Saturday, April 5, 2014

On 'Liberal Zionists' & Bad Teddy Bears

It looks like one of the speakers at next month's Sydney Writers Festival will be Israel's Ari Shavit, author of My Promised Land, and part subject of my 17/3/14 post Hello, Geoffrey?

Shavit has been described as a 'liberal Zionist', that is, one who opposes (how?) the occupation of the Palestinian territories but baulks at the implementation of UN Resolution 194, which calls for the return of Palestinian refugees ethnically cleansed by Zionist forces in 1948, because it would transform Israel's current Jewish majority into a minority, effectively paving the way for a binational, one-state solution to the Palestine/Israel problem.

What follows is as good an account of the psychology of the 'liberal Zionist' as I've seen in a while. It comes from the comment thread to M.J. Rosenberg's conundrum, by Lawrence Davidson (, 3/4/14):

"MJ Rosenberg and Shavit and other 'liberal Zionists' are not likely to give up their fears - roughly, I guess, either fear of another holocaust somewhere outside Israel if Israel does not remain Jewish-dominated or fear that the loss of such an Israel would be in-and-of-itself another holocaust.

"These fears make them proof against the ethical demands that normal people recognize - including most normal Jews These fears also seem to cloud their thinking, preventing them from thinking any thought that would unseat the fears. They don't see this, they cannot, for their fears are like the Teddy Bears that little kids seem to carry with them wherever they go.

"Don't get me wrong - I love little kids and think they are ever so cute, including their Teddy Bear need. I remember turning around after driving the first hour of a four-hour trip to go home to get my 3-year-old son's special blanket that we'd somehow left at home. Those blankets and Teddy Bears are really important for mental health. Everyone's.

"But MJR and Shavit are getting a bit old for dragging their particular dirty, bedraggled Teddy Bear around with them for very much longer.

"I think they will grow old and die clutching that horrible, destructive Teddy Bear, unless, perhaps, their children or grandchildren turn their backs on Israel (or on Zionism, not the same thing) and do so in a way which might teach their elders that the damage done by Zionism-in-practice was far worse than any benefit gained by it. After all, losing your kids due to crimes you approved of (and perhaps participated in) would be a heavy price to pay. Worse than losing a Teddy Bear." (pabelmont)

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