This is the second batch of articles from Haaretz that are related to their peace conference this week. Several of them focus on the continued need, and possibility, of the 2-state solution, not least because the two peoples are not going anywhere else and Israel’s continued, costly subjection of Palestinians is corrupting its own ideals of a sovereign Jewish democracy.
oD. Hilary Aked investigates links between Islamophobia and the ‘war on terror’ against which Israel is the foremost fighter. Money flows into groups combatting ‘Islamic terror’ and into Israel. Muslims and Zionists may share an ideology of dominance, but in the West, Muslims are the barbarian outcasts.
In his usual iconoclastic fashion, Uri Avnery argues that from the 1950s Zionism “became a cynical slogan, to be used by anyone to push his or her agenda. Mainly it became an instrument of the Israeli leadership to subjugate world Jewry and mobilize it for their national, partisan or personal aims.” Instead, we must return to A. B. Yehoshua’s distinction between nationalism and Zionism, two different entities in constant conflict with each other. It is time, not for separation, but for recognition that, whatever their “natural bonds”, Israel’s future lies in peace with its citizens and neighbours and the future of Jews throughout the world within their own nations.
This is a response to Michael Walzer’s essay in Dissent by the Lebanese-American scholar As’ad AbuKhalil. In all the contributions to this debate there seems more heat than light, more fear and anger than curiosity about the other. But if they encourage thought about the replacement of secular politics by religion or by how religion or religious conflicts have shaped our civilisations, all to the good.
A history of Zionism in Britain has much useful information but this particular history, published by CounterPunch, seems to have come from the school of Zionist conspiracies. Evan Jones does not distinguish between how ‘Zionist’ is used today – one who believes Jews alone are destined to rule a greater Israel – and how it was used pre-Israel: one with an aspiration for a Jewish homeland. He also sees Zionists at work in the UK without any evidence, defined purpose or names (or footnotes). Read with discrimination.
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.