Zionism threatens to bring anti-semitism full-circle

Middle East
on 22 Comments

Zionism is very much a mirror image of anti-Semitism. It was founded and based on an assumption that assimilation is bound to fail, and that the Jews must resort to other measures in order to protect their existence – as persons, but perhaps even more significantly – as a supposed nation. David Ben-Gurion’s words to the Mapai committee in 1938 reveal how the national aspect could supersede the humanitarian concern to actual people: ”If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England, and only half by transferring them to the Land of Israel, I would choose the latter, for before us lies not only the numbers of these children but the historical reckoning of the people of Israel.” In that same year he spoke to the Jewish Agency in regards to the Évian conference which sought to facilitate the plight of Jewish refugees, saying, “[I do] not know if the conference will open the gates of other countries. . . . But I am afraid [ it ] might cause tremendous harm to Eretz Yisrael and Zionism. . . . and the more we emphasize the terrible distress of the Jewish masses in Germany, Poland and Rumania, the more damage we shall cause” — to Zionism and Eretz Israel by promoting emigration to western countries. [Both quotes at this link].

That is to say, that the priority of nationalism (as opposed to personal security) was extremely high in Zionism from the outset. Zionism sought to forge a sense of ‘nationhood’ for a people that were of a vast spectrum of ethnicity, language, even religion (from ultra-orthodox to atheist) and claim that they were one. The British (and notably Jewish) Secretary of State for India Edwin Montagu, in his critique of His Majesty’s Government’s intentions to endorse a ‘Jewish national home” in Palestine in 1917, said: “I assert that there is not a Jewish nation. The members of my family, for instance, who have been in this country for generations, have no sort or kind of community of view or of desire with any Jewish family in any other country beyond the fact that they profess to a greater or less degree the same religion. It is no more true to say that a Jewish Englishman and a Jewish Moor are of the same nation than it is to say that a Christian Englishman and a Christian Frenchman are of the same nation: of the same race, perhaps, traced back through the centuries – through centuries of the history of a peculiarly adaptable race”.

Jonathan Cook in his recent article relates how “Hannah Arendt, the German Jewish scholar of totalitarianism, argued even in 1944 – long after the Nazis abandoned ideas of emigration and embraced genocide instead – that the ideology underpinning Zionism was ‘nothing else than the uncritical acceptance of German-inspired nationalism’.” He also notes that “even today the Zionist movement cannot help but mirror many of the flaws of those now-discredited European ethnic nationalisms….Such characteristics – all too apparent in Israel – include: an exclusionary definition of peoplehood; a need to foment fear and hatred of the other as a way to keep the nation tightly bound; an obsession with and hunger for territory; and a highly militarised culture”.

So Zionism seems to be based on the idea of maintaining and supporting a “nation”, a “people” – but those “people” are by large not even there, in the ‘homeland’. The ‘nation’, that is, ‘the Jewish nation’, is a construct that supersedes the nationality of the people actually residing in the country. As I have earlier written, Israelis do not actually exist as ‘nationals’ – only as citizens. As the state is by definition the Jewish State, the ‘nationals’ who by default are closest to being ‘Israeli’ are the Jews – wherever they may be. This aspect is also embodied in the ‘Law of Return’ (1950) which allows any Jew to become automatic citizen in Israel. As even the Jewish Virtual Library notes, “at present, the definition is based on Hitler’s Nuremberg Laws: the right of Return is granted to any individual with one Jewish grandparent, or who is married to someone with one Jewish grandparent. As a result, thousands of people with no meaningful connection to the Jewish people theoretically have the right to immigrate.” (My emphasis.)

The Jewish State is thus acting, still today, as if the Nuremberg Laws and their like are a real-time threat and the threat of a second Holocaust is looming. It relies upon this perception to maximise its appeal to Jews with the ever-present suggestion of existential threat. This is why any incident where Jews are targeted around the world can quickly become a claim by Israeli leaders, to prove the Zionist point – that Israel is their ultimate home, suggesting that their safety cannot be guaranteed elsewhere. As PM Netanyahu said last year in Paris:

“The State of Israel is not just the place to which you turn in prayer. The State of Israel is also your home. This week, a special team of ministers will convene to advance steps to increase immigration from France and other countries in Europe that are suffering from terrible anti-Semitism. All Jews who want to immigrate to Israel will be welcomed here warmly and with open arms. We will help you in your absorption here in our country, which is also your country.”

But the “defense” of this “home”, this “national home”– which has required ethnic cleansing, Apartheid and military oppression for its maintenance since day 1– has meant that the more Zionism became representational for Jews all over the world, the more Jews would naturally be associated with the crimes perpetrated on their behalf, as it were. Zionism and Israel have tried to conceal these crimes by a well-funded, constant and relentless propaganda over the years, to depict these acts as mere ‘necessary responses’ to an unfortunate reality. Yet the reality is unmistakably that of colonialism (see my lecture on the subject here), which involved the predictable crimes that go with it. As Israeli historian Benny Morris summarizes:

“Transfer was inevitable and inbuilt into Zionism—because it sought to transform a land which was ‘Arab’ into a ‘Jewish’ state and a Jewish state could not have arisen without a major displacement of Arab population.” (The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited).

This ‘displacement’, this ‘transfer’, or whatever other terms one wishes to apply to describe what we generally know today to be ethnic cleansing, the Apartheid, the seasonal massacres and sieges even fulfilling the definition of genocide, are acts that continue today. The astounding success of Zionism must be said to have been the ability to paint these crimes as something else. But this cannot continue forever. Not only is access to real-time news now more instant than ever – people’s access to critical evaluations of the situation is also more instant, and bypasses the archaic means by which the powers that be exerted censorship of information and ideas in past decades.

As the reality of Zionism on the ground is becoming harder to hide, as Israel presses on with its subjugation of Palestinians and enters ever more horrid cycles of state-terror, as Israel continuously intensifies its claim to act on behalf of all Jews, the obvious danger is that Zionism, the supposed answer to anti-Semitism, will become the major propellant of such feelings towards Jews – all over the world.

For Zionists, this danger is not necessarily something that would bother them that much. After all, whenever there is a case of anti-Semitism, real or imagined, that raises the validity of the Zionist raison d’etre. Jews around the world (who number more than Jews in Israel), should not be so sure to rely upon the motivations of the Jewish State and blindly regard it as their ‘insurance policy’. Not only is Israel the most dangerous country in the world for Jews, it is also one of the most dangerous countries in the world in general. To rely on such an ‘insurance policy’ might not be the best investment – especially not when it is a major cause not only of regional unrest, but also of hatred towards Jews around the world. Yes, I know, I’ve stepped on another eggshell – how can I trivialise the monster of anti-Semitism by playing into the anti-Semitic canard that Jews are to blame for others hating them? My answer is, that we simply need to withdraw from the absolutism of considering criticism, indeed even harsh criticism, of what the Jews in their collective representation under the Jewish State of Israel do, as necessarily unreasonable, endemically hateful and having nothing to do with their actual acts. In other words, critique doesn’t have to be anti-Semitic just because it is the goyim levelling it at Jews – even when it is heavy.

I don’t like to generalise people. I don’t like to be considered with generalisation. But the ‘Jewish State’ has generalised me for its nationalist ends in such ways, that I just cannot chide others for harbouring hostility towards me as a Jew. That I should require them to make the distinction between “Jew” and “Zionist” whilst Israel conflates the two, seems to me to be somewhat hypocritical. Nonetheless I have many friends, non-Jews and notably many Palestinian, who do make this distinction and place great value on doing so. I feel honoured to know these people, and cherish their tolerance greatly. Yet the Jewish State threatens, increasingly, to erode these distinctions. If all Jews must be identified by an inevitable connection to Israel, as the state seeks, then it may be that Israel will become their greatest peril.

Misunderstand me not – I have connection to Israel. I am an Israeli citizen, and I have family there who I love dearly. But my connection to them as persons has no bearing on my feeling about Israel as a Jew or as an Israeli. My critique of its construct as an ethnic-religious exclusivist one is fierce. My advocacy for the relinquishing of our Jewish privilege is clear. I have to separate the two – the macro political paradigm and the persons – knowing that in the long run, a faulty macro paradigm will come to mean peril to all its subjects.

About Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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22 Responses

  1. yourstruly
    May 12, 2016, 1:23 pm

    2 important points in this article

    1) Since Israel is a major cause of hatred towards Jews around the world, they should be wary of considering it to be their ‘insurance policy’ (ie safe haven) when the going gets tough.

    2) If all Jews become identified by an inevitable connection to Israel then Israel becomes their greatest peril.”

    Specifically, said peril is that of Israel tightly packed with 16 million Jews, most of whom will have fled there consequent to Israel’s having incited virulent worldwide antisemitism with its Palestinian genocide, a crime against humanity that Israel will say was done in the name of all Jews. Won’t matter whether this claim is true or not, since Jews who opposed Israel’s crimes as well as those who supported them will be forced – so intense will be the hatred – to run for their lives.

    But in a world bent on revenge, how safe will the so-called safe haven be?

    • pabelmont
      May 12, 2016, 1:55 pm

      yourstruly: You make very important points.

      Let me take your argument in a slightly other direction. Consider the “trajectory” of world opinion/feeling over time. [A:1948] it was very positive toward Israel. Now, [B:2016], it is getting a bit negative even despite the tight censorship over recitation of history/current events by MSM in USA, maybe also in Europe, but hs not swayed the actions of governments very much.

      I see two other significant trajectory “points” .

      [C:First post 2016: governments willing to act]: the nations (UNGA, UNSC) might be ready to attempt to impose some action on Israel.

      [D:Second post 2016: governments and people ready to act from antisemitism]: the people and the governments are inflamed with strong antisemitism presumably as a consequence of some action of Israel’s, and we note that today Israel is “on a roll” in becoming ever more nationalist, ever more severe on Palestinians, ever more warlike, ever less democratic, freer with “rabbinic” pronouncements of a very offensive nature to non-Jews. And, oh yes, ever more domineering over the USA. Another possible offensive Israeli action would be refusal to do whatever the nations demanded at time “C” (irrespective of how the nations conveyed their request and whether or not they proposed sanctions for non-compliance).

      I wish very much to believe that point “D” above will not occur before point “C”, and that the nations will generate real peace negotiations I/P by demanding that Israel abruptly and definitively and wholly end the settlement project of the West Bank and Golan — something that would be so expensive ($$) and so distasteful to Israel that it would consider a real peace, whether real-2SS or non-discrim-1SS.

      • MHughes976
        May 13, 2016, 1:15 pm

        Some degree of hatred and resentment may be directed against people round the world who vigorously support Israeli behaviour and many of these will be Jewish – but then it is not their being Jewish that attracts those feelings. Those Jewish people who conspicuously don’t support Israel attract some respect and admiration from many of the same people as resent Israel and Zionism. Rational resentment does not deserve to be called anti-S, nor normally even to be called hatred.

    • Misterioso
      May 13, 2016, 10:43 am

      To quote Uri Avnery, renowned Israeli journalist and former member of the Knesset:

      “Many good people, who feel no hatred at all towards the Jews, but who detest the persecution of the Palestinians, are now called anti-Semites. Thus the sting is taken out of this word, giving it something approaching respectability…. Not only does Israel not protect Jews from anti-Semitism, but quite to the contrary – Israel manufactures and exports [anti-Semitism] around
      the world.”

      • Boo
        May 13, 2016, 12:07 pm

        “Thus the sting is taken out of this word” This has been precisely my argument to Zionists, that by diluting the force of this term of opprobrium — by applying it to folk who can easily refute it and differentiate themselves from true classical anti-Semites — they’re shooting themselves in the feet. They relive the old “crying ‘Wolf!'” tale, and soon their assertions of anti-Semitism will be ignored because they’ve become so devalued.

      • MHughes976
        May 13, 2016, 12:50 pm

        I must say that I see little sign of our being able to say ‘Where is your sting?’ to accusations of anti-S in the context of Western discussions of Zionism, very little indeed. Livingstone was trying to draw the sting by arguing – against the claim that all anti-Z are anti-S – that some very notorious anti-S people have indeed been Z. This may not have been very logical but no less illogical and more malicious was the response that he himself is a Nazi apologist, an intensified version of ‘anti–S’. However, this malicious response was very effective, enough for Livingstone to say, if I recall right, that if he’d known what the Blairites would make of his remarks he would have dodged the question that led to them – a backhanded tribute to the Blairites’ rhetorical skills. The sting remains and the venom is still powerful.

  2. Sally Parker
    May 12, 2016, 1:51 pm

    Okay, suppose Israelis truly believed that another Holocaust was just around the corner. How does Israel protect Jews? It moved half of the population of the world’s Jews into a small state the size of New Jersey that could be exterminated by one clandestine H-bomb.

    How does Israel protect Jews when there are stings of black-ops Napoleons intent on territorial expansion and oblivious to the enemies they make. Victoria Nuland, a person who thought she was pro-Israel, was not satisfied to harass Arabs, she chose to engineer a coup in the Ukraine threatening Russia’s food supply despite Russia’s enormous arsenal of atomic bombs. While it’s true that Nuland is American, the real question is whether Putin would see her as a Zionist, an American, or a person promoting Israel.

    Nuland wouldn’t have gotten as far as she did if Netanyahu phoned her saying, “Hey toots, don’t enrage the bear. I’ve got eight million lives to protect.” But I suppose what’s the point of a safe haven if the really important folks can’t gamble with the lives of people who live there.

    If leaders on the level of Netanyahu and Nuland really feared a Holocaust, they wouldn’t be leading Jews into Israel or provoking Russia. They may talk about safe havens, but what makes them move is territorial expansion.

  3. Bandolero
    May 12, 2016, 9:45 pm

    Jonathan,

    excuse me to repeat myself. Please have a look at what Rabbi Felix Goldmann – a prominent liberal German Rabbi and figher against anti-semitism wrote about Zionism – in 1913. I’m almost sure you may find some of his insights as revealing as I do. I translated these his sentences here on Mondo Weiss into English a couple of years ago. They guide me still today:

    If the “racial” moment has acquired a meaning in which nothing counts of everything else, merits, virtues, striving and disposition, if the Jew is outlawed, if you want to depress him into a pariah position, so it is a success, the national belief, the chauvinistic racial madness of our times, has won in diligent work.

    And this chauvinist, national racist madness is the theoretical basis, the spiritual soil of Zionism! That’s where it borrowed the specific features of it’s being and it’s effectiveness! Even the utterance of this undeniable and undisputed fact contains the most damning criticism of this pseudo messianic movement. With all clarity the consequences must be imagined of what it must mean for the nature and manifestations of Zionism that it grew up on the same marsh soil as the racial anti-Semitism, this scourge, which we Jews are suffering under so horrible. And it’s always the same water, may it now be called Aryan anti-Semitic, or may it now be colored Jewish-national that comes from the same poisoned wells, and no staining of the world can make it a healthy drink.

    Those were the words of Rabbi Goldmann in 1913. He published them in a small booklet on Zionism under the pseudonym of Anti-Zionist Comitee Berlin, because he feared retribution from powerful zionists, who, as he says in this booklet, never fight an argument sincerely, but always attack the person making the case ad hominem.

    Frankfurt on Main University has now put his booklet as scan online:

    http://sammlungen.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/freimann/content/titleinfo/6524222

    The information that Rabbi Felix Goldmann is the athor of that anonymous booklet is sourced by well-reputed German researcher Matthias Hambrock:

    https://books.google.de/books?id=VOe6Lf6F0A0C&pg=PA217&lpg=PA217&dq=Der+Zionismus,+seine+Theorien,+Aussichten+und+Wirkungen+Felix&source=bl&ots=WJ5KpKdcCX&sig=r_hy4ao5eqOjRt3Ad-wBd_qQGZ4&hl=de&sa=X&ei=gk5gUcGZLYSKtAblp4GABA

    To me it looks pretty much as Rabbi Felix Goldmann has understood the nature of zionism and our current discussion more than a hundred years ago – and better than most of us do now.

    Have a look!

  4. JLewisDickerson
    May 12, 2016, 9:53 pm

    RE: “Zionism is very much a mirror image of anti-Semitism. It was founded and based on an assumption that assimilation is bound to fail . . .” ~ Jonathan Ofir

    SEE: “Zionism and the Ethnic Cleansing of Europe”, by Siddhartha Shome, Stanford University, 2014

    [EXCERPTS] The Holocaust was by far the worst genocide in human history and has understandably attracted much scholarly interest. However, the Holocaust did not happen in isolation. As the term ‘final solution’ indicates, it was intended as the culmination of a broad effort to ethnically cleanse(1) Europe of its Jews – an effort that preceded the Holocaust and continued even after it ended. This paper argues that in a curious ideological relationship, Zionists(2) and their supporters embraced much of the ideological framework of European anti-Semitism, and, except for its most intense manifestation in the form of genocide, implicitly endorsed the effort to ethnically cleanse Jews from Europe and make Europe judenrein (free of Jews). . .

    . . . Zionism arose in Europe within the milieu of völkisch and ethnic nationalism and in reaction to the racist anti-Semitism that accompanied it(6). Instead of directly challenging the core ideological assumptions and narratives of völkisch nationalism, mainstream Zionists(7) sought to find an accommodation that would carve out a secure niche for Jews within the overall framework of völkisch nationalism. In so doing, Zionists, whether out of genuine convictions or otherwise, seem to have accepted and even internalized some of the core values and assumptions of völkisch nationalism. Jews, claimed the Zionists, constituted a nation, or a ‘Volk,’ united by ties of blood, with its national homeland located in Eretz Israel (the land of Israel). The solution to the ‘Jewish problem,’ they declared, lay in transferring the diaspora Jewish population to their national homeland, the only place where Jews could establish the organic blood-and-soil links necessary for any nation to flourish. Theodor Herzl, considered by many to be the father of the Jewish state, believed that European anti-Semites and Zionists would cooperate with each other to advance their mutually complementary goals of cleansing Europe of its Jews and transferring the Jewish population to Eretz Israel. Partly quoting Herzl, one author describes Herzl’s reasoning,

    [Herzl] predicted that the anti-Semites would be Zionism’s best supporters: “the Government of all countries scourged by anti-Semitism will be keenly interested in assisting us to obtain [the] sovereignty we want.” … Furthermore, “honest anti-Semites … will combine with our officials in controlling the transfer of our estates.” … He unapologetically affirmed: “The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.” (Massad 178)

    In the early years of the Third Reich, Zionists were quite eager to cooperate with the Nazi regime, even though its anti-Semitic credentials were never in doubt. The most famous example of the Nazi-Zionist cooperation is the Haavara Agreement, which facilitated the transfer of German Jews to Palestine. There were many other avenues for cooperation as well. In Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt quotes Hans Lamm, a leading member of the German Jewish community, “it is indisputable that during the first stages of their Jewish policy the National socialists thought it proper to adopt a pro-Zionist attitude” (Arendt 58). Arendt then goes on to explain why this was so:

    It was in those years a fact of everyday life that only Zionists had any chance of negotiating the German authorities, for the simple reason that their chief Jewish adversary, the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith, to which ninety-five percent of organized Jews in Germany then belonged, specified in its bylaws that its chief task was the “fight against anti-Semitism”; it had suddenly become by definition an organization “hostile to the State.” (Arendt 58)

    What is unsaid, but implied in Arendt’s comments, is that the Zionists did not consider the “fight against anti-Semitism” their chief task, and perhaps, not their task at all.

    According to the logic of Zionism, the root cause of Jewish suffering was not anti-Semitism per se, but the Jewish exile from their national homeland. In this view, anti-Semitism was no more than the inevitable consequence of the Jewish exile, which had severed the organic bond between the Jewish people and their homeland, and had eroded the Jews’ moral fiber, reducing them to a ‘parasitic’ existence, thereby arousing the ill-will and hatred of their ‘host nations.’ The Zionists thus accepted and endorsed the notion, advanced by völkisch anti-Semites, that Jews in Europe were alien parasites. The Zionists then called upon Jews to rectify this dire situation by ‘returning’ to their homeland, shedding their ‘parasitic’ disposition, and becoming self-reliant and valorous farmers and warriors. David Ben-Gurion describes the task at hand:

    The very realization of Zionism is nothing else than carrying out this deep historical transformation occurring in the life of the Hebrew people. This transformation does not limit itself to the geographical aspect, to the movement of Jewish masses from the countries of the Diaspora to the renascent homeland – but in a socioeconomic transformation as well: it means taking masses of uprooted, impoverished, sterile Jews, living parasitically off an alien economic body and dependent on others – and introducing them to productive and creative life, implanting them on the land, integrating them into primary production in agriculture, in industry and handicraft… (Avineri, 200) . . .

    ENTIRE PAPER (PDF) – http://www.academia.edu/16928242/Zionism_and_the_Ethnic_Cleansing_of_Europe

    • pabelmont
      May 13, 2016, 6:57 am

      “assumption that assimilation is bound to fail . ” In the USA, most Jews (I believe) are well assimilated and not fearful of that assimilation leading to tragedy.

      However, among Jewish elders and some juniors whose minds have been poisoned, the fear that assimilation might NOT work expresses itself, IMO, in two ways: [1] fervent Zionism (the escape hatch theory of Israel, in case America implodes for Jews); and [2] among the very, very rich, fervent AIPAC-ism, (the theory that Jewish control and domination exercised strongly and relentlessly against other Americans will keep Jews safe rather than exciting (fresh) antisemitism) (a belief that would seem to make Zionism and Israel unnecessary, but who demands consistency in emotional behavior?).

    • Mooser
      May 13, 2016, 11:35 am

      No one ever told Ben Gurion “a little dab’ll do you”?

    • JLewisDickerson
      May 13, 2016, 3:49 pm

      P.S.
      Works Cited
      ● Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. New York: Penguin, 2006. (First published 1963.) Print.
      ● Avineri, Shlomo. The Making of Modern Zionism: The Intellectual Origins of the Jewish State. New York: Basic Books, 1981. Print.
      ● Bassin, Mark. “Blood or Soil? The Völkisch Movement, the Nazis, and the Legacy of Geopolitik.” How Green Were the Nazis. Ed. Franz-Josef Brüggemeier, Mark Cioc, and Thomas Zeller. Athens, OH: Ohio UP, 2005. 204-242. Print.
      ● Berkowitz, Michael, and Brown-Fleming, Suzanne. “Perceptions of Jewish Displaced Persons as Criminals in Early Postwar Germany.” We are Here: New Approaches to Jewish Displaced Persons in Postwar Germany. Ed. Avinoam Pratt and Michael Berkowitz. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 2010. 167-193. Print.
      ● Cohen, Rich. Israel Is Real: An Obsessive Quest to Understand the Jewish Nation and its History. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2009. Print.
      ● Harutyunyan, Arus. Contesting National Identities in an Ethnically Homogeneous State: The Case of Armenian Democratization. Diss. Western Michigan University, 2009.
      ● Massad, Joseph. The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians. New York: Routledge, 2006. Print.
      ● Mosse, George. The Crisis of German Ideology: Intellectual Origins of the Third Reich. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1964. Print.
      ● Segev, Tom. The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust. Trans. Haim Watzman. New York: Henry Holt, 2000. Print.

      Endnotes
      · 1 “Ethnic cleansing” is used here to mean the forced or induced removal of people belonging to a particular ethnic group from some territory, by virtue of their ethnicity.
      · 2 “Zionist” is used here to mean someone who actively supports the establishment of a Jewish national home in Eretz Israel (the land of Israel) and endorses the notion that ethnic Jews should make Aliyah, i.e., move to this national homeland.
      · 3 Before the establishment of the state of Israel, “yishuv” was a term used to refer the body of Jews living in Palestine.
      · 4 Anti-semitism in other European countries was based on similar assumptions and narratives as in Germany, but nowhere was it as intense.
      · 5 While völkisch nationalism, as described here, was specific to Germany, it may be viewed as the most extreme expression of a broader phenomenon: ethnic nationalism. Many countries in Europe experienced their own versions of ethnic nationalism, which shared many features with German völkisch nationalism, such the glorification of a national folk culture. Like German völkisch nationalism, these other forms of ethnic nationalism were influenced, directly or indirectly, by German Romantic thinkers of the eighteen and nineteenth centuries.
      · 6 This is not to suggest that the development of Zionism was an exclusively German phenomenon. Zionism, in its early stages, was greatly influenced by German völkisch nationalism and was dominated by German speaking Jews (the official language for the first few Zionist congresses was German). However, Zionism was also embraced by Jews in other places, particularly those living in Eastern Europe, where local versions of ethnic nationalism influenced early Zionists. It is interesting to note that Theodor Herzl’s seminal book Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) received a much more enthusiastic reception in Eastern Europe than in German speaking areas. An example of an early Eastern European Zionist is Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who grew up in Odessa in Ukraine. Jabotinsky was an ardent admirer of Ukrainian ethnic nationalism, even though it promoted anti-Semitism, and praised Ukrainian ethnic nationalist leaders including Symon Petliura, thought to have been involved in anti-Jewish pogroms. In a tribute to the Ukrainian nationalist poet Taras Shevchenko, Jabotinsky recognized that Shevchenko had “all the defects involved in nationalistic attitudes, including explosions of wild fury against the Poles, the Jews and other neighbors,” but praised him nevertheless, for having “given to his people, as well as to the whole world, a clear and solid proof that the Ukrainian soul has been endowed with talent for independent cultural creativity, reaching into the highest and most sublime spheres” (Avineri 170-171).
      · 7 There were many varieties of Zionism. The term “mainstream Zionism,”, as used here, includes what are commonly known as Labor Zionism (David Ben-Gurion) and Revisionist Zionism (Ze’ev Jabotinsky).
      · 8 Many scholars have challenged the historical validity of notion that all modern Jews are closely related by descent to the Biblical Jews of Eretz Israel. For instance, Israeli historian Shlomo Sand has argued that today’s Jews are much more closely related to non-Jewish Russians, Poles, etc., than to the Biblical Jews, and that Palestinian Arabs are likely to be much more closely related by descent to the Biblical Jews than most Israeli Jews.

      SOURCE (PDF) – http://www.academia.edu/16928242/Zionism_and_the_Ethnic_Cleansing_of_Europe

  5. Dan Walsh
    May 12, 2016, 10:20 pm

    Well said, Jonathan.
    What is your definition of antisemitism?

    • Jonathan Ofir
      May 13, 2016, 5:39 am

      Thanks Dan. Hmm you’re not going to hang me on my words here, but I would say it is an unreasonable, emotional and not logically propelled hate of Jews. I mean, that’s what I see the term is supposed to mean when it’s not misused. Of course, the term, which I understand is a rather late application from 1860 by the Austrian Jewish scholar Moritz Steinschneider (1816-1907), is in itself somewhat misleading – in that it’s subject group doesn’t only refer to Jews, and that most of these are not Semites in any ethnic way. Unless you relate to the Hebrew of the scriptures as the ‘Semitic’ aspect – but hardly any Jews spoke it as daily language at the time – in fact this was already the case in Jesus’ time – they would apply Aramaic for the most – still Semitic perhaps, but you get my meaning… In any case, although I might be a ‘nerd’ here on the term itself, what is important in my mind is to relate to what it is SUPPOSED TO MEAN in our times – because it is also this common meaning, regardless of the intricacies in the term, that is also often being misused. See my recent article ‘Don’t say the Z-word’ for how now, even the word ‘Zionist’ is suggested by Zionist pundits to be another form of Anti-Semitism. So it’s an important discussion, that is: What is reasonable, grounded criticism, and what is mere racist hate?

      • Lillian Rosengarten
        May 16, 2016, 11:41 pm

        To respond to the question of what is anti-Semitism, I share the words of Hajo Meyer, anti-Zionist political activist and survivor of Auschwitz,(deceased) who has deeply impressed me and to whom I dedicate an essay I am writing “A Myth To Inflame: Anti -Semitism reignited.”
        Zionism has nothing to do with Judaism . An anti-Semite used to be a person who disliked Jews.

        Of course the Israeli Zionist ministers of propaganda have nearly succeeded in melding the two together, but Zionism must be seen in its on light. Thank you Jonathan for your fine article. From my own perspective, the toxic anti-Semitic Nazi party were never Zionists but each side used the other for their own political agenda. Before 1938, Hitler was anxious to be rid of as many Jews as possible and the Zionists found an expedient way to get Jews out. Hitler would never have been a Zionist. The transformation of early Zionism into the racist nationalist incarnation it morphed into, as it moved from victim to brutal victimizer is another period in the history of Zionism.

  6. watzal
    May 13, 2016, 9:51 am

    When I interviewed the renowned Israeli advocate for Palestinian human rights, Professor Israel Shahak, twice in Israel he always advanced the argument that Zionism and Anti-Semitism are two sides of the same coin. Shahak was not an Anti-Zionist, but a non-Zionist, which makes a significant difference. Although he hated Arafat and called him a “gangster”, he did everything in his power to advocate for the rights of Palestinians.

    Over years, I have been wondering how people still can have any illusions about Zionism and its possible good intentions. From the onset, Zionism has been a nationalistic and racist movement in order to create a state for Jews only. David Ben-Gurion’s talk about a common future for Arabs and Jews was mere rhetoric . In this respect, the revisionist Movement of Vladimir Jabotinsky, Begin and their ilk was much more honest about the real intentions than the Labor Zionist, not to speak of the so-called liberal Zionists. This holds true till today.

    That the Zionist regime in Israel misuses not only the Holocaust but also anti-Semitic ghosts should not surprise anybody because without the so-called anti-Semitism the racist ideology of Zionism would be doomed to fail. The ghosts of anti-Semitism are made alive if it is needed, for example when the Israeli occupation regime once again massacred thousands of Palestinians in a war or when the Zionist lobby wants to destroy critical politicians, such as is the case in Great Britain right now. I don’t want to mention all the “political bodies” in the U. S. for which the Zionist lobby is responsible.

    The American people should not have a pipe dream about Zionism that is the sole problem for a just solution to the Middle East conflict. That’s why this ideology has to go.

    Ludwig Watzal

    • just
      May 13, 2016, 10:24 am

      Thanks for your informed and excellent comment, Ludwig. It is entirely cogent.

      Jonathan~”That I should require them to make the distinction between “Jew” and “Zionist” whilst Israel conflates the two, seems to me to be somewhat hypocritical. Nonetheless I have many friends, non-Jews and notably many Palestinian, who do make this distinction and place great value on doing so. I feel honoured to know these people, and cherish their tolerance greatly. Yet the Jewish State threatens, increasingly, to erode these distinctions. If all Jews must be identified by an inevitable connection to Israel, as the state seeks, then it may be that Israel will become their greatest peril.”

      While I appreciate your entire article, this stood out for me as essential to any conversation about this issue~ it’s something that I personally understand and have witnessed my entire adult life. Your eloquent contributions have greatly enriched this site. Thank you.

  7. amigo
    May 13, 2016, 12:49 pm

    Zionism should be renamed , “Auslam-ism ” in honour of the mythical bird that flew in ever decreasing circles , until eventually disappearing up it,s own rear end.

    I just hope the final moment is excruciatingly painful .

  8. Rashers2
    May 14, 2016, 5:50 pm

    This is an excellent essay by Jonathan Ofir. I’m pleased he cites Edwin Montagu, whose opposition to Zionism I often use as an example of precisely why being anti-Zionist is NOT synonymous with being anti-Semitic. More telling, I believe, than his refutation of the notion of a “Jewish nation” was the prescience of Montagu, when arguing against the Balfour Declaration, in accurately foreseeing (some time before Hannah Arendt foresaw them) the consequences of Zionism on Palestine – religious supremacism, the relegation of non-Jews to second- or third-class citizens in their native land, economic and employment discrimination; and so on. Montagu was the only Jew in Lloyd-George’s War Cabinet and the only top-ranking minister to oppose the Balfour Declaration (which was inspired by élitist NIMBY-ism at its worst on the behalves not only of Balfour but also of Wilson and Clemenceau – they didn’t want their countries to face potentially large influxes of displaced, Middle- and Eastern-European Jews in the aftermath of the Great War and the Russian Revolution). A minor carp: it was His Majesty’s government – George V.

    • Jonathan Ofir
      May 22, 2016, 7:43 am

      Thank you for the correction Rashers – I believe I submitted it simply as HMG but it got edited, and we are so used to it meaning HER MG in recent times…will submit correction.

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