It is time once again for me to write about Israel and Zionism, after reading some particular blog posts today. I hope to not lose too many readers, this time, but, if people really want peace in Israel, it is never too late to challenge long-held assumptions related to Israel and Zionism.
Unfortunately, there are many people who get their information from the mainstream American news media who get their information from the Israeli news media who merely are the propaganda mouthpiece for the Israeli government. There are many people in America who, if you asked them to describe in one word the Israeli Palestinians, they would say, “terrorists.” This despite the fact that most of the Palestinian population of greater Israel are just regular people trying to live their lives. A tiny fraction of the Arab population are hostile to the Israeli Jews, but a larger percentage of the Israeli Jewish population are hostile to the Arabs there.
We don’t really hear about these facts, certainly not from our brain-dead news media. But it could be that, here in America, the Israel First crowd and the Islamophobes have made themselves much more openly transparent, this may be the beginning of finally at least questioning many Americans’ and especially the U.S. government’s blind allegiance to Israel. Philip Weiss gives some indication of that from his recent experiences on some college campuses.
But in Israel, according to Ynet News, a recent study on the opinions of Israel’s Arab and Jewish teens and young adults showed that 46% of Israeli Jewish teens support revoking Israeli Arab’s basic political rights in Israel. If this is true, where are these kids getting these racist, hostile attitudes? From their parents? From the Israeli government? From the Israeli media?
Also in the poll, only 14% of the Israeli Jewish youths view democracy as an important national goal, while 26% viewed Jewishness as an important national goal.
It is no surprise to me that 93% of the Jewish youths views the IDF with complete trust, and that 60% of the Jewish youths preferred “strong leadership” over the rule of law, and, when asked how they feel about Arabs, 25% of the Jewish teens responded with “hate.” Not good.
SUNY Buffalo Political Science Professor emeritus Jerome Slater presented this article on his blog: The Jewish State Controversy: Can Zionism Be Reconciled With Justice to the Palestinians?
Slater includes some historical notes, and divides Zionists into rightwing Zionists, liberal-left Zionists and centrist Zionists. And he reviews some of the issues involved in the justifications for Zionism, geographically and politically, as well as the Biblical justifications. He notes that some people cite the Balfour Declaration, but that the Declaration also states that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” (Perhaps the Israeli Jewish youths should read the Balfour Declaration.)
Slater discusses the various possible solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict, but he does note that, regarding the formal creation of the current state of Israel in the 1940s, “given the unavoidable injustice to the Palestinians, though, it might have been possible for Israel to have mitigated that injustice in a number of ways, particularly if it had refrained from ethnic cleansing and allowed the creation of a Palestinian state.”
Slater considers himself a Zionist, although a “disillusioned” one. In that post, he noted,
Israel is here to stay and almost certainly it will continue as a predominantly Jewish state, whether or not it is formally acknowledged as such. Not only is that a fact of life, but it is a legitimate fact of life: in light of 2000 years of antisemitism it cannot be said that there is no longer a need for a Jewish state, principally but not solely to serve as a refuge for Jews who may find themselves in desperate straits into the future.
I agree with David Samel, who responded to that post by Jerome Slater, that Slater “concedes that this unfairness, which has taken the form of dispossession, military occupation and inequality, has been egregious and intolerable, but argues that it theoretically could have been kept to an acceptable level and could possibly be reduced to such level in the future. I think there are some serious flaws in his analysis that deserve attention.” And Samel continues from there.
Following the response by David Samel, Jerome Slater responded to Samel’s response.
Well, I have written here several times now on the issue of Zionism. To me, it is fine if collectivists want to create a homeland for people who share the same religious or ethnic heritage in whatever territory they wish, as long as they are peaceful, and as long as they honestly acquire whatever lands they need for such a project. But, as Murray Rothbard noted, the acquisition of the land of Palestine by the Zionists was a matter of conquest, not by voluntary association and voluntary contracts. Additionally, the displacement of thousands of Arabs that was essentially ethnic cleansing to make way for the newcomers, and the subsequent abuses, theft of Arab-owned lands, and State-institutionalized discrimination against the territory’s own indigenous population, have tarnished Zionism, and, I think, permanently so.
If only the Zionists were not extremists, and did not insist on Palestine and only Palestine as the new place to be the homeland for the world’s Jews. But that is what they insisted on, and based solely on the mystical emotionalism of Biblical scriptures. There is also this collectivist notion of Jews as the “chosen people” that I very much do not agree with because, in my opinion, NO ONE individual or group is or had been selected by God to be “chosen” or “special.”
We are all God’s children and with equal value, in my opinion.
On Questioning Zionism and Present-Day Israel-Related Views
March 1, 2012
Israel is unfortunately one of those taboo subjects that you may not talk honestly about in the current age of Politically Correct Intolerance. You especially may not speak critically of Israel or the Israeli government, or else be referred to as “anti-Semite” or “anti-Jewish,” or, in my case, “self-hating Jew.” Utter the words “Zionism” or “Zionist” and you’re a “conspiracy theorist.”
It is like how some people would call someone a racist for criticizing Barack Obama just because he’s black, despite his obvious incompetence, corruption and crimes against the people. And you are not permitted to look at the American “Civil War” with skepticism or criticize the racist Abraham Lincoln or you will be called “racist” or “pro-slavery.”
A further example, regarding Israel, note how the buffoons of the United States Congress stood and applauded and cheered for each and every syllable uttered by Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu. Totally disingenuous old farts. (Except for Ron Paul, of course, who actually wants all Israelis, Jews, Arabs, Muslims, etc. to have their freedom, and believes that their rights ought not be restricted as they are in Israel, just as they are here in the USSA.) Many of these Congresspeople are subservient to the Israel Lobby, and receive a lot of money in campaign contributions from pro-Israel organizations. The most powerful and influential pro-Israel organization is AIPAC, The American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Just to clarify, as I wrote previously, the “Israel Lobby” is not any singular organization with some particular leader in charge. The “Israel Lobby” mainly refers to unconnected groups, organizations, lobbyists and fund-raisers for Israel. Two of the most prominent organizations are the ADL and AIPAC. There’s no “Zionist conspiracy.” There is no single organization called “The Israel Lobby,” but that is how these unconnected groups may informally but accurately be described.
Now, the most recent cases of intolerance of speech regarding Israel include Alan Dershowitz (of all people!), who is going on a crusade to get MJ Rosenberg of Media Matters fired, for Rosenberg’s outspoken views on Israel, his views against war with Iran, and his use of the term “Israel Firster.” Some people can’t face the fact that there actually are those who view Israel as of primary importance and who view the U.S. as secondary.
AIPAC pushes for war with Iran, a country that has not attacked the U.S. or Israel, and this push for war against Iran is despite the blowback against America that such a war will cause, just as was the case with Iraq twice (and Afghanistan as well). MJ Rosenberg is honest about this and merely wants readers to know the truth. But Dershowitz wants to shut him up.
Another case of intolerance is the attempted prevention of an appearance in San Francisco of a controversial anti-Zionist jazz artist, Gilad Atzmon, by the Israel Lobby, the ADL in particular.
I’ve written many times now on Israel and Zionism, and I’m sure I have lost readers at those times, simply because many people have long-instilled views on Israel and beliefs in myths regarding Israel and Zionism. When bringing up the history of Zionism and the formation of the current state of Israel (which, until 1948, was referred to as “Palestine”), many people just don’t want to hear it. They know what they know, and much of what people know, or think they know, or what they have been told since childhood, is emotion-driven and not rational and not truly informed. For a lot of people, any questioning of their long-held views or of Israel is not to be tolerated. But it is an emotional thing, that’s for sure.
But it is important to question long-held beliefs and challenge assumptions that we may have regarding the things that we were told while growing up, and that we are told by our governments, the media and our leading cultural figures. Regarding Israel, not knowing and understanding the history behind the conflicts and merely holding such beliefs that might be based on distortions and myths and misinformation, is a major contributor to today’s worsening crises. This is why we have allowed our leaders to start wars, and, if the truth were told, the wars have been for no good reason.
One of my favorite articles is Murray Rothbard’s article from 1967, following the Arab-Israeli War, or the “Six Day War” of 1967, in which Rothbard discusses a brief summary of the history of political Zionism. In the article, Rothbard notes that among the several factions of the political Zionists, those who wanted to find and establish a “safe” homeland for Jews, the group that won the final debate were the extremists.
Why should they have been considered “extreme”? Because they insisted on Palestine as the place for Jewish settlement, and would consider no other place in the world. It was to be Palestine, and only Palestine. Not only that, but with the insistence of only Palestine as the new homeland for Jews worldwide and such a territory to be a Jewish State (i.e. a theocracy), and given that, as Rothbard pointed out, the land was not virgin land but was already inhabited by Arabs, the establishment of such a new State had to be one of conquest.
The current state of Israel was the creation by Western governments of an artificial State within a territory that was already inhabited, through coercion, conquest and expulsion of many of the indigenous inhabitants. It was not a formation of a State through voluntary means, not through voluntary contract and voluntary property transfer, not through natural order by any stretch of the imagination. And the way the Israelis have been treating the Palestinians over the past century has been atrocious.
As I have observed before, because of the tremendous amount of propaganda by Western governments, lobbyists, and the media, we have generations of misinformed and stubborn people who do not want to hear the real facts of Israel’s history and of how the Arabs are treated there. Thanks to decades of propaganda and censorship, many people actually believe that “Palestinian” = “terrorist,” or “primitives,” and they do not want to hear otherwise, or, if they hear someone talking about “Palestinians” in any kind of positive way, such talk is dismissed as being “pro-terrorist,” “anti-Israel, or “anti-Jewish.” And again, bringing up the history of the illicit formation of the current state of Israel is taboo, because generations of people know what they know, and they don’t want to hear otherwise.
Murray Rothbard was not one to be known as a “propagandist.” On the contrary, he was very careful with accuracy in his reporting and analyses in economics and history. Rothbard pointed out, regarding the first half of 20th Century Zionism,
Because of the Arabs resident in Palestine, Zionism had to become in practice an ideology of conquest. After World War I, Great Britain seized control of Palestine and used its sovereign power to promote, encourage, and abet the expropriation of Arab lands for Zionist use and for Zionist immigration. Often old Turkish land titles would be dredged up and purchased cheaply, thus expropriating the Arab peasantry on behalf of European Zionist immigration. Into the heart of the peasant and nomadic Arab world of the Middle East there thus came as colonists, and on the backs and on the bayonets of British imperialism, a largely European colonizing people.
(For more on the history of Israel and the way that Arabs have been treated, especially recently, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. There are many more articles to point to, but I just don’t have time to find all of the ones that I know I’ve seen in the past several years now.)
Now, there are the very sensitive Jewish Zionists such as Dershowitz who seem to want to shut people up who have a differing point of view, people such as MJ Rosenberg who are critical of Israel or of Zionism, or who refer to “Israel Firsters.”
And there are those who supposedly support the Palestinians, but, for political reasons, support laws or policies that go against the Palestinians. For example, Barney Frank was quoted to have said that he supports the Palestinians, but didn’t want to offend his voters in his district, in very Jewish (and “limousine liberal”) Brookline and Newton. (“I’m not going to commit political suicide for the sake of the Palestinians…”)
And there are very religious Christians who are Zionists because they believe in the Bible, and want to see “The Jews” flock to Israel, because that kind of scenario seems to please these Christian Zionists. I know, my referring to some of the Christian Zionists as referring to “The Jews” may be in some way obnoxious, yet that is how I perceive many of them in their views toward Jews, unfortunately. Many people are collectivists, and they see others in terms of what particular group they belong to, religiously, ethnically, racially etc. I see such a view of “The Jews” as patronizing, although I’m sure that the many Christian Zionists who seem to have this attitude cannot see that themselves. (Many Christian Zionists do not have that attitude, of course.)
So, personally, regarding the patronizing Christian Zionists, I do not believe that they want Jews to flock to Israel for Jews’ own safety and security. It seems to be more that such a scenario fulfills these Christian Zionists’ Biblically-influenced vision of the world. It is for the sake of the Bible.
But why do Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann, and Sarah Palin, for example, want me to have to live in Israel just because I’m Jewish? Why is it so important to them to push for the continued gathering of Jews in this one territory that is completely surrounded by Muslims, some (or perhaps many) of whom are hostile toward Jews?
And so I am especially concerned about the particular subgroup within those who are Christian Zionists, the ones who see Israel and the Jews as representing something to do with the “End Times,” “tribulation,” “rapture,” and all that stuff. And some of these people want the current conflicts to continue and escalate, because they really believe that Jesus will return and that “The Jews” will be converted to Christianity, and that we will all be “saved” and so on. And it’s like they want to make it happen.
I don’t think that censoring anti-Zionists is a good idea, because there are many good reasons to oppose Zionism, and instead support freedom, human rights, religious tolerance and diversity, private property, voluntary associations and voluntary contracts. Taking monopolistic, compulsory powers — and armaments — away from government bureaucrats is a good way to start.