Unsettle Zionism, champion humanity

Israel/Palestine
on 21 Comments

Marking this Brexit-Trump moment, racism and xenophobia threaten anti-Semitism writ large. Fear evokes reactions that exceed thoughtful strategic analysis. Unsurprisingly in the mix, Zionism is conflated with Judaism.  That criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism follows.

It is as if the world were again believed to be flat.  It’s not, but extraordinary navigation tools are recommended to swim against this political undertow.  One such resource is Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide, (ZU) published in 2014 by IPMN, the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church.  The Zionism Unsettled study guide stands alone as a resource for study groups, congregations and individuals.  It is based on a longer book, Zionism and the Quest for Justice in the Holy Land, edited by Donald E. Wagner and Walter T. Davis, published in 2014 by Wipf & Stock.

Now seven decades into the Israel-Palestine conflict, a new lens is imperative. ZU focuses on political and religious Zionism.  In so doing, it provides a framework that challenges dominant tropes in religion and politics, and thereby opens a space for a fresh accounting of history and theology.  An unprecedented opportunity unfolds:  To understand the logic of Zionism, both as the movement originally founded to combat anti-Semitism, and today, as the political ideology that undergirds nationalistic claims, policies of expansion, and exceptionalism.  

Absent animus or vitriol, Zionism Unsettled exposes the toxic alchemy of theology and politics.  By examining how the Bible can be used to liberate or oppress, ZU pushes beyond the comfort zone. It illuminates the power of emotions and dogma to shape beliefs, as it underscores the crucial role of information in deconstructing preconceived views.  

As such, ZU is fundamentally a criticism of exceptionalism found in all three Abrahamic religions.  Rabbi Brant Rosen makes the point, “[E]xceptionalism is not unique to Zionism; rather it is present wherever exceptionalist religious ideology is fused with political power.”

Zionism Unsettled may be unsettling. Yet still, its reading and study hold promise for simple, yet radical conversations across the political divide. Consider gifting Zionism Unsettled this holiday season to family, friends, and to members of your community with whom you want to have transformative conversations. Each chapter has corresponding short video episodes that groups can watch together and discuss.

This pivotal moment in history demands broad coalitions that advance the project of human emancipation – ones that offer fresh ground on which to stand together. The time is ripe for a new approach. The antidote to free fall is to step back, gather new information, and welcome the cognitive dissonance that comes with engaging realities and lived experiences that cross lines of race, class, religion, and politics.  The result may well be a seismic shift in understanding – one that sparks intersectional organizing, and sows seeds for collective actions that champion universal values and human rights.

(Purchase Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide  through Amazon.com.  A Kindle version is also available with volume discount through IPMN here.   Sample pages are posted here: http://new.israelpalestinemissionnetwork.org/70-study-resources-/publications/256-zionism-unsettled)

About Susan Landau

Susan Landau is a BDS activist who organizes and educates about justice in Palestine in secular and faith-based communities.

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21 Responses

  1. W.Jones
    December 12, 2016, 11:01 am

    Nice article, Susan.

  2. DaBakr
    December 12, 2016, 2:58 pm

    The fourth paragraph has a rather humorous but telling oxymoron. “Absent vitriol……..exposes toxic alchemy…” Lol.

    So, it’s not really a hateful book against Zionism, it just spells out how hateful Zionism is. Check.
    MW is one of the best sources for Israeli focused hypocrisy on the web and statements such as the above are neither unsettling nor surprising.

    • Annie Robbins
      December 12, 2016, 3:03 pm

      the statement you’ve highlighted is not an oxymoron. ie a great writer, journalist or filmmaker can expose “toxic alchemy” or any number of dangerous things without resorting to vitriolic language.

      iow, your comment doesn’t demonstrate “focused hypocrisy”, in the least. it’s just a (trollish) ineffective distraction near the top of the thread. and an ad hominem one at that.

      • DaBakr
        December 12, 2016, 9:40 pm

        @ann

        excuse me. i suppose I was going by the archaic meaning of vitriol is sulphuric acid and or compositions of acid and other chemicals while “toxic” means a mixture of poisonous chemicals. p[robably oxymoron isn’t the best word for the sentence. But ‘vitriol’ and ‘toxic’ are essentially the same things and she claims there was an absence of one in exposing of the other. I guess its perfectly clear to you how the sentence is not a contradiction. And really annie, its not as if I expect you to have any problems with authors premise. it also probably wouldn’t strike you as ‘funny’ that while not expressing any ‘poisonous chemicals’ towards zionism it exposed a brew of ‘toxic chemicals’ while expressing what it found out about zionism. crazy me.

        just an old zio-nazi’s take on the sentence.

      • Annie Robbins
        December 13, 2016, 1:48 am

        i suppose I was going by the archaic meaning of vitriol

        you know the meaning of archaic right? “obsolete -no longer in everyday use but sometimes used to impart an old-fashioned flavor.” don’t play games, anyone familiar w/ archaic meaning also knows the common usage. same goes for the word toxic: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=toxic and no, they don’t mean the same thing although one generally leads to the next.

        let’s review what the author wrote:

        Absent animus or vitriol, Zionism Unsettled exposes the toxic alchemy of theology and politics. By examining how the Bible can be used to liberate or oppress, ZU pushes beyond the comfort zone. It illuminates the power of emotions and dogma to shape beliefs, as it underscores the crucial role of information in deconstructing preconceived views.

        this is not “exposed a brew of ‘toxic chemicals’ while expressing what it found out about zionism.” i’m familiar with ZU because i read it, recommend it and i also reviewed it on mondoweiss when it first came out: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/01/unsettled-presbyterian-dialogue/

        maybe you should familiar yourself with ZU, it doesn’t take long to read. and then criticize it on it’s merits instead of fabrications in your own mind based on archaic interpretations of language (more strawmen).

        either way, take a bow. you have successfully trolled and dominated the comment section with your asinine uninformed ‘critique’.

        can we have a round of applause of chief bakr, prince of trolls.

      • Mooser
        December 13, 2016, 4:28 pm

        “just an old zio-nazi’s take on the sentence.”

        Well dabakr, today you call yourself “an old zio-nazi” but I think you’ll be promoted, and drop the qualifier.

    • amigo
      December 12, 2016, 3:26 pm

      MW is one of the best sources for Israeli focused hypocrisy on the web ” da bakr

      yup ,” Israeli”focused hypocracy can also ,be found on J, Post and the Times of Israel et al.

      • DaBakr
        December 12, 2016, 9:46 pm

        @am

        “one of the best”. but not the only, of course. i agree that the 2 you mentioned can be as well. and, individual zionists are included in some of the biggest hypocrites i have known, read or met. and i am certain your idea of what makes for a hypocrite is a lot different then mine. but then who knows…

    • eljay
      December 12, 2016, 3:33 pm

      || @kr: The fourth paragraph has a rather humorous but telling oxymoron. “Absent vitriol……..exposes toxic alchemy…” … ||

      So…theology and politics aren’t a toxic alchemy? Or is it only vitriol when the “Jewish State’s” toxic alchemy is exposed?

      || … MW is one of the best sources for Israeli focused hypocrisy on the web … ||

      Yeah, but you Zio-supremacists are by far the best source for Israeli-focused hypocrisy…and not just on the web.

      • DaBakr
        December 12, 2016, 9:56 pm

        @ej

        your MW doppelganger am has posted a more reasonable response that runs along the same lines as yours without jumbling the grammtical conflicts.

        your use of the adverb ‘vitriol’ is very different then the authors use of the preposition ‘without’ vitriol and the verb ‘exposes’ toxic.

        try and imagine a simpler example:

        Without any evil intent the author exposes evil intent of ________. It would be typical for you to accept such an uncritical and presumptuous statement of what constitutes judging what is evil intent by exposing what the same writer believes is ‘evil intent’.
        At best, its simply another worthless opinion. That I would concede.

      • oldgeezer
        December 12, 2016, 10:24 pm

        @dabakr

        I think you have finally posted something all readers could agree with. Your comment was indeed a worthless opinion and your concession is accepted.

        Btw your comment elsewhere is risible wrt to the importance of millenials. There wouldn’t be some many new orgs devoted to suppressing free speech on campus and harrassing youth if they weren’t quite relevant. The news and opinion articles in the Israeli press also reflect the importance and priority. Yet another worthless opinion from you.

      • eljay
        December 12, 2016, 10:36 pm

        || @ak: … your use of the adverb ‘vitriol’ is very different then the authors use of the preposition ‘without’ vitriol and the verb ‘exposes’ toxic. … ||

        In both cases, vitriol was used as a noun.

        || … try and imagine a simpler example:

        Without any evil intent the author exposes evil intent of ________. … ||

        What you’ve imagined is an intentionally distorted example.

        The simpler example would be: Without viciousness or hostility, the author sheds light on the poisonous brew of theology and politics.

        The oxymoron exists only in your fevered, Zio-supremacist imagination.

    • Talkback
      December 13, 2016, 7:40 am

      DaBakr: “probably oxymoron isn’t the best word for the sentence”

      It isn’t. Best examples are “Jewish democracy” or “liberal Zionist”.

      DaBakr: “Just an old zio-nazi’s take on the sentence.”

      And that’s not an example for pleonasm either.

    • Sulphurdunn
      December 13, 2016, 8:35 am

      It’s not an oxymoron, but I bet it is a red herring.

  3. RoHa
    December 13, 2016, 1:30 am

    “champion humanity”

    Why? What’s humanity ever done for us?

  4. dvered
    December 13, 2016, 8:43 am

    The article says:
    ” To understand the logic of Zionism, both as the movement originally founded to combat anti-Semitism ”
    Zionism was never founded as a movement to combat antiSemitism. On the contrary, Zionism sees AntiSemitism as an inherent trait among gentiles and therefor set out to found a “Jewish State” where Jews will be in control and won’t have to encounter AntiSemitism. Zionism flourishes when there is Antisemitism which causes Jews to leave their homelands and make “Aliya” to the “Jewish State” and in doing so help to solve the racist “Demographic problem” (Increasing the percentage of Jews in Palestine).
    If there was no Antisemitism the Zionists would have invented it.

    • yonah fredman
      December 13, 2016, 2:05 pm

      The Wright brothers. If there was no gravity, the Wright brothers would have invented it.

      • Mooser
        December 13, 2016, 4:20 pm

        “The Wright brothers. If there was no gravity, the Wright brothers would have invented it.”

        I’ve always thought gravity was antisemitic! And airplanes, too!

  5. Boris
    December 14, 2016, 6:59 am

    The book and the pamphlet were published in 2014.

    Why is it being pushed now, two years later?

    • Mooser
      December 14, 2016, 1:21 pm

      “Why is it being pushed now, two years later?”

      Probably because Zionism just keeps getting worse. Anyway, would you like to see it updated, to take into account the last two years?

      • Annie Robbins
        December 14, 2016, 1:31 pm

        because compared to 2 years ago many more people are receptive and curious about the truth of zionism now and UZ is very informative.

        plus, as the author mentions in the 1st paragraph

        Zionism is conflated with Judaism. That criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism follows.

        it’s the downside (for supporters of occupation and apartheid) of legislating anti boycott and threatening the 1st amendment all across the country. more people become informed.

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