Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

"What’s Wrong with anti-Zionism is anti-Zionism itself"

"Long ago, August Bebel gave a name to left-wing anti-Semitism: “the socialism of fools.” , Emeritus Professor Michael Walzer, of Princeton, reminded us back in March, adding,  "Now the fools are in Congress".

His focus, no prizes for guessing, was on Representative Ilhan Omar, and he wrote, inter alia:

"A congressional resolution condemning all forms of bigotry is no doubt commendable, but it doesn’t serve our political purpose. What is necessary is a fierce and detailed expose of all the lies about the Jews. And it is important that the word be used: lies. Many of Omar’s critics prefer to be offended, hurt, and distressed by her repetition of anti-Semitic tropes rather than outraged by the dishonesty of the tropes.
 And they are, in turn, afraid to offend Omar’s supporters, who seem to think that the lies Omar repeats are simply her opinions; they are just like everyone else’s opinions. Indeed, Omar is entitled to her falsehoods; it is, as we say, a free country. But the falsehoods have to be given their proper name. If Jewish Democrats don’t get tough about this, they will soon find themselves unable to be tough about anything. They will be pushed out of the Democratic Party just as Jews are being pushed out of the Labour Party in the U.K."
That article was in The Tablet here.

Now, in the Fall 2019 issue of Dissent magazine, Professor Walzer wows with an article entitled "Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism".  A taster, in his summing up:
 "Why not Zionism? Because the Jews aren’t a people; because they should be more cosmopolitan than anyone else; because the Zionist state has had some terrible governments; because no one should have a state (even if almost everyone does). Each of these claims can be made and reasons given, but the way they are made in the world today is bound to arouse suspicion. It is at least possible, and sometimes it seems likely, that the people making them also believe that Jews ran the slave trade, that the Zionist lobby controls U.S. foreign policy (as Representative Ilhan Omar has said), that Jews are disloyal to every country in which they live except Israel, and that Jewish bankers control the international financial system.
 There are too many men and women who believe these things—on the left as well as on the right. They are anti-Semites or fellow travelers of anti-Semites, and their anti-Zionism is probably tightly connected to their anti-Semitism (though there are now pro-Israel anti-Semites among, for example, American evangelicals and Eastern European right-wing nationalists).
Men and women on the left need to be sharply critical, especially critical, of other leftists who hold these views. It is obviously easier to condemn right-wing anti-Semites and pretend that anti-Semitism doesn’t exist on the left. But it does ...  It may well be true that right-wing anti-Semitism poses the greater danger to Jewish well-being, but the leftist version should not be underestimated.
Still, I am sure that a lot of anti-Zionists and many leftist anti-Zionists don’t believe any of the anti-Semitic fables. Maybe they are willfully ignorant about the Jewish people, maybe they are peculiarly focused on the Jewish state; maybe they just don’t like Jews (as George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, said about Jeremy Corbyn). Maybe. But when it comes to leftist debates about Israel, Zionism is the issue, and it is Zionism that we should talk about. For all the reasons I’ve given, what’s wrong with anti-Zionism is anti-Zionism itself..."
Read the entire article here


4 comments:

  1. Two points about mealy mouthed excuses

    1 – Right wing antisemitism has NO, let me repeat that, NO significant real power in America or in the west at all. None. The ‘as well as….’ argument is complete nonsense. There is no political body no mainstream media no foundation, charity or NGO of the right, whatever that could be, that espouses Jew hatred. They do not exist in a form that we can’t laugh at or ignore. All antisemitism with any power or force or authority within or of politics or media or charities et al, in any inarguable context is of and on the left. To say that there are powerful right wing antisemitic forces and voices is by implication a deflection that left wing Jew hatred is excusable or understandable or of a larger context that’s not the left’s responsibility to own up to. And that is a lie.

    2 – The ‘they know not whereof they speak’ argument is worse than nonsense, it’s stupid. No person no organization could, as left wing Jew haters do, spend every thought every breath every tweet and tap hating Jews can with a straight face claim they are ignorant. This is a specious argument and a faint hope among left wingers that they are cleansed by ignorance. HRW, AI, OxFam, The NYT, all spend millions of dollars each month on antisemitic pronouncements. It is beyond belief that no one, no editor or executive or financial donor hasn’t corrected them yet.

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    1. Thanks, Trudy, thought-provoking as always.

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  2. "What is necessary is a fierce and detailed expose of all the lies about the Jews."

    I agree, but this overlooks that the only trustworthy "truth" about Jews for many people is that Jews are evil. This "truth" springs from millennia of religion and culture. It's evident today in forums where you see incontrovertible documentation exonerating Israel having zero effect but simply being met with some version of the "evil" trope. It's also why there always seems to be a tendency to find at least some degree of fault with Jews - even among Jews themselves.

    So exposing lies about Zionists appears futile in the same sense as with Jews. You might even say that "Zionists stole land!" (a lie) is the new "Jews killed Christ!". Fact or fiction is irrelevant; both inspire the same aggrieved passion. And obviously, neither Jews nor Zionists are allowed a hearing to argue their innocence.

    As for Walzer's examination of anti-Zionist Jews, he notes they expound universalism--inconsistently, of course. I would add that these Jews actually seem to be hyper-conscious of their Judaism, not their universal nature. Otherwise, they would look around the globe as humans first - not Jews - and would measure everyone on a single scale. Which means they should be far more outraged by the goings-on of Israel's neighbors.

    He also notes that some justify their anti-Zionism by denying that Jews are a people. Here's another answer to this charge: "My people"/"his people" appears repeatedly not only in the Hebrew Bible (over 200 times)... but also in the Christian Bible (around 25 times). So if you get rid of people-hood, you are also in a way taking shots at the religion; the scripture adhered to by all Jews, converted Jews included.

    As for Joshua Leifer's rebuttal of Walzer, which I was curious to read, Leifer writes: "the approach I am recommending is agnostic on the ideal number of states—as long as whatever form a final status agreement takes guarantees freedom, democracy, and equality for Israelis and Palestinians alike."

    That's great. So in the spirit of democracy, we must listen to Abbas and Hamas. And they say they don't want Jews as neighbors and they don't want a Jewish state in the Mideast. They also show by their own governance that they're not much interested in democracy. Now what.

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    1. I'm really grateful for your interesting comments.

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