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    Zionism Racist Right and the silent Center: Stop delegitimizing Zionism (Gil Troy)
    Geplaatst door abby op Sunday 02 January @ 19:20:27 GMT+1 (1676 maal gelezen)

    Racist Right and the silent Center: Stop delegitimizing ZionismBy Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, 12-28-10

    Unfortunately, those of us fighting the delegitimization of Zionism face a new challenge.  Anti-Semitic Arabs and European useful idiots, the loony left and their puppet professors, relentlessly attack Zionism, caricaturing the liberal, democratic movement of Jewish nationalism as racist.  Now, in a strange perversion whereby victims of a smear absorb some characteristics bigots attribute to them, an ugly strain of Israeli racism is festering, threatening to delegitimize Zionism from within. Silent centrists must not stand by, idly watching racist rabbis in Tsfat ban selling houses to Arabs, young Jewish hooligans in Jerusalem beat Arabs, and loud bigots rally against Arabs and immigrants in Bat Yam and Tel Aviv.  Zionists must reject these immoral and outrageous acts as unwelcome in our otherwise big broad Zionist tent devoted to building a thriving, democratic Jewish state in the Jewish people’s traditional homeland.

    Jewish racists betray Judaism and Jewish history. Having taught the world how humane and open religion can be, we must never forget Judaism’s sensitivity to others. Having suffered from discrimination, we must never practice it.

    Similarly, Zionist racists betray Zionism and the Zionist mission.  Zionism’s rise is intertwined with liberal democratic nationalism, mixing ethnic and civic nationalism. And Zionism’s mandate to end anti-Semitism must never degenerate into discrimination against others.

    The bullying bigots constitute a shrill minority – and have been widely denounced. Police arrested the hooligans. The Likudnik Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin – among many others – said the racist Rabbis’ letter “shames the Jewish people.” Given the relentless attacks on Israel and Zionism, given how mainstream anti-Semitic discourse is among Arabs, given how Palestinians routinely outlaw land sales to Jews, given how intellectuals have camouflaged modern anti-Semitism as anti-Zionism, it is a tribute to Zionism’s moral fibre that these voices remain so marginal.

    Still, the demagogues test us all, morally, ideologically, educationally. The bigotry – which is nation-based not race-based – festers due to many problems today. It highlights the Israeli rabbinate’s corruption, hijacking state funds to advance a soulless, picayune, anti-Zionist, non-humanistic perversion of Judaism that has alienated generations of Israelis. It showcases epidemics of educational failure, growing violence, untrammeled aggressiveness, pagan youth, religious Jews loving land more than people or peace, in an increasingly rudderless society needing strong leaders and a reaffirmation of its founding ideals. It reflects the growing scar tissue of a society inured to any mistakes made regarding Palestinians because of Palestinian violence and rejectionism – which the world enables.

    Silence is consent. Every rabbi, every educator, every settler, every Israeli citizen, every Zionist must boldly, loudly, and constructively denounce this ugliness. Rabbis must reaffirm the Torah’s teachings seeking justice based on mutual respect, because we were strangers in a foreign land.  Educators must launch a civics curriculum teaching democratic values based on inherent rights. Settlers, so often caricatured as anti-Arab aggressors, can distance themselves from this scourge by rejecting racist rabbis in their communities and implementing programs affirming democratic values.

    Israeli leaders must spearhead this fight while all Israeli citizens should recommit to the defining civic, democratic values expressed in Israel’s Proclamation of Independence and embodied by David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin. Meanwhile, Zionists everywhere should reaffirm the teachings of Theodor Herzl and Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Ahad Ha’am and Rav Kook, that healthy nationalism rejects racism, that a Jewish state can be a democracy not a theocracy, that Zionism involves cultivating the best in us not bringing out the worst.

    Contempt for “the goyim” is an ugly Jewish characteristic Zionism tried burying in Europe. Oppressed peoples use insularity and superiority as defense mechanisms. African-American humor mocks white Americans; Jewish humor mocks non-Jews. But when you return to history, wield power, become a majority, those jokes stop being funny – or necessary.

    Zionism was about becoming whole again, about taking responsibility. This Altneuland was to be another normal expression of nationalism, as so many other peoples fulfilled their rights of self-determination through nation-states. This old-new state was also to be a special framework for fulfilling Jewish values in a state, not theorizing about them in seminaries.

    In the happy meeting between Judaism and modern Western thought, after nearly two millennia of misery, most Jews internalized fundamental democratic ideals. Jews saw how the most welcoming polities respecting individual rights and fostering mutual respect, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, were also the most successful societies. Jews also functioned as society’s watchdog, denouncing anti-Semitism and other prejudices.  Every one of us who demanded in the 1980s that Jesse Jackson disavow Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism, every one of us who demanded in 2008 that Barack Obama disavow the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s anti-Jewish and anti-American demagoguery, must combat our own anti-Arab, anti-immigrant bigots.

    The Obama case is instructive. Many of us resented that Obama and his family regularly attended a church led by a man whose offensive rantings targeted us. We abhorred Obama’s passivity, dismissing his denunciations in 2008 as calculated and long overdue. Here now is our opportunity to lead, demonstrating that every movement produces extremists, every form of nationalism has its xenophobes but constructive, democratic movements understand the value of self-policing and living up to our highest standards, not treating others as our enemies treat us.

    Political morality transcends policy differences.  We need a passionate debate about the complicated questions regarding growing anti-Zionism among Israeli Arabs, regarding the messy immigration dilemmas bedeviling America and Europe not just Israel, regarding the complicated quest to empower a Jewish majority and an Arab minority in a democracy besieged by its neighbors. But we also need red lines against stereotyping, demonization, and bigotry.  Tzfat’s racist rabbis, Jerusalem’s Jewish hooligans constitute an ugly minority. They pervert Zionism, threatening to corrupt the collective Jewish soul, while unintentionally inviting us to clarify our values and affirm defining principles.


    Gil Troy is Professor of History at McGill University and a Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. He is the author of “Why I Am A Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today,” and, most recently, “The Reagan Revolution: A Very Short Introduction.” giltroy@gmail.com

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    Zionism Zionism and the Arab Peace Initiative (Ami Isseroff)
    Geplaatst door abby op Saturday 29 November @ 02:07:36 GMT+1 (3430 maal gelezen)

    The Arab Peace Initiative is being touted as a wonder working panacea for the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. It is at the center of a campaign by the Palestinian Authority and by various US peace activists and Palestinian sympathizers.

    The good news about this plan is that for the first time in history, the states of the Arab League indicated a willingness to have "normal" relations with Israel. This was a tremendous psychological breakthrough, especially considering that the plan originated with the royal house of Saudi Arabia. Consider these remarks by King ibn Saud in 1937:
    'Our hatred for the Jews dates from God's condemnation of them for their persecution and rejection of Isa (Jesus Christ), and their subsequent rejection later of His chosen Prophet. It is beyond our understanding how your Government, representing the first Christian power in the world today, can wish to assist and reward these very same Jews who maltreated your Isa (Jesus).

    ''We Arabs have been the traditional friends of Great Britain for many years, and I, Bin Sa'ud, in particular have been your Government's firm friend all my life, what madness then is this which is leading on our Government to destroy this friendship of centuries, all for the sake of an accursed and stiffnecked race which has always bitten the hand of everyone who has helped it since the world began.

    Some Israeli officials have expressed cautious support for the plan recently, but in the past, attempts to make concrete progress with this plan have ended in nothing, indicating the major weaknesses of the plan. Israeli officials who wanted to discuss the plan were told by Arab representatives that there is nothing to discuss. Israel must accept the plan first, even without understanding it, and then there could be talks: Unconditional surrender. Moreover, there is no guarantee that even after Israel completes all that is required of the plan, it will be granted recognition by any Arab state. This was made abundantly clear at a press conference by Prince Saud of Saudi Arabia with Amr Moussa, head of the Arab League. According to the statement, as released by the Saudi Press Agency:



    In those circumstances, Israel would have to "leave it." In return for peace, the plan states for example for the following:

    II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.

    Resolution 194 states that all refugees willing to live in peace with their neighbors should be able to return. There is no evidence that the Arab Palestinian refugees in Lebanon or those in the Gaza strip are willing to leave in peace with anybody, leave alone Jews. According to the Arab interpretation of the resolution however, the resolution confers on every Arab Palestinian refugee, their descendants, their foreign spouses and anyone who claims to have been a refugee or descendant thereof, the right to "return" to "Palestine" even if they never lived in Palestine. The Palestinian Arab refugees are the only class of refugees in the world to which the UN grants refugee status to children of refugees, or to refugees who were enemy belligerents and their descendants who remain so.

    Return of refugees would destroy Israel as a Jewish state, since there are potentially an unlimited number of claimants to refugee status, and since in the best case, it would introduced a highly belligerent population into the state, bent on its destruction.

    No place in the Arab Peace Plan does it state that the Arabs countries would undertake to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or to recognize the right of the Jewish people to self-determination, or even to admit that there is such a thing as a Jewish people.

    The behavior of the Arab states at the Annapolis peace conference was a lot closer to Ibn Saud's original conception of the Jews than to the supposed spirit of the Arab peace initiative. Israeli delegates had to use the service entrance to the conference building, an affront in which the "pro-Israel" US administration acquiesced, and Arabs refused to shake hands with Israelis. An Arab Human Rights charter that is gaining the approval of Arab countries, states in its preamble that it "rejects all forms of Zionism and Racism." The charter was originally supported by the UN's Louise Arbour, but she has had second thoughts.

    In the best case, the Arab Peace Initiative is meant as a mind changer in the Arab world. By thinking out of the box, the Saudis seek to regain leadership of the Arab world. If they can get peace in the Middle East and retrieve the Golan Heights for Syria, they become the "go to" country in the Middle East for all the Arabs, and for the United States as well. With the Israeli-Palestinian issue off the table, they can present a united front in dealing with Iran and the challenge posed by Shia Islam. The Saudis, on the face of it, have a genuine interest in the success of the peace initiative, as do the Egyptians and the Jordanians, client states of the United States who have signed peace treaties with Israel. But the initiative is designed intentionally to be ambiguous. Other Arab states can accept it as a means of carrying on the fight against the "Zionist Entity" by other means. It is also useful as a weapon in the "peace wars." In this conflict, whoever can show that they are in favor of peace, wins an advantage, even if their proposals are hollow. The principle involved is to make a plan that looks quite a lot like a peace plan, but is certainly going to be rejected by the other side, so that the other side will be embarrassed and shown up as an "obstacle to peace."

    The Arab League has no binding authority over its member states. They have offered no mechanism for implementing the plan. Their stated position is that Israel must first fulfill all the conditions and then the individual states will (or will not) grant recognition to Israel, depending on whether they believe Israel has implemented the conditions, on the weather in Riyadh and the moods of Muammar Kaddafi, dictator of Libya. The Arab League is Arab, and not Muslim, a distinction that seems to escape many people. Therefore, the statement that the plan would bring Israel recognition by 57 Muslim states, which appears in many newspapers, is nonsensical. Iran, for example, is a Muslim country, but it is NOT a member of the Arab League. It frequently is in opposition to the Arab League. Iran controls Hamas, Hezbollah the Islamic Jihad and probably the Popular Resistance Committees, all groups opposed to any sort of two state solution and to the very existence of Israel. It is not likely they will be joining in the Arab peace plan any time soon.

    The Palestinian Authority placed advertisements in Israeli newspapers to "explain" the plan to Israelis, as if we didn't understand what it means and does not mean. A juicy canard in the London Times claimed that US President elect Barack Obama supports the Arab Peace Plan and wants to force it on Israel, but this was quickly denied by Dennis Ross.

    U.S. pressure on Israel is never good for Israel, and pressure to accept the Arab peace plan "as is" would be contrary to the interests of the United States and certainly contrary to the interests of Israel, which is not interested in committing suicide. Curiously, M.J. Rosenberg, who places himself in the Zionist camp, has "advised" President-elect Obama that the first thing he has to do is adopt the Arab Peace initiative and ram it down Israel's throat. Suppose Israel would propose a plan whereby all the Arab states sign peace treaties with Israel first, and then Israel will negotiate withdrawal from occupied territories? Would M.J. Rosenberg consider that a plan that should be adopted by the United States? Suppose the Israeli plan added that each oil rich Arab state must accept millions of Christian immigrants as citizens, as well as paying compensation to all the Jewish refugees from Arab countries?

    The United States doesn't have to have a policy about a peace initiative that is addressed to Israel. It is never a good idea to volunteer. Israel, however, must have a policy about the Arab peace initiative. Those tempted to "just say no" should think again. There might be an opportunity to change hearts and minds here - a long shot. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's peace initiative was incredible as well, but it turned out to be fairly real, though defective in implementation. Even on the supposition that the Arab peace initiative is a total fraud, it has achieved such prominence that it cannot be ignored. Peace with our Arab neighbors has always been a number one goal of Zionism and the hope for peace must not be abandoned. Without peace, there is no long term future for Israel in the Middle East. Perhaps Israel should accept the spirit of the initiative and ask for clarifications. In that spirit, the editors of the Jerusalem Post, acknowledging the deficiencies of the Arab initiative, wrote:

    Still, most of us, though disappointed that an offer which falls so short of Israel's minimal needs comes so late, will find themselves agreeing with President Shimon Peres: This is an overture worth exploring.

    After so much bloodshed and suffering on both sides, we implore the Arab and Muslim world: Let us not make propaganda. Let us not wait another 60 years. Let us make peace.

    Or perhaps, instead of these vague pronouncements, Israel should daily offer peace, loud and clear.Each day, the Israel Foreign Ministry should call upon the Arabs to clarify the conditions of the initiative, to set a date for a peace conference that will allow the exploration of the initiative, rather than vaguely calling for exploration. We should not let this issue alone for a day. The world must see our dedication to peace. Muammar Ghaddafi and Bashar Assad are all invited to recognize the right of self determination of the Jewish people and our right to a Jewish state, as we have, in the various agreements, recognized the right of the Palestinian Arabs to their Arab state. If the Arabs are sincere they will answer the call. Muammar and Bashar and Abdullah are all invited to break bread and to shake hands and we shall go forward to a bright future together. Perhaps it will happen. The entire Middle East will beat their swords into plowshares and their Qassam rockets into mailing tubes, fulfilling the vision of the prophets of old. But what if the Arab states are not sincere? What if they are not willing to shake hands with Jews or to accept the legitimacy of Zionism? What if the lion is not yet ready to lie down with the lamb? In that case, we will have called their bluff in a way that even M. J. Rosenberg can understand.

    Ami Isseroff

    Original content is Copyright by the author 2008. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000630.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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    Zionism Early Zionists and Arabs (Judea Pearl)
    Geplaatst door abby op Monday 24 November @ 23:52:53 GMT+1 (2949 maal gelezen)

    Early Zionists and Arabs
    by Judea Pearl
    Middle East Quarterly
    Fall 2008, pp. 67-71

    Many Arab officials and Israeli "New Historians" describe early Zionist attitudes toward the Arab population of Palestine as dismissive or arrogant. Books and pamphlets from the time tell a different story.

    Ben-Gurion: Our Arab Brethren
    During World War I, Israel's future first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, spent three years in New York, exiled from Palestine "for conspiring against Ottoman rule." He devoted most of his time to organizing the He-Halutz youth movement with Yitzhak Ben Zvi, but he also published, a few months before issuance of the Balfour Declaration, an interesting treatise: "On the Origin of the Falahin," [1] the Arab peasants in Palestine. In this work, Ben-Gurion, the scholar and historian, argued that the falahin are descendants of Jews who remained in Palestine after the Roman expulsion and who later converted to Islam:

    The logical, self-evident conclusion of all the above is as follows: The agricultural community that the Arabs found in Eretz Israel in the 7th century was none other than the Hebrew farmers that remained on their land despite all the persecution and oppression of the Roman and Byzantine emperors. Some of them accepted Christianity, at least on the surface, but many held on to their ancestral faith and occasionally revolted against their Christian oppressors. After the Arab conquest, the Arabic language and Muslim religion spread gradually among the countrymen. In his essay "Ancient Names in Palestine and Syria in Our Times," Dr. George Kampmeyer proves, based on historico-linguistic analysis, that for a certain period of time, both Aramaic and Arabic were in use and only slowly did the former give way to the latter.
    The greater majority and main structures of the Muslim falahin in western Eretz Israel present to us one racial strand and a whole ethnic unit, and there is no doubt that much Jewish blood flows in their veins—the blood of those Jewish farmers, "lay persons," who chose in the travesty of times to abandon their faith in order to remain on their land.

    Ben-Gurion's theory may not withstand modern DNA analysis, but his essay reveals a genuine attempt to establish an ancestral kinship with the Arab population and to bridge cultural and religious divides.

    Ben-Gurion: Palestinian Arab Rights
    In 1918, Israel Zangwill, an on-again, off-again member of the Zionist movement and author of the influential novel Children of the Ghetto,[2] wrote an article suggesting that the Arabs should be persuaded to "trek" from Palestine.[3] Ben-Gurion was quick to distance the Zionist movement from any such notion. In an article published that year in the Yiddish-language newspaper Yiddishe Kemper, Ben-Gurion ridiculed Zangwill:

    Eretz Israel is not an empty country ... West of Jordan alone houses three quarter of a million people. On no account must we injure the rights of the inhabitants. Only "Ghetto Dreamers" like Zangwill can imagine that Eretz Israel will be given to the Jews with the added right of dispossessing the current inhabitants of the country. This is not the mission of Zionism. Had Zionism to aspire to inherit the place of these inhabitants—it would be nothing but a dangerous utopia and an empty, damaging and reactionary dream … Not to take from others—but to build the ruins. [We claim] no rights on our past—but on our future. Not the preservation of historic inheritance—but the creation of new national assets—this is the core claim and right of the Hebrew nation in its country. [4]

    Weizmann: Arab Glory and Arab Rights
    In 1918, the British government sent Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952), the future first president of Israel and a key player behind the Balfour Declaration, to Palestine to advise on the future development of the country. There, he met with Arab and Armenian representatives and delivered the following speech in the house of the High Commissioner in Jerusalem:
    With heartfelt admiration and great interest we are viewing today the current war of liberation conducted by the ancient Arabic nation. We see how the scattered Arab forces are being united under the good will of Western governments and other peace-loving nations, and how, from the mist of war there emerge new and immense political possibilities. We see again the formation of a strong and united Arab political body, freshly renovated and aiming to renovate the great tradition of Arab science and literature that are so close to our heart. This kinship found its glorious expression particularly in the Spanish period of the Hebrew-Arabic development when our greatest authors wrote and thought in the Arabic language, as well as in Hebrew.[5]

    Perhaps anticipating future criticism that Zionism, while promising Palestinians human and civil rights, denied them national rights, Weizmann wrote in the newspaper Ha'aretz:

    If indeed there is among the Arabs a national movement, we must relate to it with the utmost seriousness ... The Arabs are concerned about two issues: 1. The Jews will soon come in their millions and conquer the country and chase out the Arabs ... Responsible Zionists never said and never wished such things. 2. There is no place in Eretz Israel for a large number of inhabitants. This is total ignorance. It is enough to notice what is happening now in Tunis, Tangier, and California to realize that there is a vast space here for a great work of many Jews, without touching even one Arab.[6]

    Ben-Gurion: Palestinian Self-Determination
    In November 1930, about a year after the Arab riots that led to the Hebron massacre, Ben-Gurion addressed the First Congress of Hebrew Workers and delivered a lecture entitled "The Foreign Policy of the Hebrew Nation." In this lecture, later published in Ben-Gurion's first book, We and Our Neighbors,[7] he not only acknowledged the national aspirations of the Palestinian Arabs but also recognized Arab self-determination as an inalienable right, regardless of its impact on the Zionist plan.

    There is in the world a principle called "the right for self-determination." We have always and everywhere been its worshipers and champions. We have defended that right for every nation, every part of a nation, and every collective of people. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Arab people in Eretz Israel have this right. And this right is not limited by or conditional upon the result of its influence on us and our interests. We ought not to diminish the Arabs' freedom for self-determination for fear that it would present difficulties to our own mission. The entire moral core encapsulated in the Zionist idea is the notion that a nation—every nation—is its own purpose and not a tool for the purposes of other nations. And in the same way that we want the Jewish people to be master of its own affairs, capable of determining its historical destiny without being dependent on the will—even good will—of other nations, so, too, we must seek for the Arabs…

    The characteristic feature of a political movement is its ability to rally the masses behind it. In this sense, there is no doubt that we are witnessing a political movement. And we should not dismiss it, our way should not be through the [British] government …

    We should not attempt to turn the Arabs into Zionists. I do not see why an Arab need be a Zionist. But we must explain to him what Zionism is, what it aspires to achieve, on what it rests, what its power and promises are and what its attitude is toward the Arabs in this land and the Arab nation in our neighborhood. It is imperative that the Arab knows that we have not come here to dispossess him, to subjugate him, or to worsen his condition. The Arab must know that Zionism is not an accidental, temporary phenomenon but a historical imperative, that it relies on the needs and strength of the entire Jewish nation, and that it is impossible to dismiss or silence it …

    In much the same way that we need to educate the Arab public to understand our interest, so also we need to educate our public to understand the Arabs and work toward decent neighborly relations ... mutual recognition is prerequisite to mutual understanding.

    The total Arab rejection of his overtures, followed by the bloody riots of 1936-39, eroded Ben-Gurion's confidence in achieving Arab understanding through education and cooperation. It remains an interesting exercise, though, to imagine what the Middle East would be like today had Arab leadership reciprocated with some recognition, however mild, of the Jewish right to self-determination.

    Jabotinsky before the Holocaust
    Ze'ev Jabotinsky, Ben-Gurion's rival, garnered a reputation as an advocate of an "iron wall" approach toward the Arabs. Yet, even he expressed respect for Arab nationalism and explained Arab fears of reciprocating Ben-Gurion's offer. Not only does Jabotinsky's article "The Arabs of Eretz Israel"[8] dispel the myth of Zionist denial and naïvetť, but it also disproves the popular notion that Arabs feared dispossession by Jewish immigrants:

    There is no point talking about the possibility that the Arabs in Eretz Israel would consent to the Zionist plan while we are a minority here. I express it with such confidence not because I enjoy disappointing decent people but, simply, to save them disappointments: All these decent people, except those blind from birth, have understood already that this is something that is utterly illogical—to obtain the Arabs' consent and goodwill to turn Eretz Israel from an Arabic country to a country with Jewish majority.

    Every indigenous people, regardless of whether it is primitive or advanced, views its country as a national home and aspires to be and remain its sole and eternal landlord; it does not voluntarily agree to accommodate, not only new landlords, but even new partners or new participants. And our most misleading argument would be if we rely on the fact that our agricultural settlements bring them economical advantages; though this is an undisputed truth, there is no nation in the world that sold its national aspirations for bread and butter.[9]

    Many of us still think in full honesty that a terrible misunderstanding has occurred, that the Arabs did not understand us, and that this is the reason why they oppose us; but if only we could explain to them how benevolent our intentions, they would stretch their hands back to us. This is a mistake that has been proven so again and again. I will bring one such incident. Several years ago, when the late Nahum Sokolov visited Eretz Israel, and he was one of the most moderate and diplomatic Zionists at that time, he delivered an elaborate speech on this misunderstanding. He explained clearly how mistaken Arabs are in thinking that we wish to steal their property or dispossess them or oppress them. "We do not even want to have a Jewish government; we want merely a government representing the League of Nations." Sokolov's speech received an immediate response in the main editorial of the Arab newspaper Carmel, the content of which I convey here from memory:

    "The Zionists—so wrote the Arab editor—are tormenting their nerves unnecessarily. There is no misunderstanding here whatsoever. The Arabs never doubted that the potential absorption capacity of Eretz Israel is enormous and, therefore, that it is possible to settle here enough Jews without dispossessing or constraining even a single Arab. It is obvious that ‘this is all' the Zionists want. But it is also obvious that this is precisely what the Arabs do not want; for, then, the Jews will turn into a majority and, from the nature of things, a Jewish government will be established and the fate of the Arab minority will depend on Jewish good will; Jews know perfectly well what minority existence is like. There is no misunderstanding here whatsoever."

    The Arab editor's argument is rather compelling, but Jabotinsky confronts it with a moral dilemma that is no less compelling:

    Whoever thinks that our arguments [for Jewish immigration] are immoral, I would beg him to address the following question: If this [Jewish immigration] is immoral, what should the Jewish people do …?

    Our planet is no longer blessed with uninhabited islands. Take any oasis in any desert, it is already taken by the native who inhabits that place from time immemorial and rejects the coming of new settlers that will become a majority, or just come in great numbers. In short—if there is a homeless nation in the world, its very yearning for a homeland is immoral. The homeless must forever remain homeless; all the land in the universe has already been divided—that's it. These are the conclusions of "morality." …

    This sort of morality has a place among cannibals, not in the civilized world. The land belongs not to those who have too much land but to those who have none. If we appropriate one parcel of land from the owners of mega-estates and give it to an exiled nation—it is a just deed.

    New Historians often cite anecdotal and secondhand evidence or diary entries lacking in context that depict an exaggerated, hostile attitude of early Zionist leaders toward the Arabs. In contrast, the quotations cited above were articulated in prominent and open public forums and published widely for Hebrew readers in Palestine and the Diaspora. It is these quotations, therefore, that are true representations of the dominant attitude of the Yishuv, the pre-1948 Jewish community in Palestine. They were annunciated broadly with the aim of shaping public opinion, educational norms, and cultural molds, which no doubt contributed to the culture of accommodation that governs the Israeli mindset today.


    Judea Pearl is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, named after his son. With his wife, Ruth, he co-edited, I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl (Woodstock, Vt.: Jewish Light, 2004), winner of the National Jewish Book Award.

    [1] "Leverur Motsa Ha'Falahim," Luach Achiezer, New York, 1917, pp. 118-27, reprinted in Anachnu U'Shcheneinu (Tel Aviv: Davar. 1931), pp. 13-25.
    [2] Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1892.
    [3] Diana Muir, "A Land without a People for a People without a Land," Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2008, pp. 55-62.
    [4] "Zechuyot Ha'Yehudim Ve'Zulatam B'Eretz Yisrael," reprinted in Anachnu U'Shcheneinu, p. 31. For more on Zangwill, see Muir, "A Land without a People."
    [5] Chaim Weizmann, Devarim, vol. 1 (Tel Aviv: Mizpah Publishers, 1936), p. 99.
    [6] Ha'aretz (Tel Aviv), Dec. 15, 1919, as reprinted in Devarim, vol. 1, p. 129.
    [7] Anachnu U'Shcheneinu, p. 257.
    [8] "Arviyey Eretz Yisrael," in Medina Ivrit (Tel Aviv: T. Kopp, 1937).
    [9] Ibid., pp. 73-4.

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    Zionism Forgetting Zion (Ruth R. Wisse)
    Geplaatst door abby op Thursday 20 November @ 23:46:23 GMT+1 (3959 maal gelezen)


    Ruth R. Wisse
    Commentary, October 2008

    A Jewish child growing up as I did in Montreal during the 1940's absorbed Zionism as naturally as Canadian ground did the snow in springtime. Our island city was divided between Catholic French and Protestant English, their rights equally protected by the state. The division between these two populations along ethnic and religious lines increased the staying power of other minorities, our own included; most Jewish children attended Jewish schools, all but two of which were Zionist in orientation.

    My school, for example, asked students in the upper grades to raise money annually for something called the "Histadrut." We were given booklets containing about twenty coupons arranged by color in denominations ranging from 25 cents to a dollar and we went door to door, inspecting the jambs for mezuzahs. I had no idea that the Histadrut was the labor union associated with the dominant Labor Zionist party, and I suspect that those who bought the coupons similarly assumed that they were supporting the Zionist project as a whole. My classmates and I very much enjoyed being foot soldiers in the national cause: our sense of the Jews as a cohesive and, on the whole, generous people was everywhere reinforced at home, at school, and on the street.

    Were things different south of the Canadian border? It didn't seem so. Though Jews there were blending more quickly into the mainstream, the American students whom I met at regional youth conferences in the 1950's were no less passionately Jewish and Zionist than I. And why not? Zionism was both a natural and logical instance of the then-general phenomenon of emerging nation states and a keen expression of the human instinct for justice. Now that Palestinian Jewry, or the yishuv, had fought for and won its independence, and was on the road (so we thought) to gaining the acceptance of its Arab neighbors, Zionism as a revolutionary movement was quite properly morphing into a movement to support the country that it had helped bring into being.

    To be sure, the emergence of Jewish Israel was not quite so unexceptional as the emergence of other postwar states. Not only had Jews been deprived of their political sovereignty for almost two millennia, they had just been subjected to genocide in Europe. Whatever forces had combined to set them apart in the past could not be overcome in a single day or year. But, on the other hand, Israel could also claim more "rights" to its existence than virtually any other nation.

    There were, first of all, the Jews' ancestral rights to the Land of Israel, as laid down in the Hebrew Bible. Although the boundaries of the Promised Land were open to dispute, the promise itself had been registered in one of the most highly disseminated books in the world, the fount of three major religions. And Jews had always regarded the Land of Israel as their land, perpetually mourning its loss, observing its calendar and laws, praying in its direction, and frequently migrating to it over the centuries.

    For another thing, Jewish rights to the Land of Israel had been recognized by the League of Nations in 1922 and ratified by the United Nations General Assembly in 1947. For still another, the Zionist movement had purchased large tracts of land in Palestine, and on those lands successive waves of Jewish immigrants had established new communities and repopulated existing towns and cities; many had laid down their lives to "drain the swamps and make the desert bloom." Finally, in its role as the national home and refuge of world Jewry, the new state of Israel, still reeling from the losses of the 1948-9 war of independence, opened its doors to the most damaged survivors of Hitler's Holocaust and to Jews fleeing persecution from Arab lands—in this way, too, fulfilling dramatically its claim to national legitimacy.

    With the establishment of modern Israel, then, American Jews had joined every other immigrant group, including descendants of the Mayflower, in having somewhere out there a "native" homeland. Zionism transformed American Jews from a forever desperate immigrant community seeking refuge into an ethnic-religious minority with an "old-country home" like the Roman Catholic Italians or Irish. In 1964, the Israel Day parade in New York took its place alongside its Columbus and St. Patrick's Day counterparts. Leon Uris's novel Exodus (1958), extolling the rebirth of Israel, became the biggest American best-seller since Gone with the Wind.

    Zionism's realization in the state of Israel left American Jews sitting pretty. Recognition of Judaism as one of America's major religions, acceptance of Jewish studies as a normal part of a college curriculum, and tolerance of Jews by a growing majority of the American public—all these followed, directly or indirectly, from the demonstration that Jews now had a land of their own. Israel inspired sectors of Christian America to recognize their own affinities with Jews. Not least, political support for Israel also grew, eventually becoming one of the most unifying issues in the United States Congress.

    For Jews themselves, it sometimes even seemed that, thanks to Israel's emergence, the "great tasks that have united the Jewish people for the past hundred years and more are reaching their successful conclusion." So spoke the late political theorist Daniel Elazar on Israel's 50th anniversary in 1998, voicing the hope that Jews might now be free to devote themselves increasingly to "quality of life" issues rather than having to respond to crisis after national crisis. If that was indeed the case, then Zionism could be said to have well and truly completed its work.

    But the truth, of course, is otherwise. From the very beginning, what set Zionism apart from other national-liberation movements was its nemesis: anti-Zionism. Unlike every other new member state of the United Nations, from Algeria to Zimbabwe, Israel, from birth, had been denied its national legitimacy. The front-line deniers were the seven founding states of the Arab League, later joined by fifteen additional members. Refusing to accept the partition of Palestine as originally envisaged by the UN, or, after 1948, to resettle those Palestinian Arabs who had fled their homes in the war of independence, Arab leaders created the idea of a nakba—a Palestinian catastrophe. This, in a transparent effort to turn attention away from their own aggressive misdeeds, they laid at the feet of the Jews.

    In fact, the Palestinians formed a relatively small and fortunate group among the untold numbers of 20th-century refugees, having been displaced only several miles from their homes and to places where they shared the majority's culture and language. Nevertheless, in contrast to the 20 million refugees generated by the contemporaneous Pakistan-India conflict and Korean war, all of whom were resettled without being made to serve anyone else's political aims, they alone were consigned to permanent refugee status. Not content with the attempt to deny Jews their rightful land, Arab leaders compounded the aggression by accusing Jews of denying Palestinians theirs.

    Thus did an otherwise normal process of national self-emancipation become arrested in its infancy by the abnormal hostility directed against it. Arab "rejectionism"—defined by Daniel Pipes as the intent to destroy Israel—made not just the Jewish state but Jews everywhere politically idiosyncratic once again. And among the varied branches of the Jewish people, American Jews, then in the midst of their own relatively effortless integration into a democratic, pluralistic society, may have been caught the most unprepared.

    In its effects on political and psychological reality, the Arab war against Israel replicated the situation sketched by Jean-Paul Sartre in his 1946 study Rťflexions sur la question juive (the title in English is Anti-Semite and Jew). According to Sartre's scheme, the archetypal modern "anti-Semite," to whom liberal democracy is nothing but a Jewish conspiracy, cannot be reached by way of reason-based evidence, because his convictions are not based on fact and are not subject to argument. Facing this wall of antipathy, the "Jew," therefore, is forced to react in one of two ways: "authentically," by affirming and living his Jewish identity, or "inauthentically," by trying to squirm out of it. Sartre's portrait also includes a third party. This is the enlightened "democrat," who, although opposed in principle to the anti-Semite, pretends that the problem of anti-Semitism does not exist.

    The same three actors could be seen functioning in the post-1948 scenario, with the place of the anti-Semite taken by Arab and Muslim leaders whose opposition to Israel could not be mitigated or dislodged through reason, and the place of the democrat by Western leaders who did not want to antagonize the oil-rich Arabs by even so much as acknowledging the fact of their war against the Jews. As for the Jews, they too were in their place, confronted with the need either to defend Israel forthrightly or, implicitly or explicitly, to hold it responsible for causing the Arabs' aggression against it.

    Ignorant of Judaism, Sartre was mistaken in thinking that anti-Semitism was what made Jews Jewish. But he was right to insist that, so long as the Jewish body politic was under attack, no individual Jew could hope to avoid being implicated in the drama set in motion by this new form of state-sponsored anti-Semitism.

    Initially, Arab leaders threatening to drive the Jews of Israel into the sea borrowed freely from the racist rhetoric of Nazi Germany. By the early 70's, however, and mirroring the military alliance forged between the Arab and Soviet blocs, the terminology of anti-Zionism had begun to borrow much more from the Left than from the Right; its quintessential ideological expression was the 1975 UN resolution equating Zionism with racism. While this shift signified no essential change in the nature of Arab opposition to Israel, it made all the difference to the targeted Jews, who were vulnerable to it as they never were to charges from the Right.

    How so? By an irony of history, Hitler's Final Solution had fixed its own archetypal image of modern-day anti-Semitism: the image, in short, of Nazi storm troopers. "Holocaust education," a growing fashion by the 1970's, had hardened this connection in the popular mind. But Holocaust-education curricula, like the one tacitly propounded by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, inevitably suggest a happy ending: Hitlerism, after all, was crushed. The museum event went so far as to expunge from its exhibits virtually any reference to other contemporaneous expressions of anti-Semitism, whether the role played by the Palestinian Arab leader Haj Amin al-Husseini in Hitler's program of genocide or Stalin's anti-Jewish campaigns before and after World War II. By focusing on the only variety of anti-Semitism that went down to defeat, Holocaust education made it that much harder to confront new forms of anti-Semitism. Today, in an era of steadily mounting aggression both verbal and physical, it still does.

    The fixation on the Nazi model is not the only obstacle, however. Another has been the very success of America in encouraging full and equal participation of all in the country's national life. The movement of Jews into the middle and upper classes—an unalloyed blessing—exacted a price in communal solidarity and group cohesion. One consequence has been a diminished appetite among American Jews for fighting a hatred that does not seem to have them as its primary target. This is hardly to minimize the effectiveness of agencies like AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League, or the American Jewish Committee, or of media-monitoring and advocacy organizations, or of the commentators and intellectuals, many clustered around Commentary, who consistently rally support for Israel in America. Yet, as social scientists have long since observed, most American Jews continue to depart from the normal political pattern, habitually cleaving to a "universalist" agenda even when that agenda shows little or no concern for their proper concerns. Tellingly, George W. Bush's support for Israel garnered him no political payoff from American Jews.

    If some Jews ignore the escalating aggression against their people, others minimize the danger or blame its persistence on the alleged recalcitrance or bellicosity of their fellow Jews. In this vein, a new Jewish organization, J Street, targets the strongest defenders of Israel, including AIPAC, precisely because they strongly defend Israel (and thus supposedly rob it of its freedom to make diplomatic concessions). Needless to say, no other American minority works this way, much less one whose homeland remains under enemy fire. Sartre's scenario explains how the extreme nature of such enmity can itself create so anomalous a pattern of internal defection.

    A third impediment to the ongoing struggle for Israel is more specific: the legacy of anti-Zionism among Jews themselves. Opposition to Zionism at the beginning of the 20th century was common to several religious branches of Jewry, including the so-called ultra-Orthodox, who believed that only God could rightfully restore the Jews to Zion, and Reform, which in its own words considered Jews "no longer a nation, but a religious community." (The majority of both these groups eventually changed their views.) On the political front, revolutionary Marxists opposed Jewish nationalism in favor of the new internationalist order that was expected to form along class lines—in Lenin's view, anyone who directly or indirectly embraced the idea of a Jewish national culture was "an enemy of the proletariat, … an accomplice of the rabbis and the bourgeoisie." As for the Jewish Socialist Bund, it believed in furthering the cause of progressive politics in the communities where Diaspora Jews already lived.

    The Arab assault on Israel's legitimacy has reawakened some of these long-ago antagonisms, encouraging their reemergence in modern form. Although the most shocking exemplars of the phenomenon are surely the rabbis of Neturei Karta, a delegation of whom embraced Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the 2006 "conference" in Iran denying the Holocaust, much greater damage is caused by leftist Jews who identify objectively with the Arab cause. A concatenation of political forces similar to the one that forged the Arab-Soviet alliance at the United Nations in the 1960's and 1970's can be seen nowadays on American campuses. There, a loose coalition between Arab or Muslim students and leftists, many of the latter of whom are Jews, acts out a campaign of hostility whose origins lie in the teachings of Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky.

    In a recent essay, "Anti-Semitism and the Left that Doesn't Learn," Mitchell Cohen, the editor of the socialist quarterly Dissent, has warned his fellow leftists that their brand of anti-Zionism currently serves the same anti-liberal ends that it once did under Stalin. Cohen condemns the "fixation on Israel/Palestine within parts of the Left, often to the exclusion of all other suffering on the globe," and bemoans the extent to which leftist college students have been forced to choose between defending Israel and staying "progressive." Unfortunately, he seems not have noticed how some have resolved this difficulty—namely, by claiming to be supporting Israel while attacking it.

    (Ruth R. Wisse, the Martin Peretz professor of Yiddish and professor of comparative literature at Harvard, gave a version of this essay at a conference in May at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.)

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    Zionism Reflections of a Sometime Israel Lobbyist (Leonard Fein)
    Geplaatst door abby op Sunday 20 July @ 07:09:08 GMT+1 (2244 maal gelezen)

    (Introduction by Ami Isseroff of MidEastWeb for Coexistence and Zionism Israel Info Center)

    Reflections of a Sometime Israel Lobbyist
    speaks for many Jews, perhaps the silent majority, in expressing our attitudes toward Israel, anti-Zionism and the peace process. But in some ways Fein "doesn't get it." The big problem with Mearsheimer and Walt is not that they don't understand the "Jewish Massada Complex," but that much of their thesis is based on lies. Israel did not push the US into a war with Iraq, and Israel is a strategic asset to the U.S. Jimmy Carter, not a friend of Israel, did not ensure there would be a $3 billion annual aid package to Israel because of the "Israel Lobby." He did it to help ensure US presence and leverage in the Middle East. The "Israel Lobby" is not shutting up Walt and Mearsheimer or Jimmy Carter. Most Jews will not support groups that threaten the existence of Israel because they recognize that Israel is the best thing that happened to Jews in 2000 years, our single greatest achievement.

    Still, it is nice that at least some few of us still hope that the rightful place of Zionism is with progressivism, and that the rightful stance of the left is support for Israel. Not uncritical support, but certainly support for the right of the Jews to have a state of our own.

    If right wing extremists have coopted Zionism, that is in large part the fault of the Zionist left, who largely deserted the arena of defense of Israel, and handed the leadership of the Zionist movement to the right on a silver platter. Fein's article, with all its faults, is therefore a welcome step in the right direction.

    Ami Isseroff

    Reflections of a Sometime Israel Lobbyist

    HERE'S A SECRET, the kind we hardly acknowledge to ourselves.

    But first, you may be wondering who this "we" is, on whose behalf I am writing. In truth, I am not sure. Maybe it is the Jews. But the problem with "Jews" is - well, not all Jews are in on the secret. Or maybe it is the Zionists. But the problem with "Zionists" is that the word has come to seem musty, at best, and in these last several decades it has been appropriated by exclusivist fanatics. So let me spell it out: the "we" here means old-fashioned liberal Zionists, people who intuitively endorse the idea of a Jewish state, people who acknowledge that to secure the safety of that state and to ennoble its character are the compelling Jewish projects of our time, hence people who these days suffer considerable anxiety and are not strangers to disappointment. Things are not going very well, or even just average well.

    And what is the secret we hardly acknowledge? We are all for a two-state solution, we are eager to call a halt to Israel's expansion, to put an end to the settlement movement, to restore Israel's good name, to make almost any compromise consistent with the preservation of Israel's character as a Jewish state and its commitment to democracy. We are, in a word, "doves." But we don't trust the Palestinians; we worry about Iran; we haven't a clue about how you get from here to peace; we don't take America's support for granted; and even if we did, we are not exactly proud to have to depend on that support. We worry that Israel has taken multiple wrong turns, not only on the big question, its peace policy, but on a range of domestic issues as well—most notably, its increasingly inegalitarian economy (where it now ranks with the United States on disparities in income distribution); its corrupting entanglement of religion and state; the decline in the quality of its educational system; its manner of dealing with the 20 percent of its citizens who are Palestinian. We are dismayed by the extent of public corruption. In short, we fear that Israel is at risk both domestically and internationally.

    Now, none of that is secret. Psychic dissonance is hardly an unknown phenomenon. The secret is that because we are apprehensive, we are not entirely upset that "out there," in the public square, those who speak authoritatively on Israel's behalf - meaning, principally, AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations - are considerably more rigid, more hawkish, if you will, than we are.

    Which brings me, of course, to the curious case of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, who make a repeated point in their controversial book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, of the discrepancy between "official" Jewish pronouncements regarding American policy toward Israel and the consistent finding of public opinion surveys, which show that American Jews are considerably more dovish than those who speak in their name.

    Mearsheimer and Walt don't know the secret, meaning they don't know the Jews. They look at Israel and see the strongest military power in the region, a prosperous, high-tech economy, and they conclude that all the talk of Israel's vulnerability is merely hokum, clever propaganda intended to keep American aid at its (allegedly) wildly disproportionate level. The source of the propaganda, the explanation for the level of American aid? The Lobby. "The Lobby," in their view, is a social scientist's dream; it explains not only America's unconditional support for Israel, it explains everything. Two words, three syllables, and you have the key to the whole of the special relationship: you know why America invaded Iraq, you know why Camp David II failed, you know why both Congress and the administration are without spine in dealing with the chronic conflict between Israel and its neighbors. It's the lies the leaders of the Lobby have told and continue to tell us.

    What Mearsheimer and Walt miss (among many other things) is any understanding of the depths of apprehension currently experienced by the Zionist left. On any given day, in connection with any given episode, Israeli officials and much (but not all) of the pro-Israel activist community in the United States may, indeed, repeat the tired slogans, the inflated claims, the whole of the familiar litany of rationalization and justification: Israel is the only democratic state in the region, it faces implacable enemies, it is America's ally in the war on terrorism, its values and America's are the same, its response to threats to its security is measured - all dismissed by Mearsheimer and Walt as false pleadings. That may be true, but it is essentially irrelevant. Whether true or false (and it is at least partly true), the dismissal doesn't speak to Jewish apprehensions, shared fully by liberal Zionists. Our leaders may inflate, exaggerate, even lie; the lies of Israel's enemies are vastly larger. But neither lies nor truths are assessed by a dispassionate lie-detecting machine. They are assessed by people riddled with apprehension, and if there is any one word that captures the substance of the apprehension that word is "abandonment."

    For Jews, abandonment is an old, old story. The world may abandon Israel; Israel may abandon the Zionist dream. The project may fail. Look around, the portents are everywhere. There's a rush to disinvestment, a palpable abandonment. There are mainstream claims that Israel's own policies are the necessary and sufficient explanation of the conflict, that Israel is therefore the villain of the piece. And, for liberal Zionists especially, there's the growing fashion of Left alienation from Israel, sometimes (though not always) combined with romanticization of the Palestinians. Nathaniel Popper, a young journalist who works for the Forward, writes that when he reported to his friends on his recent visit to Israel, "they seized on my skepticism—of both the Palestinians and the Israelis - to rail against Zionism. Something snapped; I whipped to Israel's defense, summoning arguments I had heard at the pro-Israel conferences I attend for work." He does not add, but might well, that part of what snapped was his comfort with those friends, his ability to take for granted a roughly similar weltanschauung. Whiplash, and suddenly we are Israel's embattled defenders, perceived as imposters on the left, insufficiently dismissive of the parochial claims of the Jews. Where, then, do we belong?

    As if empathy for the Israelis precludes sympathy for the Palestinians. As if this is all a zero-sum game, as if Mr. Bush's gross "You are either with us or against us" were a sober appraisal not only of the battle with terrorism but also of the war between Israel and its neighbors - as if there's no place for qualification, for ambiguity, for nuance. As if there's no appreciation for tragedy.

    NADAV SAFRAN was a distinguished professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard.

    Born in Egypt, he'd lived in Israel (and fought in its War of Independence) before coming to the United States. His first major book, published in 1963, was The United States and Israel. In his preface to that book, Safran wrote, "I believe that fundamentally both Arabs and Jews have an unassailable moral argument. A person who cannot see how this is possible does not understand the essence of tragedy; much less does he realize that his position serves only to assure that the Palestine tragedy should have another sequel, and yet another."

    Safran was prescient. Exclusivists on both sides of the conflict have indeed brought on sequel after sequel, by now an ongoing calamity. It matters not at all which set of exclusivists is the more to blame, which less. What matters is that together they've come to own the crowded stage.

    There's Hamas, of course, in a class by itself. There are the settlers and their avid defenders. There are a handful of hard-line American Jewish organizations like the ZOA (Zionist Organization of America). And there are Nathaniel Popper's friends - presumably (I don't know Popper) people of the left - who have neither use for nor patience with the Jewish state. It's racist, it's militaristic, and it's an anachronism. Nationalism was never a good thing, and the Jews were supposed to know that.

    AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents are at most unwitting support personnel for the tedious drama. Nominally, they support a two-state solution, which—by definition—the exclusivists do not, and which by now has become the litmus test of a pro-peace (which means pro-Israel and pro-Palestine) stance. True, there are times when they and some right-leaning others set the bar so high that their endorsement of a two-state solution seems little more than lip service. But it is not helpful or accurate to lump them together as part of the exclusivist camp.

    THERE'S A dynamic here, worth attending to: where the left has closed the door to Israel, gone beyond tough criticism all the way to demonization, we are left out in the cold; we will have no truck with exclusivists, whether of the right or the left. But while we cannot, do not, will not dance with those who believe that pro-Zionist passion requires the suspension of critical judgment, we prefer the company of those who wish Israel well to the company of those who wish it ill, even though the course endorsed by those who wish it well seems to us too often mistaken.

    The left has a hard time with nationalism and is particularly irritated by Jewish nationalism. "Tribalism," they call it, and tribalism it sometimes is. Somehow, it is supposed that the Jews should know better, whether because we have so often in the past been victims of nationalism or because there's something awkward about people who have been comfortable living at the margins suddenly insisting that they have a fixed address and a fire in the fireplace or because nouveau powerful is no more attractive than nouveau riche or because statecraft is not a particular strength of a people of artists, scholars, merchants, a people with so pacific a history as ours. And look, they say, at what a mess the Zionists have made of things. Pacific? Only so long as they were not allowed to carry guns. Now, with guns, they become hunters.

    Well, look: though pocked with imperfections, some no cosmetics can mask, the record's hardly one of unrelieved bungling. There are grace notes galore and much to admire: freedom of speech, the rule of law, distinguished science, and an ongoing effort to balance the twin imperatives of the Jewish understanding—on the one hand, the claims of the tribe; on the other the claims of the whole world; on the one hand, the particular; on the other, the universal.

    And yet we know there's an urgency to boundaries; Esperanto doesn't work. Again and again, Hillel's questions are heard simultaneously, not sequentially, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me?" and "If I am only for myself, what am I?" Others may find contradiction here; we find enduring and productive tension.

    Some of us get it wrong all the time, opting either for radical universalism or for stultifying particularism. And all of us get it wrong some of the time. But we are held together (when we are) by memories of the dreams we have dreamed, of what it is supposed to be like: the swords into plowshares, the spears into pruning hooks, all under their own fig tree and none shall make them afraid.

    Is it necessarily the case that the moment you tie a rag to a branch and call it a flag, you become obsessed with your own narrowly defined interests and to hell with the others? There is that risk, as ample precedent makes clear. And Israel's destiny, in the end, may be to be a nation like all the other nations rather than the light unto the nations that the utopians imagined. In the Jewish tradition, there are two Jerusalems. In the heavenly Jerusalem, Moses teaches, David sings, Solomon dispenses wisdom; in the earthly Jerusalem, there are curses alongside the blessings, people shove in line and cheat on their income taxes, they laugh and hug and hate, grandeur and pettiness cohabit. The haunting question is how the two Jerusalems can be brought closer together.

    And maybe they cannot be, neither here nor anywhere. Or maybe they can be, but we are still off course somewhere in the desert. All we have learned so far is that being Jewish does not immunize against the baser appetites and the evil inclinations. And that hurts; we were taught to expect more and better. We had it figured out, what Max Weber called "the theodicy of disprivilege." How does an oppressed people explain its persecuted status? By imagining that it is morally advantaged. That is what we were taught, quite often explicitly: the oppression, the advantage. Now both seem remote. And though we still proclaim our unbending commitment to justice, we also whine a lot.

    Some of us have given up, dream dreams derived from other stories; others of us feel betrayed, thereby embittered; and there are those who take their cue from Anthony Burgess in his retelling of the Exodus story (Moses: A Narrative), when the people complained to Aaron: "And one said: 'I don't like this sort of talk at all. It's all blown up, like a sheep's stomach full of wind. Life is . . . life is what we see, smell, feel - the taste of a bit of bread, a mouthful of water, sitting at the door, watching the evening come on with the circling of the bats. The things you talk of are only in the mind. We are too old, I tell you, for this talk of common goals and purposes and journeys.'" Today life is no longer just the taste of a bit of bread or a mouthful of water; these days we have pastries and fine wines. These days, busy meeting with senior officials of the Defense Department to talk about Israel's pressing needs for this new weapons system or that, meeting over at State to make sure that Israel is not pressed too hard, meeting with Members of Congress to trade support for support - who has time or disposition for talk of purposes and journeys?

    THE ISRAEL LOBBY includes all those who, because they take neither Israel nor America's support for Israel for granted, because they remain haunted, prowl the corridors of American power to press the case for "the special relationship." And yes, they are powerful, albeit not nearly so powerful as their critics contend. And yes, power, as Acton taught, corrupts. But we know that impotence is even more corrupting. And the strange truth is that we feel both powerful and powerless at the same time. That is how we see ourselves and that is how we see the Jewish state, and that is also how the Israelis see themselves and their nation. We were slaves unto Pharaoh in Egypt and we have known pharaohs ever since; underneath our designer costumes we wear a shroud.

    FOR SOME OF US, that means that even with the Land, we still remain in Exile, Exile as an existential condition rather than a geographic space. All the pastries and the fine wines cannot erase our tortured wisdom; though rich, we are not comfortable. We are imprisoned both by our memories and by the world's disorder. Our only remedy is to remain prisoners of hope as well, to remember not only yesterday but also tomorrow, the promised tomorrow.

    The world of the lobbyists, by and large, is less fragmented. They have learned to work the system; in some ways, they have become the system. If that were a crime, they would be guilty. But it is not a crime. The argument cannot be whether there should be a lobby or whether, once there is a lobby, it is entitled to be powerful. Those are the givens of the system.

    So the argument is really about the means by which the lobby maintains its power and the ends to which it devotes that power. The broadest statement of the lobby's purpose is that it seeks to preserve and enhance the special relationship between Israel and the United States. That relationship has deep and diverse cultural and historical roots; it is not an artifact of which the lobby is the author. AIPAC (and the others) work within a hospitable context; the engine of its power is a vast and devoted grassroots constituency.

    And what of the liberal Zionists? Chiefly Americans for Peace Now, the Israel Policy Forum, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom—we also lobby, and just as energetically, albeit with considerably more limited resources. Pound for pound, we may even be as effective, as powerful one might say, as the others, but we are welterweights. We do what we can to promote a genuine two-state solution and to reverse those policies of the Israeli government—settlements especially though not exclusively—that stand in its way, thereby evoking rebuke and sometimes condemnation from the mainstream. We insist that "pro-Israel" has many shades of meaning and cannot be a term reserved for the most hawkish of Israel's supporters. We persist in our love of Zion, thereby evoking rebuke and sometimes contempt from erstwhile and natural allies on the left. We believe that classical Jewish values and current Israeli interests are of a piece and, with Seamus Heaney, that one day "hope and history will rhyme."

    Leonard Fein is a Boston-based writer and teacher, a regular columnist for the Forward, founding editor of Moment magazine, and a member of the board of Americans for Peace Now.

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    Zionism Anti-Zionism as a form of racism (Bradley Burston)
    Geplaatst door abby op Tuesday 19 February @ 00:42:14 GMT+1 (2201 maal gelezen)

    Anti-Zionism as a form of racism 
    By Bradley Burston, Haaretz Correspondent
    A Special Place in Hell - Haaretz 18/02/2008

    It has been a staple of public discourse for decades, that those who criticize Israel specifically because they love the country and believe in the more lofty and challenging and just of its ideals, are routinely pilloried for it, berated by rightists as self-haters and anti-Semites and destroyers of Zionism.

    Now meet a refreshing new phenomenon - bashing and negation of those same critics of Israel, but this time, the attacks are coming from Palestinians, other Arabs and Muslims, and their allies on the European ultra-left.

    The message is: We don't care what you think, we don't care what causes you care about and advance, we don't even care if you think just like we do - You're Israelis, and that's good enough for us - in fact, bad enough for us - reason enough, in short, to boycott you.

    We've seen it in the serial boycott obsession of elements of the British intelligentsia, who essentially seek to penalize and punish Israeli colleagues for little more than the original sin of being Israeli. It matters not at all to the boycott-bent if many of their targets are on-site leaders in the struggle for Israeli-Palestinian peace and reconciliation.

    Yes, we've come a long way from UN resolution 3379, adopted in late 1975, the declaration which determined that "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination."

    Now we have Anti-Zionism as a form of racism.

    Actually, the clue to understanding the phenomenon may lie in the wording of the resolution itself, which included an explicit endorsement of the "elimination" of Zionism alongside "recognition of the dignity of peoples and their right to self-determination."

    The bottom line, of course, is that the very idea of a movement to found and foster a Jewish state is illegitimate, and, by very short extension, such a state in the Holy Land - or anywhere, for that matter - has by definition no right to exist.

    Though the resolution died a formal death when it was revoked in 1991, some of its spirit lives on. The most obvious and most widespread form is the rise of Islamist ideology, which in its most radical forms explicitly views the Jewish people in the Holy Land - and even in places like Buenos Aires - as a cancerous presence and a preferred target.

    In its more subtle forms, the resolution lives on in such phenomena as the recent response to a decision by the organizers of the Turin International Book Fair to declare Israel as its guest of honor.

    In an initial salvo, The New York Times reported, a local pro-Palestinian group "stormed the book fair offices in Turin, demanding that the invitation to Israel be rescinded."

    They distributed leaflets reading "We are appalled to see the world of culture take the side of those who methodically operate to annihilate Palestine and the Palestinians."

    It mattered not at all that among the authors to be most prominently featured at the fair are David Grossman, Amos Oz, and A. B. Yehoshua, writers closely identified with the search for peace with the Palestinians and for an Israel more closely committed to equality, democracy and human rights.

    In a further move to underscore the idea that the only good Israeli is an absent Israeli, Swiss Muslim academic and activist Tariq Ramadan and British-Pakistani author Tariq Ali, along with Italian ultra-leftists are calling for a boycott of the entire event, slated to coincide with May commemorations of the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel.

    Perhaps most remarkable in the Book Fair controversy - and the most direct recognition of the inherent racism on the part of the boycott proponents - has been the response of a group of more than 30 Italian intellectuals and artists. In an open letter, they called on Italian President Giorgio Napolitano to preside over the opening of the fair, and to speak out "against any discrimination and blind intolerance towards the citizens and culture of Israel."

    Where does the line fall between legitimate criticism of Israeli policies on the one hand, and a racist anti-Zionism on the other? There is, in fact, such a line.

    It is racist to suggest that all peoples have a right to self-determination in the land of their ancestors, with the exception of the Jews.

    It is racist to maintain that Muslim historic and religious claims to Jerusalem and the Holy Land are absolute and date to antiquity, and at the same time to negate and dismiss Jewish historic and religious claims, to call Jews interlopers and usurpers and carpetbaggers in the land of their Bible, which is a sacred reference for Muslims as well.

    It is racist to declare Zionism as an evil before which all other evils in the world pale, and to argue that any act of violence against non-combatants is justified in the service of defeating Zionism.

    It is racist to take Israel and only Israel to task for its shortcomings in the areas of civil equality, sharing of resources, and the search for peace, while keeping silent or even taking pains to legitimize the same failures on the part of the countries and peoples one happens, as blindly as a pre-pubescent football fan, to support.

    To seek to silence and boycott Israelis as Israelis is to violate human rights and acts, in the process, to undermine the cause of the Palestinians.

    Fighting fire with fire is a tactic which, despite its dangers, often succeeds. Fighting racism with racism is a tactic which, despite its allure to the hothead, never does.

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    Zionism Palestine: The longest occupation in the world (Ami Isseroff)
    Geplaatst door abby op Monday 23 April @ 04:01:37 GMT+1 (3433 maal gelezen)

    Aanstaande dinsdag viert Israël conform de Joodse kalender haar onafhankelijkheid, die werd uitgeroepen op 14 mei 1948. De Palestijnen herdenken op 15 mei (de Gregoriaanse kalender volgend) de Nakba, ofwel catastrofe, waarmee die stichting voor hun gepaard ging. Voor hun eigen aandeel daarin is helaas zelden ruimte, en de dag is vooral aanleiding om Israëls bestaansrecht ter discussie te stellen of te ontkennen. In toenemende mate gaan ook Westerlingen mee in dat narratief, en stellen Zionisme gelijk aan expansionisme, agressie, apartheid en onderdrukking. Het positiefste dat men over Zionisme weet te zeggen is meestal dat het een beweging was die de arme Joden na de Holocaust een veilig onderdak verschafte. Het Zionisme had voor de Joden echter een veel diepere betekenis:

    was founded as the national movement of the Jews. The word "Zionism" was coined by Nathan Birnbaum, before the first Zionist congress, but the idea of Jewish return to Israel was as old as the Diaspora, and proto-Zionists began settling the land and talking and writing about return long before Birnbaum coined the term. Zionism arose because Jews understood that they could not exist long as a people in a modern world of nation states without their own land.

    Naar aanleiding van Onafhankelijkheidsdag een verfrissend artikel van Ami Isseroff dat laat zien dat de historische band van de Joden met Palestina lange tijd door veel Christenen en ook Moslims werd erkend. De realisatie van de staat Israel heeft dit veranderd, en anti-Zionisme is momenteel een van de grootste bedreigingen voor Israël.


    22.04. 2007
    Original content copyright by the author
    Zionism & Israel Center http://zionism-israel.com

    Supporters of the Palestinian cause claim that the occupation of Palestine is the longest occupation in the world. Surely, they are right. Palestine was occupied for nearly 2,000 years. The only people who ever established a sovereign nation in this part of the world, and a unique civilization, were cast out into the deserts of Arabia and the Ghettos of Europe, degraded and persecuted. There, our ancestors lived as second class citizens, or died at the hands of their persecutors, for almost a hundred generations.

    For most of this period, the historic connection of the Jews to our land was almost universally recognized and understood by Christian and Muslim alike, though Christian replacement theology insisted that the inheritance of the land had been taken from the Jews as punishment.

    Since the publication of the Protestant translations of the Bible in the 16th century, the historic right of the Jews to their homeland became evident to most Christians, in accordance with their own beliefs. The restoration of the Jews was a beloved project of nineteenth century American and British statesmen, theologians and dreamers. Numerous American presidents including Abraham Lincoln spoke out in favor of the rights of the Jews in Palestine.

    Muslims and Arabs also understood the rights of the Jews in Palestine. The Emir Feisal, son of Sherif Hussain and later King of Iraq, indicated the willingness of Arabs to welcome Jews to Palestine, and implicitly recognized that the land of Israel is the historic homeland of the Jews. He wrote to Justice Frankfurter at the Paris peace conference in 1919:
    I want to take this opportunity of my first contact with American Zionists to tell you what I have often been able to say to Dr. Weizmann in Arabia and Europe.

    We feel that the Arabs and Jews are cousins in having suffered similar oppressions at the hands of powers stronger than themselves, and by a happy coincidence have been able to take the first step towards the attainment of their national ideals together.

    We Arabs, especially the educated among us look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. Our deputation here in Paris is fully acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist Organisation to Peace Conference, and we regard them as moderate proper. We will do our best, in so far as we are concerned, to help them through: we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home. (emphasis added)

    With the chiefs of your movement, especially with Dr. Weizmann, we have had and continue to have the closest relations. He has been a great helper of our cause, and I hope the Arabs may soon be in a position to make the Jews some return for their kindness. We are working together for a reformed and revived Near East, and our two movements complete one another. The Jewish movement is national and not imperialist. Our movement is national and not imperialist, and there is room in Syria for us both. Indeed I think that neither can be a real success without the other.
    There are still not a few Muslims who support the cause of the Jews in our own land.

    The establishment of Israel in 1948 was the fulfilment of an historic desire, an age-old dream of many Christians as well as Jews. The longest occupation in the world had ended.

    The Jews unfortunately had recited "Next Year in Jerusalem" for so long, and with so little result, that some among us no longer believed the words they were saying. Others were reluctant to accept our good fortune as reality, after so many bitter disappointments and setbacks. But the flame of national feeling had not died in the hearts of most of the Jewish people.

    How sad it is, that after the achievement of this dream of one hundred generations, the world is suddenly being made to forget what it once believed, and to deny what it took for granted not so long ago! The Arabs, far from wishing the Jews a hearty welcome home, gave us many twenty one gun salutes, with loaded guns. The kindness of Weizmann to the Arabs was returned by rioters incited by the Grand Mufti, Hajj Amin Al Husseini. Failing to destroy Israel with guns, the Arabs enlisted anti-Zionists and the USSR to claim that Zionism is racism, Zionism is a colonialist movement, and more recently, to conduct a concerted campaign to erase the historic right of the Jews to Israel (or "Palestine") from the collective memory of the world.

    This campaign is being conducted on many fronts and in many ways. The first and most subtle challenge to Jewish rights was the thesis that Israel was created only as a shelter for persecuted Jews or that it was created as the result of the Holocaust. It is evident for example, in this misleading and inaccurate definition of Zionism, which seems harmless at first:

    A Jewish movement that arose in the late 19th century in response to growing anti-Semitism and sought to reestablish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Modern Zionism is concerned with the support and development of the state of Israel.

    This is a definition that most people would accept, but it is not entirely correct. Zionism was founded as the national movement of the Jews. The word "Zionism" was coined by Nathan Birnbaum, before the first Zionist congress, but the idea of Jewish return to Israel was as old as the Diaspora, and proto-Zionists began settling the land and talking and writing about return long before Birnbaum coined the term. Zionism arose because Jews understood that they could not exist long as a people in a modern world of nation states without their own land.

    From the argument that Israel was founded as a refuge for Jews from anti-Semitic persecution, it is a short jump to a pernicious claim. The word "reestablish" in the above definition is changed to "establish" and the historic tie of the Jews with Israel and with Jerusalem is erased. This becomes the basis for the argument that the Arabs and Muslims should not have to "pay for the sins of Europe," and to the argument that "Nakba," as they call it, of the Palestinian Arabs, was another "Holocaust" created by attempts to redress the wrongs done to the Jews. Consequently, Israel Independence day is turned from a day of celebration to a day of mourning. The Arabs of Palestine created their own Nakba when they, along with the Arab states, tried to destroy the Jewish state, rather than accepting it alongside their own state. The Arab refugees of 1948 were no more victims than the Germans of the Sudetensland who tried to destroy Czechoslovakia.

    That is one sort of attack on the legitimacy of the Jewish state. The "Apartheid Israel" campaign popularized by Jimmy Carter's Apartheid book is a second approach. Along with the idea that Israel was created as a refuge for the Jews, and a special favor granted by the Christian world out of their magnanimity, Carter ignores Zionism almost entirely and portrays Israel primarily as the "homeland" of Jesus and Christianity, but he doesn't deny the rights of Jews to a homeland in our own country. However, the apartheid campaign itself was created explicitly with the intent of promoting the idea that Zionism is an evil ideology, equivalent to the white supremacism of South Africa.

    At the same time, there is a constantly growing din of voices in the Jewish community, led by anti-Zionists, who use "legitimate criticism of Israel" as a slogan to cover their real intent. Their ideological position and their agitation has nothing to do with the occupation and did not arise because of it. The people who are running this campaign are not going to stop at Hebron or Ariel or even East Jerusalem. They want "Palestine" from the river to the sea. In less public venues, they do not hide their goals at all, explaining at their conferences that the occupation issues and the "apartheid" campaign are just gimmicks to delegitimize Zionism.

    In masking themselves as "peace" groups or groups that advocate democracy, anti-Zionists have set up dangerous traps both for those Zionists who oppose the occupation and for advocates of Greater Israel. Those who oppose the occupation are tempted to form alliances with anti-Zionists with the best intentions. They may join the bandwagon in order to demonstrate their loyalty to "progressive" causes. They become dupes aiding in their own destruction. The Greater Israel advocates can fall into the trap by vociferously insisting on unrealistic goals and military solutions, providing the "proof" that the anti-Zionists use to show that "Zionism" is identical with "Greater Israel" and with "colonialism," and is opposed to peace.

    This is a campaign to erase the historic tie of the Jewish people to our land and to break the foundations of the recognized right of the Jewish people to a state in Israel. It is potentially the ultimate threat to Israel and to the existence of our people as a nation. If it succeeds, it will destroy Israel with much more certainty, and more completely and permanently, than the genocidal terrorists of the Hezbollah and the Hamas, or even the nuclear threats of the Iranians.

    If Israel is destroyed or becomes a "secular democratic state," then in the best case, the Jews will return to being a religious sect or ethnic group, living as guests at the mercy of all the nations of the world, including the Arab masters of "Palestine." It is doubtful, however, that a dispersed group of this type could long survive as a group, especially after the blow dealt to Judaism by the Holocaust. A remnant might survive in isolated communities that maintain the medieval traditions that are no longer relevant to modern life. Nothing would be left of the Jews but groups such as the Neturei Karteh. Remember, Zionism arose because Jews understood that they could not exist long as a people in a world of modern nation states without their own land. Anti-Zionism can destroy the Jewish people if it succeeds.

    As we celebrate the anniversary of the end of the longest occupation in the world, we must remember: Fighting the delegitimization of Israel and the denial of the right to self determination to the Jewish people is the most important task of every Zionist organization, regardless of political differences about the occupation, peace negotiations, or any other consideration.

    Happy Yom Haatzmaut!

    Ami Isseroff

    Original content is Copyright by the author 2007. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000376.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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    Zionism I am a Zionist and a progressive (Ameinu)
    Geplaatst door abby op Friday 06 April @ 03:32:49 GMT+1 (3264 maal gelezen)


    Reclaiming the Z Word ...or why I can care about my own people and others at the same time

    By Christopher MacDonald-Dennis, Ed.D.

    When I identify myself publicly as a Zionist, I often get asked the same question: "you are a what?" Generally the person knows that I subscribe to a left-wing world view and is frankly stymied. Their image of a Zionist is a right-wing jingoist who claims that Israel is perfect and that the situation she is in is the fault of only the Palestinians or the larger Arab world. They are incredulous and often take a step back as if they are seeing me for the first time.

    Yes, Virginia, there are progressive Zionists.

    Many people will ask why I want to utilize a term that is synonymous with reactionary and racist to many. Zionism, for those who automatically think of the right-winger described above, is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. Zionists come in many stripes, including cultural Zionists, labor Zionists, and revisionist Zionists to name but a few. By using that moniker, I do not claim to follow any political line. However, I do firmly stand for one thing: the need for a Jewish homeland.

    Too often, some on the left characterize Zionists as frothing racists who hate Palestinians and want to oppress others. Many also view Zionism incorrectly as an attempt to reclaim biblical Israel. I am not the type of Zionist who harbors triumphalist visions of greater Israel. Although I am a religious Jew, my Zionism is as secular as that of the original Zionists.

    Most people have no idea that there has historically been a diversity of opinion among Zionists. Some were binationalists, hoping for a utopian country in which Jews and Palestinian Arabs lived together in harmony. I like to think that, had I been alive in the 1920's, I would have been a binationalist hoping for a united Palestine, a la Herzl's Altneuland.

    Of course we know that all offers for this type of nation were rejected, as was a two-state solution. I do not state this to point fingers and to demonize others. I say this because, as a Zionist, I have been frustrated by the fact that many people do not know the history of the conflict and automatically blame Israel for the lack of peace. Yes, Israel and Zionism have made mistakes in the past, just as all national liberation movements have. Look at the history of decolonization of Africa to see that countries which often had a bright future often make some horrible mistakes.

    As a Zionist, I look at the Jewish community as my people. I will not distance myself from right-wing Zionists in order to curry favor with others. I know that the dynamic of "good Jew/bad Jew" has been used throughout our history to divide us. I will struggle with my more conservative brothers and sisters so that they may see why my views will bring about justice and security but I do it from a place of love. I detest the Occupation and yes, I call it an Occupation. I mourn the times in which we have said we were committed to peace and had no intention of it. But I shall struggle with right-wing Zionists, non-Zionists and others who want to constructively engage in finding peace to solve this conflict. However, I strongly believe that there are many reasons that there is not peace; but Israel is only one actor in this drama. Israel cannot and should not take the entire brunt of the blame.

    I am a Zionist because, while as a progressive I am ambivalent about nationalism, I realize that the nation-state is the way that humans are currently organizing themselves. I am a Zionist because I love the idea of the various Jewish ethnicities living together after thousands of years. Mizrahim, Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Asian Indian Jews, Beta Israel of Ethiopia, as well as others learning to be a Jewish people together. Interestingly, those who live in Israel, a multiethnic Jewish state, have never questioned how someone named Chris MacDonald-Denis could be a Jew, unlike the never-ending questions I get in the U.S.

    I am a Zionist because of my reading of Jewish history and oppression. I want the Jewish people to survive and thrive. Historians have counted the number of Jews living in the Roman empire two thousand years ago and, using demographic analysis of the people with which we lived throughout the centuries, postulated that there should be 250 to 300 million Jews in the world. However, there are approximately 14 million of us now. Genocide, forced conversion, and oppression have dwindled our numbers. I do not believe that Zionism is supposed to mean the end of the Diaspora or that Zionism is the natural culmination of our history. However, a homeland at peace with its neighbors would allow the Jewish people to flourish.

    Alex Stein recently made a brilliant point when he stated that the classic dichotomy in the contemporary Jewish world is between particularity and universality. Jews have fought over the notion that one should not be too particularist (I care about Jews as a group) or too universalist (I care about all groups of people except for Jews). As a progressive Zionist, I do not see that there has to be a choice. I agree with Stein when he states that as a Zionist, his primary concern is for the citizens of Israel (he is Israeli) and for Jews all over the world but also cares for others as well. He uses the analogy that caring for your family does not preclude you from being concerned with the well-being of your neighbors.

    I am also identifying publicly as a Zionist because it bothers to have others define me. Instead of asking what Zionism means to me, many people will tell me what Zionism is. Of course these are the same people who would never tell me how to identity as a gay man (queer? Same-genderloving? Gay?) or as a Latino (Hispanic? By country of origin?) Why as a Jew and as Zionist do I get this basic respect taken away? This piece is my statement that I will not be defined by others. I am loudly and proudly Zionist.

    The editor of Ha'aretz, Bradley Burston, in his recent piece about "coming out" as a Zionist, summed up my feelings about being a progressive Zionists better than I ever could:

    "I believe that a Jewish country need not be racist. I believe that a Jewish country must not be racist.

    I believe that Jews have every right to a state of their own, no less than the Palestinians. I believe that the Palestinians have every right to a state of their own, no less than the Jews.

    I believe that if one side denies the other the right to a state, it does direct and permanent harm to both peoples.

    I believe that in a world in which there are dozens of Islamic countries, some of which cannot abide the corporeal presence of the Jew, there is room for one Jewish one.

    I believe that in a world in which the flags of 13 nations bear a cross, the flag of one nation can bear a Star of David.

    I believe that the process of dividing and sharing the Holy Land will be agonizing for both peoples.

    I believe that the process of forgiveness will be painful, in some ways cruel. I believe that it will be next to impossible.

    I also believe that it will happen.

    I believe that a time will come when the sides will come to recognize what each has been saying to the other - often in the worst possible ways - for a lifetime now:

    We're here. That's final. Get used to it."

    I am a Zionist and a progressive. In fact, I am a Zionist because I am a progressive. I want self- determination for all peoples of the world, including my own. I simply want a Jewish state, living in peace among and in cooperation with her neighbors. Amos Oz, one of the few voices of sanity in a shrill and ugly conflict, states that there will be painful concessions on both sides. As he says, the problem is that this conflict is one of right meets right. I want Israel to live side by side in security and justice with a vibrant Palestine. I desperately want to find those willing to pull up his or her sleeves and make peace a reality. In all of this, however, I do it as a Zionist.

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    Zionism Three students on taking back Zionism (McGill Daily)
    Geplaatst door abby op Saturday 24 March @ 16:27:53 GMT+1 (3062 maal gelezen)

    Three Jewish students from a Canadian university explain what Zionism means to them.


    Taking back Zionism
    Jonathan Leibtag, the President of Hillel-McGill, argues that Israel’s critics unfairly define Zionism in terms of only politics and conflict. It’s more than that.

    In my experience as a pro-Israel activist on campus, I have come to notice a trend in the discussion of Zionism; its ideology is increasingly associated solely with politics and conflict, a reductionism which obscures the true aims of the movement.

    Zionism is about more than uniting the Jewish people around the idea of a Jewish homeland. For one thing, it encompasses the tradition of Jewish social justice and responsibility extolled in the Hebrew phrase Tikkun Olam, literally translated as “repairing the world.” Yet such aspects of Zionism are often ignored, and as a result, any connection to Israel is often looked down upon. This limited understanding and negative perception undermines any chance of honest debate.

    Politically constructed issues, such as “Israel as an Apartheid state,” immediately force Israel’s advocates on the defensive. As a result, the observers of such debate – McGill students included – envision a David versus Goliath conflict with Israel as the aggressor. It’s an uneven playing field from the onset of debate.

    The product of misconception

    There are many students on campus who feel a strong connection to Israel and define themselves as Zionists. How can it be that so many people love, and are active in, something that is portrayed as so negative? The answer lies in what Zionism is, rather than what it is not. Although people see Israel as an issue of conflict and politics, it is not politics (and surely not conflict) that connects people to the land. Israel is much more, and its contributions extend beyond its borders. This is manifested in the work of numerous Israel-based programs that see the need to contribute to the global community as part of the responsibility of the Jewish state. For example, the Jerusalem-based non-profit Tevel b’Tzedek runs a three-month program that integrates study and service internships in social and environmental justice programs in the developing world. Tevel b’Tzedek is as much a Zionist program as it is humanitarian, marrying the Jewish tradition of social justice with frontline work in slum rehabilitation and environmental degradation.

    At Hillel, we have been trying to focus on these unseen aspects of Zionism as we attempt to escape the skewed frameworks of debate which have developed across campuses. To be sure, Hillel continues to confront pro-Palestinian groups that we see as fostering a misrepresentation of Israel – but this is not at the core of our actions. I went out and asked students about how they feel connected to Zionism. I asked these students what they do in the name of Zionism based on their connection to the land.

    Their answers:

    I was fortunate enough to spend the past year volunteering in Israel, a country I feel has given me so much. I have lived in Jerusalem, the holy city of some of the world’s major religions. I have become part of the immigrant community of Bat Yam, where I taught English to little kids and cared for mentally disabled adults. I have worked alongside paramedics of Israel’s national ambulance service and now I am going to help rebuild parts of the country devastated by war this past summer.

    What is it about this tiny country that continues to fuel my deepest convictions? Maybe it is the fact that the Israeli people are simply unlike any other people on the planet. Where else could I sit down on a bus and have a woman I have never met before plop her baby down on my lap, invite me to dinner, and even give me her phone number in case I ever need anything? Where else in the world could that happen on more than one occasion?

    Israelis are a rare breed, and their sense of community is astonishing. Every Friday evening (the Jewish Sabbath), you cannot take more than ten steps in Jerusalem without being asked if you have a place to eat for dinner. It is this sense of community that has inspired me to volunteer as I have.

    At midnight one evening, an oil tanker overturned on a major highway, leaving thousands of travelers stranded. After about an hour, people became antsy, but instead of complaining they started blasting music and pulled out their barbecues. Suddenly this antsy group of strangers became a community united; united in frustration, but a community nonetheless. Somehow, the Israeli nation is a family. And I’m lucky enough to feel a part of it.

    – Hartlee Zuker (U0)

    My Zionism has always been a process of reclamation. From a very young age, I have been aware of the negative associations with Zionism. I have also seen, with equal disappointment, the reactions to this disapproval from the mainstream Jewish community. Each side seems to cling to its own ideology without any desire to get to the root of the conflict.

    Luckily, I found progressive Zionism. The words progressive and Zionism may seem incompatible, but that’s what progressive Zionism is all about: breaking down false dichotomies. We understand that both sides are hurting and angry, but the solution to this must be understanding and dialogue, not binary opposition. The progressive Zionist community recognizes the history of both Arabs and Jews and the historical and contemporary necessity for both to have a state.

    Before coming to McGill, I lived in a 30-person commune associated with my progressive Zionist youth movement, Habonim Dror. Each year, our movement sends about 250 gap-year volunteers from 20 different countries to work in Israeli and Arab schools to teach English and lead programs that stress mutual respect. At Habonim Dror, we aim to change the hate-filled education on both sides and start working toward peace through dialogue. That is how I did my part and exercised my Zionism.

    Zionism does not have to be a dirty word. I hope that one day Israel and Palestine will both be progressive autonomous states that have equal rights for all of their citizens and are both seen as a “light unto the nations.” Hope can only get me so far though. I will continue to work for the rest of my life to reclaim the word Zionism.

    – Paul Gross (U1)

    Growing up as one of few Jewish children in Nova Scotia, I was encouraged to love Israel not only as the backbone of the Jewish people, but also as a place where Jews from across the globe could find comfort. This was reassuring for someone who was always the only Jewish kid in his class, embarrassed every year when his mom came to talk about Hanukah and hand out latkes. But even with this inculcated admiration, it was not until last year that I truly developed a passion for Israel.

    Last May I traveled with a small group of Canadian Jews to Ethiopia. Our mission was to accompany a group of Ethiopian Jews as they traveled to Israel. Many of these Falas Mura, as they are called in Amharic, had sold all of their possessions to reach the compounds of the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee, with the hope of passing all the required steps to reach Israel. Many wait five to fifteen years to complete the process.

    It was quite an experience to meet our group of 90 Ethiopians. After years of waiting, their faces were drained of emotion, but fear of losing the long awaited dream still blazed in their eyes – probably because many of their Jewish countrymen, having heard stories of Israel as a land of opportunity and fulfillment, perished while traveling to Israel through war torn Sudan years before.

    The most touching moment occurred when, exhausted and relieved, they were handed Israeli flags. I saw that each person gripped the small plastic flag tighter than the last. I was glad to have helped them reach their promised land.

    – Eric Goldberg (U1)

    Israel is!

    These students have defined their Zionism and their connection to the land of Israel. To Hartlee, it is a sense of community; to Paul, it is the “breaking down of false dichotomies;” and to Eric, it is humanitarian action. These students have shown that Zionism can be a call to action – a call for compassion, community, and initiative. Zionism is more than merely politics and conflict. For McGill students to gain a better understanding of Zionism, they must be willing to view it as an encompassing concept.


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    Zionism Zionist Unity: A Manifesto (Ami Isseroff)
    Geplaatst door abby op Sunday 22 October @ 00:43:04 GMT+1 (2151 maal gelezen)



    I have discovered another evil aspect of the "Zionist conspiracy." The campaign of anti-Zionists to portray Israel as a villainous illegitimate state, and paint Zionism as evil, owes a great part of its success to the Zionists.

    A dangerous and destructive dynamic has evolved within the Zionist movement, motivated by differences of opinion over the fate of the "territories," and differences of approach to solving the Palestinian problem. In the process it was forgotten that we are all Zionists. That is, we all support the national revival of the Jewish people and the right of our people to self determination, and we all will pay dearly for erroneous policy decisions, foolhardy risks and missed opportunities.

    The average Jewish person in Israel or abroad may think somewhat like this:
    "I love Israel as I love myself. If it were only possible, I would like to be smart, rich and handsome or beautiful. I would also like Israel to be safe, and to be as large as needed to comfortably contain all the Jews who want to live there and to include all the sites that are dear in the national memory of the Jewish people. However, I understand real-world constraints: the limitations of military force, the need to make peace with Israel's Arab neighbors, and the pressure of the United States and other countries. I am not happy about the brutality incidental to Israeli settlement and military presence in these areas. On the other hand, I fully appreciate the evil intentions of the Hamas, the Hezbollah, and similar organizations, as well as the obvious fact that given the choice, the Arabs, and especially the Palestinians would like a Palestinian state to replace Israel, in the same way that we might fantasize about a greater and greater Israel.

    Therefore we must pursue a judicious and pragmatic policy, choosing the best course between often unappetizing alternatives, while at the same time upholding the right of Israel and the Jewish people to exist, and resisting racist anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic propaganda.
    Unfortunately, the hypothetical average Jewish person is not well represented in the different Zionist political and action groups. On the one hand, there is a strident Greater Israel lobby, that discredits and excoriates "leftists" at every opportunity, and claims to speak in the name of "Zionism." Anyone who does not agree to Jewish presence in Hebron or Gaza finds themselves branded a traitor. This animus began by targeting the extreme left of Israeli and Jewish politics, a tiny minority of anti-Zionists. It is now often extended to include Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and other Israeli government leaders. The Zionist right has alienated a sizeable number of Jews from Zionism by insisting that if you are Zionist, you have to support Greater Israel. In the United States, it often insists on being more "pro-Israel" than the Israeli government. For example, the AIPAC lobby lobbied against Israeli policy, trying to scuttle US aid to moderate Palestinians who are considered by the Israeli government to be essential allies against the Hamas. It is one thing to air policy differences in Zionist forums. It is quite another to try to intervene with a foreign government against the policies of the state of Israel. How can a "pro-Israel" movement be sabotaging the policies of the Israeli government?

    On the other hand, there is a vociferous "anti-occupation" lobby that is in large part Zionist, but which constantly and single-mindedly inveighs against the "occupation" in a way that discredits not only the occupation, but all of Zionism and Israel, and sometimes Judaism as well. It echos and amplifies all the shibboleths of the anti-Zionist conspiracy. Occasionally, its adherents will wake up to reality and be horrified to find themselves surrounded in their struggle by "comrades" who are anti-Semites as well as anti-Zionists. The Zionist or "pro-Israel" left has alienated mainstream Jewish opinion by siding with the enemy on more than one occasion and using their slogans. Rabbi Lerner of Tikkun got himself arrested for advocating an "international force" at the height of the Intifadah. This policy was the policy of Yasser Arafat, who wanted this force as a shield that would allow terrorist violence to continue unmolested by the IDF. The "pro-Israel" Brit Tzedek v'Shalom group tried to lobby congress against the Israeli security fence, claiming it is a "land grab." These groups raise the banner of "compassion," but show little compassion for fellow Jews and Israelis. The net effect of their efforts is often to aid the propaganda of anti-Zionists, who are usually glad to accept their help. They have no effect on Israeli policy or mainstream Zionist thinking, because they have put themselves outside the Zionist movement.

    When Israel and Zionism and their supporters were subjected to a vicious campaign of delegitimization, slander and intimidation in North American campuses, progressive Zionists and "pro-Israel" groups like Brit Tzedek VeShalom were almost nowhere to be seen. Nobody among them was willing to come forward and defend Israel against "one state" initiatives and fantastic claims that "Zionism" comes from the Hebrew word for penis. This task was left to small groups of rightist Zionist activists. One "progressive Zionist" student group offered a brochure for activists featuring a film lauding Arab MK Azmi Bishara. That was their contribution to support for Israel in its time of need. Not surprisingly, this ruined the credentials of that group among supporters of Israel and helped marginalize progressive Zionists. Laudable stands against anti-Semitism and blind hatred of Israel were taken by liberal and left groups, not necessarily Zionist or Jewish, such as Engage and the Euston Manifesto group, but the progressive Zionist groups were mostly silent or engaged in adding fuel to the fire, with few exceptions.

    Most Jews did not remark on the problem, but an Israeli did. Ismail Khaldi, an Israeli Bedouin who is Israeli consul in San Francisco said,

    How can Israel's voice be heard if the Jewish students don't have the facts or the knowledge to speak up? I don't take the mass of Jewish students to task for not agreeing with all of Israel's policies, but I do take them to task for not caring about Israel or what happens there. It is the apathy which allows the anti-Israel propaganda to strengthen itself more and more over time.
    Surely. it is absurd when Ismail Khaldi has to remind Jews and Zionists of what we should be doing. Surely, something is wrong when Lebanese expatriate Brigitte Gabriel or Palestinian supporter John L. Strawson are more willing to defend Israel and Zionism in public than certain "Zionist" organizations.

    With too few exceptions, moderate Zionists just weren't there to protest campus anti-Zionism, and in some cases they sabotaged the efforts of other groups. Progressive groups usually confined their criticism of boycott issues to bland statements on their Web sites. Only anti-Israel initiatives became action items.

    On the other hand, right wing Zionist groups in Israel or abroad only very rarely speak out against excesses or even admit that there are ugly incidents and injustices perpetrated by settlers and the IDF, or problems in implementing the security fence. Checkpoints are regrettably necessary to stop terrorism. Rudeness and bureaucratic intransigence at the treatment of Palestinians at those checkpoints is not necessary -- it is harmful. Whether or not Jews should live in Hebron, stoning Arab schoolchildren and forcing the IDF to guard them is not helping Israel or Zionism. It is wrong. It is eating away at the fabric of Israeli society. Silence about these issues that are hurting Israel is not "patriotic." For concerned Israeli patriots, silence is dereliction of duty. It is we, supporters of Israel, who should be most urgently interested in stopping these evils, because they are sabotaging Israel and Zionism.

    The original founders of the Israeli mass peace movement were IDF reserve officers. Nobody could question their loyalty to the cause of Zionism, which they had demonstrated over many years. The same credit does not necessarily accrue to U.S. Jews who never lived here and were never active in support of Israel. On the other hand, you will forgive me if I find it absurd when a "Zionist" in California or Indiana takes it upon themselves to be the arbiter of who is a "traitor" or an "anti-Semite" in the Israeli government.

    The center, which most probably represents the majority of Zionists and supporters of Israel, may be uncomfortable defending Israel when excesses are publicized, but is equally afraid to speak out against the excesses and mistakes for fear of hurting Israel. However, knaves and fools step in where angels fear to tread. Instead of constructive criticism we are therefore left with the shrill cries of anti-Zionists and "compassion" yuppies. The public defense of Israel is too often entrusted by default to the extreme right, who paint Zionism in the image beloved of its detractors - an inflexible, aggressive, expansionist and "racist" movement.

    I know that these words will not be received with equanimity. They strike at the core of the programs of left and right. Anti-Zionists and anti-Semites use the issues to delegitimize Israel and slander the Jewish people. The Zionist left wants to force a change in Israeli policy by embarrassing Israel and withholding support. The Zionist right wants to force its political agenda on all Zionists by insisting that anyone who doesn't support Greater Israel is a traitor.

    Human nature being what it is, many readers may respond to this plea for unity by defending their particular political convictions, or the actions of their particular group. That is not the point. The point is to defend the legitimacy of Israel and the Zionist movement in the best way possible, and to unite the support of Jewish people everywhere.

    It is not to be expected that all differences of opinion will vanish, nor should they. We do not need to all adopt the same policies in order to defend the right of Israel to exist. Likud members and Meretz people fight on the same side in the IDF. All sides have the right to present the political views and policy positions that they think are best for Israel. However no side has the right to represent themselves as exclusive spokespersons of Zionism or the Jewish people, and no Zionist or pro-Israel group should neglect the defense of Israel and the basic tenets of Zionism.

    Regardless of political differences, all Zionist and pro-Israel factions have to remember our principles and adhere to them. Both sides must present the case for Zionist legitimacy and the right of Jews to self-determination. Both sides have to criticize what is inexcusable in a balanced and constructive way that will really bring about a change in policy. Both sides have to present a humanitarian and positive image of Zionism and Israel.

    Ami Isseroff

    Original content is copyright 2006 by the author. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000269.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome.

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    Te Zionistisch (pro-IsraŽl)
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    Teveel sensatie
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