Revisiting the Magnes Zionist’s 2007 contribution on the forced exile of the Jews after the failure of their revolts against the Romans in 70 and 135CE.
To this day, writes Jeremiah Haber, most lay people, Jews and non-Jews, accept the myth of the exile, whereas no historian, Jew or non-Jew, takes it seriously. Drawing on the work of Prof Yisrael Yuval, Haber looks at “the disconnect between popular and scholarly belief and tr[ies] to examine the origin of the myth several centuries after the event occurred”.
Happy holiday reading!
Henry Siegman, former executive director of the American Jewish Congress (one of the nation’s “big three” Jewish organizations) has become a scourge of Israel in recent years. Here is his interview with Amy Goodman of DEMOCRACY NOW, in which he advocates giving up on Netanyahu and going to the UN to enforce a peaceful solution.
In a relatively quiet week, it is worth revisitng some interesting analyses and interventions from the past. Here is Diane Mason’s entertaining piece from 2010, Tell Me Again, Who Made The Desert Bloom?. In December 1945 and January 1946, the British Mandate authorities carried out an extensive survey of Palestine. Mason draws on it extensively in her account of the productivity of Palestinian agriculture at the time. Yet another Zionist myth bites the dust…
IN the wake of the murder by fire of 18-month old Ali Dawabshe, and in reflective mode, Robert Cohen poses fundamental questions about Zionism. Was the murder simply a random act of Jewish terror, or the direct result of a nearly 50-year occupation –- or can its roots be found in the nature of Zionism itself? Explaining why he no longer calls himself a Zionist of any kind, he nonetheless refuses easy answers to the issues raised.
It is a universal truth that you never see yourself as others see you. It can be useful and quite interesting to know what that view is. Here the founder of a Zionist institute explains how the Left has sustained its hegemony over Israeli politics, not allowing the Right to get a word in edge-ways, for decades – during which it has retreated to ‘civil society elites’ to continue their dominance.
But as it acts as the password to get into the Israeli public forum it no longer has any particular meaning. Uri Avnery looks at the different meanings the word Zionism has had since it first came into popular use after the first Zionist congress in 1897.
In this alarming article, Tomer Persico examines the remaking of Zionism as an aggressively nationalist and religious movement. Those involved appear to be gripped by an hysterical desire to ignore state rulings and pragmatism and pursue redemption through, amongst other things, building a Third Temple on Haram al-Sharif.
Prof. Zeev Sternhell, an authority of the rise of fascism in France, defines fascism as a rejection of, an assault on, enlightenment values. In the regime’s treatment of the Palestinians and of Jewish dissidents, in the submission of intellectuals to government orders and the blind following of the masses, Prof. Sternhell sees signs of fascism, and certainly the end of Zionism as he understood it.
The path to deadly wars in the interest of some nation or other is strewn with accidents and ‘what ifs?’ The first world war with its millions of dead could have been avoided. In which case, muses Robert Cohen, so would the the rise of Nazism, the holocaust, the creation of Israel as a militaristic nation state. The least British Jewish leaders can now do is NOT abandon their principles in the name of defending Zionism.
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This is the second part of a long interview with Rabbi Henry Siegman, former head of the American Jewish Congress. The first part was published on our website as No country and no people would live the way Gazans have been made to live
Jeremiah Haber is enraged as liberal Zionists like Michael Walzer argue that Israel has no alternative…
Ari Shavit sees himself as the conscience of Israel – as he would like it to have been, the Israel of its early years. Jerry Haber and Avram Burg take him to task for this refusal to see that the ‘Palestine problem’ began not in ’67 but in 1948 (at the very latest). Those who love Shavit for his writing love him for the illusions he peddles and in which he immures himself. His ‘Promised Land’ was never a promise that zionism could fulfil.
Here Ilan Pappe adds to the growing body of Jewish thinkers who are wrenching their Jewishness away from the dominant voices of Jewish and Christian Zionists. That Zionism has merged with religious nationalism and a militarily powerful state – offensive to religious Jews who believe Judaism is about God and not state-building and to Jews who believe their tradition centres on justice and kindness to strangers and neighbours.
‘There needs to be a mass and peaceful movement for Palestinian freedom for unless it is peaceful the justification by the Israelis for the activities of the IDF will always be made’ wrote David Ward during his 2012 visit to the West Bank. The rebukes he has since delivered about Israeli treatment of Palestinians are the same as those made by Palestinians and Jews, in and outside Israel. His tweet, naively or wilfully fails to make clear that is it is an apartheid system in, not the existence of, Israel which he questions. His judgment of an imminent demise is questionable.
For decades after antisemitism became a murderous project (a time when the term ‘Judeo-Christian’ was coined in reaction) Christians and Jews have engaged in serious inter-faith discussion. Now, warns Robert Cohen, this has taken a new form. Instead of Christians abominating Jews as ‘Christ-killers’ some declare that Christianity superseded Judaism 2000 years ago.The integrity of Judaism is also threatened by Zionism which gives the religion a teleological deviation: that the purpose of Judaism has ever been the founding of the Jewish state.
In this powerful article, Idan Landau writes that the soundtrack to the building of zionism is the rumble of destruction. Since its creation, the state of Israel has routinely smashed down the homes of Palestinians, leaving the families homeless, their belongings either broken or scattered. How is it that Israelis take this sound of the devastation of human life to be ‘normal’, not deserving a second look or a first question?
If Jews are defined as a separate ‘race’ there is little to choose between antisemitists and zionists in their desire to get Jews out of Europe, argues Joseph Massad in a patchy survey of beliefs about race and Jews. (He ignores the distinctive zionist fanaticism for state-building). He mourns the defeat of the Jewish ‘Haskalah’ (enlightenment’) which sought to integrate Jews in European modernity and, in the cold war, as ‘white’ people – news to the Rosenbergs’ family. Mira Sucharov takes issue with the omission of Liberal Zionism which defines the Daily Beast for which she writes.
Two takes published in Ha’aretz on a conflict rocking the Zionist establishment in the UK. 1) from Hannah Weisfeld director of Yachad, a pro-peace organisation – Zionist but not Zionist enough for the Zionist Federation and 2) from Anshel Pfeffer who can’t believe that Zionism should be defined by the ‘Jerusalem programme’ which most Zionists, in Israel and out, have never heard of. So read two of its versions, 4).
Shlomo Sand is a history professor at Tel Aviv University. His charismatic, readable style was evident in his previous book The Invention of the Jewish People, the English edition of which kicked up quite a controversy in 2009. The title alone seemed designed to shock. Sand’s new book, The Invention of the Land of Israel, is essentially a direct sequel, focusing on the nature of an idea central to Zionism: the “Land of Israel”…