In yet another effort to revive dream of Jewish sovereignty, ‘NYT’ cites Thai restaurants in Tel Aviv

US Politics
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The New York Times’ coverage of Israel often reads as if were written of Zionists, for Zionists and by Zionists, and a news analysis by Steven Erlanger last weekend titled, “Who are the True Heirs of Zionism?” was in that tradition. The piece said there is a “fierce battle” in Israel between good Zionists and bad ones. The good ones wanted to set up a model democracy. The bad ones are trying to have the entire biblical land of Israel and to hell with world opinion.

Are [the true heirs of Zionism] those who hold to the secular and internationalist vision of the nation’s founders, or are they the nationalist religious settlers who create communities beyond the 1967 boundaries and seek to annex more of the biblical land of Israel?

The piece all-but-openly adopted the point of view of liberal Zionist Bernard Avishai that Israel was a miraculous Jewish rebirth.

The largely secular founders of Israel, the generation of David Ben-Gurion, had a dual vision of Israel as both “a light among nations” and a state like others, part of the international community of nations, outward looking and socially just.

The settlers ruined that. Uri Dromi, former spokesperson for Yitzhak Rabin, tells Erlanger:

Rather than trying to be a nation among nations, “today, without saying it, by what we are doing, we are a people that is alone.”

But don’t end on a down note! At the end, Erlanger expresses the fond hope that everything’s gonna work out:

Still, the older Zionism is not dead yet and continues to create “facts on the ground,” noted Mr. Avishai. Every high-tech start-up, every new Thai restaurant and every successful film — and the very existence of a Hebrew-speaking, pluralistic, thriving Tel Aviv — speaks to the success of traditional Zionism and its continuing importance in Israeli life.

The article is so narrowminded it is hard to read. It mentions Palestinians twice. It quotes Zero Palestinians, even though it begins with the bold admission that

Zionism was never the gentlest of ideologies. The return of the Jewish people to their biblical homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty there have always carried within them the displacement of those already living on the land.

Erlanger  would seem to believe in that romance — the return of the Jewish people to their biblical homeland — sufficiently that he refuses to entertain any serious critique of Zionism here. Those critiques are taking place across the Israeli world and the Jewish world and they include these ideas:

The fierce battle Erlanger wants readers to believe in has been resolved. Israel is dominated by a Jewish settler government that was reelected emphatically last March. Even the alleged liberals, the Zionist Camp, are scared to oppose settlers openly. This is the endpoint of the blessed “Jewish sovereignty” in the same way that dictatorship and bureaucracy were the endpoint of Communist ideology. This understanding of Israeli political culture is expressed best lately by Ayman Odeh, an Israeli political leader who has made the terrible mistake in the eyes of the New York Times of not being Jewish and of representing 20 percent of the country’s population, so he won’t be quoted; and by Max Blumenthal, who is Jewish (and American, like Avishai) but made the terrible mistake of being an anti-Zionist, so he can’t be quoted.

The issue is how long the Times and the other long-distance runners of Jewish sovereignty are going to marginalize these critiques as irrelevant– when other people want to talk about them, including many Palestinians, Israelis, Europeans and even young Americans (at Bernie Sanders rallies). Bear in mind that Erlanger also deemed Ghada Karmi’s story of how her Palestinian family lost her house in West Jerusalem to be not newsworthy–when Karmi thought it so relevant that she wrote a whole book about her family’s life in that house.  In this article, Erlanger acknowledges Karmi’s story with his opening indictment– “the displacement of those already living on the land” — but after that it’s right back to the real work of ignoring Palestinians and anti-Zionists.

Of course I don’t think those critiques are irrelevant, but are absolutely vital to an understanding of Zionism in the 21st century. Writing an article about Whither Zionism and leaving out its countless victims, would be like writing, Whither Communism and ignoring the gulag. And as to the point, Who are the true inheritors of Zionism? — let’s assume this is a parochial, Jewish question– the answer is, anti-Zionists. Zionism arose as a fervent minority belief inside European Jewish life 120 years ago as a real answer to real historical conditions; and today anti-Zionism is burgeoning as a minority belief inside Diaspora Jewish life, and inside Israeli life too, as a real answer to real conditions. Zionism once was able to draw Franz Kafka and Bernie Sanders because it was an idealistic ideology of Jewish deliverance. Today Zionism’s life as a movement that can attract others is over: it has resolved itself in colonial oppression, despite all of Avishai’s Thai restaurants. Anti-Zionism is a growing movement inside Jewish life, aided by many Palestinian friends. How long it will take the Times to deign to notice is anybody’s guess. But these days more and more readers are aware of the coverup.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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36 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    February 9, 2016, 1:48 pm

    Amherst college, named after (or later) than Lord Amherst, a soldier who recommended using smallpox to kill American Indians, is rethinking (and rejecting) its association with the genocidal commander.

    Will Israel rethink anything it did, in the brave old days of yore (1948), even as more and more reports of 1948 slaughters come out?

    Will Israel ever admit to itself, to world’s Jews, and to the world, that it came into being (1920-1950) not as an entity being attacked (for there was no Israeli entity until it manufactured itself) but as an entity with quite dirty hands attacking another which had done it no wrong?

    • ckg
      February 9, 2016, 6:03 pm

      And today three portraits of John C. Calhoun were taken down from Yale college. Unfortunately, the moral arc of the universe is long.

  2. hophmi
    February 9, 2016, 2:22 pm

    “as a real answer to real conditions”

    I just can’t agree. If it were actually that, it might be a bit more credible. But it’s not. It’s just a leftist cause du jour, and most of the Jews involved are either completely secular and have little interest in the religion or in its perpetuation, or they’re openly hostile toward their faith. There are a few who don’t fit that mold, but most do. Additionally, anti- isn’t a movement. It’s simply opposition to another idea. I can find no coherent set of ideas that characterizes anti-Zionism.

    Also, what real conditions are you talking about? Zionism came about in a world where Jews were discriminated against, and often harshly persecuted. And it came after more than a century of Jews attempting to live as equals in European society, failing, and then being murdered en masse. And it was a Jewish movement, one of a number meant to deal with . Anti-Zionism isn’t a Jewish movement. It’s a movement where the vast majority are not Jewish, and in many cases, openly hostile to Jews. It arose in the aftermath of World War II (and not recently), the ultimate argument against placing faith in European Christians to protect their Jewish populations. It’s a thoroughly discredited idea, historically, politically, and morally.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      February 9, 2016, 2:49 pm

      Classic Ziobabble. Zionism is all about the Jews. No mention whatsover of the millions of innocent victims of Zionism.

      Like I said on another post, Jews are hardly the only people ever to have suffered from discrimination or persecution (though to listen to Zionists, you’d swear they were). But no other persecuted people has demanded a ‘homeland’ on another continent, at the expense of the people who already lived there, who of course were not asked if they consented to having foreigners steal their land and expel them at gun point.

      And then they had the nerve to act as though THEY were the victims.

      • Mooser
        February 9, 2016, 3:43 pm

        “Anti-Zionism isn’t a Jewish movement. “

        Because Zionism was imposed on Jews, or because Zionism meant with universal and complete Jewish acquiescence and support, so no need for discussion?

        “Hophmi”, the very first objections to Zionism were Jewish.

      • Keith
        February 11, 2016, 7:00 pm

        MOOSER- ““Hophmi”, the very first objections to Zionism were Jewish.”

        That is absolutely correct. Additionally, Zionism obtained its initial funding from anti-Semites and Zionist fat-cats such as the Rothchilds. The great majority of Jews at the time had no interest in Zionism. As for “The Six Million” who perished in the Holocaust, the overwhelming majority were non-Zionists or anti-Zionists, refugees preferring Britain or the US over Israel. After the war, Jewish refugees from the camps were more-or-less shanghaied into going to Israel by Zionist agents in the camps. It was only the skillful exploitation of the Holocaust which eventually resulted in organized Jewry embracing Israel and Zionism. And now you have shameless Zionists like Hophmi hoping to influence the future by misrepresenting the past.

      • Mooser
        February 11, 2016, 10:00 pm

        “The Six Million” who perished in the Holocaust, the overwhelming majority were non-Zionists or anti-Zionists, refugees preferring Britain or the US over Israel.”

        After WW2 there were about 250,000 Jews in “displaced persons camp’s” The six-million or so who perished, of course, could not be refugees anywhere.

    • eljay
      February 9, 2016, 2:58 pm

      || hophmi: … It’s a thoroughly discredited idea, historically, politically, and morally. ||

      It’s always amusing when Zio-supremacists appeal to morality even as they vociferously and unapologetically:
      – advocate Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine; and
      – justify, excuse and/or defend the past and on-going (war) crimes committed by Zio-supremacists and the “Jewish State”.

      • scott alexander
        February 10, 2016, 3:47 pm

        What exactly is ziosupremacism? Doesn’t every nation have a sense of its own uniqueness and therefore supremacy over others. For example, we Canadians, based mostly on pure conceit, have long held that we are “better” than the US.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 10, 2016, 5:43 pm

        What exactly is ziosupremacism?

        zionist supremism.

        Doesn’t every nation have a sense of its own uniqueness and therefore supremacy over others.

        there are versions of it yes. you might recall hearing of american exceptionalism: https://iantyrrell.wordpress.com/papers-and-comments/

        For example, we Canadians, based mostly on pure conceit, have long held that we are “better” than the US.

        not sure if that’s comparable to ziosupremacism tho, last i heard canadians offered equal rights to all their citizens. and as far as i know they do not have dozens of laws privileging one ethnicity while keeping half the population rightless and imprisoned and tortured and dragging their kids out of the house in the middle of the night. etc.

      • eljay
        February 10, 2016, 8:20 pm

        || cott alexander: What exactly is ziosupremacism? … ||

        Zionist supremacism, or religion-based supremacism by, of and for people who:
        – have undergone a religious conversion to Judaism; or
        – are descended from someone who underwent a religious conversion to Judaism.

        || … Doesn’t every nation have a sense of its own uniqueness and therefore supremacy over others. For example, we Canadians, based mostly on pure conceit, have long held that we are “better” than the US. ||

        If Israel were a secular and democratic Israeli nation of and for all of its citizens, immigrants, expats and refugees, equally, your analogy would make sense.

        But given that Israel is a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” – a state primarily of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews – it doesn’t.

    • Mooser
      February 9, 2016, 2:59 pm

      ” I can find no coherent set of ideas that characterizes anti-Zionism.”

      Try Jewish ethics and religion. “Our faith” does not revolve around stealing a country, killing people, and declaring ethnic superiority, and immunity and impunity.

      Or is that what the Holocaust bought us? What a deal! The Europeans (as you point out) offend, and the Palestinians must pay?

      • Mooser
        February 9, 2016, 3:35 pm

        “Try Jewish ethics and religion. “Our faith” does not revolve around stealing a country, killing people, and declaring ethnic superiority, and immunity and impunity.”

        I shouldn’t have said that, and I apologize. I am much worse than ‘no expert’ on the subject, I may very well be wrong about this. Sorry.

      • Boo
        February 10, 2016, 9:07 am

        Uh-oh, someone’s been reading 1 Samuel again…

    • amigo
      February 9, 2016, 3:19 pm

      “Additionally, anti- isn’t a movement, It’s simply opposition to another idea” hopknee

      Then this !!.

      “Anti-Zionism isn’t a Jewish movement. It’s a movement where the vast majority are not Jewish, and in many cases, openly hostile to Jews.”hopknee

      Confused , hoppy.

    • Mooser
      February 9, 2016, 3:33 pm

      ” the ultimate argument against placing faith in European Christians to protect their Jewish populations…”

      Was when Jews lived in a place where “no religious test” was applied, were simply equal citizens (something denied to many other people) and were not persecuted.
      But that wasn’t good enough for Zionists.

      And the most ridiculous thing is, out-marriage, and the decision not to get involved with the organized religion have reduced Jewish numbers more than anything else. Nobody is forcing that on us.

    • Sibiriak
      February 9, 2016, 3:53 pm

      hophmi: …European Christians to protect their Jewish populations. It’s a thoroughly discredited idea….
      —————————

      European Christians protecting their Jewish populations is indeed a discredited idea–as is the idea of Israeli Jews protecting their Arabs.

    • bryan
      February 9, 2016, 4:17 pm

      Hophmi:
      (1) “anti- isn’t a movement” – no of course not, but most minority ideologies, which of course Zionism most definitely is, have more opponents than supporters.
      (2) “I can find no coherent set of ideas that characterizes anti-Zionism” – if you seek coherence I really don’t think Zionism is a good place to go.
      (3) “Anti-Zionism isn’t a Jewish movement” – no of course not, but even movements where Jews have had a significant impact. like socialism and the campaign for Human Rights, have been largely non-Jewish, because Judaism, however influential, represents a very, very small minority of the world’s population.
      (4) Anti-Zionism “arose in the aftermath of World War II” – probably most of the events occurring in the last 75 years occurred post World-War Two, but not as you seem to be implying as a result of that event.
      (5) “placing faith in European Christians” – if I were you I would not place your faith in any religious group, because most of them are dishonest, hypocritical, manipulative and disingenuous – you are far better off relying on atheists, though you may find us intolerant of irrationality and bigotry. Secular and non-theocratic states are the way to go, and I utterly fail to understand why Israel so readily embraces the anti-semitic idiots of fundamentalist Christian Zionism.

      • JustJessetr
        February 9, 2016, 7:27 pm

        “…you are far better off relying on atheists, though you may find us intolerant of irrationality and bigotry. Secular and non-theocratic states are the way to go…”

        I don’t know about that. The USSR and North Korea are pretty good examples of how atheist regimes can be just as oppressive, if not worse, than religious ones. People are people and they’ll always find a way to keep someone else under their boot heel. I think the Kafka quote was, “Every revolution eventually fades and leaves behind the slime of a new bureaucracy.”

    • Misterioso
      February 10, 2016, 12:20 pm

      Bottom line:

      Foreign Jews had the same right to Palestine as Irish Catholics and Mexican atheists, i.e., none whatsoever. Therein lies the crux of the matter and why Israel was and is an historical anachronism – 67 years of trying to pound a square peg into a round hole.

      Zionism is an absurd and blatantly racist 19th century ideology based on the violent dispossession and expulsion of Palestine’s indigenous Arab inhabitants. The good news is that Israel is rotting from within and with each passing day, increasingly viewed by more and more people around the world, including righteous Jews, as a brutal/rogue/pariah/fascistic entity. It could only be thus.

  3. bryan
    February 9, 2016, 3:22 pm

    Phil – I think you are being unnecessarily harsh on Communism – if it had been practiced in other places than Russia, China and Cuba, it might have been an entirely different species. Nevertheless, I concede that had Zionism been practised in Argentina, Canada or France it could have been an entirely different species, and undoubtedly the world would have been a happier planet.

    • Mooser
      February 9, 2016, 3:49 pm

      “I think you are being unnecessarily harsh on Communism – if it had been practiced in other places than Russia, China and Cuba, it might have been an entirely different species”

      Weeell, if the old memory doesn’t fail, wasn’t it practiced in a host of Soviet bloc” countries. And half of Germany for a while?

      But I do understand that while ideologies may never fail, people, or in this case, peoples, fail the ideology. Always best to insure your favored ideology isn’t attractive to losers and failures.

      • bryan
        February 10, 2016, 5:46 am

        Thanks for pointing that out Mooser – you have heartened me. Soviet regimes, owing allegiance to Moscow, were installed in Eastern Europe in an occupation following war, and maintained partly by ideology, but more significantly by force of arms, until everything collapsed five decades later. A Zionist regime, owing allegiance to Tel Aviv and Washington, was installed in Golan, Gaza and the West Bank, in an occupation following war, and maintained by force of arms, but also partly by the ideology of imported settlers, until……

        Please advise me of your favoured ideology which has not attracted losers and failures: I’ve been hunting for one all my life, (though I would certainly fail to qualify for membership).

      • Mooser
        February 10, 2016, 11:25 am

        “Please advise me of your favoured ideology which has not attracted losers and failures”

        The only sure route to political happiness is to join a marimba band, and live with mallets toward none.

  4. John Douglas
    February 9, 2016, 3:28 pm

    Is Erlanger a journalist? A reporter? Someone who discovers some fact, makes sure it’s true, puts it in context and reports it? He refers to,

    “The return of the Jewish people to their biblical homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty …”

    What’s he talking about? A Biblical story of the United Kingship of Judea and Israel? Is this the sovereignty that has been resumed? It’s a story. One with very little historical evidence. We may as well be talking about Atlantis. Ditto for the Roman expulsion. But even if the story resembles in some vague way what happened, it’s about eighty years of sovereignty. Add the years after the Maccabee revolt (restricted to Judea), another one hundred. Is this journalism? Does any of this justify the phrase, “… the resumption of Jewish sovereignty?”

    • Dutch
      February 9, 2016, 7:30 pm

      You’re absolutely right. It’s total BS.

      The reason for throwing in sentences like these is feeding the myth, rotating around the famous words ‘return’, ‘jewish people’ and ‘homeland’. And don’t forget the daily miracles in Tel Aviv … Thai restaurants!

  5. Sibiriak
    February 9, 2016, 3:42 pm

    The return of the Jewish people to their biblical homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty there have always carried within them the displacement of those already living on the land.
    —————

    “Those already living on the land”– a people that cannot be named.

    A people on “the land“–not their homeland .

    A people just living there, along with the rest of the native flora and fauna–not building, not making the desert bloom, not aspiring to the majesty of “sovereignty” or the magnificence of restored Biblical greatness.

    A people subject to displacement –like an object blocking the highway that must moved.

    A people without history.

    A people with no name.

  6. Brewer
    February 9, 2016, 3:46 pm

    Had a Thai restaurant open up in my little town recently, also a couple of startups and movies shot ’round here. Should I be worried?

  7. chocopie
    February 9, 2016, 3:58 pm

    So glad I don’t believe in a political ideology that has to use Thai restaurants and tech start-ups as justification for its “displacement of those already living on the land.”

    • chocopie
      February 9, 2016, 4:03 pm

      Also, “displacement” is the ultimate weasel word in this context, a sanitary word for multiple atrocities committed over many decades and still continuing today.

  8. lysias
    February 9, 2016, 4:11 pm

    Ethnic cleansing was intended from the start. To repeat something I posted the other day:

    I happen to be reading at the moment The Maisky Diaries: Red Ambassador to the Court of St James’s, 1932-1943, an abridgement of the diaries of Ambassador Ivan Maisky. In his entry for Feb. 3, 1941, he recounts a visit that Chaim Weizmann paid to him on that day:

    Here he [Weizmann] began to set out his fears. The English — and especially their colonial administrators — don’t like Jews, This is particularly noticeable in Palestine, which is inhabited by both Jews and Arabs. Here the British ‘high commissioners’ undoubtedly prefer the Arabs to the Jews. Why? For one very simple reason. An English colonial administrator will usually get his training in British colonies like Nigeria, the Sudan, Rhodesia and so one. These places have a well-defined pattern of rule: a few roads, some courts, a little missionary activity, a little medical care for the population. It’s all so simple, so straightforward, so calm. No serious problems, and no complaints on the part of the governed. The English administrator likes this, and gets used to it. But in Palestine?

    Growing more animated, Weizmann continued: ‘You won’t get very far with a programme like that here. Here there are big and complex problems. It’s true that the Palestinian Arabs are the kind of guinea pigs the administrator is used to, but the Jews reduce him to despair. They are dissatisfied with everything, they ask questions, they demand answers — and sometimes these answers are not easily supplied. The administrator begins to get angry and to see the Jews as a nuisance. But the main thing is that the administrator constantly feels that the Jews is looking at him and thinking to himself: “Are you intelligent? Maybe I’m twice as intelligent as you.”‘

    … And then, taking all these circumstances into account, Weizmann anxiously asks himself: ‘What has a British victory to offer the Jews?’ The question leads him to some uncomfortable conclusions. For the only ‘plan’ which Weizmann can think of to save Central European Jewry (and in the first place Polish Jewry) is this: to move a million Arabs now living in Palestine to Iraq, and to settle four or five million Jews from Poland and other countries on the land which the Arabs had been occupying. The British are hardly likely to agree to this. And if they don’t agree, what will happen?

    I expressed some surprise about how Weizmann hoped to settle 5 million Jews on territory occupied by 1 million Arabs.

    ‘Oh, don’t worry,’ Weizmann burst out laughing. ‘The Arab is often called the son of the desert. It would be truer to call him the father of the desert. Hiz laziness and primitivism turn a flourishing garden into a desert. Give me the land occupied by a million Arabs, and I will easily settle five times that number of Jews on it.’

    Weizmann shook his head sadly and concluded: ‘The only thing is, how do we obtain this land?’

    So this is confirmation that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and a transfer of populations was already a part of the plans of the Zionist movement at the beginning of 1941. And Weizmann’s words confirm what Iraqi Jew Naeim Giladi said in his book Ben-Gurion’s Scandals: How the Haganah and the Mossad Eliminated Jews, that the Zionist plan in the late 1940s and early 1950s was indeed a transfer of populations: Jews out of Iraq into Palestine, and Palestinians out of Palestine into Iraq.

  9. a blah chick
    February 9, 2016, 4:29 pm

    “Zionism was never the gentlest of ideologies. The return of the Jewish people to their biblical homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty there have always carried within them the displacement of those already living on the land.”

    It’s called Colonialism.

    “The largely secular founders of Israel, the generation of David Ben-Gurion, had a dual vision of Israel as both “a light among nations” and a state like others, part of the international community of nations, outward looking and socially just. ” And they would around to all that social justice as soon as they finished raping, looting and pillaging the natives. Omelets and eggs.

  10. amigo
    February 9, 2016, 5:00 pm

    Speaking of efforts to sanitize Israel.

    “Knesset Panel Summons Foreign Media Over ‘Biased’ Coverage

    Angry journalists, who initially boycotted the session, describe subcommittee’s claims to be part of a ‘witch hunt,’ and slam Israel’s ‘authoritarian’ efforts to clamp down on the media.
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.702278“.

    IOW, If you foreign Journalists refuse to stick to the script provided , you will be barred from the most moral sovereign and democratic Jewish state ,

    Yup , another nail in the zionist paranoid sovereign state.

  11. spokelse
    February 10, 2016, 3:55 am

    Erlanger is fool/tool. In an email exchange I had with him while he was the NY Times bureau chief he claimed that the occupation wasn’t a major issue between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Hopeless, per the usual for the gray lady. And Zionism is just like any other ideology that supports a colonial settler project, no matter the aggrieved history claimed by the colonial perpetrators. The “everyone in the world is against us” pattern is only remarkable in it’s frequency of use by the oppressor.

    • eljay
      February 11, 2016, 11:57 am

      || spokelse: … Zionism is just like any other ideology that supports a colonial settler project, no matter the aggrieved history claimed by the colonial perpetrators. The “everyone in the world is against us” pattern is only remarkable in it’s frequency of use by the oppressor. ||

      Zio-supremacists were told that donning Captain Israel underwear would make aggressor-victimhood easier. But they were lied to, and it remains a tough gig. :-(

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