Posts Tagged ‘Jabotinsky’

On the “About” page of The Third Way, I made the following statement: ““My approach begins with the idea that Zionism was an entirely justified national movement, and that Palestinians also are deserving of the same human, civil and national rights as anyone else. Reconciling these two things is not simple, as they clash in essential and inherent ways. But finding that reconciliation is the only way, in my view, to get us out of the murderous quagmire that has existed in the region for more than a century.”

Meanwhile, in a recent post on the Meretz USA blog, Sarah Strnad, Meretz USA’s Assistant Director, and a woman I recently got to meet and was very impressed with,

If this is where Zionism is going, it's not a Zionism most Israelis or Diaspora Jews will relate to

struggled with how to balance a Zionist identity and the universal values of human rights and democracy:

“I was raised a Zionist,” writes Ms. Strnad. “Growing up in a Zionist youth group I was accustomed to proudly defining as a Zionist. I often hesitate to self-define that way today. I still believe in the Jewish people’s right for self determination and the establishment and legitimacy of our own state, but the policies of that state and the rightward regressive actions of fringe settlers and their supporters have caused me to distance myself from the term Zionism. For those who believe in human rights and democracy the “z” word is now beyond the pale. It is whispered in hushed tones and understood only as what the right wing preaches and implements as policy. The Zionism that was once a broad nationalism has been distorted and replaced by racist and xenophobic fears that drive unjust and dehumanizing policies.”

One way I approach the issues Sarah grapples with is to differentiate in my own heart between being a “Zionist” and being pro-Israel. Zionism is, as Sarah correctly pointed out, far from a monolithic ideology. But one thing all the strains have in common is very basic: Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people.

I have never felt a kinship with nationalism of any kind, not American, not Zionist, not any. But I do respect other people’s choices, I recognize the validity of national identity and movements and even appreciate the very real uses nationalism has (chief among them, in my view, being the uniting of an oppressed people to collectively combat that oppression, a feature that was indisputably true of Zionism throughout its efforts to create a state or, in some strains, a national homeland for the Jews in Palestine). And that respect and appreciation extends equally to Palestinian nationalism as much as it does to that of my own, Jewish people.

So I’m not a Zionist. Neither am I an anti-Zionist. I suppose non-Zionist fits, though it seems a rather empty term. But none of these categories has any bearing on being pro-Israel. (more…)

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A section of the Israeli right wing has now graduated from their unabashed opposition to advocating a one-state solution.  This is not a passing affectation, I think, but a strategic choice that is gaining support, with good reason.

The right-wing idea is built on the fatal flaw that progressive advocates of a one-state solution have never been able to adequately address: that the Arab population, whether minority or majority, would be disenfranchised in this one state, leading to the very apartheid scenario the left wishes to avoid (or, as some would put it, erase). Thus part of the strategic goal of a one-state solution among the right is to permanently destroy Palestinian nationalism.

Former Defense Minister Moshe Arens

There are different ideas among right-wingers for how a one-state solution would work. One common thread, though, is that it would not include Gaza. Since there are no longer any Jews in Gaza, and the actual land is neither significant to Jewish religion or history nor worth much in terms of real estate, they can let it go.

So, Israel would annex the entire West Bank, solving the problem of Jerusalem. Palestinians would be given citizenship, in some scenarios immediately, in some gradually. Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem would have the right to vote, but would certainly also be expected to abandon their fellows in Gaza, the refugee camps in the neighboring countries, and scattered around the world.

Here’s how Hanan Porat, one of the giants of the Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful) movement, puts it:

“In my view, every Arab has three options. First, those who want an Arab state and are ready to implement that goal by means of terrorism and a struggle against the state, have no place in the Land of Israel. Second, those who accept their place and accept Jewish sovereignty, but do not want to take part in the state and fulfill all their obligations, can be considered residents and enjoy full human rights, but not political representation in the state’s institutions. By the same token, they will also not have full obligations, such as military or national service. Third, those who say they are loyal to the state and to its laws and are ready to fulfill the obligations it prescribes and declare loyalty to it, can receive full citizenship. I consider this a moral and human principle: citizenship is not forced on anyone or granted just like that. We tried this in East Jerusalem, and the fact is that we failed… Already 30 years ago, we in Gush Emunim were against solutions of fear – both withdrawal and transfer – and said that in the Return to Zion there is room for the Arab population who desire this, as long as we are not naive about the process.” (more…)

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A version of this article appeared in Zeek Magazine.

Peter Beinart’s essay in the New York Review of Books about the demise of liberal Zionism has caused quite a stir. But I don’t really want to add to all the commentary surrounding it.

Instead, I found interesting one small piece of an exchange between Beinart and Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic. During their discussion, they touched briefly on Israel’s raison d’etre. Beinart  was the one who, at least initially, stressed the need for a place for Jews to flee to in case of persecution (an under-appreciated aspect of the Holocaust was the fact that, after so many episodes of persecution and flight by Jews over the centuries, a great many of Europe’s Jews had nowhere to run tp from the Nazis). Goldberg emphasized Israel as a homeland and center of national

A peace rally at Rabin Square

expression for Jews.

These two notions were both symbiotic and a source of tension for most of Zionist history before the creation of the State of Israel. There is obviously overlap between them, particularly when it comes to building a strong, independent, Jewish society, which was Zionism’s ultimate goal. But there is also tension.

Theodor Herzl, as is well known, was inspired by anti-Semitic events, notably the Dreyfus Affair, to develop his vision of Political Zionism. But Herzl didn’t envision a state whose pride and identity were wrapped up in its military might, but in its wisdom and enlightenment.

This question has largely disappeared from the landscape. In the pre-state years, Zionism, whatever else it may have been, was a liberation movement with a revolutionary discourse. It could be whatever it wanted to be, and as such was wide open to all sorts of ideological, even utopian, thinking. The establishment of the state changed Zionist discourse from a significantly theoretical one – “what kind of state shall we build?” – to a more practical one – “how does our government deal with the current and future situation?”

Israel held on to a liberal model of ideological thinking for a long time after that shift, but, in combination with a permanent state of conflict, the ethnic nature of that conflict, the occupation and a significant rightward drift over the past 35 years, Israel became a state of refuge for its Jewish supporters in the Diaspora and its citizens were cemented into a bunker mentality. (more…)

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