Eric Yoffie has a piece up at Huffington Post on the importance of the existence of Israel to the survival of the Jewish people. The piece states that Jewish sovereignty and power in Israel--which entail a Jewish majority and the privileging of Jewish citizens over Palestinians-- are essential to insure the survival of Jews as a people.
Leave aside whether he is right or wrong (he could be right that the survival of the Jewish people depends on having a nation state with an army).
Leave aside whether the second-class-citizenship of Palestinians in a Jewish majority state is offensive (it offends me as a civil-rights-bred American) and whether there is anything liberal about this liberal Zionism (No).
Let us go to the simple issue: What are my obligations as an American citizen? I am commanded by Yoffie to support Israel.
Zionism bestows upon Jews everywhere a role in determining the character of the Jewish state.
But the word America does not appear in this piece, until you get to the bio box. Executive Director of the Association of Reform Zionists of America.
Eric Yoffie has led a fine career in America. My challenge to Yoffie: What are the obligations of Jewish citizens of the United States to their country?
As Herzl discovered when English Jews shut the door on him, the central political question about Zionism from a western standpoint is a loyalty issue. Zionism has always depended on American support, and therefore on the fervent support of American Jews. He has nothing to say about my American citizenship.
Zionism is the belief that the establishment of a Jewish and democratic state in the Land of Israel is essential for the creative survival of the Jewish people.
Being a Zionist does not require that I live in the Jewish state, but it does require serious and thoughtful advocacy for the proposition noted above...
Zionism calls for a state that is Jewish. While I have my own strong views on the subject, I know that the precise nature of Israel's Jewish character has yet to be defined and will evolve over time. The task of Zionism now is to assure that the Jewish state has a secure Jewish majority so that her Jewish citizens can determine by democratic methods what it means for Israel to be Jewish. Still, it is important to emphasize that Zionism does not see the Jewish state as "a state of all its citizens,"...
Zionists do not apologize for the fact that the Jewish state was created to promote the religion, civilization and culture of the Jewish people and its dominant Jewish majority. The Jewish state is to be the one place in the world where the national anthem is Jewish, where Jewish holidays provide the rhythm of the calendar, and where Jews openly apply Jewish values and the Jewish spirit to every aspect of life; it is the one place where others must struggle with the problems of being a minority -- even as they are assured democratic rights. Zionism calls for the Jewish people, operating through the democratic institutions of their state, to master the gun and to exercise power, both against their enemies and -- when required -- against their own citizens who refuse to accept the verdict of democratic decision-making. By bestowing sovereignty on the Jewish people and returning them to history, Zionism gives the Jewish people control over their own destiny....
Zionism bestows upon Jews everywhere a role in determining the character of the Jewish state. Final authority rests with Israel's citizens, whether Jewish or not. But Israel is not primarily the state of Israelis; it is the state of the Jewish people.
P.S. Leonard Fein is the editor of this series. I would like for him to explain what is liberal in Eric Yoffie's vision.