Saturday, October 11, 2014

My trouble with the term "anti-Zionism" (pt. II)

Update: I notice that one of the reasons I give below partially overlaps with a statement made in the previous article I wrote on Zionism: since I expressed taking away this (or another reason that I offer) would detract from the article's flow, however, I will keep the article as is.

Watching a spate of Facebook comments from some of my pro-Palestinian friends motivated me to follow up on my post from last year on anti-Zionism.

Many "Palestine Solidarity" Types perceive the ideology of Jewish Nationalism (insofar as it pertains to Palestine) as being responsible for the Palestinian's plight.

Too often, this critical gaze on Zionism takes a reductivist turn. Not only has Zionism positively problematic (as regards its impact on the native Palestinians) but normatively aberrant.  "Zionism" is logically coherent and morally deprived, this tangent goes. Thence, as stated by one notorious UN Resolution, Zionism is racism.

As mentioned previously, I find such rhetoric, despite my utmost sympathies with the Palestinian struggle, counter-productive regarding the way in which it can be (mis-) labeled as anti-semitism. Now, I would likely to add four points that challenge the ideological critique of Zionism:

1.Per the magnes Zionist (again), Zionism, as a concept, entails neither ethnic cleansing nor ethnic statehood. If any definition could be given for the word, it would run something like, "support for the well-being of Jewish culture and society in the Land of Israel." Indeed, one could argue that the violence begot by the existing Jewish state's "Occupation" not only threatens the safety of the existing Jewish society their but betrays the ethical values integral to Jewish culture.

2. Given the focus of central Jewish religious texts (most notably, the Torah) on the land of Israel, it makes sense that many Jews feel a historical affinity towards the land, regardless of how they feel about the discrimination/displacement of Palestinians. Sadly, such harmless cultural sentiments too often translate into political support for ethnocracy, but this does not have to be the case. However, when "anti-Zionists" attempt to bring up theories about "Khazar origins" or Palestinian "Canaanites," the implicit denial of Jewish cultural attachment rings as anti-Semitism to Jews nourished on cultural attachment to Israel, thus shutting many ears to the valid critiques of the Israeli state that follow.

3. Rhetoric emanating from the Zionist narrative can be easily molded to accomodate the demands of the "anti-Zionists." For instance: the "law of return" betrays the humanistic values of Jewish society advocated by the likes of Ahad Ha'am. If anti-Zionists were to quote such figures, they could effectively turn Zionists' defense of the legislation on its head.

4. Once again, the system of ethnic privilege and colonialism over which the state of Israel currently presides was not a necessary, even if highly likely, outcome of modern (political) Zionism, and certainly not of pre-modern religious or "cultural" Zionism (by which I mean affinities to the land of Israel stretching back to the time of the Torah). I hope that more Palestine Solidarity Activists-even supporters of a one-state solution-can make clear in the future that they oppose not Zionism so much as the current state of Israel.

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