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+972 readers weigh in on Zionism debate

A critique of an article by a noted liberal Zionist leads to an interesting debate about Zionism.

In the polarized world of debate about Israel/Palestine, certain terms have acquired such strong connotations that an honest and factual discussion of important issues is almost at a standstill. From the family dinner table to college campus throughout the world, terms like “BDS,” “anti-Zionist” and “liberal Zionist” have become virtual conversation stoppers – depending on the circle. Yesterday, I wrote a strongly worded critique of Bernard Avishai’s new piece on the Palestinian Right of Return (RoR), which appears in this month’s edition of Harper’s Magazine. I accused Avishai of sloppy reporting, given the paucity of critical Palestinian voices in his piece. I argued that Avisahi abandoned a broad factual discussion of this complex issue in favour of pushing a tired Israeli narrative, often used by liberal Zionist writers, which assumes symmetry between the players and downplays the crucial barriers to the resolution of the issues on the ground.

While pointed, the piece was part of a larger attempt to expose the working conditions which many liberal Zionist writers employ when analysing Israel/Palestine. A specific point which deserves larger treatment is the incredible contempt which these writers often demonstrate to their audience by adopting positions of authority while willingly ignoring voices on the ground that to do not confirm their own viewpoints. Naturally, this criticism can be applied to all writing on the conflict, but given the ideological inconsistency of liberal Zionism, special attention is required to understand how the ideology has been so successful, especially in the American Jewish context.

The piece engendered the beginnings of a rich debate about the nature of Zionism in general, and specifically the liberal Zionist discourse. It is my belief that this is not only a crucial debate for Israeli/Jewish society but one of absolute necessity for Israelis and Palestinians to have in a joint and respectful capacity.

The following are a number of comments, some of which have been shortened for clarity (the language has not been changed). You can view the full comments on the piece itself. Using the handle Henry Weinstein, one commenter asked why I choose to address Avishai’s piece while the Israeli right presents many more problems for those concerned with Israel or, at least, an Israel with some semblance of morality:

Meanwhile, Joseph Dana, Israeli Far Right is blossoming….What’s worth is it to hunt liberal Zionists, when Fascists are hunting you? Remember Weimar. Food for thought.

My (shortened) response:

I think that liberal Zionism, as used today, is a dangerous and, in some profound ways, dishonest system of thought. While the wave of Israeli far right nationalism is abhorrent, one can’t claim that Liebermann is a dishonest politician. It can be debated that Israeli far right nationalism is the purest form of Zionism due to the fact that zero explanation or apologia can be detected in its rhetoric. Let’s quickly note that it was the Labour Zionists who have had the better track record of building settlements and starting wars. The right, for all of its hot rhetoric, is often left with nothing more than hot rhetoric while the left, the liberal labour Zionists, are the ones that really do the dirty business of starting wars and building settlements.

I used to think that liberal Zionism was THE proper Israeli political posture for retaining ‘Jewish self-determination’ (an exact definition for this term still evades me despite the compelling arguments of many a liberal Zionist) and espousing liberal values similar to those I had grown up with in the United States. Then I moved to Israel and meet a number of Mertez voters, liberal Zionists par excellence, who harboured no reservation about serving in the army or sending their children to the army. I found that many ‘liberal Zionists’ I spoke with actually maintained an incredible level of racism toward Arabs. Instead of being an honest about the racism and moving forward, they seemed to wrestle with it. As if in a constant battle of suppression and cognitive dissonance, these liberal Zionist types embraced the liberal zionist mantra that “it is the settlers and the crazy right wingers fault.’

You can see that a narrative has emerged from this type of thinking. Blame the ‘crazies’ but do not change the system which the crazies are a product of. I believe that Noam Sheizaf has written on this website about the notion, popular among liberal Zionists, that there exists a ‘good Israel’ and a ‘bad Israel.’ At its heart, Israel is a good place full of well-intentioned individuals with a strong connection with Europe but it is the ‘bad Israel’ of extremists and strange immigrants that are polluting the project for everyone.

Following this comment were a number of thoughtful responses from Ayla, a commenter. These comments will be presented together.

I actually won’t use the term “Zionism” anymore; it means too many different things to too many different people so you never know what you’re talking about in dialogue. You, JD, live in Ramallah, not Israel, so you don’t have to wrestle with hypocrisy as I do by living in Israel. then again, I don’t actually see my life as hypocritical (as some do), because I don’t break things down in such a black and white way. I see my life here more as paradoxical than hypocritical, and I believe that paradox is inherent in everything. Like you, JD, I don’t believe in the all good or all bad (country or citizens), though there is certainly good and bad behavior; more and less educated, etc. The more I learn, the less I know.

It may work better not to suggest we forget Zionism, but rather that we move into a post-Zionist — complete with new terminology — way of supporting (fighting for) an Israel we can believe in, which for Liberals (possibly with old-fasioned, Zionist ideals) is simply not this Israel.

My response:

Ultimately I claim that the Zionist ideology in so far as it privileges one ethnic group over another is at odds with liberal values. Therefore, liberal Zionist, by definition, is convoluted. One can respect the Zionist dream or idea but understand that its application is a barrier to genuine peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Gustav Landauer once said that socialism needs to be left, not destroyed but left. Perhaps the time has come in which Zionism needs to be left, not destroyed but replaced with something which prides itself on the idea of equality for all under Israeli rule. Is this an ‘anti-Zionist’ statement? Quite the contrary. Perhaps Zionism must be forgotten in order to achieve the Zionist dream of a state living in security and peace.

Finally, SH weighed in with the following:

For the same reasons as Ayla, I hardly dare use the term Zionist. To prove her point, growing up I saw Zionism as the certainty that we Jews belonged to the holy land and should have the right to live there, because coming from a religious, pacifist home that’s how it was put to me. Different to secular Zionism and even religious nationalist Zionism. My diaspora Jewish school had difficulty with Zionism but caved in to parental pressure concerning the Hatikva (national anthem of Israel) by changing the phrase “a free nation” into “a holy nation”. On immigrating to Israel as a teen, I found freedom of sorts for some, real holiness rarely and eventually concluded that Zionism must have been achieved upon independence. The bits of the declaration of independence that pleased me most confirmed that we were going for equality, which meant that when “they” came around to understanding that we were good people who didn’t want to harm them, they would learn to love us. Words turned out to be one thing and what was happening on the ground quite another, proof that Zionism had already been left. In truth, once the dream was realized, Zionism-on-life-support strait-jacketed Israel and its leaders into unimaginable contortions.
.
Again like Ayla, I would not forget Zionism; no more memory blanks please, we’ve more than enough of those already. But I dislike the term post-Zionism too. If we need another “ism” to motivate us – not sure we do – it should refer to how we want to move on, not to what we have left.

What is presented in these comments is a clear tension in Zionist ideology. I maintain my claim that Zionism is an exclusionary ideology privileging one ethnic group over another, and this presents a major barrier to lasting reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. The unease which these commenters, and many Jews throughout the world, have with Zionism signals a possible space which could be opened if “Zionism” was abandoned for a more equitable form of Jewish nationalism, which necessarily includes open discussion about the rights of all under Israeli rule, whether they are in Gaza City or Haifa. But this is not just about what I think. How do you approach these issues?

Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to invite Mr. Avishai to a formal debate on Zionism and its discontents in the avenue of his choosing.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Jalal

      I am glad you’ve documented those comments. Very powerful and enlightened discussion was going on in that piece, I’m glad to see more people thinking this way.
      If anything gets me hopeful of our future, it is comments like this.
      To be a post-zionist or to forget zionism, I don’t care as long as you keep it to yourself, don’t shove it in my or anyone’s face. I despise any ideology that thinks of me less and degrades me as a human while it privileges another group of human beings. Liberal or Extremist, it all eventually works for the same purpose.

      Reply to Comment
    2. AYLA

      thank you so much, @Joseph Dana… I also love @SH’s response to me, and immediately agreed with him when he wrote, “But I dislike the term post-Zionism too. If we need another “ism” to motivate us – not sure we do – it should refer to how we want to move on, not to what we have left.” Now, I dislike the term as well. When something rings that true to me, I’m easily changed. @Jalal–your feedback means a lot, and makes me feel like I didn’t waste a day, here. For the record, please know that the term “zionism” means something universally benevolent to many Israelis who will continue to use it innocently To many born here, it has to do with inner-Israel Jewish values, such as hard work and social service and charity… This is what I mean about why I won’t engage with the term. Since it will take a long time for the language to change, please know that many who use it, especially those whose families have been in Israel for generations, have no idea that it sounds hurtful. In fact, *part* of the reason it does sound hurtful is the way the term has been hijacked by those who are against Israel. Also, to many American Jews, saying you’re a Zionist is just like being a woman who’s a feminist (you’re for yourself). So for now, try not to be hurt by the term unless it’s used hurtfully.
      *
      most important is that we get beyond the language and to the heart of the matter(s). We can’t afford the conversation stoppers to which JD refers in this piece.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Moriel Rothman

      I have to give this a shot– while I am not fully convinced by the point I am going to make anymore, I feel that it could add to the conversation.

      So. I believe that Said writes something about the tautology of “Zionism is Zionism.” If I am misquoting Said, ignore that point. What I am trying to say is that I see a similarity in Joseph’s argument, which, if I may boil it down, is as follows: “A Zionist is a Zionist, whether Liberal or Liebermanian. Both subscribe to an ideology that inherently priveleges one ethnicity over others.” Is that fair, @Joseph Dana?

      My main challenge to that statement would be to cite thinkers like Martin Buber, for whom Zionism was neither about ethnic superiortity, or even about statehood, but rather about the communal flourishing and physical safety and spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish people in the land of Zion– and not “at the expense of a single Arab peasant,” to quote Buber, but rather in cooperation with the Palestinian Arabs, with the goal of forming a binational state together in the land of Zion/Palestine.

      Was this Zionism mainstream? No. But neither is real Liberal Zionism. Or, you know what, let’s scrap “Liberal Zionism,” because it does sound derogatory (at least to a Leftist like me who buys into Saul Alinsky’s distinction between “Liberals” and “Leftists”). Neither is real Buberian Zionism. Or Leftist Zionism. Or Humanistic Zionism. Even if this sort of Zionism is a tiny minority, I do not think that it is a contradiction in terms. When I work on a campaign to stop the JNF from evicting a Palestinian family from their house in Silwan, I feel that I am doing it from a place of Buberian Zionism, as well as from a place of basic humanism/basic anti-racism.

      Thoughts?

      Reply to Comment
    4. david goldman, esq.

      Zionism in essence derives from the concept of freedom of association. Jewish self determination doesn’t connote inferiority of another ethnicity….in the same way that going to a yoga group doesn’t translate to the inferiority of non-yoga groups.
      Jews, like any other people, are allowed to live together and keep their cultures and traditions (running the gamut – orthodox to secular).

      Is a Shia Muslim automatically racist against a Sunni Muslim? They kill each other by the thousands and fight over territory, though I have yet to hear this claim.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Mitchell Cohen

      I would like to throw a fly in the ointment: what is “liberal” if you are all debating whether “liberal Zionism” is a valid term or an oxymoron. I, myself, would be labeled “conservative” (even when taking my view on the conflict out of the equation), so I don’t have an issue with being a Zionist, as I don’t have to lose sleep about being a “liberal Zionist”, but is someone, for example, who is for gay rights, against the death penalty, agrees with the socialist economic model, etc., yet believes that Jews have a right to self-determination in Israel under the two state model a “liberal Zionist” or not really “liberal”?

      Reply to Comment
    6. Ben Israel

      David Goldman-
      Let’s be honest, Zionism, starting with the Balfour Declaration said that potential Jewish claims to sovereignity in the Palestine Mandate overrode other national claims. The Arabs completely reject that. The British, on the other hand, claimed that they, having had British blood shed in conquering the territory, as well as vast other former Ottoman Empire territories, gave them the right to dispose of that territory. They gave the Arabs (who had largely supported their Ottoman overlords in World War I) numerous independent states that Arab populations did not contribute anything to creating. So we see the story is rather more complicated than the Arab rejectionists admit.
      However, the Arabs themselves restrict the rights of various minority groups they rule, while at the same time they are complaining about Jewish ethnocracy. All the Arab states define themselves as “Arab”, (the Palestinians state it in the first clause of their constitution) and they all give Sharia Law at least some status in their legal systems, and this law discriminates against non-Muslims.
      So yes, Zionism as I described in the earlier thread, does give Jews advantages in the territory allotted to the Jewish state, but this is no different than what the Arabs themselves do, so we have no reason to have a guilt complex about it. Be proud that you are a Zionist!

      Reply to Comment
    7. Jalal

      Ayala, I don’t think I would ever be not hurt by this term.
      I understand it means something different for Israelis, but why would I not be hurt by something which is “benevolent” to someone on someone else’s expense? an Israeli can’t “continue to use it innocently” if it means causing misery to an indigenous person.
      So, as for
      “try not to be hurt by the term unless it’s used hurtfully”
      It actually hurt so much I just don’t think I would.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Richard Witty

      I’m in transit to a funeral in Londong.

      I’ll write at more length soon.

      I’ve never heard of any “solution” that adequately affirms all parties’ rights. So, Joseph and I are in agreement at that.

      I do want to defend both Bernard Avishai and Gershon Gorenberg. They are approximately my age, my generation and largely represent my values.

      They demonstrate the theme of “live and let live”, and as “living” includes the concept of sovereign self-governance (consent of the governed defining democracy), they seek a political solution that includes the definition of sovereign borders.

      In that, they/we are in opposition to those that advocate for a single-state (whether civil, Palaetinian, Zionist).

      The very great suggestion of Avishai, is that from his discussions with Olmert and Abbas at length first hand, that the right of return is not an irreconciliable question. He suggests that both Olmert and Abbas declared to him that a few criteria would be acceptable bases of right of return. (The same remedy might have to be described in different language to be ratified.)

      Dana describes the difficulty of achieving ratification between the West Bank, Gaza, Israeli, refugee and diaposra Palestinian communities.

      Periodically, he describes it as an impossibility, rendering all reconciliation impossible, as there is “noone to negotiate with”, thereby MAKING the right-wing argument but from an entirely different perspective.

      Avishai describes that there IS someone to negotiate with, and specifically that Palestinian unity between Hamas and Fatah confirms it.

      There are MANY that still regard Fatah as traitor.

      The theme of “resist” vs. “reconcile” is a very very big one, from which very very different attitudes and political strategies emerge.

      I am an advocate for “enough Zionism”. That is an uphill argument to make in the environment of Palestinian and Israeli progressive rejection of pursuing peace (not distinguishing “the” peace process, but of any).

      In the “swhich side are you on” discussion that disses brilliant social critics and propenents of peace (Avishai and Gorenburg as examples), there is only the small tent of vanguard. (Vanguard parties/perspectives are full of vanity, even as they criticize the vanity of those that differ with them.)

      And, in Dana’s case (“I am not proposing, only analyzing”), the absence of proposal is also a negligent absence of responsibility, and somewhat deceptive as there is a strategy that he is pursuing.

      I was very upset that Dana rejected, more than rejected, condemned, the J14 social movement that epitomized the post-Zionist Israeli social reality of common cause between groups across ethnic and political lines. It promised to prospectively gradually manifest a new norm of the relevance of equality in Israeli society, and to prospectively elect alternative administration.

      That is a big deal in a democracy. Critical. Rejected.

      Its ok to be an Israeli, to think in terms of what is the most just, most moral means to be an Israeli. To distinguish between active sympathy for Palestinian experience, needs, aspirations, and more passive solidarity with Palestinian nationalism.

      Its ok to be part of the society that one is a part of, even if elements are repugnant.

      Reply to Comment
    9. ayla

      @Jalal–I understand, I really do. Just, the only reason I understand is from hearing the effect of the term on my Palestinian friends, and many of us don’t have the opportunity to know each other, so many people using the term haven’t been educated as I have. To many, especially those born here, the term doesn’t even relate so much to the founding of the State or to anything that comes at anyone’s expense; to them it means something about values within the society (which also came as new information to me). It’s interesting for me now, personally, because I can be very offended by the term as I know how it affects someone such as yourself, and I can be equally offended when someone jewish calls me an “anti-zionist” because I know what *they* mean. Sigh. I wish that more Jews could understand the affect of the term on Palestinians. I feel very lucky to have learned this firsthand. Thank you for your presence on this thread.

      Reply to Comment
    10. I will monitor the debate a little bit and hopefully allow it to develop. I will also add some comments as needed.

      Witty,
      I never condemned the J14 movement, I criticized it. I pointed out that the movement demonstrates of Israeli cognitive dissonance in an incredibly profound manner. Sadly, I was the one being condemned for raising these legitimate points. Perhaps you should read my fellow writer Yossi Gurvitz’s piece when he insinuated that I was a Palestinian right winger because of my criticism of J14 in the midst of a tirade calling for an end to cooperation between the ‘international left’ and its Israeli counterpart.
      Secondly, when I write a proposal for solving this whole conflict, you will be the first one to know. In the meantime, let’s look at some of these issues and discuss them without the burden of ‘solutions’ which are no where near reality.
      Zionism is no longer an issue which only concerns Jews or Israelis. Zionism is now an issue up for legitimate discussion by all under Israeli control or have had their lives destroyed because of Israeli conquest. Let’s leave the general topic of Jewish nationalism inside the Jewish realm for now and discuss Zionism in a joint and cooperative way. Do you think that Avishai or Gorenberg would agree to debate Zionism with Omar Barghouti or even Mustfa Barghouti? I doubt it… from both sides. This is what needs to change. That is my proposal.
      Sorry to hear about the funeral.

      Reply to Comment
    11. AYLA

      @Jalal–p.s. Read @Moriel Rothman’s thoughtful feedback (as always, Moriel) to see the roots (in part) of the term’s original benevolence (ie Buber). I’m not trying to convince you to like the term; only to trust that it’s possible for people to use it in a way that has no negative bearing on anyone. That is, until we grow beyond this language, as I trust we will since the terms has, sadly, become so problematic and polemic even between jews.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Ben Israel

      When I hear the term “Liberal Zionism” I interpret it as meaning the person is a Zionist, and, at the same time, holds post-Modernist values that say that any distinction whatsoever between people is absolutely forbidden and that no one may judge the values of any other people. A corollary to this is that all religions are equally true, or equally false, however you want to look at it.
      Thus, President Obama is a good post-Modernist when he throws an annual Passover Seder in the White House, even though he isn’t a Jew. So is the British court that ruled a Jewish school may not define who is a Jew regarding admission policy, the post-Modernist state takes that power away from the Jewish community and says that anybody who wants to call himself a Jew is a Jew and thus the Jewish community is “racist” for insisting on its right to do so.
      Thus, according to this criteria, Zionism is inherently invalid, because it draws distinctions between people…saying that Jews have national rights in Eretz Israel. So if we assume my definition of Liberal Zionism is correct, then Liberal Zionism is an oxymoron and the two can’t coexist together.
      In the same vein, Orthodox Judaism is also abhorrent, because it opposes intermarriage and views Jews and non-Jews as having different rights and responsibilities. Totally politcally incorrect.
      What I find interesting is that many post-Modernists are attracted to radical Islam because it is “univeralist” in that it wants to impose itself on everyone, thus being an enemy of that hated “particularism” or “tribalism” which is the worst crime a post-Modernist can think of.

      Reply to Comment
    13. AYLA

      @Moriel–in my perfect world, we could reclaim the term based on Buber’s definition and your associations, which were once mine as well. Sadly, I think we have to let it go, since it has become too hurtful to Palestinians, and at the same time, abused and distorted to the point of confusion and abstraction between Jews. Luckily, it’s just language. What you and your actions stand for, I believe in. What should we call it, now?

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    14. AYLA

      @BenIsrael–there are so many problems in your last post, I’m afraid I’m too tired to take them on well tonight. I’ll say only that no one I know thinks Orthodox Judaism is abhorrent; only that some orthodox jews/rabbis can use their beliefs and/or textual interpretations in harmful ways. I actually know leftist orthodox jews, who don’t believe they should have to water down their halekhic practice in order to be egalitarian and humanitarian, and they (rabbis included) find textual (torah based) support for their beliefs; how about that? Your last sentence about “post-Modernists” and “radical Islam”–whoa; what? Beyond each problematic and separatist idea there, sometimes your comments can lead us way off topic. I believe this may be one of those times, and I hope people won’t be led astray because the subject is of crucial importance to all of us.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Ben Israel

      Ayla-
      I am always checking my beliefs and aim to know the truth. Do you agree that “liberalism” is the same as Post-Modernism which rejects any distinctions between people and any judgmentalism about other people’s values? If not, how am I wrong?

      Reply to Comment
    16. AYLA

      @BI–I meant it when I said I was too tired to do this well, so I’ll be brief. I object to all of these separating terms, especially since, much like “zionism”, they lend themselves to too many interpretations. Of course there are distinctions between people and cultures; distinctions I (as I can only speak for myself) appreciate and do not aim to blur or dilute. I think there are problems with terms such as “liberalism” as well as “Post Modernism” individually, so I would never compound those problems by saying they’re the same. I judge individual’s values, not an entire society’s values, because once you actually know people, you know you can’t lump them all together. Take Jews like you and me, right? If someone reads what you write and what I write, what can they take away about Jewish values? Same in all cultures. That’s not an idea; that’s truth.
      *
      I think you’d do better to get off all this terminology and speak to the heart of whatever it is you’re trying to say in regard to Zionism and Joseph Dana’s questions.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Zionists (liberal or otherwise) are not the only people who say, in effect, “I have a right to be myself, and to be myself I must trash the rights of other people.” Jews living in Israel are not the only people who must say, “I must cut back my dreams, stop living in the manner to which I have become accustomed — and to which I feel entitled.”

      Global warming means that we all, but particularly people who use a LOT of fossil fuels (directly or indirectly), must cut way down on fuel use, eat less meat, have fewer children, etc. We live in tough times.

      MANY PEOPLE IGNORE THIS, SAYING “I HAVE A RIGHT TO EAT MEAT, AIR-CONDITION, HEAT, etc.”

      ZIONISTS SAY, “I HAVE A RIGHT TO OCCUPY PRE-1967 ISRAEL (or POST-1967 ISRAEL).

      Think about these assertions of “right”. They are mistakes of replacing thinking with feeling.

      Reply to Comment
    18. AYLA

      @Mitchell Cohen–you’re speaking on a basic level to what many liberal jews like myself realize in college, which is that it’s interesting that while our views mostly align perfectly with general leftist views (as you said: against death penalty, pro gay rights, pro choice, etc.), our general support of israel is considered right wing. That gives us pause. That confuses us. We think the Left got this one wrong. We feel misunderstood. Some of us grow up to be more politically conservative, generally. Some remain liberals on everything but Israel. Others, like myself, have many of our previous ideas about Israel challenged time and time again until we become Liberal on Israel as well (while at the same time, remaining aware of all the anti-Israel propaganda and its dangers). To many of us, our new awareness doesn’t mean that we turn against Israel. Rather, it means we want to fight for a more just Israel as a way of ensuring Israel’s future as well as in order to fight for human rights for al in the region. We won’t stand for an Israel in our name that comes at the expense of others, today (we can’t correct each wrongdoing of the past). To us, it is offensive to be told we are anti-Israel (which is how I hear ‘anti-zionist’ from jews) simply because we criticize Israel’s domestic policies and the occupation. That’s like being told you’re anti-american for criticizing the Iraqi war or any given president. to me, that’s a very easy, ignorant, tea-party-esque way to shut down intellectual political discourse, and since I take Judaism more personally than americanism, it offends me more personally. As I said to Ben Israel–it would do us all good to get beyond the labels and into a deeper dialogue. I’m afraid I can’t contribute regarding Avishai etc., but I fully appreciate the way in which Joseph Dana has found a concrete occasion for this subject, and would like to see those in the know honor this dialogue track.

      Reply to Comment
    19. aristeides

      This is not the first time I have agreed with Ben Israel, accepting his definition of Zionism. Except that he believes it is legitimate and I do not.

      .
      I greatly prefer honest clarity to “liberal” weaseling about “right of free association” and other platitudes that don’t address the real issue.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Mitchell Cohen

      @Ayla, I disagree with your politics (on Israel; I don’t know what your American politics or politics on other issues are), but I don’t consider you “anti-Israel”. I don’t think I ever said or implied you were. Regarding labels, the only reason I asked my question in this thread is because Joseph Dana’s original column on this topic (of which this thread is an offshoot of) is on the “bankruptcy” of “liberal Zionism”, hence we need to come to an agreement of what (in this discussion) we consider within the tent of “Zionism” and within the tent of “liberalism”. I know there are at least a couple of columnists on this very site, who consider themselves simultaneously “Zionists” and “liberal”. I am not a big fan of labels myself, but I am not the one who started this discussion based on describing Avishai and Gorenberg as “liberal Zionists”….

      Reply to Comment
    21. AYLA

      @Mitchell–I never felt you were calling me anti-israel; you and I usually seem to respect and appreciate each other despite our different views. I was just speaking to your question about the term “liberal zionism.” I really understand why columnists such as Larry Derfner self-define this way; they have been attacked as anti-israel for their leftist criticism of the State. While I maintain that the term “zionism” is one I can’t engage with in the real world any more (see @Jalal’s comments), I certainly believe one can support israel not only despite one’s liberal views, but via them, because support and negative criticism are not mutually exclusive; quite the contrary. There is a more sophisticated discussion to be had, though, re: Avishai and Gorenberg. I defer to those in the know.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Mitchell Cohen

      Ok, I want to try to “honor Joseph Dana’s dialogue track”. I believe in the other (original) thread on this topic, JD brought up the “issue” of how many “liberal Zionists” serve and/or send their kids to serve in the IDF. Obviously, serving in the IDF doesn’t disqualify one from being a “Zionist”, but does it automatically disqualify one from being a “liberal”. I know that no small number of individuals who consider themselves “liberal” and were VERY critical of the United State Government (under Bush) and against the war in Iraq, nevertheless, serve/d in the American Military? And, let us remember, unlike the IDF, the American Military is strictly voluntary. So where does IDF service fit into this equation? I know for a fact there is a proud Hadash voter (and self-proclaimed “post Zionist”) who posts on this site from time to time (I won’t mention his name) who proudly stated that he served in an elite unit and now his son is serving in Shaldag. Is he disqualified from being a “liberal” or a “dove”? Is he automatically a “Zionist”, rather than a “post Zionist”?

      Reply to Comment
    23. Bosko

      I agree with what David Goldman Esq said. I would also add that all who question what Zionism is have lost the plot and are complicating a very simple idea. Let me express that idea in my own words.
      .
      First: Zionism IS NOT about superiority or inferiority. It is not saying that Jews are better or worse than anyone else.
      .
      Second: Zionism IS about gathering the Jewish people and rebuilding a Jewish nation state to keep Jewish culture alive, to speak Hebrew, to our kids Jewish history etc.
      .
      Third: Zionism is no more exclusionary than Italianism, Greekism or Arabism. It tolerates the idea of minorities living in the nation state of the Jewish people with full rights as citizens. Those rights, however, do not extend to the right to alter the national character of the Jewish nation state. That is not an abuse of minority rights in the same way that not altering the cultures and languages of Italy, Greece or Arab countries is not a given right of minorities living in those countries. And in the same way that most Jews who live as minorities in Muslim or Christian countries, accept that the national holidays will always be Ramadan or Christmas, yet they can still celebrate their own holidays too.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Sinjim

      I agree with @Jalal. Zionism has been nothing but an ideology of catastrophes and setbacks for the Palestinian people. It is difficult for us to see its supporters as anything other than supporters of our personal tragedies.
      .
      Having said that, if ever there were a form of Zionism that would be palatable to the Palestinians living with this reality, it would be the one espoused by @Moriel Rothman. I think Palestinians by and large accept a physical and cultural Jewish presence in historic Palestine. Personally, I have no wish to see it disrupted or destroyed.

      Reply to Comment
    25. Sinjim

      Those who say Zionism is “nothing more than this or that” can only talk about Zionism in the abstract. Zionism is not just an idea or a principle that exists only in the mind of its supporters. It has been put into practice. And in practice it has meant more than just the idea that Jews ought to have the right to come together.
      .
      So for those claiming that Zionism tolerates minorities in its presence, the reality proves them wrong. There was the ethnic cleansing of several hundred thousand people in 1948, followed by intermittent ethnic cleansing until 1967 (the village of Shaab is one example), followed by another large wave of ethnic cleansing in the period after the 1967 war, and the ethnic cleansing that continues to this day in places like Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah.
      .
      Zionists (liberal or otherwise) can pretend this is an aberration of their ideology and that tolerance is the norm, but when it keeps happening over and over again, when does this “bug” become a “feature”?

      Reply to Comment
    26. Richard Witty

      Joseph,
      I think you pink-wash your own comments on J14. I did read the discussion between you and Yossi Gurvitz. I don’t remember thinking of you as victim.

      The significance of “proposal” is relative to what actions does one take?

      You do articulate proposals, specifically the emphasis of a rights-based organizing principle. That is laudatory, except when it becomes functionally selective.

      It is the same as you criticize, that Avishai, or mine, or others’ perspective does not incorporate views that are outside of the paradigm adopted.

      Avishai’s paradigm is of reconciliation, and seeks to mediate. That is also Obama’s favored role.

      Do you understand what I mean when I say that you have justified the right-wing view? That in constructing a set of relevant concerns and relevant communities’ perspetive that can never agree (West Bank, Gazan, Palestinian Israeli, refugee, and diaspora Paletinian), in ways you keep the conflict playing, indefinteily.

      Jews have been chased around the world. Harrassed for one thing, then harrassed for the exact oppossite, neer permanently accepted so long as they retain any coherent association as Jews (rather than assimilated). The theme of never-ending, never-endable struggle, is a repetition of the harrassment of Jews (yes, in those terms).

      The seeking of peace, that includes a form of right of return (proposed/summarized by Avishai), potentially ends what has been the knottiest element of conflict.

      It would be wonderful if some Palestinian solidarity would rise up here, defend Avishai’s intention, and say “Yes, that is what we desire, a day in court before a consented judge, to state our case. Our rights.”

      Ayla,
      Read work by Gorenberg and by Avishai. They really don’t resemble Joseph’s characterization. I’ve only read snippets of the Harper’s article and of Gorenberg’s book.

      Even the concept of single state, Avishai addresses in his presentations. He declares that to his understanding a federated state in some form is an inevitability long-term.

      The degree of power that each state in a federation would hold is a grey, open question. Whether EU, or Belgium, or Lebanon, or US.

      Another significance of proposal is what happens when one “succeeds”. One of the criticisms of right-wing Zinoism is that its “success” is a suppression of Palestinians.

      That is not the case with the liberal Zionist theme of “enough Israel”. Its success is Palestinian health, viability.

      What is the success of the anti-Zionist theme? If determinedly oriented to equal rights for all, and confidently so, then a US like equal rights setting might evolve. (who can guarantee that? Can Joseph Dana? Ali Abunimeh?)

      If the form of equal rights for all ends with a single state with a Palestinian nationalist majority, and suppressing Jewish rights, then even by the criteria of democractic principles, it would be far worse than viable two-states with “AND democratic” the more prominent theme in each.

      Reply to Comment
    27. AYLA

      @Sinjim–thank you… @Mitchell–did you see Joseph Dana’s response to my questions, along the same lines as yours (can you be liberal and serve in the army–though I asked differently), on the original post’s comment thread? Check it out if not. He responded beautifully. To me, sure you can be a leftist Israeli and serve in the IDF (though I could personally never do it, nor raise a child to serve. for me personally, my reasons are quite selfish: not something for which I’m willing to risk my own or my child’s life, which I DO know makes my citizenship here controversial for yet another reason–all things I wrestle with and don’t take lightly). But still, to me, yes, sure, you can be liberal and serve. These choices are very personal and deep and individual. David Grossman is among the leftists with whom I most identify, and he just lost a son in the second Lebanon War (this breaks my heart), and he himself has served. Each person has to ask themselves what is right for them, and there are a lot of questions and answers beyond yes or no (will one serve in the West Bank? In combat? At the checkpoints? In any conflict for which one is called upon, or depending on the conflict? etc). All I object to is when we (not you, Mitchell–we) label each other and judge each other broadly based on these complex and personal choices (serving, not serving, supporting this or that (Pal RoR, BDS) living in a settlement, becoming a citizen) rather than listening to each other and facing the true complexity of each life and learning. If we’re going to judge, which of course I do…, we should be educated beyond preconceived ideas and should do so on an individual vs. collective basis. I could also never live in a settlement as you’ve told us you do, but I know many good people who do for a wide variety of reasons. We have to listen to each other. Not just Jewish Israelis and Palestinians: so-called leftist and conservative jews, so-called religious and secular jews. We have to ask.

      Reply to Comment
    28. AYLA

      RichardWitty–no thanks on the reading. My nightstand is piled high; my list too long; I leave the theory (in this case) to others–we all have different ways of learning and understanding.

      Reply to Comment
    29. Sinjim

      @Richard Witty: Liberal Zionists can’t guarantee that their “success” is Palestinian health or viability, either. If anything based on their track record of settlement building and racist policies, Palestinians would be stupid to depend on their “guarantees.”

      Reply to Comment
    30. Bosko

      Sinjim
      .
      Don’t mix up historical events with what Zionism stands for. Firstly, because any wrongs that some Zionists committed did not happen in isolation. It happened in the context of wrongs committed by Arab nationalists in the name of their cause in a war that should not have been started because there is room in the land that you know as Palestine for both a Jewish nation state and another Arab nation state.
      .
      Second, the people who committed wrongs on both sides, did not do that because it says somewhere in their nationalist handbook (for want of a better word) that those wrong deeds must be done. They committed those deeds because it was their interpretation of what had to be done. I say that equally about Jewish nationalists (Zionists) and Arab nationalists.

      Reply to Comment
    31. sh

      Not being an academic, I won’t be drawn into defining the word Liberal. But I’ll have a go at Zionist. The reason I can’t relinquish the word Zion is because I know that it was torn from its normal habitat and bit by bit transformed into something else and I want it reclaimed, not forgotten. Religious Jews sing one of the Psalms three times on Shabbat just before the prayers said after meals. The first line of Shir Hamaalot means roughly “when the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed”.
      .
      Zion also appears all over other religious texts some of which predate by a couple of thousand years, as that Psalm does, both Herzl and the person who coined – read filched – the Z-word in the early 1890s, a Mr. Nathan Birnbaum. He singlehandedly ran a newspaper called Selbstemanzipation in which the word Zionismus made its first appearance. His justification for the expression appears in a book by Alex Bein entitled “The Jewish question: biography of a world problem”:
      .
      “Zionism is derived from the word Zion. Zion, the name of a hill in Jerusalem, has since olden times been the poetic designation for Jerusalem. Since that city was regarded as the focal point of the Jewish land, it became by extension the poetic name of this land and of the Jewish nation insofar as it was rooted in the soil of Palestine and had become one with it. When the Roman legions dissolved this unity, the word Zion acquired the flavor of longing; the hope of a national rebirth was embodied in it … Zion became the ideal of the Jewish tribe and accompanied it on its road of life and sorrow for two thousand years. This ideal is the foundation of Zionism, but it did not build on it until an unconscious emotion had become thinking consciousness, sorrowful yearning had turned into an active will, and an unfruitful ideal had become a saving idea.”
      .
      The flavor of longing describes the word Zion exactly, never mind the rest. As Ayla mentioned, in its natural context it becomes rather like the word jihad. Both are potent poetic concepts that have been borrowed from religious texts and subverted. (Just a few years later, Mr. Birnbaum left his Zionismus high and dry to return to yearning and learning.)
      .
      I really liked Pabelmont’s post.
      I understand Jalal’s remarks and lament but am not exactly surprised that Zionist to him sounds like Nazi to us. There are easily discernible brutalities you don’t have to leave Jerusalem to see that seem to be considered Zionism by our leaders. Most who see themselves as Liberal Zionists (Avishai excluded) choose not to notice or protest them in significant numbers although they happen right under their noses. Several luxury hotels overlook neighborhoods in the capital where, sanctioned by the courts and guarded by our forces of “order”, settlers have been allowed to share the Al-Kurds’ home and front yard. Earsplitting floodlit all-night celebrations can be held with impunity at an upgraded, erstwhile minor religious site in the heart of the same residential neighborhood and the police neither intervenes nor checks the decibels. What does that Zionism have to do with Zion?
      .
      Sinjim’s penultimate sentence is gratifying and I am glad of the last one too.

      Reply to Comment
    32. sh

      Whoops, I meant a previous post by Sinjim, better quote those sentences:
      .
      “I think Palestinians by and large accept a physical and cultural Jewish presence in historic Palestine. Personally, I have no wish to see it disrupted or destroyed.”

      Reply to Comment
    33. RichardL

      @Bosko: I think you cherry pick historical events. After all Herzl wanted to spirit the indigenous population across the border half a century before Arab armies reluctantly entered the fray. That was wrongful Zionist intent in complete isolation from Arab wrongs(following on of course from similar sentiments expressed earlier by Napoleon and William Blackstone). This racist, expansionist concept continues apace today so that it is now difficult to conceive of an Arab nation state in what I “know as Palestine” (i.e. the territory that formed the British mandate).
      The central point you overlook is that an immigrant population set out to construct a Jewish state with complete indifference to the interests and wishes of the indigenous population which had been living on that land for thousands of years. (And I take Shlomo Sands thesis into account in my calculations here.) That rape was a direct consequence of Zionism, ergo that is what Zionism stands for.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Bosko

      RichardL
      .
      You can choose to interpret Herzl in any unsympathatetic way that you choose. But my above comment still applies. Even if you are right about Herzl which I am not convinced, Herzl did not own Zionism. He just voiced the yearnings of a people who are as indigenous to the land of Israel as the American Indians are to America and the Australian Aborigines to Australia. Those natives too lost their lands to invaders hundreds of years ago yet no one is suggesting that they have no longer have rights in their native lands. You want to talk about racism? Then let me talk about it too. Anyone who suggests that the Jewish people have no right to at least part of their ancestral homeland next to an Arab state (the two state solution) is a racist. A racist because the Jewish people have rights too.

      Reply to Comment
    35. Bosko

      QUESTION: Should Palestinian Arab aspirations and nationalism be discredited because of what the Mufti of Jerusalem, Al Husseini, said and did? Because of his collaboration with Nazi Germany?
      .
      RichardL, your answer has surely gotta be YES!!! If you want to be consistent that is …

      Reply to Comment
    36. Gali

      If you are going to discuss “Post-Zionism” its perhaps best to begin with a definition .
      Here is Uri Avnery’s @
      http://middle-east-analysis.blogspot.com/2007/07/post-scaffolding-for-israel-avnery.html

      ” “Post-Zionism” in its true meaning is a long way from “anti-Zionism”. It recognizes Zionism’s historical achievements: the formation of a new society, the revival of the Hebrew language and the creation of the state [of Israel.] It does this without ignoring the dark aspects – the historical injustice done to the Palestinian people.

      The essence of post-Zionism lies in recognizing that Zionism had fulfilled its role with the foundation of the State of Israel. Since then a new nation was born, the Israeli nation, composed of the citizens of Israel, much as the American nation is composed of the citizens of the United States. “

      Reply to Comment
    37. Henry Weinstein

      Kudos to Sinjim for having written such an edgy analysis (Monday, November 28 2011 2:20pm), as straight as a scalpel blade.
      .
      One doesn’t have to be anti-Zionist to get the message, and feel empathy with such words: Zionism from the standpoint of its victims, to quote Edward Said.
      .
      No offense but I’m less enamoured with your previous comment, Sinjim.
      This sentence in particular: “I think Palestinians by and large accept a physical and cultural Jewish presence in historic Palestine”.
      .
      I’m too tired to argue, so what you will get is an instant poem, an improvisation. Apologize.
      .
      Jews coming in Palestine from Europe
      They had enough of this, Sinjim
      Contempt, discriminations, pogroms.
      Jews coming in Palestine from Europe, speaking words of Zionism
      They wanted to build a free nation
      It was in their blood, the longing for a shelter.
      Jews coming in Palestine from Europe
      They had enough of this
      Nevermore depend on the good will of Jew Haters
      Nevermore.
      They founded Israel with their blood
      In a dirty war
      Jews coming in Palestine from Europe
      Dead unknown soldiers
      Dreamers.
      They gave their blood and the politicians won the war
      Telling lies and preparing the next wars
      Making the Palestinians victims of the Jewish freedom
      And the diaspora learnt how to speak words of Zionism.
      First it was David against Goliath
      Then it was Zionist against Terrorist
      It was Occupation most of the time
      But nobody dares to point it.
      And here we are In the Occupied Land
      Watching nowadays
      Jews coming from the United States or Russia
      Speaking words which mean nothing anymore.
      Time to find a new vocabulary
      This world is so sick
      And no exit door
      No escape.
      .
      Edward Said wrote the Palestinians were “the victims of victims”, and that the Israelis must acknoledge this, just as no Palestinian can ignore the roots of Zionism.
      (Source: The Edward Said Reader)
      .
      You don’t have to be “Zionist” to care for the Israelis, for Israel, that’s what I think, that’s what I feel.
      Anyway I hate to be labeled, put in a box.
      The good thing is it allows me to care for the Palestinians.

      Reply to Comment
    38. Henry Weinstein

      Proofreading à la Ayla:
      and the Israelis must acknowledge this, avec un w

      Reply to Comment
    39. Ben Israel

      I must say I have learned a lot from participating here at 972. I did not know the difference between anti-Zionism and post-Zionism as Avnery points out. I also learned that there are people who state the Jews are not a people and had no right to make aliyah, YET they hold that, given that six million Jews do live here, Israel can continue to exist as a Jewish majority state as long as it pulls back to the Green Line and doesn’t define itself as a “Jewish state” and gives Arab identity equal billing.
      Fine. But this still leaves a gigantic hole out there. The problem is illustrated beautifully by Avnery himself…on the one hand, he states that there are “historic achievements of Zionism” which are good, but, on the other hand, there were the injustices done to the Palestinians. Aren’t the two a direct contradiction. Don’t the Palestinians consider the Balfour Declaration and UN Partiton Plan of 1947 “historic injustices”? Don’t they view the mass immigration of Jews that came in their wake a massive injustice? Wouldn’t it be true that EVEN IN THE EVENT OF AN IMPLEMENTATION OF A PALESTINIAN RIGHT OF RETURN of a million or so refugees, there will still be the injustice of a large Jewish population that has no right to be here, as the Arabs see it, and that this undigested Jewish mass will still be seen to be “economically exploiting” the Arab population and, what is even more problematic, this Jewish mass will have a culture that is directly threatening to the culture and religion of the Arab/Muslim population that is mixed in with it. Won’t Arab grievances against the Jewish population remain essentially intact?
      After all, in Europe there never was a problem with a Jewish nationalist movement. All the Jew wanted to be was good citizens of whatever country they lived in….YET, by the 1930’s there was pretty much a general consensus throughout the European continent that there was a “Jewish problem” and the Europeans were waiting for someone to do something about it.
      The Arab/Israeli “peace” we see the Liberal Zionists, the post-Zionists, the one-staters and all the rest WOULD NOT SOLVE THE JEWISH PROBLEM IN ISRAEL/PALESTINE.
      My question has been asked here before and I will ask it again: IF THE JEWISH PRESENCE IN THE COUNTRY IS IMMORAL FROM THE ARAB POINT OF VIEW-WHY SHOULD THEY MAKE PEACE WITH ISRAEL? Why shouldn’t they simply continue a war of attrition with Israel and the Jewish yishuv continue as long as it takes until the Jews leave? They can argue that only then will the rights of the Palestinians be truly guaranteed?
      Aren’t the Liberal Zionists , post-Zionists and even “one staters” indulging merely in wishful thinking, believing that there can eventually be some sort reconciliatino of conflicting Arab and Jewish claims?

      Reply to Comment
    40. Bosko

      “Aren’t the Liberal Zionists , post-Zionists and even “one staters” indulging merely in wishful thinking”
      .
      Thank you Ben Israel. Wishful thinking has been the elephant in the room amongst a vocal minority. Some of them mean well but they knoweth not what they are talking about. Yet they are sooooooooo convinced that they are right. This will end badly, for everybody, I am sad to say.

      Reply to Comment
    41. Bosko

      Joseph Dana …
      .
      “or more specifically, the Israeli social constructs, to be found in the Zionist ideology of supremacy”
      .
      http://972mag.com/response-to-joseph-dana-a-case-for-liberal-zionism/28549/
      .
      Zionism is no more supremacist than any other nationalist movement. The only difference between it and say the Bosnian Muslim national aspirations is the religion of the aspirants. The objective of Zionism was to liberate the Jewish people from persecutions and to give Jewish people self determination. In the same way that Bosnian Muslims demanded the right to establish their own state for the same reasons.
      .
      Yet no one asserts that Bosnian Muslims are supremacists. Could there be some other ideology at work here which espouses such discrimination?
      .
      PS
      I am posting this here rather than on that other thread because I don’t want to side track the interesting debate between Larry and Dana. For what it’s worth, so far I side with Larry. In fact, I say to him Kol Hakavod for what he said. I could not have said it better.

      Reply to Comment
    42. RichardL

      BOSKO:Let me start with your original comment which I am trying to interpret fairly, and I apologise sincerely if I misunderstand you. My understanding is that you are saying that Arab intervention in 1948 is the context for Zionist “wrongs” (and those wrongs of course include coveting another people’s land and the atrocities such as Deir Yassin that were perpetuated in order to achieve this). Also that there is room for a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli one (and I interpret this to be in the mandate area west of the Jordan).
      To this you add, concerning Zionists, “a people who are as indigenous to the land of Israel as the American Indians are to America and the Australian Aborigines to Australia” which is questionable at least with regard to the Ashkenazim. This comparison however does not hold since neither the Aborigines nor the Indians are guilty of an ethnic cleansing which was planned in advance, began in 1948 and continues to this day.
      Of course the Jewish people have rights, the same rights as a child of a rape. Of course they now have the right to live in the land of Israel if they so choose. What I maintain, and what you appear to be obfuscating or perhaps even contesting is that Palestinians have equal rights to the Jewish citizens of Israel, both within Israel and in Palestine. And that they too have the right to live in their ancestral homeland either within Israel or in a state of Palestine.
      One should judge a movement by what it does and what it achieves. Zionism achieved, and continues to work for, the premeditated violent mass expulsion of much of the indigenous Arab population of Palestine. This you try to absolve by selectively using history to present the aggressor as victim. Yes, in response there were crimes and atrocities committed by the indigenes, but this was against a people who had immigrated into their land with the intention of ejecting and supplanting them.

      Finally to turn your last question back on you :
      QUESTION: Should Zionist aspirations and nationalism be discredited because of what the Stern Gang said and did (including murdering the first UN negotiator sent to Palestine)? Because of their attempted collaboration with Nazi Germany?

      Yours is a cheap jibe which cuts both ways. This kind of muck raking achieves nothing. It does however bring me back to my point of entry in this debate. You are unfairly and selectively using history. The fact is Al Husseini’s fanaticism was a response to Zionism, not the other way around. But it always serves as good copy for Zionist hasbara.

      Reply to Comment
    43. Bosko

      RICHRDL
      .
      Your first mistake is the way that you interpret “other people’s lands”. The way I read that is that by virtue of the Arab invasions in the 7th century after the Arabs conquered those lands, Palestine became exclusively and irrevocably Arab land. And that’s despite the fact that both before and after the Arab invasion, right to our present day, there has always been Jewish presence in the land that you call Palestine. Overall a much longer and continuous history than the Arab presence.
      .
      But despite that, most Zionists, including me, have agreed with the two state solution. One Jewish state one Arab state. So all your accusations against the Zionists are misdirected lies that you have come to accept (I am not necessarily saying your lies, I am saying that you accept lies). And if you don’t believe that the Arabs were the ones who have been playing the zero sum game, not the Zionists, then ask yourself this: How do you explain the fact that 20% of Israel’s citizens are Arabs but between 1948 and 1967 when the West Bank was under Arab control, there was not a single Jew to be found there. Even though prior to 1948, lots of Jews lived in places like East Jerusalem and Gush Etzion. So please tell me Tim, since you seem to be so distraught by the expulsion of Arabs by Jews which DID happen although not every Arab who fled was expelled by Jews. Since you are so upset by that, how come you are not equally upset by the expulsion of Jews by Arabs? Or didn’t you know that happened too?
      .
      Now before I proceed further, please convince me why the land that you call Palestine belongs only to Arabs and none of it to the Jews. Frankly, I am scandalized by such a notion. It is a myth that some people seem to be too ready to accept. I must admit, I harbour suspicions about such people. It also upsets me that acceptance of such a myth means that the Jewish people should be stateless and depend on the whims of other people. You do know how that worked out for the Jewish people historically, don’t you? Not very well!!!

      Reply to Comment
    44. Moriel Rothman

      @Sinjim, thanks for your comment. I do hear what you are saying about Zionism being more than just a concept, but I also resonated, as an Arabic-speaker, with SH and Ayla’s parallel with the the word “jihad,” which, in its root, means struggle.

      I think the real question for all of us concerned with peace and justice is this– how much effort do we put effort into reclaiming terms that have been corrupted and perverted (ie. does a Muslim peace activist call his campaign a ‘jihad,’ does an Israeli peace activist say she is trying to live out ‘Zionism’)?

      For me, Deir Yassin and Qufr Qassem and The Wall and expulsions Silwan are all perversions of the Zionism I believe in. But then, I push back on myself, as ask: ‘Is there a point in trying to reclaim something that has been so strongly and long-ly twisted and morphed?’

      But then, on the other hand, it is clear that Martin Luther King Jr. knew full well that when the founding fathers of the US said that “all men are created equal,” they were not talking about black men, and yet his reclamation of “American Values” and the “American Promise” was such a powerful trope in his speeches and activism.

      To sharpen the question: Is there a strategic value in using the term Zionism to describe actions that most would see as “anti-Zionist,” ie. A protest against racism in Jaffa. Can that be a Zionist action, if a form of Zionism is understood as seeking first and foremost to act justly on this holy soil? And on the other side of the question, if it is called Zionism, might that help more people support it? Or will it hurt its legitimacy? I ask these as real questions to which I do not have set answers.

      Reply to Comment
    45. aristeides

      Ben Israel asks: “IF THE JEWISH PRESENCE IN THE COUNTRY IS IMMORAL FROM THE ARAB POINT OF VIEW-WHY SHOULD THEY MAKE PEACE WITH ISRAEL?”

      .
      I’m not sure who you mean by “Arab.” Assuming that you mean the Palestinian occupants of Mandatory Palestine, the answer is pretty clear. They should make peace for the reason any party to a war makes peace. To end it.

      .
      But it would have to be a just peace. The real question is: If Israel rejects the injustice of its founding, why should it make a just peace with the Palestinians? And I can’t see any reason, except for force, that it would ever do this.

      Reply to Comment
    46. RichardL

      BOSKO wrote: “So all your accusations against the Zionists are misdirected lies that you have come to accept.”

      Well here is the list of my accusations, copied and pasted. Deny all of it if you dare.
      1) Herzl wanted to spirit the indigenous population across the border half a century before Arab armies reluctantly entered the fray.
      2) This racist, expansionist concept continues apace today…
      3) …an immigrant population set out to construct a Jewish state with complete indifference to the interests and wishes of the indigenous population which had been living on that land for thousands of years. (And I take Shlomo Sands thesis into account in my calculations here.)
      4) …an ethnic cleansing which was planned in advance, began in 1948 and continues to this day.
      5) Zionism achieved, and continues to work for, the premeditated violent mass expulsion of much of the indigenous Arab population of Palestine.
      6) …a people who had immigrated into their land with the intention of ejecting and supplanting them.
      7) the Stern Gang… murder[ed] the first UN negotiator sent to Palestine
      8) … their attempted collaboration with Nazi Germany
      9) Al Husseini’s fanaticism was a response to Zionism, not the other way around. But it always serves as good copy for Zionist hasbara.

      I care not whether you are “scandalized”,” harbour suspicions” or are upset. I DO care that you appear to think that the Nakba was the fault of invading Arab armies (“any wrongs that some Zionists committed did not happen in isolation. It happened in the context of wrongs committed by Arab nationalists in the name of their cause in a war that should not have been started”). You are trying to lead me in a merry dance around Aborigines, Red Indians, the Mufti of Jerusalem, the 7th century Arab invasion and the Arab expulsions of Jews in 1948. All this in a careful attempt to avoid my central tenet: that Zionism carefully planned the expulsion of a people who had lived in Palestine for millennia, and from 1948 onward has ruthlessly proceeded to carry this out, no holds barred, no evil act excluded.

      I totally support the human rights of Israeli Jews, and I condemn all human rights abuses including those by Arabs. But no one has the right to expel another people, or to steal, murder, rape, pillage, occupy, humiliate, oppress and torture a population that had the misfortune to live on land coveted by a predatory settlement project. This last sentence is the point that I have yet to get your agreement on.

      Reply to Comment
    47. Bosko

      The root cause of this problem is demonstrated by posts such as RICHARDL and others. Their fundamentalist belief that EVERY SQUARE INCH of historic Palestine belongs to Arabs and Arabs only. That’s why they have been waging a continual war against the Jews of Palestine for nearly 100 years now. Sure, in that war, the Jewish side too committed wrongs but pullllleeeeese, stop this monstrous pretence that the Arabs committed no wrongs or that any wrongs that they committed are somehow justifiable. Such claims don’t stand up to scrutiny. It does not pass the BS meter test. Both sides have things to answer for many Jews accept that. I don’t hear too many Arabs accepting that yet, or the fact that BOTH peoples, the Jewish people and the Arab people have historic rights to Palestine. When the majority of Palestinian Arabs will assimilate that simple truth, the war will end, the occupation will end and peace will break out.
      .
      Make no mistake about it. The ball is in the court of the Arabs to demonstrate a change in attitude because every attempt by more pragmatic Israeli leaders who offered generous peace offers, and even unilateral withdrawals has been
      Rebuffed and rejected by the Palestinian Arab leadership who still cling to the old notion, some secretly, some openly, that “it’s all Arab lands”. That has been the problem and that is still the problem. There is nothing more that more moderate, pragmatic Jewish leaders can do while this problem persists.

      Reply to Comment
    48. Bosko

      RICHARDL
      .
      “1) Herzl wanted to spirit the indigenous population across the border half a century before Arab armies reluctantly entered the fray”
      .
      Reluctantly entered the fray? BS. They entered the fray with gusto and then they cooled off when they realised that the Zionists are not just there for their picking.
      .
      As for your allegations about Herzl, even if true (which they are not because what he said is not what you interpret). But even if true, by 1947 Herzl wasn’t even alive. Ben Gurion was the leader and he accepted the two state solution. The Arabs did not. So guess who started that disasterous war which ended up causing so much suffering to the Palestinian Arabs? But not only to the Arabs. Jews suffered because of that war too. 1% of the Jewish population lost their lives in the war that the Arabs started. And the echoes of that war persist to this day.

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    49. Bosko

      RICHARDL …
      .
      “Yours is a cheap jibe which cuts both ways. This kind of muck raking achieves nothing”
      .
      My “cheap jibe” was in response to your cheap jibe about Herzl. If you are willing to discredit an entire national movement of liberation because of what some of their leaders supposedly said, sometime or another or even because of what some factions of the movements did, then that works both ways too. I can equally discredit your Palestinian Arab national movement because of what their leaders like Haj Amin Al Husseini said, did and what factions like Hamas do to this day.
      .
      So Richard, think again. If mine was a cheap jibe then it was in response to YOUR cheap jibe.

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    50. AYLA

      @Moriel asked “Can that be a Zionist action, if a form of Zionism is understood as seeking first and foremost to act justly on this holy soil? And on the other side of the question, if it is called Zionism, might that help more people support it? Or will it hurt its legitimacy? I ask these as real questions to which I do not have set answers.”
      *
      Thanks, Moriel. From actually seeing/feeling/experiencing Palestinians respond to this term, I think it”s too late for us to reclaim the term beyond redefining it, or, simply, our values, intentions, and goals amongst ourselves. It’s like when I got upset in response a Palestinian friend’s facebook status update calling for a third intifada, and he responded to me with the actual definition of ‘intifada’ (what is it–to shake up? Sorry–correct me), and talked to me about the necessity of uprising and how peacefully the first intifada had begun and etc., but there was no undoing my visceral response to a call to a third intifada, because all I had was a suicide bombing campaign in my head. I basically responded back by saying, sure, okay, but then you have to call it something different.
      *
      there is another conversation to be had, though, between Jews–particularly those of us living here–about Zionism, and to me, that conversation should be not about terminology, but about the old ideals for this country and the new ones, and what it means to support Israel today, and how the divisiveness between us–of which we are all guilty to different degrees–is among our biggest challenges.

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