Thursday, May 21, 2020

A summary of anti-Zionism

Sar Shalom

Einat Wilf once observed that "to one who is used to privilege, equality feels like discrimination." Many do-gooders in this country use that to observe today's Israel through the lens of today's reality arising de novo. Through that lens, they see Israel's Jews enjoying privilege and thus interpreting Israel refusal to concede to a refusal to yield that privilege.

These do-gooders' error is that they think that the Jews' history there began in 1948, or perhaps in 1917. What they miss is that there was a Jewish history there in the 19th century and before. A couple vignettes would convey a critical element of that history. In the 1830's, a pasha who had issued a land-lease to a group of chasidim was replaced with a pasha who did not renew it giving the surrounding Arabs license to give those chasidim 24 hours to vacate their plot of land. In 1860, the Arabs of Hebron freely massacred the Jews in their city. What these incidents demonstrate is that the Arabs enjoyed privilege in Palestine prior to anyone thinking of Zionism.

Zionism's success has upended that privilege. The Arabs have reacted to that loss of privilege the way every other group that lost privilege has reacted. Anti-Zionism says that they are right to be aggrieved about their lost privilege.


  1. Sar Shalom,
    As always, good analysis. But anti-Zionism is not just non-Jews. The entire issue is discussed quite brilliantly in We Stand Divided by Daniel Gordis. Seeing any non-Zionist as inherently stupid or evil is not going to solve anything. Appreciating the different points of view is a start to a real solution.

    1. You start out with "anti-Zionism" and soon you're slipping in something about "non-Zionists." Were you hoping no one would notice it while you're trying to hijack a discussion? I never saw an assertion in the piece indicating that anti-Zionists or non-Zionists were "just non-Jews." Is that a brand new hipster term for Arabs?

    2. Some things should not be subject to relativism or appreciation.

    3. "Seeing any non-Zionist as inherently stupid or evil is not going to solve anything."
      Do you mean seeing them as you see Republicans?

  2. "Einat Wilf once observed that 'to one who is used to privilege, equality feels like discrimination.'"
    I wouldn't know. But, as one who has never liked the broad brush strokes of "privilege" as explanation for all that ails us, I do like the effect you have put it to in this short piece. Good stuff.

  3. You're missing a category of people who call themselves anti-Zionist. There are those who go to the mat fighting for "justice" for the Palestinians, but have "nothing against the Jews" when the Palestinians aren't hurt.

    An example comes from a debate between Einat Wilf/Bret Steven's and Yousef Munayyer/Peter Beinart on whether anti-Zionism is the new antisemitism. Towards the end, Beinart cited someone who risked his life to protect those who were under fire during the Rockland county Chanukah massacre and refused to accept an award for doing so because of the bestowing organization's connections with Israel and her "oppression" of the Palestinians. Beinart then asked if someone like that could be called a Jew-hater.

    This post describes what someone like that actually fighting for.

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  5. There are exceptions to almost every rule, of course. This person belongs to a category of ultra-orthodox anti-Zionist Jews that consists of a relative handful, and is based on the belief that Jews are supposed to be brought back to Israel by G-d at the time of redemption, NOT by so-called Palestinian oppression. Unless you and Beinart, who is prone to twist facts and to show ignorance of history, mean a different hero.