Zionism as national liberation

One thing I’ve heard is that those on the left who support all forms of national liberation but that of the Jews, in Israel, are anti-Semitic, or at least hypocritical.

Most simply, there is nobody on the left who supports all national liberation struggles. That’s just a myth. Some struggles are perceived as illegitimate for one reason or another. For instance, the Hmong people were recruited by the CIA to fight on the U.S. side in Vietnam. They had national aspirations. Nobody on the left supported them, for obvious reasons.

National liberation (NL) cannot be separated from context. Liberation from what? With what consequences? Similarly anti-Zionism today cannot be separated from the historical developments in Israel/Palestine. A different development I submit would provoke a different sort of antiZionism. A benign one that respected Palestinian national aspirations could indeed reduce anti-Zionism to a crank anti-Semitic fringe, but that isn’t the reality.

There are many on he left who disdain any sort of NL. So there is nothing hypocritical or inconsistent about their anti-Zionism. This includes anarchists who not only oppose NL but oppose states of any type, on principle. Like Chomsky.

You could interpret anti-Zionism as inflexible opposition to a Jewish state under any circumstances, while simultaneously endorsing the NL of others. Maybe some on the left are guilty of this. Alternatively you could imagine anti-Zionism as I do: Zionism is what Zionism does. What it’s doing now is unacceptable to me, ergo my anti-Zionism. If Israel allowed a Palestine, I’d preoccupy myself with other things. I think most others would too. Any remnant could be legitimately scrutinized for anti-Semitism.

It’s not so complicated. In light of Tibet’s treatment at the hands of the PRC, I’m inclined to be sympathetic to Tibetan national aspirations. If however Tibet exhibited murderous intent towards some internal minority, not so much. The Kurds are a classic example of an imperialist project, yet I have no problem supporting their independence. It seems by far the preferred outcome.

Zionism has outlived its legitimacy as NL. Israel has already been liberated. Now it needs to be restrained from evil deeds.



Zionism as national liberation — 2 Comments

  1. It doesn’t help that so many American Jews prefer not to think about the moral implications of Israel’s policy and actions toward the Palestinians. It is too uncomfortable, too much of a challenge to the soothing memories of putting pennies in the pushka to send to Israel to help build a Jewish homeland.

    I was appalled reading about a written Aug 1 statement on the Facebook page of Moshe Feiglin, the deputy speaker of the Knesset. The statement, as presented in American media, is already notorious:

    Feiglin … calls for the “conquest of the entire Gaza Strip, and annihilation of all fighting forces and their supporters.” “This is our country– our country exclusively,” he writes, “including Gaza.” …Feiglin writes that the Israeli army must “designate certain open areas on the Sinai border, adjacent to the sea, in which the civilian population will be concentrated, far from the built-up areas that are used for launches and tunneling. In these areas, tent encampments will be established, until relevant emigration destinations are determined.” “Tent encampments,” where the Palestinian civilian population would be “concentrated,” are simply concentration camps. “The supply of electricity and water to the formerly populated areas will be disconnected,” he adds. He then calls for the “formerly populated areas” to be “shelled with maximum fire power. The entire civilian and military infrastructure of Hamas, its means of communication and of logistics, will be destroyed entirely, down to their foundations.” The Israeli army would then “exterminate nests of resistance, in the event that any should remain.” – [See more at: http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/?m=0#sthash.1GYlvWLk.dpuf ]

    The comments on the post that are in English are fairly incendiary. The post is here:

    Feiglin’s original post is in Hebrew. I wrote to my cousin, who is fluent in Hebrew, and asked if she could translate the key paragraphs or confirm that the translated passages are accurate. I particulary wanted to know if the words “concentrated”, “encampments” and “exterminate” are correct. I wanted to know if a high Israeli official actually used those words — in writing, no less.

    I wasn’t surprised, but I was discouraged, when I got her answer:

    “We are getting ready to go out of town, so I don’t really have the time, but I wouldn’t spend my time jumping on the back of Israelis anyway. He’s getting plenty of flack already in Israel, and Israel is a democracy, so this sort of thing gets sorted out.
    And then there’s the Arab member of Knesset who is calling for invasion by all the Arab nations and death to the Jews. I don’t think she’s received any notice outside of Israel, except from Hizbollah.”

    She sent a brief followup as her computer kept freezing:

    “i wou ldn’t worry about what’s his name. israelis will deal with him. enough people jumping on anti-israel bandwagon at moment.”

    In other words, nothing to worry about, nothing to see here. Look! Squirrel! Move along, now.

    She’s a good person, enlightened and highly educated. Yet she indicates the problem is Israelis dealing with Feiglin and ignores how they are dealing with Palestinians.

    The uncomfortable truth is that numbers are not in Israel’s favor. They cannot make Palestinian Israelis into full-fledged citizens with all the rights and opportunities of Jewish Israelis. They are loathe to cede territory or stop the settlements. The only way to maintain the Jewish state in the current climate is by force and repression. If they wish to be a theocratic semi-democracy dedicated to apartheid, they might survive and it looks to me that this is the choice they are making. And when I say “they”, I mean not only Netanyahu and the Likud, but the majority of Israeli voters as well.

    However, if they want to be a modern liberal democracy — the quaintly romantic and sentimental idea of Israel that American Jews so fervently support — they will not be able to also steal land, displace populations, create ghettoes and second-class citizens, and wage asymmetrical warfare on an inconvenient and hostile minority.

    This is not an easy or happy situation. I am no expert and this is merely how I see the situation with whatever imperfect information is available to me. I have no answers or suggestions. I do know, however, that Israel has gone from being the haven for the oppressed to the state of the oppressors. They have lost the moral high ground. I don’t know. Maybe it is impossible to occupy any moral high ground and survive in such a world.

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