Meet the Post-zionist Zionists: Gilad Zwick

This post is part of a week-long series of interviews with Jewish Israelis discussing their connection to the idea of Zionism. We hope this series will spark a conversation over the what Zionism means today. For more on these interviews see this post.

giladzwickGilad Zwick

Gilad Zwick, 25, is on his way to mandatory reserve duty. For two weeks, he will cease to be a journalist and student, donning instead an olive green uniform and keeping watch over a settlement.

While Zwick has no qualms about his service—which, in the past, included night raids in the West Bank—he can understand Tom Mehager’s position. “I don’t disagree with the essence of what he’s saying,” Zwick remarks. “But the problem is that if everyone chooses their own missions we won’t have any army.”

And to Zwick, whose maternal grandfather survived Mauthausen and went on to fight in the Arab-Israeli War, the army is an essential part of Zionism, “Zionism means go to the army, do your reserve duty, be a normal citizen… The purpose of living in Israel is not peace. The purpose is to live in a country with a Jewish majority that Jews from all over the world can come to.”As such, Zwick stands by a two-state solution that would include a demilitarized and weakened Palestine—free of aircrafts and closed to trade.

Initially Zwick, who voted for Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, seems to offer hard-line, straight-edged ideology. But the fabric is, perhaps, less tightly-woven than it appears.

Not all settlements are helping Israel, Zwick says. Those that are floating alone in Palestinian territory are useless. “The goal is to have a country,” he says, “If it means you can’t live in all of the land of Israel, OK.”

And though the separation wall is necessary for security, according to Zwick, he doesn’t feel that it will help the peace process.

Rather than isolationism, Zwick advocates a humanistic approach. “Everybody should learn Arabic,” he says. “The peace process needs to be holistic. You can’t just negotiate. You need to understand [the Palestinians’] ethos…”

But that doesn’t mean that Israelis ought to ape the Palestinians. “It’s arrogant and patronizing for left-wing Israelis to talk about the ‘nakba,’” Zwick comments. On May 15th, Arabs commemorate the nakba, catastrophe—the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, referred to by Israelis as the War of Independence. The Yisrael Beitenu party, led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, recently proposed a ban on observing the nakba, a move Zwick disagreed with.

Corruption allegations, which Lieberman is currently facing and like those that culminated in former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s resignation, are also troublesome to Zwick. “The politicians don’t see themselves as being sent by the people,” he comments.

This individualistic attitude permeates Israeli society, Zwick argues. It is revealed in ways large and small, such as refusal to serve in the army and a lack of concern about needy populations, including those that live on the country’s periphery, like Mizrachim and Ethiopians. “Fixing our internal problems is a part of Zionism,” he says.

Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 33 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Shmuel says:

    Please do something about the heading (Meet the Post-zionist Zionists). This guy is a somewhat moderate Likudnik – as un-post-Zionist as they come.

  2. sammy says:

    This is one confused puppy:

    “The purpose of living in Israel is not peace. The purpose is to live in a country with a Jewish majority that Jews from all over the world can come to”

    “Rather than isolationism, Zwick advocates a humanistic approach. “Everybody should learn Arabic,” he says. “The peace process needs to be holistic. You can’t just negotiate. You need to understand [the Palestinians’] ethos…””

    So is he moving out of Israel then?

    • Shmuel says:

      Welcome to the cognitive dissonance that is Zionism.

    • Chaos4700 says:

      The guy is as militant and apartheid as you can get. What about this part?

      As such, Zwick stands by a two-state solution that would include a demilitarized and weakened Palestine—free of aircrafts and closed to trade.

      The guy’s a racist, plain and simple. I’m starting to think this series has less to do with life after Zionism, but rather as a revealing expose into the general lack of actual diversity of thought in Israel. Maybe I’ve missed something but I don’t think I’ve seen even one of these guys express any sort of remorse whatsoever for what Israel is taking from the Palestinians — not just land, but body and soul. The must generous attitude seems to be, “Oh, well, it’s regrettable, I wish there was another way we could have done that.”

  3. Julian says:

    Who cares what these people think? Post Zionist Israelis is probably a fraction of 1% of the population in Israel.
    These interviews are really boring.

  4. Its important to think for the future, towards a desirable life for all citizens, residents, neighbors.

  5. Citizen says:

    Wonder what Zwick thinks the purpose of living in the USA is; would he sympathize with
    those here who would like to partition the USA, reserving a separate ethnostate for white
    people in view of the demographic trend here, and the fact that identity politics is reserved for non-whites; and in the context of declining world-wide
    white birthrate and in the interest of white continuity?

    • Todd says:

      Good points, Citizen. I’m not exactly sure what you are getting at, but if you mean that identity politics is more a thing of the future than a thing of the past, I have to agree. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who doesn’t support some sort of identity politics. Some are more tolerant than others, and some even deny their own preferences, but I’ve yet to come across anyone without preferences of some kind.

      • Citizen says:

        I guess what I am getting at, Todd, is that is not what is good for the goose, not good for the gander? The conflict in the context on this blog is, how can any American, Jew or Gentile, be a PC advocate here, but an Israeli Firster in Israel? Either the humanitarian principles
        apply in both places, or they don’t, in which case Goering is the prevailing voice. No?
        How so? Will somebody please inform me how David Duke’s chief concerns differ in principle from, say the Israeli settlers you can see and hear on YouTube. Seems to me the only difference is which ethnostate is advocated. The principal of tribal ethos and physical continuity
        seems the same to me. Anyone?

  6. potsherd says:

    “Zionism means … the purpose of living in Israel is not peace.” Worth it just for that clip alone.

    The most post-Zionist thing that any Jewish Israeli can do is leave.

  7. Mooser says:

    Look, this fellow’s problems are very simple, and very simple to fix, if he wants to.
    What kind of a name is “Zwick”? Besides being very clumsy to pronounce, it’s very confusing to people, plus, it puts you in the last seat in every classroom and at the end of every line. My God, why would his parents choose such a name?
    He should change his name, and all his problems will clear up, like acne when you get laid for the first time.
    Zwick, forsooth!

    • In hebrew the letter zayin comes seventh out of 22.

      • Shmuel says:

        It’s also a rude word.

        • Mooser is more concerned with yiddish words like putz and shmuck rather than the hebrew words like zayin. mooser hates hebrew and only like the mamma loshen.

        • Chaos4700 says:

          …and the American Jewish caste system makes itself apparent yet again.

        • Citizen says:

          In Modern Hebrew, Zayin may also mean penis in a rude or informal way. This is the only Hebrew letter which has an additional meaning as a noun.

        • Shmuel says:

          True about zayin, Citizen – originally short for the word zereg, and associated with the ancient word for weapon (Begin used to get chuckles in the crowd when he used the ancient word in its original, as opposed to modern slang, sense). Not true however, that it’s the only letter with an additional meaning as a noun. Even if we forget about the Phoenician-Hebrew nouns on which the letters of the alphabet were based, a whole bunch of letters still represent nouns, just as they are, without any morphological changes: kaf-palm/spoon, nun-fish, ayin-eye, peh-mouth, kof-eye of a needle/monkey, tav-note.

        • Citizen says:

          Thanks for the insider schooling, Shmuel. I hope you and yours are doing OK over there in Italy. Me and mine are not doing so well over here in the USA; we are very mentally desperate about what is happening to our country. It seems we have no place to go to for help. Makes us wish we had a lobby like AIPAC to show us the way in our own country–we are also desperate not to be forced
          oppressors of those outside our state; yet again, where do we go to seek aid?
          Isn’t it ironic that I ask this of an Italian citizen and former Israeli citizen? I think the goy mentality in the USA needs large doses of real information, but
          that’s not available here–it is as if free speech does not exist. Bernays spelled it all out when only Goebbels and the US tobacco industry was listening.
          Nothing’s changed despite the pleothora of hi-teck communications since then.

  8. Shafiq says:

    If this guy is a post-Zionist Israel, please help us God!

    • Shafiq says:

      At least the others made an attempt to question Zionist ideals and (in some cases) think about the Palestinians, their hopes and ideals.

  9. I think the series is also about Zionists in a post Zionist era. Zwick is in favor of two states. His rhetoric is old school and retrograde and unacceptable to the anti Zionists in the crowd here, but if a treaty is going to be signed between Israel and the Palestinians during the Obama presidency, or shall we say sometime in this decade, then Zwick will have to be part of the coalition of Israelis that would support a treaty. I think most people here do not expect a treaty by January 1st 2020, so they are thinking that Zwick will not be relevant to any solution to the Israel Palestine problem. They see Zwick as part of the problem and not part of the solution.

    • Shmuel says:

      Bibi once said that if the actual components of statehood were proposed to all Israelis who claimed to be in favour of a Palestinian state, the results would be quite different (i.e. there would be no majority for 2 states). Mr. Zwick is only against those settlements that are “floating alone in Palestinian territory”, and that the kind of two-state arrangement he had in mind includes “a demilitarized and weakened Palestine—free of aircrafts and closed to trade.”

      He may represent the average Israeli “moderate” at this point, but that does not mean that coming to terms with his concept of Palestinian statehood will bring Israel or the Palestinians any closer to a viable solution. So yeah, I’d say he’s part of the problem.

      By the way, despite the moaning and groaning in Israel about the loss of “Zionist values”, by no stretch of the imagination can this be termed a “post-Zionist era”.

      • The closed to trade part seems wrongheaded and the question of airspace is something that I’ve never thought through. What kind of demilitarized (or not) do you foresee?

        • Shmuel says:

          The whole attitude is wrongheaded and will lead absolutely nowhere, whether the denizens of Mondoweiss are nice to this man or not. The basic minimum for anything approaching a viable solution is equality. Deny the Palestinians basic rights – like economic viability, territorial contiguity (including water/resource rights) and self-defence – and you might as well not bother. Demilitarisation? Airspace? Trade? If the Palestinians are denied the same rights enjoyed by Israelis, it will just be occupation by another name – even if Israel and the US manage to find a Palestinian collaborator willing to sign.

          In terms of reaching a viable agreement, Zwick might as well be singing “The Jordan has two banks – This one’s ours and the other one too!”

        • So how do you see the conflict developing over the next 10 years?

        • Shmuel says:

          More of the same, with even less Israeli restraint and even more Palestinian desperation. I agree with those who cite last year’s massacre as a turning point in terms of Israeli military doctrine vis-à-vis the Palestinians. Gaza will continue to be isolated, while the West Bank will somehow be “managed”. More settlement construction, more peace-talk charades. Intermittent military operations and massacres. Attacks on Israeli civilians – rockets in the south and north, and bombs in the cities – will return, sooner or later.

          We can only hope that the massacre (and the Goldstone Report) was also a turning point in terms of world public opinion, eventually forcing Israel (with small but strong support from within) to abide by international law and respect Palestinian human rights. BDS.

        • sammy says:

          I also see greater destabilisation in the Middle East as dictatorships fall out of favour more rapidly with more open access to ideas and greater online politicking. Keeping in mind that most of Israel’s soft allies in the Middle East are dictatorships, this makes the immediate environment around Israel more hostile [think Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon]. Somewhere along the way there will be an attack on Iran or Yemen, more destabilisation of Pakistan, more radicalisation. It will be a pressure cooker and Israel will be the one in the cross hairs.

        • Citizen says:

          This is a good deduction, Shmuel. Unfortunately for the Israelis, post Nuremberg Trials 1945 (paid for by how many deaths in WW2?), the Palestinians will not have to settle for what the 19th Century native Americans did. Of course this involves the values of the squished USA middle class, a class nearing revolt with their elected reps having not a clue. What happened in Czar Russia is approaching now world tenor and impact.

  10. Cliff says:

    Shmuel thanks for that insight. I agree with you. BDS all the way. Adopt the sense of urgency (facts on the ground are being inflicted too fast, to stop and get distracted by the propagandists and peace-negotiation-industry camp).

  11. Citizen says:

    Glad Zwick is age 25. Remember how you thought about similar issues when you were that age? Although that age will pay the price for its own ignorance, we need to hear from
    a later age group in Israel.

  12. MHughes976 says:

    ‘Closed to trade’ – did he really mean that? – is one of the hardest-line statements I’ve heard, seriously outdoing Netanyahu and his repeated propaganda about ‘economic peace’.

  13. sammy says:

    Meet the Post-zionist non-Zionists: Mark Braverman

  14. Evildoer says:

    Great satire! Keep up the good work.