Meet the Post-zionist Zionists: Tania Hary

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.

taniaharyTania Hary

When Tania Hary was 15, she found her father’s birth certificate. It read Palestine. “It was a shock,” Hary, now 29, recalls. “I couldn’t assess the full ramifications.”

Though Israeli-born Hary was raised in Los Angeles, she knew about the conflict. When Iraq launched scuds at Israel in 1991, Hary’s grandmother sent the family a picture of herself in a gas mask. During one of the annual family trips to Haifa, the port city Hary left when she was an infant, Palestinians threw rocks at her family’s car. “And I was always aware of soldiers and guns,” Hary recalls.

But summer vacations spent in the north of Israel left Hary with more than violent images—they also gave her a visceral connection to the land. The smell of orange blossoms, she says, is particularly evocative, tugging her back to her childhood.

As an adult, Hary returned to her home country, settling in Tel Aviv to work for a prominent NGO that advocates for Palestinians. Although Hary is also exploring her connection to Israel, “the jury is still out,” she says of Zionism.

Hary feels that, yes, the Jews deserve a homeland, as does any group that wants to band together in a country—including the Palestinians.

“I think the biggest political statement that could be made would be if the Palestinians converted en masse to Judaism,” Hary continues. “They would become Zionists. It would stick Zionism in people’s faces and ask them ‘What is this really about?’”

Hary feels that the meaning of Zionism has been warped over time. “The mainstream needs to revise its definition,” she remarks. “The founding fathers were more left-wing than most people are today.” She points to Theodor Herzl’s comments about land acquisition and remarks of Meir Dizengoff, Tel Aviv’s first mayor, regarding non-violence and negotiation.

As for the country today, Hary offers a surprising sentiment—let some of the settlers stay in the West Bank. “We will have two bi-national states,” she says. “There are progressive Palestinians who are behind this solution.” Hary is referring to, amongst others, Ahmed Qureia, the former Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. In a recent interview with Haaretz, Qureia stated that, in the event of a two-state agreement, residents of the West Bank settlements Ariel and Ma’aleh Adumim would be welcome to stay in an independent Palestine.

Hary comments, “They would become Jewish Palestinians.” Like her father once was.

Posted in Israel/Palestine

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

  1. Craig says:

    “I think the biggest political statement that could be made would be if the Palestinians converted en masse to Judaism,” Hary continues…

    Right, like that’s going to happen. What if all the Jews converted to Islam? Why do people pose idiotic never-gonna-happen hypotheticals like this?

    As for the country today, Hary offers a surprising sentiment—let some of the settlers stay in the West Bank.

    This is something I’ve suggested in Mondoweiss comments in the past. The problem with it is that the settlers, by their nature as expansionist Zionists, are the least likely people in the world to accept the idea of being citizens of a non-Jewish Palestinian state. I think the significance of making this option available is that it makes it clear that Jews are not to be “ethnically cleansed” from any future Palestinian state, as some settlers claim would happen. Instead, they should have a choice — stay right where they are as Jewish Palestinian citizens, or move into Israel if they want to be Israelis.

    • Chaos4700 says:

      I don’t know but I’m really starting to see the Jewish-centric attitudes that Cliff talks at length about. I mean actually, the statement is kind of offensive. It’s kind of like saying, “If Jews had renounced their religion and embraced Nazism en masse, that would have made people really question the Third Reich.” So how many people are offended by that notion, huh?

      You know, I’m glad that there are Israelis that are even asking questions, but… still, there’s this pervasive undercurrent of racism and exceptionalism, even in the post-Zionists. Maybe it’s implicit, unintentional racism, but its still there.

      • sammy says:

        Maybe Cliff is an Indian? /jk
        The inability to see “the other” is quite common in ethnocentric communities. For them their own communities gains and losses are the paramount concern, above all else. How do you think Tania Hary would feel if there was a suggestion that Palestine should revert to the Palestinians? After all, she feels nothing odd that she, born and brought up in Los Angeles, can simply move to Tel Aviv. You think she would accord the same to all second generation Palestinians forced to live abroad by Israeli apartheid laws?

        • yonira says:

          She was born in Israel Sammy. Do you guys read these posts? or just comment on them?

          And she was trying to illustrate the flaws of Zionism, she wasn’t actually advocating for the conversion of Palestinians to Judaism.

          Geez…..

        • Cliff says:

          sammy, I *am* Indian actually.

        • sammy says:

          Maalish, yes she was born in “Israel” while her father was born in Palestine. Still, doesn’t take away from the argument. There are Palestinians deported to Gaza in the last 60 years who cannot return to their homes because they are not Aryan enough to clarify as the wanted demographical racial composition of the “Jewish” state. Thats not a flaw of Zionism, thats its very basis.

        • sammy says:

          Cliff: “sammy, I *am* Indian actually. ”
          Oh dear, I don’t know what to say to that.

        • Cliff says:

          I think you misunderstood Chaos. He wasn’t saying I was Jewish-centric. He was saying that I talk about the Jewish-centric attitudes of others.

          I am Indian. (I identify as an ‘American’ though. Never really thought of myself in the race/ethnicity context. Plus, I’m atheist.)

        • sammy says:

          I was kidding about your perspicacity in noting the Jewish centric attitudes of even liberal Jews. I spent a few years in the US and I saw it almost immediately, so I wondered if you were an Indian for noticing the obvious.

      • potsherd says:

        I don’t see the conversion thing as a real proposal, but a thought experiment – how would Israelis react if the Palestinians did convert to Judaism? But the answer is quite obvious – they would annul the conversions. The rabbinical cults are already annuling the conversions of Russians, wholesale.

    • potsherd says:

      Fayyad is also proposing this, but no one has addressed the problem that the settlements are built on stolen Palestinian land and the legitimate owners will naturally want their land back.

  2. RoHa says:

    “the Jews deserve a homeland,”

    Australian Jews already have a homeland. It is called Australia.

    “as does any group that wants to band together in a country”

    So if a bunch of photographers want to band to gether into a country, they can claim a chunk of land as their “homeland”, call it Daguerrotypia, and live there regarldess of the wishes of the people who already live there?

    The group of people called RoHa hereby give notice that they will set up RoHania soon. Still not sure exactly where the country will be, but it is going to be a big one.

    “deserve a homeland, as does any group that wants to band together in a country—including the Palestinians.”

    The Palestinians have a “homeland”. As I understand it (and correct me if I am wrong, Aref) what they all want is to be equal citizens in that land, and, for some of them, to be allowed to go home.

  3. Tuyzentfloot says:

    This series has an unfortunate title, sort of ruining the idea of ‘postzionism’. I believe that from the start many people were not politically zionist, they just wanted a decent life, and often desired to be a good person, and the main part of zionist indoctrination was just ‘but the arabs hate us so we have to stick together but we still wish them all the best they should just leave us alone’. It’s nice to see that Tanya Hart doesn’t seem to fit that – but of course the system can keep on track while acommodating a lot of nice people.

    • sammy says:

      ‘but the arabs hate us so we have to stick together but we still wish them all the best they should just leave us alone’

      I’m willing to accept that, although its hard to see how anyone would leave you alone when you move into their home and treat them as intruders. I see this all the time with references to Palestinian behaviour towards the people who dispossessed them and made them refugees and continue to steal their land and kill their children. How the hell is anyone supposed to overlook something like that?

      • Cliff says:

        I’m willing to accept that, although its hard to see how anyone would leave you alone when you move into their home and treat them as intruders.

        Exactly.

        And this is pretty f-ing annoying:

        Hary feels that, yes, the Jews deserve a homeland, as does any group that wants to band together in a country—including the Palestinians.

        [...]“I think the biggest political statement that could be made would be if the Palestinians converted en masse to Judaism,” Hary continues. “They would become Zionists. It would stick Zionism in people’s faces and ask them ‘What is this really about?’”

        [...]Hary comments, “They would become Jewish Palestinians.” Like her father once was.

        How could someone be so dense? So completely out of touch?

        Do Israelis ever consider, that Palestinians don’t give a shit about Zionism? That they just might want their homes and land back? That the people who stole from them, just happened to be Jews? The Jewishness doesn’t matter. It’s just a framework.

        How is Zionism different from Manifest Destiny? Did Indians sit around discussing the Christianity of their own Zionists? No.

        I mean, quite aside from the carelessness of such a statement – you have to wonder who this guy is talking to.

        Is he seriously suggesting this? Is it meant to be a purely ironic rhetorical statement?

        It has to be. No sane person would suggest to the Palestinians, to do such a thing. It’s Islam that’s degraded regularly by Zionist Jews and so to say to them, to ‘convert’ as a ‘political statement’ is repugnant on many levels.

        It implies that Palestinians haven’t already made or tried to make such striking statements. I mean, think of the non-violent protests. The non-violent resistance leaders who get jailed.

        What the fuck, do Palestinians have to do, to get so-called “post-Zionist, Zionist” Jews/Israelis to stop with this White-Man’s-Guilt meme? Or the lame ‘advice’?

        There is no moral center. It’s just a blurb for a blog piece.

        • sammy says:

          I usually get stuck at this:

          the Jews deserve a homeland

          Really? Why? They cannot live with non-Jews? I always think of the 80,000 plus Jews who simply packed up and left after 2000 years in India. 2000 years !

          This is simply nuts. How long does it take for Jews to feel at home anywhere?

      • Tuyzentfloot says:

        Sammy, I would just imagine someone asking that question long ago. Then flood with justifying myths about everything happening somehow in self defense. Make sure the wars and the occupation don’t interfere with daily life. I think many still disapprove of the occupation. But a lot of it can be covered with ‘unfortunately necessary(the separation inside the westbank)’ , with narrowing down the actions to an isolated part of the population, and neutralized to ‘disapproval in principle but nothing else’. It will help a lot to be gullible, as well as loyal to ‘your own group’. It’s easy to go on once you get the feel. Now that the 1948 myths are starting to wear off, it’s time to switch to ‘long time ago’.
        Note, I’m still talking about the nice leftist people here.

        • sammy says:

          Thats a pretty strange justification for apartheid, IMO. If there is one thing a Jew should recognise, its a ghetto based on religious discrimination. Especially one that you’re camping on and administering. It smells more like denial to me. Avoidance and inability to face accountability. Like the picture of Dorian Grey. Tweak the image so you don’t have to face the ugliness. Hide it so you can pretend its not happening, although, every once in a while, you can’t help taking a peek to see how bad its gotten since the last time you looked.

        • Tuyzentfloot says:

          It should be a belief system, there’s an internal fit that can be very comprehensive while at the same time it seems silly from the outside. Denial can happen when there’s too much dissonnance, and there’s probably a lot of it now .
          Should one condemn people for only performing averagely and not escaping the belief system? It’s also difficult to accuse people of being passive and in denial so that they can get on with their life.
          I just wouldn’t count too much on the people on the inside for fixing this.

          I remember encountering the Dorian Gray analogy somewhere…

  4. Shmuel says:

    Is it just me, or is anyone else getting really bored with this series of endless navel-contemplation – trying to understand (very superficially, I might add), the tiny ideological variations within Israeli or American-Israeli “progressive” Zionism? With the exception of Tom Mehager, I see no “post-Zionism” and very little real difference between the respective views of the interviewees. If the goal of the series was to show a diverse and complex relationship between (some) Israelis and Zionism, it’s a flop.

    • sammy says:

      I think the title does not match the content. These are expressions of Zionism, as the introduction says, not post Zionism per se. However, I do not consider it irrelevant to know how people, especially young people, regard the occupation and their role in it. This is what the future will look like.

      • Shmuel says:

        Maybe I just know too many such people and am frustrated by their inability to go beyond a certain crucial point in their attitudes to Zionism and Judaism, and hence to Palestinians. What’s really sad is that these people represent the extreme liberal fringe of Israeli society.

  5. sammy says:

    I assume many of these people only hear viewpoints such as yours as the “fringe” arguments. A wider audience for their views might put them in a different perspective. I always have interesting conversations with people who think a couple of hundred years of colonisation makes it the status quo. “Thank God”, I say self righteously, “Indians did not get sucked into that morass”

  6. Cliff says:

    Check this interview out:

    link to youtube.com

    Those ‘journalists’ are just obscene. Made me think of this:

  7. Mooser says:

    “Is it just me, or is anyone else getting really bored “

    Bored? Never. I find the author’s quest to achieve invisibility fascinating. Haven’t you noticed somebody missing? This is edited writing, not a documentary record, it has a context, and a subtext, and I’m not sure her (Mya Guarnieri’s) explanatory preface covers it.
    But, as I’m sure nobody can tell, I don’t trust Israelis. Sorry.

    Mya Guarnieri’s blog: link to myaguarnieri.com

    Desert Peace:http: //desertpeace.wordpress.com/2009/06/06/jerusalem-post-in-defense-of-israeli-racism/

  8. Cliff says:

    Coffee-house, turtle-neck, thick-rimmed black glasses

    These series of interviews (except possibly Mehager) just seem to be Israelis patting themselves on the back. Yes, lets have the Palestinians convert to Judaism! That would make a statement! Cuz you know, Palestinians don’t do anything except blow themselves up! Silly terrorists, lets let the civilized people tell you how to resist your enslavement properly!

    • Chaos4700 says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one sensing that attitude. I don’t really see any of these Israeli commentators addressing the fact that their country is not only actively violating international law, but human rights conventions as well.