Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Why I am Not a Zionist
In the discussion around the ongoing Arab-Israel conflict there are, depending on one's perspective, good people and bad people. If one is an anti-Semitic anti-Zionist the bad people are called "Zionists." These Zionists are thought to be an unusually horrid breed of people who hold nefarious intent toward Arabs and bolster a particularly extreme, if not fascistic, form of ethnic nationalism.
The funny thing is, and what no one ever says, is that Zionism, as a political movement, is over with. It's done. What Zionism really was, of course, was the movement for Jewish national liberation and it fulfilled itself in May of 1948 when Israel was recognized by the UN as a state. It should be noted, by the way, that the UN did not create Israel. People often say this, but it is not true. Israel was not created by well-meaning pencil pushers in the UN, but by Jewish people (and some non-Jewish people) on the ground.
Between the end of the 19th century and 1948, hundreds of thousands of Jews built that country from nothing. It was swampland and desert, but they worked that land. They grew the crops and developed the farms and created the infrastructure, political and material, necessary for a state. All that the UN did was recognize a condition that already existed, the condition of Jewish statehood.
Those people were Zionists. That is, those people, those Jewish farmers and Jewish laborers and Jewish politicians, those people were Zionists. They dreamed of creating a national homeland for the Jewish people on historically Jewish land and went about doing precisely that.
I am not a Zionist because I was born too late to have anything to do with the Zionist project of building a state. By the time that I came around the state was already built. The truth of the matter is that most Jews who care about Israel do not necessarily think of themselves as Zionists. When I was growing up, in an American middle class home wherein we supported the Jewish state, we almost never even used that word.
I do not recall my folks, or their friends, ever referring to themselves as Zionists. We were just American Jews who supported Israel. We did not require a separate name for ourselves any more than American Italians who happen to like Italy get some specific name or Chinese Americans who care about China have some separate and specific name for themselves.
More and more the word "Zionism" is nothing but an epithet spit at Jews who happen to be supportive of Israel. That's what Zionism really is today. It is the word that our enemies use to isolate us and separate us out from other people. It is an identifying mark at this point. It is the yellow star, and in the mouths of hate-filled anti-Zionist progressives, a stigma.
Zionists are the category of people whom it is OK to hate. Where it was, once upon a time, socially acceptable to hate Jews that is no longer the case among people who consider themselves contemporary-left anti-racists.
Progressives do not hate Jews because that would be racist.
Instead the socially acceptable category of people to hate is not Jews, but Zionists. You cannot openly hate on Jews in polite society. (Is that still the case?) But you can hate on Zionists. And just because the vast majority of Jews happen to be Zionists represents no reason not to despise Zionists because these insidious people are promoting... or so they never tire of telling us... a truly virulent form of racist imperialism and colonialism resulting in the ethnic cleansing and oppression of those icons of pure victim-hood, the "Palestinian" people.
That is what Zionism means in the mouths of the anti-Zionist progressive-left.
The Jew as oppressor.
That is what they mean when they call us Zionists.
Nobody ever talks about it, but anyone who follows the never-ending conflict cannot possibly miss this. It is a fundamental and central part of the discussion. They have conjured up an entire class of evil people, Zionists, and anyone who defends Israel from their never-ending defamation becomes one of these insidious beings.
And this is why anti-Zionism represents the new anti-Semitism.
And what a shame that this time around it is coming at us from the Left.
Shame. Shame. Shame.