Shaking up Zionism: A review of ‘Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide’

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It’s hard to do justice to the extraordinary new booklet Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide in a brief review, because of the breadth of the topics it manages to cover in its 74 pages – from the history of Zionism, to issues in Christian theology and Christian-Jewish relations, to the grim prospect of Israel’s spiral into racism and fascism, to examinations of current Jewish and Muslim attempts to make sense of Zionism’s ill-fated ascendancy, and much more.  But one theme runs through the entire piece — the destructiveness of religious and nationalist exceptionalism.

Zionism Unsettled cover art

Zionism Unsettled cover art

A statement from the introduction sums it up: “The fundamental assumption of this study is that no exceptionalist claims can be justified in our interconnected, pluralistic world.”  I jokingly remarked to one of the authors that I would have titled the booklet “Unsettling Zionism” because a shake up is exactly what is needed. As a comprehensive, compassionate, and fearless critique of Christian and Jewish Zionism, this slim booklet does just that.  As indicated by its subtitle, Zionism Unsettled is intended for study by churches (although the choice of the word “congregations” may be an implicit invitation to synagogues and mosques to make good use of it, as well they should). This jewel of a publication provides an urgently needed tool for a church that is poised to fulfill its social justice calling, as it did in the struggle against Jim Crow and South African apartheid. Zionism Unsettled should also be used by seminaries, universities, and community groups who are ready to move away from the destructive impact of Zionist ideology and theology.

“Put simply, the problem is Zionism,” announces the opening section, and the truth telling proceeds from there. In the words of Palestinian Anglican priest and founder of Sabeel Naim Ateek in his contribution, Zionism is “a false theology…a doctrine that fosters both political and theological injustice.” Zionism Unsettled makes it abundantly clear that the position that has been taken by the institutional church with respect to the State of Israel presents a critical challenge to Christianity.  What we have seen with the publication of the 2009 Palestine Kairos document and the global church-based Kairos movement that has emerged in response is a call to the church as a force for justice, societal transformation and political change. This publication lends its voice powerfully to that call. In like fashion, the booklet showcases the courageous work of Rabbi Brant Rosen of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council, who  makes the case that the actions of the State of Israel present an ethical and spiritual crisis for Jews.

The section entitled “Mainline Liberal Protestants and Israel” might have been just as aptly titled “The Interfaith Conundrum.” Along with the section that follows it, “Evangelicals and Christian Zionism,” it occupies the center of Zionism Unsettled. This is one of the strengths of the booklet, because dominating the current discourse on Israel and Palestine is the attitude of Christians, on individual as well as institutional levels, toward the Jewish community. The authors masterfully describe what happened in mainline Protestant theology in the work of Paul Tillich, Krister Stendahl, Reinhold Neibuhr and the American-born theologians who followed them, notably Paul van Buren — giants of American liberal Protestantism — for whom the State of Israel was the answer to the Nazi Holocaust. The movement to atone for historic church anti-Semitism, which began in the German Protestant church in the postwar years and soon spread to North America, has morphed into an interfaith industry that supports, not only a particularly compelling form of Jewish exceptionalism, but, ironically, the very same Christian triumphalism that fueled the anti-Jewish sins of the church from its earliest history. For Krister Stendahl this exalted image of the Jewish people included a merging of political Zionism with Jewish identity – in his words, an “intertwining of the Jewish faith with the State of Israel.” What we have in the current uncritical support of the institutional church, the academy, and governmental and nongovernmental civil society institutions for the State of Israel and in the varied forms of Christian Zionism to be found across the theological spectrum is a potent Judeo-Christian triumphalism, and its language is Zionism. In an intelligent, comprehensive treatment of the history of Zionism and the sociological, political and religious implications of its realization in the State of Israel, Zionism Unsettled lays it out for us, and it doesn’t hold back.

A wonderful feature of the booklet are powerful, one-page vignettes that illustrate the major sections. For example, “Hasbara goes to college” covers the recent phenomenon of the revolt of Jewish campus groups in response to the attempt of national Jewish organizations to shut down programs that challenge Zionism and the actions of Israel.  Both shocking and holding out hope, the story demonstrates vividly how the academy has been captive to Zionist red lines, but also how the cracks are appearing. It points to a future in which the discourse will come unfrozen.

Get a copy of the booklet if only for these one-page gems.  “A Tale of Two Villages” tells the story of a Palestinian village on the outskirts of Haifa, Ein Hawd (Arabic, “Spring of the trough”), depopulated by Jewish forces in July 1948, renamed “Ein Hod” (Hebrew, “Spring of Glory”) in 1954 and turned into a Jewish artist’s colony. Here is the whole story of the Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe” and the Palestinian word for the ethnic cleansing of 1947-49) and the continued project to erase the Palestinians – their culture, their presence on the land, their very existence as a civilization.  Like “Hasbara goes to college,” these vignettes in Zionism Unsettled takes it from what could have been a dry exposition on theology, history and ideology to a living, heartbreaking story of what Zionism has wrought.  And when I say heartbreaking, the heart – this heart anyway – breaks not only for the Palestinians, and it does – but for my own people, who as the dispossessors are the prisoners of what Israeli historian of the Nakba Ilan Pappe has termed “Fortress Israel.”  Imagine living in Ein Hod, on the ruins of a Palestinian village, erased and renamed. Imagine that this is the fundamental reality of your country, of your dream of liberation and rescue — built on the ruins of another civilization.  For this the heart breaks, but it is also filled with gratitude for accomplishments like Zionism Unsettled, and with the hope that it will do its job in advancing the movement to bring about the political change that is needed to rescue both Palestinians and Israelis from this deepening and increasingly frightening human rights catastrophe.

Order this booklet.  Read it for your own education and enlightenment.  Order a box of them for your activism work – whether it is based in a church, a synagogue, a mosque, or a secular grassroots organization. As the voices calling for justice grow louder, and the nonviolent movement for a just peace spreads and gains momentum, the forces marshaled in opposition will also increase. Indeed, the battle is joined — and much of it will be fought on theological and ideological grounds. Zionism Unsettled – its layout and visuals beautifully designed, its narrative flow and organization almost flawless, an expertly produced and powerful DVD — provides another tool for the struggle, one that is powerful, timely, and invaluable.

Zionism Unsettled:  A Congregational Study Guide.  Published by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). Click on the link for more information and to order.

About Mark Braverman

Mark Braverman serves on the Advisory Board of Friends of Sabeel North America and is National Program Director for Kairos USA. He is the author of A Wall in Jerusalem: Hope, Healing, and the Struggle for Justice in Israel and Palestine, Jericho Books, 2013.

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  1. seafoid
    February 3, 2014, 11:02 am

    “Zionism is “a false theology…a doctrine that fosters both political and theological injustice.” ”

    It was a very hamfisted response to massive communal trauma. I would say Judaism never dealt with the Shoah. Some of the stuff was just too painful. Arendt wrote about it. Impossible to take in for most people.

    It probably seemed easier at the time to just gloss over it and pretend they could start over and concentrate as if nothing had happened. Just get the iterations going and cross your fingers.

    But it is so hard to escape the past.

    link to youtube.com

    Sabeel are so impressive .

    • W.Jones
      February 3, 2014, 11:30 am

      And how could they deal with it, Seafoid?

      A common natural instinct from hardship is to withdraw into religion, as for example many Muslims have done as a reaction to the destruction of their societies due to imperial control, including the massive defeats of the Suez Crisis and 1967 Israeli invasions leaving 10,000+ Egyptian dead and slaughtered prisoners with few Israeli casualties.

      • seafoid
        February 3, 2014, 1:49 pm

        They withdrew into militarism. The religious backlash was more of a Mizrahi thing, a response to marginalization.
        Was the IDF fetish inevitable ? I am not sure.
        Is a crash inevitable? Almost certainly.

        It is a very tragic story.

      • W.Jones
        February 3, 2014, 4:20 pm

        Seafoid, the nationalist movement was started even before WWII, with the Balfour Statement and conflicts even in the 1930′s, and then there was fighting against the British as Lenny Brenner wrote about during WWII. Certainly immigration increased very much after WWII. Had WWII not occurred, many more of them would have stayed in Europe. But still, wouldn’t there have been increased conflict in that era as part of the nationalist movement?

        In other words, perhaps much of the emigration was due to WWII as a reaction, but at the same time, perhaps the nationalism was not necessarily chiefly caused by it?

        Another reaction, besides nationalism and religious withdrawal was emigration to America, by the way.

      • seafoid
        February 3, 2014, 5:36 pm

        Departure to the US seems to have been a choice available to people with money. The seed population that arrived 1946 -48 from Europe seems to have been made up of displaced persons . And nowhere to go. Europe was full of DP camps. The deal for the jews who made aliyah was a break with the past but a part in a brutal ethnic cleansing. The original sin. Getting the Mizrahim onboard widened the ‘family’ in case things went bad. It was always high risk. The Mizrahim were relatively ‘backward’ and easily moulded. Cf Danon. The Russians were very influenced by Chechnya. Cf Lieberman . The intellectual elite had no army power base. The army ended up running the show. There was no resilience when the Sharon virus emerged. The dependence on AIPAC. The pity of it all.

      • seafoid
        February 3, 2014, 8:21 pm

        W Jones

        I was reading about Oliver Cromwell the other day. A polarizing Sharon type figure who had the King of England executed in 1649 and became the head of state. He was a fundamentalist. Had his own army. The people followed him. Then he died and they dug up his grave and went back to Charles II, the son of the dead king.

        They experimented for a while but went back to their old washing powder because they could. They had a long shared history and strong institutions and there was a king waiting in the wings.
        The monarchy is still doing okay

        Israel has nothing to fall back on. Whenever AIPAc is defanged there will be no Charles to pick them up.

        I bet the Ashkenazim are afraid of the Mizrahim and what might happen if TSHTF.

        It may have been prayed for for so long but they don’t have any political experience in the Land over the longue duree.

      • yonah fredman
        February 4, 2014, 12:53 am

        A little clarity might be called for here regarding Jewish immigration from Europe to Palestine (or Palestine E.Y. as the coins indicate). Approximations: the Jewish population of Palestine was 85,000 before WWI and the same 85,000 by about 1920. (Many Jews from the Allied countries, which included Czarist Russia were exiled by the Turks as enemy nationals and so the Jewish population dropped during the war and only rebounded to pre war levels by 1920 or so.) By 1929 the Jewish population was 170,000. By 1939 the Jewish population was over 400,000. By 1948 approximately 600,000. The largest increase in population (in raw numbers) thus took place between 1929 and 1939, which included the rise of Hitler in Germany, the transfer agreement between the Zionist Jewish Agency and Nazi Germany and the rise of antisemitism in Poland.

        During those years 1929 to 1939, the gates to America were not slammed hermetically shut, but they allowed only a trickle of immigrants (including Jews) into the US.

        By the way this line from seafoid deserves mockery: “I would say Judaism never dealt with the Shoah. Some of the stuff was just too painful.” Who would say something this empty headed. Some of the stuff. This is something that Edith Bunker might say, Archie’s wife. (sorry Edith).

        Also: Relations between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews are nowhere near perfect, but I’d be willing to bet that the intermarriage rate between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews (in Israel) is higher than the intermarriage rate between white and black Americans.

        I agree that the militarism of Zionism is not necessarily the best reaction possible to the cataclysm of the Churban. But the overwhelming advice offered by the antiZionists on this web site is: Jews, stop being Jewish and then your worries will disappear. Relax and disappear.

      • RoHa
        February 4, 2014, 1:35 am

        @ yonah

        “But the overwhelming advice offered by the antiZionists on this web site is: Jews, stop being Jewish and then your worries will disappear. Relax and disappear.”

        Overwhelming? That’s my advice. Does anyone else share my view?

      • seafoid
        February 4, 2014, 4:40 am

        “But the overwhelming advice offered by the antiZionists on this web site is: Jews, stop being Jewish and then your worries will disappear. Relax and disappear.”
        That is as bad as hophmi

        I think most of the people here are hoping that the bots can discover their inner Mensch before TSHTF

      • W.Jones
        February 3, 2014, 8:40 pm

        Seafoid,

        You are quite smart, and have a wry humor. In your first post you said nationalism was an outlet for avoiding to deal emotionally with the issue of the genocide. i pointed out that the nationalist movement went before and up to the end of WWII, and you replied “The seed population that arrived 1946 -48 from Europe seems to have been made up of displaced persons . And nowhere to go. Europe was full of DP camps.”
        This seems to be a much more practical reply.
        But was it really true they had nowhere at all to go? In other words, if they could not go to Palestine, in reality what happened to those who did not? I am trying to look at this in a neutral way.

      • W.Jones
        February 3, 2014, 8:55 pm

        That is, instead of withdrawing into nationalism due to the Shoah, you portrayed it in more detail as a practical situation of nowhere to go? I am trying to understand this better. On one hand, the strong nationalism got going even before the end of WWII. The nationalist leaders generally left even before WWII, right?

      • seafoid
        February 4, 2014, 5:21 pm

        It was in this article.

        link to nybooks.com

        After the war there were “roughly eleven million foreigners stranded in Germany, often in ghastly conditions, after surviving years of hard labor and imprisonment in labor camps, concentration camps, death camps, and POW camps. This human detritus of war, slavery, forced labor, and genocide included Jews from all over Europe and the Soviet Union. But many more were non-Jewish Yugoslavs, Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, Balts, Italians, Dutch, Belgians, French, and others.
        Some wanted to go back to their home countries as quickly as possible. Others wanted to go anywhere but their old homes. Others had no homes to go back to. Some were too dazed by recent experience to know quite what they wanted. And this does not include the millions of Germans who had been brutally expelled from parts of Czechoslovakia, Silesia, and East Prussia, where in many cases their families had lived for centuries. Nor does it include Germans who were bombed out of their homes. Borowski, as it happens, did go back to Poland, where he committed suicide in 1951.
        The Allied armies, chiefly the Americans, Soviets, and British, were faced with the kind of catastrophe left in the wake of most wars, but the scale in 1945 was unprecedented. And despite many wartime Allied conferences about what to do with refugees, survivors, and destitute populations, they were almost wholly unprepared”

        The Zionists turned up and scoured the camps for Jews. The Poles didn’t want the Jews (trauma, iron curtain ), the Brits didn’t (money) , the Romanians didn’t (Iron curtain),
        The bots did.

        Israel was a short term win win situation
        But long term very messy

        When they got to Israel they were given new identities and a new nationalistic ideology.
        Zionism was always provincial and out of touch with the wider Western world ;)

      • W.Jones
        February 4, 2014, 11:05 pm

        Seafoid,

        OK, so from what you are saying, there was not really a way for people to deal with the trauma, anymore than, say, the Yugoslavs or other people abused by the Germans. And Serbs really were bruised badly. It is sad.

        And so there was no way for them to deal with it that they found, but they did for practical reasons end up in the land because it was the easiest place to go. The ideology of the State they went to was nationalism and thus it turned out what they were to accept. However, you believe there was not really a way to deal with the trauma itself or address it. What possible option or outlet do you think could there be?

        Thanks.

  2. seafoid
    February 3, 2014, 11:36 am

    Another key aspect of the mess is the complete control of the Israeli right over all Israeli discourse relating to the conflict.

    link to haaretz.com

    “But the Left hesitates, and they drop their voices, because of the domination of the religious Right over political correctness in this semi-theocratic, colonialist democracy. The vote-catching assertion, proclaimed or hinted by spokesmen of the religious-Right, is that Kerry is anti-Semitic (and so is President Obama). The religious-Right in Israel and in the Diaspora has appropriated anti-Semitism for its brainwashing purposes, as it also plays fast and loose with language (“delegitimization”) to pursue those purposes. Thus, the religious-Right arbitrarily determines that to boycott West Bank settler companies is tantamount to ‘delegitimization’ of the existence of the Zionist state and rejection of the Jews’ right to nationhood.
    (The essence of this tactic, it should be noted, is classic Netanyahu spin. The prime minister always spreads and widens the import of Israel’s critics’ rhetoric so as to mobilize as many Israelis and overseas Jews as possible to actively oppose it and so as to shift the focus of the international debate on the Middle East away from Israel’s pragmatic need to end the occupation toward the broad, emotional but cloudy issues of national self-determination.)
    But self-gagging, though uncomfortable and energy-sapping, is not the most enfeebling element of the peace camp’s conduct. The utter, ultimate weakening is caused by the constant need to hope and pray that Israel’s foreign friends will step in and rescue her at last, effectively imposing the peace camp’s policy on her, because the peace camp cannot seriously hope to win power in Israel based on that policy. It is that acquiescence, that reliance on others, that despair of domestic voters, which takes all the wind out of a political movement’s sails.
    Perhaps, though, things can change now. Having acknowledged the causes of its own painful paralysis, the peace camp would do well to seize upon Secretary Kerry’s warnings as the moment when its dream of foreign support begins to come true and when domestic and international public debate can be pushed back into pragmatic parameters. ”

    Expecting the international cavalry to ride to the rescue is deluded IMO

  3. seafoid
    February 3, 2014, 11:46 am

    Mandela gave Zionism 2 barrels deep in enemy territory

    • Shingo
      February 4, 2014, 6:13 am

      That was extraordinary Seafoid. Even now, I am awestruck at the power of this man, his moral clarity and convictions.

      What I would give to see Mandella at that age taking on Netenyahu and all the shills on Congress in a Town Hall meeting. It wouldn’t even be a fair debate.

  4. hophmi
    February 3, 2014, 12:20 pm

    “It’s hard to do justice to the extraordinary new booklet Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide in a brief review, because of the breadth of the topics it manages to cover in its 74 pages – from the history of Zionism, to issues in Christian theology and Christian-Jewish relations, to the grim prospect of Israel’s spiral into racism and fascism, to examinations of current Jewish and Muslim attempts to make sense of Zionism’s ill-fated ascendancy, and much more. But one theme runs through the entire piece — the destructiveness of religious and nationalist exceptionalism.”

    I get it, Mark, you’re a pro-Palestinian activist, just like everybody who wrote praise for your booklet. Hint: It’s not hard to get praise from your fellow activists in the movement. What’s hard is making peace. Writing polemical booklets is easy.

    • talknic
      February 3, 2014, 2:08 pm

      @hophmi “What’s hard is making peace”

      Especially when you make demands that have no legal basis, demand to keep non-Israeli territory illegally acquired by war, illegally annexed, illegally settled, while completely ignoring International Law, the UN charter, relative conventions and hundreds of USNC resolutions giving you the opportunity to have peace by living up to your legal obligations.

      • hophmi
        February 3, 2014, 3:11 pm

        “Especially when you make demands that have no legal basis, demand to keep non-Israeli territory illegally acquired by war, illegally annexed, illegally settled, while completely ignoring International Law, the UN charter, relative conventions and hundreds of USNC resolutions giving you the opportunity to have peace by living up to your legal obligations.”

        Especially when you repeat the same crap over and over again, talknic, like anyone cares. We got your POV, talknic. You’re pro-Palestinian. We get it, dude.

      • talknic
        February 5, 2014, 12:27 pm

        hophmi“Especially when you repeat the same crap over and over again”

        Thanks for re-posting the alleged ‘crap’. You failed to point out tho what part is crap. C’mon… put some evidence up …if you can

        I’ll wait

        .

        .

        .

        forever

        ” like anyone cares”

        We know you and successive Israeli Governments have never cared about Israel’s obligations to the law. What has it bought?

        Bloodshed, war and an ever deepening illegal ‘facts on the ground’ black hole that Israel cannot possibly afford to get itself out of without cutting a deal with the Palestinians who have already said they’re willing to sacrifice more than half their rightful territory for peace with the state who has been illegally acquiring Palestinian territory for 65 years. link to pages.citebite.com

        ” We got your POV”

        It’s the law you silly person

        “You’re pro-Palestinian”

        Pro Israel, as a law abiding state. Anti you and your kind who always have been and still are a part of the reason Israel is not at peace with its neighbours

      • Ecru
        February 4, 2014, 4:37 am

        It’s even harder making peace when you don’t really want it – which is obviously the case with Israel.

    • eljay
      February 3, 2014, 2:15 pm

      >> What’s hard is making peace.

      It certainly is. Especially when the Jewish supremacists…
      - who used terrorism and ethnic cleansing to drive the Palestinians from their homes and lands;
      - who established an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State” in Palestine;
      - who refuse to stop stealing, occupying and colonizing Palestinian lands outside of their state’s / Partition borders;
      - who refuse to honour their obligations under international law; and
      - who refuse to be held accountable for their past and on-going (war) crimes,
      …show absolutely no interest in entering into sincere negotiations for a just and mutually-beneficial peace.

    • Woody Tanaka
      February 3, 2014, 3:00 pm

      “What’s hard is making peace. ”

      Especially when you’re dealing with a people like the zios who have no interest in peace, but are looking for a way to permanently oppress the Palestinians in their own land (and who then have the gall to complain when a Palestinian fights back.)

    • Shingo
      February 4, 2014, 6:15 am

      What’s hard is making peace.

      Especially with ethno supremacists who don’t want it and think they can live without it because they have the world’s only superpower by the cojones.

    • FreddyV
      February 4, 2014, 9:30 am

      @Hophmi:

      I think Braverman is pretty awesome. He’s Jewish and preaches to Christians about the dissonance in Christian Zionist teaching. Whilst Zionism is uunderstandably highly nationalistic and one may even say tribal, CZ theology is very screwed up. Sadly the religious support given to Israel from the pulpit to the ballot box has done nothing but enabled Israel to paint itself into the corner its currently in.

      As a ex CZ, I believe that peace would have been found much sooner and Israel / Palestine would be a much happier and healthier place than it is today if it wasn’t for Christian Zionism.

  5. American
    February 3, 2014, 12:58 pm

    ”A statement from the introduction sums it up: “The fundamental assumption of this study is that no exceptionalist claims can be justified in our interconnected, pluralistic world.”

    The exceptionalist claim is what created Israel and has brought Israel and Jews to the current state.
    But it goes against a lot of humans nature’s to give up being considered an exception if it brings them benefits.

    I read an interesting book review that illustrated this problem, except I dont think the Jewish-German author of the book even saw his own hypocrisy in his complaint about wanting to be treated as any other German and not as a Jew.

    Books
    A Reluctant Jew in Post-Holocaust Germany

    link to tabletmag.com

    ”Growing up Jewish in Germany, Mounk explains, meant constantly feeling like an outsider. But this was not because he was subjected to discrimination: “For me personally, it wasn’t primarily violence or hatred that made me feel that I would never be a German. It was benevolence. Far from being anti-Semitic, most Germans I met were so keen to prove to me that they weren’t anti-Semitic that they treated me with the kind of nervous niceness usually reserved for the mentally handicapped or the terminally ill.”
    Hatred isn’t funny, but embarrassment is, and the anecdotes Mounk tells read like comic sketches. Summoned for army service, Mounk takes advantage of a legal exemption for people “whose direct ancestors were persecuted by the Third Reich on grounds of their ethnicity,” explaining that as a Jew he is not required to serve. ”

    The author, Mounk decries being treated as an exception but then takes advantage of the Jewish exception of Jews not having to serve in the Germany army as non Jews do.
    I think the world has a long wait, if ever, if it expects any excepted group of people to willingly give up their exception privilages.
    The world is going to have to be the one to say ‘no exceptions’ to end the Jewish dilemma and the Israel problem.

  6. Balfour
    February 3, 2014, 12:59 pm

    As a Presbyterian raising Jewish children I hope that my families congregation will understand that the difficult facts outlined in this summary are necessary to hear, and the facts are shared with our Jewish brothers and sisters out of a liberal Protestant respect, and concern for how the noble teachings of progressive Judaism have been corrupted by government ideology and power. 50 years ago Mainstream American Protestants also had to reconcile the compassionate teachings of their faith with the hateful practices of a government that practiced social discrimination based upon tradition, fear and Protestant ethnic entitlement.

    • Betsy
      February 3, 2014, 1:56 pm

      any suggestions re/ how to do this are appreciated. I’m thinking about organizing an interfaith, city-wide study group around this Study Guide, and am trying to figure out what best approach to get everyone to the table…

      I brought it up in church on Sunday & someone said we *also* need to have parallel discussion re/ anti-Semitism, so that critique of Zionism, doesn’t propel a new anti-Semitism. So, any suggestions re/ short succinct readings on anti-Semitism appreciated —

      • W.Jones
        February 3, 2014, 4:33 pm

        Betsy,

        You can say that this is a good point, and that Zionism Unsettled addresses this important issue. On a sidenote, if there is so much concern about anti-Semitism when the topic is raised, then what does that say about the frequency about actual anti-Semitism?

      • American
        February 3, 2014, 5:19 pm

        W. Jones
        On a sidenote, if there is so much concern about anti-Semitism when the topic is raised, then what does that say about the frequency about actual anti-Semitism?””

        What does it say?

      • American
        February 3, 2014, 5:17 pm

        Betsy says:
        February 3, 2014 at 1:56 pm
        I brought it up in church on Sunday & someone said we *also* need to have parallel discussion re/ anti-Semitism, so that critique of Zionism, doesn’t propel a new anti-Semitism. So, any suggestions re/ short succinct readings on anti-Semitism appreciated”’

        LOL……go right ahead, hop on the merry-go-round.
        If you cant address and discuss I/P as 1)human rights 2)international law 3) plain old right and wrong….then dont bother .

        The minute you begin with the apology ….’we re not anti semites but “…. your discussion will be about Jews and anti semitism, not about the Palestines.

      • richb
        February 3, 2014, 6:07 pm

        At least from a Presbyterian perspective note how American Presbyterianism starting from 1788 specifically eschewed theocracy and promoted a separation of church and state. It should be noted there is a tight connection in Christian Zionism between a concept of a Christian America and a Jewish Israel. The very people who promote Jews in Israel persecute Jews in the U.S. See the following “Christian” news site about Mikey Weinstein:

        link to christiannewswire.com

      • richb
        February 3, 2014, 6:28 pm

        There is a deep relationship of the tight coupling of church and state and anti-Semitism. See the documentary Constantine’s Sword:

        link to amazon.com

        Far from arguing for Zionism the fight against anti-Semitism argues against it and any other form of conflation of religion with state power. The identity of said religion is irrelevant. Human history has shown that this is a toxic and deadly mix. For those of us who are part of the global faith community we need to own up to this.

      • W.Jones
        February 3, 2014, 9:41 pm

        Rich,

        I agree with your larger point about the value of secular government, whether the government be Christian or otherwise. Unfortunately, I am skeptical about the writings of Carroll, the author of Constantine’s Sword, as you yourself may be if you read his NY Times article “The thread of anti-Semitism”, where he connects opposition to Israeli policies with his views about anti-semitic attitudes.
        link to nytimes.com

        Carroll’s writings may reflect censoring trends within liberal scholarship, which Zionism Unsettled partly addresses, that end up blocking criticism of state policies. An author who seems to take a contrary position on such questions is the writer Israel Shahak.

    • seafoid
      February 3, 2014, 6:55 pm

      “50 years ago Mainstream American Protestants also had to reconcile the compassionate teachings of their faith with the hateful practices of a government that practiced social discrimination based upon tradition, fear and Protestant ethnic entitlement.”

      link to amazon.com

  7. sydnestel
    February 3, 2014, 2:06 pm

    How is Israeli/Jewish exceptionalism different than American exceptionalism? How is the American/Amerindian experience different than the Israeli/Palestinian experience?

    • Joe Catron
      February 3, 2014, 4:17 pm

      I suggest reading ZU, actually. That stuff’s in there, not comprehensively but with pointers for further research. I broach some of it quickly in my own review:

      link to electronicintifada.net

    • W.Jones
      February 3, 2014, 4:23 pm

      Sydnestal,

      There are similarities, but since you asked about the difference, one can note that the US is not defined as an ethnic or religious state.

      • seafoid
        February 3, 2014, 6:53 pm

        I think the main difference is that the US has the world’s reserve currency LOL. But also that US society is not some doped out ideological cult. There are a lot of countercurrents. It’s not 1820 in America. America is very messy but there is continuous questioning. You just don’t get the slavish doctrinal rigidity they teach in Israel even though the Tea Party would love it.

    • American
      February 3, 2014, 5:22 pm

      sydnestel says:
      February 3, 2014 at 2:06 pm
      How is Israeli/Jewish exceptionalism different than American exceptionalism? How is the American/Amerindian experience different than the Israeli/Palestinian experience?>>>>

      Whats the difference? About 5 centuries is the difference..

  8. pabelmont
    February 3, 2014, 5:11 pm

    Does this Zionism Unsettled contain a few of the stories of the kind that Kate tells us about every week? They make me absolutely sick, sort of like stories about factory-farming mistreatment of animals. The “inhumanity” of many Israelis (and some factory-farmers) is NOT in the fact that the actors are behaving badly toward HUMANs, but in the fact that they are behaving inhumanely period — whether toward human beings or animals. The phrase (relative to Israelis) that they often “treat Palestinians worse than anyone should treat animals” comes to mind.

    Israel Shahak taught that to make people fully understand how awful Israel is (or was when he was active), he needed to tell people of good will simple stories of MINOR oppression. He felt that people got turned off by stories of major oppression. Maybe “outrage fatigue”.

  9. W.Jones
    February 3, 2014, 7:25 pm

    Zionism Unsettled makes it abundantly clear that the position that has been taken by the institutional church with respect to the State of Israel presents a critical challenge to Christianity.

    This institutional church refers to the Christian Church as a whole organization?

    The review says:

    The movement to atone for historic church anti-Semitism, which began in the German Protestant church in the postwar years and soon spread to North America, has morphed into an interfaith industry that supports, not only a particularly compelling form of Jewish exceptionalism, but, ironically, the very same Christian triumphalism that fueled the anti-Jewish sins of the church from its earliest history.

    What are the anti-Jewish sins from the Church’s earliest history? After all, the Church is the community of disciples around Jesus, which grew around Pentecost and was further promoted by Paul, all in the first century.

    • W.Jones
      February 3, 2014, 10:39 pm

      I do get that there have been anti-Semitic attitudes among some Christians, and I think some of Luther’s writings cross into this area. But I fear that there is a trend to overcompensate, which is what I see in Constantine’s Sword and which the Presby USA book points out.

  10. OlegR
    February 4, 2014, 4:34 am

    Christians telling Jews how wrong their beliefs are and how they should behave.
    What a novel idea.

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