Saturday, December 24, 2016

Liberal Zionism Exposed... in the New York Times

I've read many opinion pieces which tackle the toxic ideology of political Zionism head on, but never in any mainstream press outlet. Israeli writer Omri Boehm's Liberal Zionism in the Age of Trump, which appeared in the New York Times of December 20, is the first, to my knowledge, of its kind.

It comes, of course, in the wake of Donald Trump's election and the emergence into the public arena of fellow travellers such as right-wing extremist Stephen Bannon (now Trump's chief strategist), and the fuehrer of the neo-Nazi alt-right, Richard Spencer, who espouses white supremacism in the way that Zionists (while, of course, avoiding the term) espouse Jewish supremacism, and who has, in fact, referred to his white supremacist ideology as "white Zionism."

Boehm exposes the contradiction that lies at the heart of American liberal Zionism - the pretence that liberal Zionists can advocate ethnic inclusion in the US but support ethnic exclusion in Israel by denying the Palestinian right of return and insisting that "Israel has the right to ensure that Jews constitute the ethnic majority in their country." (Boehm's italics) IOW, American Jews (and Australian Jews for that matter) can not, logically, be both liberals and Zionists.

Boehm also points out that "The idea that Israel is the Jews' own ethnic state implies that Jews living outside of it... enjoy a mere diasporic existence," "inhabit a country that is not genuinely their own," and that, "given this logic, it is natural for Zionist and anti-Semitic politicians to find common ideas and interests." He concludes his piece with the following (unprecedented for the mainstream press) observation: 

"Nothing demonstrates this alliance better than the appointment of David Friedman to be the United States ambassador to Israel. Friedman, an ardent supporter of Israel's occupation project, has argued that J Street's liberal Zionist supporters, who are critical of the occupation, are 'worse than Kapos' - the Jews who collaborated with their Nazi concentration camp guards. In fact, however, it is Friedman's own politics - and the politics of the government he supports - that's continuous with anti-Semitic principles and collaborates with anti-Semitic politics.

"The 'original sin' of such alliances may be traced back to 1941*, in a letter to high Nazi officials, drafted in 1941 by Avraham Stern, known as Yair, a leading early Zionist fighter and member in the 1930s of the paramilitary group Irgun, and later the founder of another such group, Lehi. In the letter, Stern proposes to collaborate with 'Herr Hitler' on 'solving the Jewish question' by achieving a 'Jewish free Europe.' The solution can be achieved, Stern continues, only through the 'settlement of these masses in the home of the Jewish people, Palestine.' To that end, he suggests collaboration with the German's 'war efforts,' and establishment of a Jewish state on a 'national and totalitarian basis,' which will be 'bound by treaty with the German Reich.'

"It has been convenient to ignore the existence of this letter, just as it has been convenient to mitigate the conceptual conditions making it possible. But such tendencies must be rejected. They reinforce the same logic by which the letter itself was written: the sanctification of Zionism to the point of tolerating anti-Semitism. That's the logic that liberal American Jews currently have to fight, but it will prove difficult to uproot. Stern is memorialized in street names in every major Israeli town, and it is not unreasonable to assume that Yair Netanyahu, the prime minister's son, whose father celebrated Stern as a mythical model of Zionist struggle, is called by Stern's nom de guerre."

[*Actually, political Zionism's 'alliance' with anti-Semitism goes back to Zionism's founder Theodor Herzl, who wrote in his diary that "The anti-Semite will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies."]


Grappler said...

I believe that the election of Trump and his nomimation of Friedman as the US Ambassador to Israel will force so-called liberal Zionists to decide whether they are liberal or Zionist. They cannot be both!

Anonymous said...

Is it possible for a victim to simultaneously be the victimiser? Where there is the will......a way will always be found to reconcile such disparate ideologies.