officials of which predicted exactly what has come to pass should America back Zionism.

I don't believe that the actions of the settlers in the occupied territories can be easily separated from the original Zionist impulse, since the settlers are only continuing to take the land that was claimed even before Israel came into being. Settlement is a second wind of Zionism.

This leaves Jews in a quandary. Is Israel necessary to the survival of worldwide Jewry as was claimed by Zionists from the start of the movement? Are Jews without a voice if it does not originate from Israel? Is a Jew who opposes Zionism some kind of a traitor? Is Israel more of a liability than an asset to those Jews living outside of Israel?

Israel's government would deny emphatically that Zionism has become an anachronism but I believe it has. The counter-arguments that trumped the Arab opposition in past decades - that the Holocaust survivors deserved a place in Palestine, that Israel was an unsinkable battleship for the West in the Cold War, that Israel was a developing democracy - all of these no longer apply.

I would draw an analogy between Israel in Palestine and someone thrusting a hand into a beehive. The angry bees would sting the hand viciously. Would the owner of the hand be right in claiming to be a victim and calling the bees aggressors? Would the owner of the hand be justified in destroying the beehive because he was stung? Would he be right to say the behavior of the bees was unjustified and unforeseen?

I think the establishment of Israel was a mistake with predictable consequences that we have seen come to pass. If anything, Israel should be at pains to address the loses and suffering of the Palestinians that began right from the start, yet this is as far from Israel's policy as can be.

I don't call for the elimination of Israel. We can't roll back history. But I do call for a withdrawal of any and all support for the settlements. Zionism must come to a stop. Enough damage has been done. I am not Jewish. I don't want to underestimate the difficulty that non-Israeli Jews might have in opposing what Israel does. But that is a necessary action for them to take in the name of justice.

Here is an interesting article about Miriam Margolyes, an anti-Zionist Jew and the actress who played Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films, encountering a displaced Palestinian.

1 comment:

  1. As you might expect, I cannot embrace a wholesale condemnation of Zionism. The reason is simple: the majority of Israelis will not so abrogate their past. Zionism will have to be mutated; even if that change begins outside Israel, it will have to be accepted within Israel.

    Near the beaches of Tel Aviv one sees small life boats, hanging sideways, on walkways; these boats were used to sneak Jewish refugees into Palestine after the British essentially closed immigration. On a highway toward Jerusalem one sees on the side abandoned, rested, hollowed out vehicles, left as they were destroyed during the 47-48 Independence War. I cannot say I like either symbol, but they are there and will not be removed for love of humanitarian liberalism.

    We can try and use some aspects of Zionism to alter it; wholesale condemnation will achieve naught but my nation first defense. As you say, the deal of statehood is done. The Palestinians are as Native Americans who would not go away; frankly, neither the western world nor Israel has been prepared to see the same level of removal as the US accomplished over many more decades in a slow communications environment, with no world to protest. If any country mimicks Israel in the power of immigration it is the United States in its past.

    Condemning the founding of Israel is counterproductive, playing into that stream of Israeli thought which claims no outsider can be trusted in a pinch. All one can do is try and retard future damage. The Settlers have advanced to such a point that South Jerusalem's Gorenberg's (unwanted) prediction that a one State solution may soon be the only option left will bear the only fruit. And that option will be resisted powerfully in Israel. Consider the logic underlying some of the comments posted on South Jerusalem.

    I remain of the view that only focus on the status of Israeli Arab citizens can hope to move the state of Israel. I am not optimistic of a great shift.

    Oslo died for several reasons, including, in my view, Arafat's unwillingness to allow pluralistic alternative in his own domain. But the seed of failure was the election of Bibi in about 95 or 96, defeating Perez. This election occured during a massive immigration of Russian and Eastern Jewery into Israel. The social economic pressures must have been tremendous, as I think the population grew thereby by about 1/3. Facing heightened internal contention for resources (jobs, housing, social services) within the Israeli polity, enough turned to Bibi's hardline against Oslo to shift victory to him. That is a consequnce of Zionism. But when people's households are in internal conflict they look for outside causes. They found one, and Arafat is not without taint.

    The right of refuge will not go away. All that can be done is shift its meaning somewhat.

    I continue to appreciate all the links you provide in your posts.