Wednesday, March 28, 2012
The Crisis of "Progressive" Zionism
In a very short period of time writers are spilling a gazillion pixels on Peter Beinart's new book, The Crisis of Zionism. Most pro-Jewish / pro-Israel writers panned the book and some, such as Daniel Greenfield in FrontPage Magazine and Sol Stern in Commentary, suggest that there is no crisis of Zionism, but only a crisis in "progressive" Zionism.
While it may be true that there is no crisis in Zionism, it most certainly is true that "progressive Zionism," whatever that is exactly, is in crisis. The reason for this is because progressives, themselves, are forcing Jews to choose between progressivism and supporting the Jewish state. Because anti-Semitic anti-Zionists constantly demonize Israel as a racist, fascist, imperialist, colonialist, apartheid, settler, racist state, much of this nonsense (the so-called "Palestinian narrative") has rubbed off on well-meaning liberal Jews like, presumably, Peter Beinart.
Many of these "progressive Zionists" operate within an imaginative construct, a morality play, comprised of "good" indigenous Palestinians, who want nothing more than to tend their sacred olive groves in peace, and "evil" militarist, right-wing, Likudniks who are slowly strangling the Jewish state with their racist policies and war-like intransigence. It is the movie Avatar come to life. This fantasy that "progressive Zionists" have conjured places them in the very center of a tension between their progressive ideals and the need for defending the Jewish state from its relentless detractors.
In this way "progressive Zionists" end up supporting a political movement that is directly at odds to the well-being of the Jewish state. The worldwide movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction (BDS) Israel is a progressive-left movement and "progressive Zionists" support progressivism. This leaves them in the untenable position of supporting the very political movement which seeks to undermine Israel... even as they advocate for Israel. It is for this reason that "progressive Zionists" are engaged in a non-stop battle to the death with their fellow progressives.
Jews are told, essentially, that we have a moral imperative to support the progressive movement (if not the Democratic Party) even as that movement and party is far, far less supportive of the Jewish state, and therefore far, far less supportive of Jewish well-being, than is the conservative-right and the Republican party. Conservative Jews do not have any crisis of "conservative Zionism" because conservatives as a group tend to be highly supportive of Israel. It is only on the Left that we see Zionists under daily attack in venues like Daily Kos, and throughout the progressive-left political blogosphere, by their fellow ideologues.
While "progressive Zionists" are perpetually lambasted by other progressives they, themselves, perpetually lambaste their fellows Jews on the Right who they blame for undermining Israel as a democratic state. Instead of acknowledging that the problem is not with Israel, but with the progressive movement, itself, they attack Israel for not being progressive enough. If only Israel would do this, that, or the other, then their would be peace. If only Israel would have a civil war against Jews who live in Judea and Samaria then non-Jewish progressives would like Israel and therefore also like "progressive Zionists." Israel is a terrible inconvenience to these people because it makes them look bad in the eyes of their fellow progressives.
Every time Israelis defend themselves "progressive Zionists" get kicked in the head by their fellow progressives who view them as scum, supporting the unsupportable, justifying the unjustifiable, the Jewish state of Israel. Every checkpoint in Judea and Samaria is a standing rebuke to their progressive idealism and is thus seen as a rebuke to the morality of Israel, itself.
This is why "progressive Zionism" is in crisis. On a daily basis they must juggle their progressivism with their Zionism and it is not a match made in heaven. If they would kindly recognize that the real problem is not with Israel, nor with Jews who wish to live on the west bank of the Jordan River, but with the progressive acceptance of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism as part of their larger coalition, then they could relieve themselves of this crisis and would not need to constantly defend themselves from these alleged allies, these false friends.
Israel, itself, is doing very nicely. In fact, considering the constant harrasment of the Jewish state by hostile Arabs decade after decade, Israel is doing terrific. But just as historically the problem was never with the Jews, but with the anti-Semites who foment genocidal hatred toward us, so the problem today is not with the Jewish state so much as it is with the progressives who have turned Israel into the "Jew among nations."
It is the progressive movement, itself, which is the problem.