Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Quick and Dirty History of Zionism

Feel free to see the Wikipedia entry on Zionism:

Zionism is an international political movement that originally supported the reestablishment of a homeland for the Jewish People in Palestine (Hebrew: Eretz Yisra'el, “the Land of Israel”), and continues primarily as support for the modern state of Israel.

Although its origins are earlier, the movement was formally established by the Austro-Hungarian journalist Theodor Herzl in the late 19th century. The movement was eventually successful in establishing Israel in 1948, as the world's first and only modern Jewish State.


So far so good.

Lets compare the Wikipedia entry with the following:

Source: jewsagainstzionism.com

The term "Zionism" was first introduced in 1893 by Nathan Birmbaum, but Theodor Herzl, an Austrian Jew born to a prosperous, emancipated Budapest family, is recognized as the founder of the Zionist ideology when he published his book in 1896, "The Jewish State", where he declared that the cure for anti-semitism was the establishment of a Jewish state. As he saw it, the best place to establish this state was in Palestine.

While Herzl claimed that the establishment of a "Jewish" state would cure anti-Semitism, he also promoted anti-Semitism to further his cause.
Herzl stated in his diary:

“It is essential that the sufferings of Jews.. . become worse. . . this will assist in realization of our plans. . .I have an excellent idea. . . I shall induce anti-Semites to liquidate Jewish wealth. . . The anti-Semites will assist us thereby in that they will strengthen the persecution and oppression of Jews. The anti-Semites shall be our best friends”. (From his Diary, Part I, pp. 16)


Wait.

Lets re-read what the founder of Zionism, the father of Zionism, Mr. Theodor Herzl, wrote in his diary:

“It is essential that the sufferings of Jews.. . become worse. . . this will assist in realization of our plans. . .I have an excellent idea. . . I shall induce anti-Semites to liquidate Jewish wealth. . . The anti-Semites will assist us thereby in that they will strengthen the persecution and oppression of Jews. The anti-Semites shall be our best friends”. (From his Diary, Part I, pp. 16)


It always strikes me as funny that there are liberal, progressive, to the left of the political spectrum Jews like Mr. Silverstein and Mr. Weiss, who call themselves Zionists.

As you can see, the original Zionist movement founders were radicals, who wanted Jews to suffer until they were forced to move away from their cushy European apartments, banks, businesses, law firms, etc. and go to the arid desert of Palestine and there create Israel.

This founder of Zionism, the father of the movement wanted anti semitism, the stronger and nastier the better.

Must have been overjoyed when Hitler came to power... My God...

Here is my definition of Zionism:
In my opinion, Zionism is the support of the Jews-only state of Israel, no matter what.

What does Wikipedia and Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary say is the definition?
"An international movement originally for the establishment of a Jewish national or religious community in Palestine and later for the support of modern Israel."

Does it sound the same like my definition?
Except, of course, there is no mention of exactly how radical Zionism really is (or was, perhaps, in the past?).

If you read this blog, you have seen that everything is allowed in love, war and Zionism.

And so, it should come as no shock to you that early Zionists wanted Jews to suffer, for their wealth to be stolen by the gentile anti-semites, so that they would be forced to move to Israel.


Does that version of Zionism, the "support the Jewish state of Israel" at any cost, still exist?

Does Zionism, the movement founded by Herzl, take precedence over Jews' own well being (and of course, takes precedence over anybody and anything else, which goes without saying)?

Even today? In 2008?

Mr. Silverstein and Mr. Weiss think that there is a new, gentler Zionism, epitomized by the J-Street organization, just recently created as a Jewish answer to AIPAC.


But what is the real, hard core Zionist's answer to any Jew who is not a fervent Zionist, who deviates from the party line?

Any Jew, like Mr. Weiss, like Mr. Silverstein, and many, many other brave people, who dare to question the narrative?

Source: The Guardian, January 19 2004:

Deborah Fink is a singer and music teacher living in London. She is also Jewish. Last month, out of the blue, she received a deluge of hateful emails - more than 150 in the space of a week.

One came from a rabbi in New York, informing her: "Your soul, my dear, is petrified and lost." Another said, menacingly: "Hitler killed the wrong Jews."

Yet another - ostensibly from a Jewish doctor of medicine in the US - elaborated on the Holocaust theme. "Too bad Hitler didn't get your family," it said. "With six million Jews dieing [sic] 60 year [sic] ago it's a shame scum like you somehow managed to survive."

What, exactly, had Ms Fink done to deserve this vitriol? The short answer is that she had been planning to sing.

Ms Fink is a member of Just Peace UK, a mainly, but not exclusively, Jewish group opposing the Israeli occupation and seeking "a viable and sovereign Palestinian state alongside a safe and secure Israel, with Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states".

Just before Christmas, she helped to organise an alternative carol concert in Trafalgar Square, at which traditional Christmas songs were sung with new words

Deborah Fink wanted to sing protest songs, to garner attention to what is going on in Israel.

And what was the Zionist reaction?

A rabbi in New York, informing her: "Your soul, my dear, is petrified and lost."

"Hitler killed the wrong Jews."

"With six million Jews dieing 60 year ago it's a shame scum like you somehow managed to survive."

150 emails like that in a span of one week.

How about this one.
Source: The Guardian, yet again. Mr. Mike Marqusee lays his soul bare for us.

The first person to call me a self-hating Jew was my father. It was in the autumn of 1967. Dad was 39, a successful businessman who was also, along with my mother, active in the US civil rights and anti-war movements.

In the early 60s, having a wife and five kids, a big suburban home and a blossoming career as a real estate developer, was not enough, and he and my mother threw themselves into the struggle in the American south, raising money, organizing meetings, sheltering young activists, supporting boycotts and pickets. In 1964, my dad went to Mississippi to deliver supplies to the beleaguered grassroots movement.


Dad escorted me to my classroom, where, at once, I felt relief. The room was filled with kids I knew from school. There was the one who played quarterback, the one who made funny noises, the one who had all the Batman comic books. So they were Jewish too. I hadn't known that. There was a map of Israel alongside a map of the US, but apart from that it looked like the classrooms I knew from school, with colourful posters and a big blackboard.


So what was the creed we were taught in Sunday school? It was not about God. It was about the Jews. A singular people who had given wonderful gifts to the world and whom the world had treated cruelly. A people who were persecuted. A people who survived. A people who triumphed. Despite the Holocaust, we were not a nation of losers, of victims. There was a redemptive denouement. There was Israel, a modern Jewish homeland, a beacon to the world. A shiny new state with up-to-date, Coke-drinking people like us. Liberals, like us. Bearers of democracy and civilisation, making the desert bloom. A little America in the Middle East.

This is, I would imagine, the typical narrative in every Jewish school in America (and every household and family, also) - Holocaust, creation of Israel, beacon to the world, democracy in the desert, yada yada...

Israel was both our own cause, a Jewish cause, and a moral cause, a universal cause. Like America. A land without people for a people without land. Like America. That was the gift we received in Sunday school - an extra country. For us there were two nations and, best of all, we didn't have to choose between them. As Jews and Americans, we enjoyed a double birthright and a double privilege.

Two countries, dual loyalty, learned in early childhood...

I'm not sure exactly when or how I began to doubt. But I remember what happened the first time I expressed that doubt. It was a few months after the '67 war. A special visitor came to our Sunday school class. He was in his early 20s, with thick fair hair falling over his forehead, a snappy sports jacket and polished loafers. Some of the girls whispered that he was cute. He had an accent but it was nothing like our grandparents' accents. He looked and dressed like us but he had been a soldier in a war and that made him an alien being.
(...)
He told us that the Arabs had planned a sneak attack but had met with more than they bargained for. They were bad fighters, undisciplined soldiers. And they were better off now, under Israeli rule. "You have to understand these are ignorant people. They go to the toilet in the street."

Now something akin to this I had heard before. I had heard it from the white southerners I'd been taught to look down upon. I had heard it from people my parents and my teachers described as prejudiced and bigoted. So I raised my hand and when called upon I expressed my opinion, as I'd been taught to do. It seemed to me that what our visitor had said was, well, racist.

He dared to stray from the party line, from the one and only true truth, from the Zionist narrative.

What happened then?

Did the teacher, the soldier, and the students argue with him, tried to cajole him, to persuade him of the error of his ways?

Hell no!

I felt the eyes of the teacher and the other kids turn on me. They were used to me spouting radical opinions but this time I had gone too far. Angrily, the teacher told me I didn't have any idea what I was saying and that there would be no discourtesy to guests in his classroom. The young Israeli ranted bitterly about Arab propaganda and how the Israelis treated the Arabs better than any of the Arab rulers did.

The Israelis treated the Arabs better than any of their other Arab rulers did.

Perhaps this video will prove this "truth"....

And how about the hero of progressive Zionists, the assassinated prime minister of Israel, the late Yitzchak Rabin, who as an IDF General had been responsible for ordering Israeli troops confronted with stone-throwing Palestinian children to 'break their legs'.

Back to the narrative.
I can't remember how long it was after that that I decided to share this experience and my thoughts on it with my family. This was something I was usually encouraged to do. We were sitting around the dinner table - all seven of us. I launched into my story about the Israeli in Sunday school and how what he said was racist. I had been thinking about the matter and now added, for my family's benefit, a further opinion. It was wrong for one country to take over another, or part of another, by military force. If the US was wrong in Vietnam - and that was a given around our dinner table - then Israel was wrong in taking over all that Arab land. I was reasoning by analogy, and nobody had yet told me that some analogies were off limits.

For some time I remained unaware that my father was listening to me not with approval but with rising fury. When he barked, "Enough already!" the shift was disturbingly abrupt. Like my Sunday school teacher, he made me feel that I had said something obscene. Then he drew a breath and seemed to soften. "I think you need to look at why you're saying what you're saying," he said, and then the softness vanished. "There's some Jewish self-hatred there."

Ah. A self hating Jew. That pitiful, scarred creature, who dares to question all that is holy, Zionism and Israel. Who is then ostracized, by strangers, by his own family, by classmates, by anonymous emails.

"Hitler killed the wrong Jews".

"With six million Jews dieing 60 year ago it's a shame scum like you somehow managed to survive."


Among the shibboleths I was brought up on was the belief that "my country right or wrong" was wrong. No one liked to insist more than my dad that if you really loved your country you criticised its flaws.

But the criticism is only allowed of one country, the United States. The second country, the "shining beacon to the world", is not allowed to be criticized.

Ever.

Or your own father will call you a "self hating Jew".


If you care to use elementary power of observation, you will notice a strange discrepancy.

The author, Mike Marqusee, was raised in a very liberal, progressive household. His father and mother were activists, who actively protested against the Vietnam War, and supported the Civil Rights movement in the USA.

Strangely, though, after listening to the Israeli soldier stating that "Arabs(...) were better off now, under Israeli rule. "You have to understand these are ignorant people. They go to the toilet in the street"", and (rightously) raising his hand and protesting this clearly racist attitude towards Arabs (who, whatever their supposed backwardness, do not go to the toilet in the street, now or then), the author is shouted down by the teacher and the whole classroom full of students.

Apparently, racism is a bad thing, unless it happens in Israel - then all bets are off, as the first rule of Zionism seems to be "never criticize Israel, no matter what".

What I found fascinating in this personal narrative is that the father of the young man, who risked his life to support the Civil Rights movement in the USA, and taught him that racism is wrong, and needs to be fought, nevertheless scolded the boy and called him a "self hating Jew" when the child attempted to juxtapose the situation in Israel with what was happening in the American South in the 1960's.

Sadly, while we in America have discarded the scourge of official racism, and racism in America is now illegal, thanks in part to the efforts of the author's father (and mother), the American South and the ugly racism, Jim Crow laws and apartheid live on today, in 2008, now...

... in Israel.



Having read these two stories - one about the singer, one about the "self hating" Jew, what do you think of the modern version Zionism?


Is it now transformed into the kinder, gentler face of modern Zionism, like the one existing on Mr. Weiss' and Mr. Silverstein's blogs?


Or is it the original version Zionism, that of Theodor Herzl's, the "win at any cost" version, the founding father of Zionism version, predominant?


What do you think?
Lets ask what Scott Ritter thinks - lets watch the embedded video.

Lets explore the dual loyalty question of American Jews.

Lets see what role Israel had in the runup to the Iraq War

Lets watch and listen to Congressman Howard Berman, democrat, in an embedded video explain how he only became a Foreign Affairs Committee member in Congress to only promote the cause of Israel

Finally, lets listen in to the neocon, Jewish pro Israel activists in the elite circles of American media and government, explain in their own words their monumental role in pushing America into the disastrous war for Israel's benefit.


So...

What version of Zionism is predominant today?
The kindler, gentler Zionism, of Mr. Weiss and Mr. Silverstein, who, while committed Zionists, try to balance their support of Israel with basic human rights and a sense of justice?

Or the Theodor Herzl, win at all costs, no matter who suffers, whether Arab, gentile or Jew be sacrificed for the cause?



Bonus Material: Yet more reading for you (you know you want to!):
The Australian article:
There is a vocal minority in the US - the so-called Israel lobby - that is determined to squelch criticism of Israel or opposition to the longstanding pro-Israeli slant in US foreign policy. The members of the lobby play the traditional (and legitimate) game of interest group politics, channelling money and other forms of support to politicians who support their agenda. They also engage in what Israelis refer to as hasbra: telling Israel's story in the most favourable light. But some of them also hit below the belt, employing character assassination and other illegitimate tactics.

Jews who deviate from the pro-Israel line are dismissed as self-hating. Consider the treatment of New York University historian Tony Judt, who argues that Israel's continuing occupation of Palestinian territory is making a two-state solution to that conflict impossible. For suggesting that Israel has no choice but to become a bi-national state, he was singled out in a recent American Jewish Committee publication as a Jew who gives aid and comfort to the enemies of his own people.

Gentiles who cross the lobby, such as the University of Chicago's John Mearsheimer and Harvard's Stephen Walt, who published a major essay exposing how Israel's supporters slant US foreign policy toward Israel, are tarred as anti-Semites. Not content to challenge their evidence and conclusions, Dershowitz, Foxman and other critics sought to convict them of guilt by association with anti-Semites such as David Duke, and to discredit their paper by comparing it with that classic anti-Semitic trope, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Why are members of the Israel lobby unwilling to simply rest their case on its merits? Why do they feel compelled to attack their opponents ad hominem?


Common Dreams:
Every day, I receive anguished letters, e-mails and phone calls from members of my congregation and others who have been tagged with the label "self-hating Jews." Why? Solely because they've raised questions about Israel's policy toward Palestinians.

There is something deeply hurtful about that term and about the way the Jewish community is treating its dissenters, something reminiscent of the cultural repressiveness of 1950s McCarthyism and its labeling of dissidents as "anti-American."


No wonder, then, that many Jews would feel deeply upset by Israeli policies. On the one hand, they can see that the policies are leading to a frightening upsurge of anti-Semitism. On the other hand, they can see that the policies are not providing security for Israel, but instead creating new generations of future terrorists and convincing the world that Israel has lost its moral compass.

Still, many Jews and non-Jews have been intimidated by the intense campaign being waged on behalf of Israeli "political correctness." Organized by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and by other Jewish institutions, they label those critical of Israel "self-hating" if they are Jewish or anti-Semitic if not. They mobilize large amounts of money to defeat candidates deemed insufficiently pro-Israel. Many rabbis and professionals have told me recently that they fear for their jobs should they even begin to articulate their doubts about Israeli policy--much less give explicit support to calls for an end to the occupation.


"No wonder, then, that many Jews would feel deeply upset by Israeli policies.
On the one hand, they can see that the policies are leading to a frightening upsurge of anti-Semitism.
On the other hand, they can see that the policies are not providing security for Israel, but instead creating new generations of future terrorists and convincing the world that Israel has lost its moral compass."


I agree with these statements completely.
They cut through the bullshit and lay the truth out there, in the open.

And of course, what is the treatment of these dissenters for justice, for common sense even, by hard core Zionist Jews?

"Many rabbis and professionals have told me recently that they fear for their jobs should they even begin to articulate their doubts about Israeli policy--much less give explicit support to calls for an end to the occupation."
There you go.

The Nation:
Young's attack on me shared some of these bizarre qualities. She seized on a brief blog item I wrote on Altercation.msnbc.com, in which I noted the insensitivity of demanding that Arabs attend Holocaust remembrance ceremonies that (of course) made no mention of what many Arabs believe to be the Holocaust's connection to what they consider their own "catastrophe"--namely, the founding of the State of Israel. Young distorted my argument to accuse me of anti-Semitism and self-hatred, using an ellipsis to make it appear as if I were describing the founding of the Jewish state as a "catastrophe" rather than attributing that view to Palestinians and their Arab supporters. She went even further, insisting that by acknowledging that Palestinians and their supporters perhaps had reason to be less than thrilled with the creation of Israel, I was actually--I kid you not--blaming "long-dead Holocaust victims" and arguing that "every Muslim is justified in viewing every Jew as the enemy."


I could go on and on and on, with hundreds and hundreds of examples of how hard core Zionists treat their fellow Jews who dare to pose questions about Israeli policies and actions.

You must have noticed that I did not write about the treatment of non Jews being slandered, vilified and smeared by hard core Zionists when they dare to question Israeli government's policies and actions.

This blog has limited space, a few gigabytes, after all...

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2 comments:

richards1052 said...

I have never read the "quotation" alleged to be fr. Theodore Herzl. I would seriously doubt whether Herzl said any such thing though I'm not enough of an expert to say definitively.

BTW, Phil Weiss is not a Zionist. And I never call myself simply "a Zionist." I always call myself a "progressive Zionist."

American Goy said...

Hi Mr. Silverstein.

This blog post was designed to ruffle feathers and to question, what is Zionism - today, in 2008?

Is it the support Israel at any cost, at any price (even at the expense of Jews own well being)

OR

is it the gentler, more peaceful version that J street and others are advocating, that takes into account needs and wants of people other than Zionist Jews?