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Walt says liberalism and Zionism are difficult to reconcile

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Earlier today I commented on the common ground of realists and lefties on foreign policy. Well I just read Steve Walt’s very favorable review of Peter Beinart’s book, The Crisis of Zionism, and I’m struck by the extent to which Walt, a coldblooded realist, espouses lib-left ideas in the three criticisms he offers of the book: an ethnocracy cannot be a democracy, non-Jews have to be involved in the debate over our foreign policy, and Beinart’s call for segregated Jewish schooling would undermine an American tradition of “tolerance” through assimilation.

The fact that the New York Times and the likes of Eric Alterman– avowed liberals– are not publishing these criticisms and Steve Walt at Foreign Policy is shows a, the aphasia of the mainstream liberal discourse when it comes to Israel, and b, these liberal ideas are lowhanging fruit, rich political material; and a coalition can be forged of human-rights leftwingers and national-interest realists. Note that Austin Branion made several of these points in his review for us.

Here are Walt’s three criticisms:

Although I believe one can learn a great deal from The Crisis of Zionism, and think that it will be widely read over time, it has three problems worth noting. First, and most importantly, I think Beinart understates the tensions between liberalism and Zionism. At its core, liberalism privileges the individual and believes that all humans enjoy the same political rights regardless of ethnic, religious or other characteristics. But Zionism, like all nationalisms, privileges a particular group over all others. Israel is hardly the only country where this tension exists, and Beinart is correct to say that an end to the occupation would reduce the contradictions between liberal values and Israeli practices. But that tension will not disappear even if two states were created, if only because Israel will still have a sizeable Arab minority which is almost certain to continue being treated as a group of second-class citizens. It is hard to see how Israel could remain an avowedly “Jewish” state while according all Israeli citizens equal rights and opportunities both de jure and de facto. Could an Israel Arab ever become head of the IDF or Prime Minister in a “Jewish state?” The question answers itself.

Second, I think it is unfortunate that Beinart chose to direct his book almost entirely toward the American Jewish community. That is his privilege, and it’s possible that the best way to get a smarter U.S. policy would be to convince American Jewry to embrace a different approach. Yet Beinart’s focus also reinforces the idea that U.S. Middle East policy — and especially its policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — is a subject that is only of legitimate concern to Jewish-Americans (and Arab-Americans) and can only be legitimately discussed by these groups. In fact, U.S. Middle East policy affects all of us in countless ways and it ought to be a subject that anyone can discuss openly and calmly without inviting the usual accusations of bigotry or bias. I’m sure Beinart would agree, yet his book as written sends a subtly different message.

Third, Beinart’s proposal to use public monies (such as school vouchers) to subsidize full-time Jewish schools strikes me as wrong-headed. I have no problem with any groups setting up private schools that emphasize particular religious values. What bothers me is the idea that the rest of society ought to subsidize these private enterprises whose avowed purpose is to sustain a particular group’s identity. I’d say the same thing, by the way, if a Catholic, Episcopal, Muslim, Sikh, Mormon, or Zoroastrian commentator were advocating similar public backing for schools catering to his or her group. Assimilation has been the key to ethnic tolerance here in the United States, and critical to our long-term success as a melting-pot society. Public education that brings students from different backgrounds together has been a key element in that process, and that’s where public funds should go.

About Philip Weiss

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

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63 Responses

  1. tokyobk
    June 30, 2012, 1:37 pm

    Walt is certainly right about the first; that is tensions between nationalisms and liberalism. The second entirely so imo; US foreign policy belongs to all Americans. The third issue I don’t share with him as long as all groups have equal access to funds and are equally regulated/ignored by the government.

    “But that tension will not disappear even if two states were created, if only because Israel will still have a sizeable Arab minority which is almost certain to continue being treated as a group of second-class citizens. ”

    My question for Walt and for Phil and others who are passionate about One State solution is why “…. and Palestine will still would Jews who want to live there…” is not either insisted on, or at least remarked on when so clearly absent in Walt’s thinking as it is here from his prose. The Jews of Hebron, for example, have lived in Palestine through all of its iterations and should be able to/expected to want to reside there safely and equally in a post-Zionist, 2 state or 1 state solution.

    • ColinWright
      July 1, 2012, 1:54 am

      “…The Jews of Hebron, for example, have lived in Palestine through all of its iterations and should be able to/expected to want to reside there safely and equally in a post-Zionist, 2 state or 1 state solution…”

      Have they? Presumably, Jews are not a collective entity in which each Jew enjoys whatever rights another Jew once enjoyed. How many of the Jews that are there now are actually descended from the Jews that lived there in the past? I’m not entitled to a chunk of Manila because I, too, come from a Christian background.

      However, I am all for it if you are proposing that all Jews and Arabs have the right to resume residence in whatever areas they lived in in the past. There go 95% of the Jewish neighborhoods in Israel…

      • MLE
        July 1, 2012, 2:38 pm

        But you can go to Manila and buy property and expect to live in peace amongst your neighbors. If there’s a one state solution, then Jews can live in Hebron and Muslims and Christians can live in West Jerusalem through the same way, purchasing property.

      • ColinWright
        July 2, 2012, 3:26 am

        “But you can go to Manila and buy property and expect to live in peace amongst your neighbors…”

        Sure: but I can’t drive out my new neighbors with fire and sword and expect to still be welcome.

        If the Zionists had confined themselves to what they could buy, they’d still be stuck with 5% of Palestine. Since you appear to believe property should only be obtained through purchase, I imagine you would agree that Jews should only retain possession of land that they held in 1947 or that they can demonstrate they otherwise obtained in a legitimate fashion with the authentic consent of the owner.

      • Sibiriak
        July 3, 2012, 2:15 am

        An Israeli soldier describes his work in Hebron:

        http://www.refusersolidarity.net

        “…Suddenly, out of the blue, a group of about six Jewish women landed on us, with about six-seven girls, little girls, and simply started running around, started kicking stalls and turning them over, and we were just two people and we didn’t know what to do and they started going wild and spitting on Arabs and spitting on elderly people.

        There was Mohammad who… didn’t do a thing except just sit there, he was just there, he simply didn’t do a thing, and they just came and kicked him and spit on him and yelled at him to go away and overturned stalls.

        I remember we came to the worst moment, when one of the women simply picked up a rock and shattered a window of two meters by two meters, of a barber shop that was there. And she just shattered its front window to bits…

        So on the one hand you say to yourself [expletive deleted] it, I’m supposed to guard the Jews that are here. On the other hand these these Jews don’t behave with the same morality or values i was raised on.

        I reached a point in Hebron where I didn’t know who the enemy was anymore: whether it’s the Jew whose going crazy and I need to protect the Arabs from him, or whether I need to protect the Jew from the Arabs who are supposedly attacking… There are a few things that stayed with me.

        One, I think my definition of a Jew has changed a little. I used to think that anyone who defines himself as a Jew is a Jew, as far as I’m concerned. Today I’m not so sure. After I saw Jews that… I don’t know if my definition of Jews even makes any difference with regard to the fact that… they’re also human beings, but they don’t act like… Jews who went through a holocaust, they themselves didn’t go through a holocaust, but I’m sure that some of them are from families that survived the Holocaust.

        If they’re capable of writing on the Arab’s doors “Arabs out” or “death to the Arabs,” and drawing a star of David, which to me is like a swastika when they draw it like that, then somehow the term Jew has changed a little for me with regard to who’s a Jew.

        That’s one thing. Another thing that has stayed with me from Hebron? I think of myself as a little injured maybe, I don’t know. Not physically injured. More emotionally injured.”


        “That morning, a fairly big group arrived in Hebron, around 15 people or so, of Jews from France. They were all religious Jews, French Jews, they didn’t really know Hebrew, and spoke half English, half Hebrew, and half French.

        They were in a good mood, really having a great time, and I spent my entire shift following this gang of Jews around and trying to keep them from destroying the town.

        In other words, this is what they were busy doing for hours.
        they just wandered around, picked up every stone they saw off the ground, and started throwing them in Arabs’ windows, and overturning whatever they came across…

        Maybe someone told them that there’s a place in the world where you can just, I don’t know… that a Jew can take all of his rage out on the Arab people, and simply do anything, do whatever he wants. “

  2. edwin
    June 30, 2012, 1:46 pm

    I think Beinart understates the tensions between liberalism and Zionism.

    I think we are seeing an excellent example of the tension between liberalism and Zionism in the recent court ruling on circumcision from Cologne. The Zionist line is that Hitler is just around the corner. There appears to be no understanding of what this ruling is about, and why it occurred. It is as if, rather than just tensions between liberalism and Zionism, Zionism has a hard time understanding what liberalism is.

  3. American
    June 30, 2012, 2:29 pm

    Walt is 100% right as usual.

    But I am fed up the use of ‘liberal” in this issue…liberal Jews, liberal zionist, liberal, liberals, blah,blah….using these labels is just another way to add more yada,yada nonsense to the conversation and debate about a so called ‘democratic’ Israel.
    You cannot be a ‘liberal’ or democratic, as those descriptions are understood, if you are a Jewish exceptionalist or any kind of racial, religious, ethnic or even victim hood supremist. Which is what zionism is and what anyone is who believes that Jewish or Israeli desires come ahead of all others needs and that others are somehow ‘obligated’ to accomdate and pay for their desires.

    Anyone reading what Beinart has written can see the absolutely glaring and bizarre contridictions, convolutions and mental twists to morals and logic of the misnamed ‘liberal’ zionist mind. Taxpayer money should be allocated by the government and used to pay for ‘Jewish’ Schools to keep Jews indentified with their religion or ethnic (or Israel)…really?
    Just hopeless.

    • ColinWright
      July 1, 2012, 1:59 am

      All that ‘yada,yada nonsense’ has to be thrown in either before or after the writer formulates his thoughts.

      Else one will wind up just saying Israel is an utter abomination and should be extirpated in whatever way is most humane and least time-consuming.

      It is really quite simple. There’s nothing to be said for Israel at all, and there never was. The murk arises from people trying to disguise this truth from either others or themselves. They go through their contortions so that they can stop their train of thought before it gets to the only station on the line.

  4. Les
    June 30, 2012, 3:29 pm

    A liberal Zionist is an oxymoron.

    • edwin
      July 1, 2012, 7:37 am

      A liberal Zionists is someone who is avoiding reality – who is hiding from the truth. They are lying to themselves. A liberal Zionist is not an oxymoron, but rather someone who is living in bad faith.

      This makes liberal Zionists no different than other liberals who find reasons to oppose basic human rights – as has happened in the past over equality for women, gay rights, equality for minorities (slavery for an extreme example).

      I think it is worth arguing this point, because depending on what a liberal Zionist is, the tactics used in dealing with them changes. If they are living in bad faith, it makes senses to repeatedly confront them with their bad faith (politely). I know I don’t do the politely very well though I am working on it.

    • Blake
      July 1, 2012, 5:48 pm

      Lol. A Liberal Zionist is like a steak eating vegetarian.

    • ColinWright
      July 2, 2012, 3:28 am

      “Liberalism and Zionism are difficult to reconcile” is one of the more memorable understatements I can recall hearing.

  5. CitizenC
    June 30, 2012, 4:12 pm

    I started Walt’s review and my eyes glazed over. I thought he’d been snookered, and stopped reading. Glad to hear he wasn’t.

    Yes there is or ought to be a basis for cooperation betw the realists and the left on Zionism. The struggle betw the realists and the ultras over foreign policy is like the clash betw Nazis and non-Nazi German conservatives in the 1930s. The realists aren’t necessarily allies in the class struggle, but they are allies in the medieval-modern struggle. Zionism is taking western relations with the region back to the Crusades, with catastrophic effects on western societies as well, e.g. 9/11 and the police state it consummated.

    However, the “left” doesn’t really want to confront AIPAC, and organized Jewry, which is its chief component, because of “progressive Jewish” opinion. The Code Pink MoveOver/Occupy AIPAC has been crippled 2 yrs running by this aversion. Last year the people who actually know something about AIPAC were put in the basement at a “workshop”, not on the plenary session, and other speaker suggestions from that quarter were rejected. Mears/Walt did speak, to but their critique is somewhat truncated, as I noted in a piece on the event.

    http://questionofpalestine.net/2011/06/19/move-over-aipac/

    This year it was worse; the anti-AIPAC workshop was taken off the event altogether. The knowledgeable AIPAC critics were allowed to have an unaffiliated event in the same hall after the main event. Before they were allowed to set up, all banners, posters, and other material identifying the OccupyAIPAC event were removed. The plenary events were bland, anodyne affairs, with no insight on Zionism’s special destruction in the Middle East or the US, at least as far as I could tell from the descriptions; I didn’t go.

    My impression, from various contacts, is that the younger CodePinkers haven’t the experience or knowledge to stand up to the older people, or person in particular, a strategic asset devotee for decades, who advises them. The strategic asset crowd, mostly the senior Jewish left, is as ruthless in running the left as AIPAC is with the mainstream. Thus we can’t talk about AIPAC or the damage to the US of the US-Israel relationship, at an anti-AIPAC event.

    There will be no rapport betw the “left”, such as it is, with whatever it has to offer, and the “realists” until the left gets real about Zionism and the Israel lobby. The conventional left wisdom for decades has been “solutions” discourse/strategic asset/anti-occupation/ahistorical law and rights. This has served very effectively to conceal Jewish agency and Zionism. Avraham Burg can say that “world Jewry is a superpower” but not the left in the US.

    The antipode to the superpower is not “strategic asset” dogma, but universalist values, including the Jewish approaches to universalism, which categorically rejected Zionism. The staggering fact is that the values descended from Enlightenment and emancipation, from Spinoza, Marx, Luxemburg, Arendt, Deutscher, Rodinson, Shahak et al have been swapped for “progressive Jewish” identity politics. These limits have been imposed on dissent in the US, as effectively as AIPAC etc has imposed on the mainstream, and are only gradually beginning to yield.

    Gabriel Piterberg discussed “liberal Zionism” in “The Returns of Zionism”. In this view

    Zionism refers to a progressively liberal or moderately social democrat national liberation movement, which sought a national home for the Jews with the peaceful consent of its neighbors, and which still holds the key for peace and for the perfectly feasible existence of a state that is simultaneously Jewish and democratic. All other forms are deviations from, and corruptions of, that true Zionism\ldots I believe, however, that the goal of founding an exclusively Jewish state in Palestine by European Jews is a more or less continuous concept and praxis from Herzl’s foundational Zionism, through the settler movement in the Occupied Territories,
    to Sharon’s wall\ldots From the perspective of Zionism’s victims, who have been dispossessed and cleansed by all Zionist varieties, this continuity outweighs the differences.\footif{\piterbergrzbib, p. 30.}

    • Citizen
      July 1, 2012, 4:36 am

      RE: “The antipode to the superpower is not “strategic asset” dogma, but universalist values, including the Jewish approaches to universalism, which categorically rejected Zionism. The staggering fact is that the values descended from Enlightenment and emancipation, from Spinoza, Marx, Luxemburg, Arendt, Deutscher, Rodinson, Shahak et al have been swapped for “progressive Jewish” identity politics. These limits have been imposed on dissent in the US, as effectively as AIPAC etc has imposed on the mainstream, and are only gradually beginning to yield.”

      Yes.

      Specifically: “… an ethnocracy cannot be a democracy, non-Jews have to be involved in the debate over our foreign policy, and Beinart’s call for segregated Jewish schooling would undermine an American tradition of “tolerance” through assimilation.”

      No taxpayer funding of religious schooling of any sort.
      Full equal rights under the law, separation of religion and state.

      Every American has a right and duty to understand and participate in their country’s foreign policy as it affects our lives as much as domestic policy. Americans would do well to discuss our foreign policy as much as our health policy. Certainly these days IsraelCare rivals Obamacare in terms of budget, spending, in long-term affect on our treasure and blood. Yet, excepting Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, our political leaders overwhemingly have ignored ill-conceived Pentagon bloat and Pentagon strategy. On-going Preemptive War seems now to be as American as apple pie. Our soldiers and military contractors are akin to Hessians of old.

    • stevieb
      July 1, 2012, 1:41 pm

      It’s simpler than you think: there are no ‘left’ supporters of Israel. There are those who call themselves ‘left’, who join and lead ‘left organizations’ – but they are not left. They are there to prevent any meaningful criticism of Israel and Zionism, period.

      • ColinWright
        July 3, 2012, 2:46 am

        “They are there to prevent any meaningful criticism of Israel and Zionism, period.”

        I think you unfairly attribute malign motives to J-Street, Peace Now, etc. I’ll agree they’re trying to have their cake and eat it too — and they are certainly deluding themselves when they imagine there can be a ‘nice’ Israel — but they’re not trying to provide cover. They sincerely want Israel to change.

    • ColinWright
      July 3, 2012, 2:56 am

      “Zionism is taking western relations with the region back to the Crusades, with catastrophic effects on western societies as well, e.g. 9/11 and the police state it consummated.”

      There’s a distinct irony here: you’re being unfair to the Crusaders.

      They genuinely had a very limited goal: they wanted to recover the Holy Land for Christendom. All of their schemes were aimed at that end. Naturally, they would have been quite happy if Islam as a whole had been confounded and overturned — but that was never the primary goal. The First Crusade, the Second Crusade, the Third Crusade, the Fourth Crusade, Louis’ IX’s Crusade to Damietta, the Crusade to Nicopolis — all these were aimed purely and simply at regaining or shoring up Christendom’s hold on the Holy Land.

      Conversely, I don’t know what exactly we hope to accomplish — but the agenda is certainly sweeping. Sometimes I think we just want to kill — and everything else is just hypocritical window dressing for that central fact. At its worst, we seem to have unpleasant fates in mind for everyone from Pakistan to Morocco. Certainly it’s difficult to construct a realistic scenario in which they succeed in appeasing us. Conversely, Frederick II managed (admittedly to the Pope’s considerable chagrin) to simply cut a deal with the Mameluke Sultan and occupy Jerusalem on condition that he didn’t fortify it. And that was it! Crusade over. It’s hard to imagine the Muslim world getting us to just go away as easily as that.

    • ColinWright
      July 3, 2012, 3:17 am

      “…Zionism refers to a progressively liberal or moderately social democrat national liberation movement, which sought a national home for the Jews with the peaceful consent of its neighbors, and which still holds the key for peace and for the perfectly feasible existence of a state that is simultaneously Jewish and democratic. All other forms are deviations from, and corruptions of, that true Zionism…”

      Right. Well, first, one would need to strike ‘with the peaceful consent of its neighbors’ and replace it with ‘with the peaceful consent of the Ottoman Empire/Britain, France, and the United States.’ The consent of the Palestinians themselves was never sought, much less obtained. It’s pure hypocrisy to pretend otherwise.

      Then obviously a state can only be ‘simultaneously Jewish and Democratic’ if the Palestinians are expelled, or at least so reduced in number that they cannot impart a multi-confessional character to the state. It’s difficult to see how a state could be simultaneously ‘liberal’ and achieve that particular goal. Still less is it possible to see how it could obtain it and have ‘peace’ except in the sense of ‘peace’ as in the aftermath of a Holocaust.

      …so ‘liberal Zionism’ would seem to something that has never existed. One may have had individuals who were liberals at other times and Zionists when they put their Zionist caps on, but they never could have been both Zionist and liberal once. ‘Liberal Zionism’ is indeed simply an oxymoron.

      It is telling that those who would defend Zionism in any terms always have to resort to such pathetic dreck.

  6. radii
    June 30, 2012, 4:16 pm

    the only “state of Israel” that deserves to survive will be secular, pluralistic and have equal rights not only enshrined into law but practiced by law enforcement

    • ColinWright
      July 3, 2012, 3:28 am

      “…the only “state of Israel” that deserves to survive will be secular, pluralistic and have equal rights not only enshrined into law but practiced by law enforcement…

      And such a state will either collapse or at an absolute minimum cease to be ‘Israel’ in any meaningful sense because the Palestinians can only be brought to continue to acquiesce in a condition of gross injustice by the continued massive application of terror and force, unrestrained by anything we would recognize as law.

      If people want to delude themselves that there can be a democratic, just Israel for both the Jews and the Palestinians, I’m happy to see them try it out — and if it works, I’ll even swallow my pride and say ‘it worked!’

      But it won’t work. It’ll only lead to what I want right now — which is an end to Israel.

      What WILL happen — best case — is that the effective enfranchisement of the Palestinian population will result in either a return to illegality or paralysis of the government apparatus as the Jews find themselves unable to retain control of the machinery of the state. There will be increasing violence and unrest, and economic collapse.

      Most or all of the Jewish population will then depart as quickly as possible, and Palestine will be free — if somewhat the worse for wear and tear. However, a ‘secular, pluralistic’ Israel will only be around for about five minutes.

      You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You want an Israel, you have to accept a state that will be — at best — indistinguishable from ancient Sparta. You don’t want that, you don’t want Israel.

      • libra
        July 3, 2012, 6:42 pm

        CW: And such a state will either collapse or at an absolute minimum cease to be ‘Israel’ in any meaningful sense …

        Colin, I’d be interested in you explaining further what your mean here. Clearly, a democratic, secular state would not be “the Jewish state” but this would seem to be a Zionist argument. Clearly you are not a Zionist so in what way do you see such a state not being ‘Israel’?

        In this I don’t mean the name itself, but in being a country where Jews could live and prosper in peace with Muslim and Christian fellow citizens.

        I just get the impression you see the future within the Israel/Palestine region as a zero-sum game which ironically is the epitome of the Israeli “freier” mentality – lacking the trust in the “other” to cooperate for the bigger, long-term mutual payoff.

  7. Keith
    June 30, 2012, 5:19 pm

    Are liberalism and Zionism irreconcilable? Are liberalism and imperialism irreconcilable? If liberalism and imperialism are irreconcilable, how come liberal imperialists are so common? And if liberalism and imperialism are reconcilable, why would liberalism and Zionism not also be reconcilable? The human mind is capable of reconciling anything with anything if the circumstances are propitious.

    • edwin
      July 1, 2012, 7:50 am

      Liberalism and imperialism is an excellent example of bad faith. I wish I had thought of it earlier.

      The idea that we are enlightened and we can help you too become enlightened is extremely seductive – to place it in the form of America bringing “democracy” to your country is a natural extension of this. Of course it directly contradicts the idea of self determination for all people.

      The difference between supporting people in their own liberation, and attempting to take over that liberation is a fine line indeed. If I understand my history, that was a major trend in early Zionism – bringing enlightenment to the backward natives.

      I think that liberalism has some basic tenants that are not reconcilable with imperialism, or its close cousin colonialism. So, I would say Zionism is not unique or special in its bad faith – though it is special in the power it has managed to array in maintaining itself.

      • ColinWright
        July 2, 2012, 3:35 am

        “…The difference between supporting people in their own liberation, and attempting to take over that liberation is a fine line indeed. If I understand my history, that was a major trend in early Zionism – bringing enlightenment to the backward natives…”

        If it was, it must have been only among a minority or only intended for external consumption. On the contrary, the pre-state Zionists were concerned to evict any Palestinians from land that they controlled and to ensure that Jewish firms only employed Jewish labor.

        Zionism never adopted the usual European colonial rationale. There was never a serious pretense that it was going to be good for the Palestinians. They were simply to go away.

      • ColinWright
        July 3, 2012, 2:36 am

        “…Liberalism and imperialism is an excellent example of bad faith. I wish I had thought of it earlier.

        The idea that we are enlightened and we can help you too become enlightened is extremely seductive – to place it in the form of America bringing “democracy” to your country is a natural extension of this. Of course it directly contradicts the idea of self determination for all people…

        To be fair, ‘liberalism’ has been around since the early part of the nineteenth century. ‘Self determination for all people’ only started to become a shibboleth at the tail end of World War One. You can hardly accuse someone of ‘bad faith’ for failing to practice a doctrine that hasn’t appeared yet.

      • ColinWright
        July 3, 2012, 2:42 am

        “I think that liberalism has some basic tenants that are not reconcilable with imperialism, or its close cousin colonialism. So, I would say Zionism is not unique or special in its bad faith – though it is special in the power it has managed to array in maintaining itself.”

        I disagree. ‘Colonialism’ is one of those terms that comprehends so many distinct practices that one can’t make much use of it without further defining what one is referring to, but ‘imperialism’ in the sense you employ invariably involves at least the pretense of benevolent intentions towards those subjected to it.

        The Zionists had no benevolent intentions towards the Palestinians. They never seriously pretended to. It’s entirely unrelated to imperialism — although it can be defined as an extremely malign form of colonialism. The goal — both implicit and explicit — always was to expel the native inhabitants en masse and take their land — all of it. Right from the start, the Palestinians were simply a problem to be disposed of. The hope was that they would go quietly (!) but one way or another, they were to go.

  8. Krauss
    June 30, 2012, 5:53 pm

    If you step back and think about it; it actually makes perfect sense that Walt came up with better points of criticisms(from a liberal point of view), simply because he isn’t a Jew. And that means he isn’t emotionally attached.

    And that in of itself isn’t a novel idea. Those with intellectual distance make the best critics. Those with a lot of personal baggage on the line do not.

    But again, Israel is a topic that has it’s own rules. Instead of a logical and reasoned discussion, without constantly thinking ‘yes but what’s good for Israel?’, you have a lot of would-be critics who get slammed before they can even say anything for not even being Zionists(and that does not mean they are against Israel as a state).
    It’s as if you almost have to be Jewish to even talk about Israel in a serious way in America or else if you try(and you’re not Jewish) you constantly have to look over your back. After all, Walt/Mearsheimer nearly got their careers ended.

    And what does all of this tell you?
    And another question: do you think it’s a coincidence that you read Walt’s review on his own blog rather in any major magazine or newspaper?

  9. yourstruly
    June 30, 2012, 7:42 pm

    israel firsters know that once u.s. nonjews find out what’s really going on, re: the israeli-palestinian conflict, not only will israel’s days be numbered, they’ll be exposed for the traitors they are. and while it’s unlikely that bds alone can bring down the apartheid regime any time soon, when combined with attacks on israel firsters, it’ll be like here one moment, gone the next.

  10. Taxi
    July 1, 2012, 1:43 am

    So tell us something new, Walty!

  11. ColinWright
    July 1, 2012, 1:48 am

    “…Yet Beinart’s focus also reinforces the idea that U.S. Middle East policy — and especially its policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — is a subject that is only of legitimate concern to Jewish-Americans (and Arab-Americans) and can only be legitimately discussed by these groups…”

    We’ll be getting somewhere when (‘and Arab-Americans) appear in such sentences as more than an afterthought.

  12. newposter
    July 1, 2012, 2:13 pm

    Oxymoron is right! Walt is great, but this is an enormous understatement. “Tension”??? How about totally irreconcilable.

  13. piotr
    July 1, 2012, 2:49 pm

    I think that Walt himself would point out that the “tension” between liberalism and ethnocracy is not the same as the impossibility of reconciliation. After all, Europe has many ethnocracies that struggle with that tension, and it is quite helpful that Europe has some institutions like European Court of Human Rights that can arbitrate.

    Anglophone liberals or progressives sometimes have a tendency of declaring that nationalism and related preferences (and similarly, religion and related preferences) have to be renounced before a just political order has a chance to exists. This is the case of the ideal killing the practical opportunities, and more perniciously, it is used to justify seperiority/supremacy in relations with countries we do not like, like countries were Islam is an official religion, as we discussed on another thread.

    • Philip Weiss
      July 1, 2012, 4:50 pm

      good point piotr, i accept that.

    • newposter
      July 2, 2012, 2:59 am

      I think I see what you are saying. I would just say a couple of things as a response.

      First, my comment referred specifically to Zionism. I didn’t have a broader idea of “nationalism” or “ethnocracy” in mind, so I must concede that I hadn’t thought through the relationship between liberalism and these other preferential ideologies. To me Zionism and the story of Zionism are pretty unique.

      Second, I’m quite ignorant on the topic and would be curious about these modern European ethnocracies you mention. Do they compare well to Israel? Are they settler states that grant citizenship based on blood?

      I do not doubt that there are people who call themselves liberal ethnocrats or liberal zionists and who believe simultaneously in two irreconcilable ideologies. (For example, American history is full of people who had liberal ideas but were also white supremacists.) Nor do I doubt that such people are of immense value in restraining their more violent and extreme brethren. But their belief systems remain irreconcilable, if we take those beliefs seriously.

  14. atime forpeace
    July 1, 2012, 5:40 pm

    Although some may feel that this post is not directly tied to the I/P issue and the Israel lobby, I believe that the political force exerted by the lobby that pressured our Congress to sanction Iran has led to this dynamic that has now developed which has weakened our ( USA) Nation.

    Not so SWIFT! June 27th?
    “To all; the U.S. “blinked” yesterday by granting China (and others) a 6 month extension of “sanctions” being levied for trading with Iran. Sanctions were scheduled to begin yesterday where anyone trading for oil with Iran were supposed to be locked out of the SWIFT payment transfer system. http://freebeacon.com/obama-admin-gives-china-sanctions-pass/ I wrote maybe 2 month ago that “locking the world out” of the SWIFT system was akin to playing Russian roulette with all 6 chambers loaded. China has been quite busy over recent months making deals with their major trading partners to make trade settlement in Yuan or in their trading partner’s currency to ensure that SWIFT cut off would not stop trade.

    This really is big news folks because what started out as a “threat” by the U.S. has turned out to be an expose’ of the Dollar’s Achilles heel. Yes I am sure that China’s trade would have been disrupted to some extent but the decline in demand for Dollars would (and will in the future) have torpedoed the Dollar unlike any event seen before. This “blink” shows that our fearless leaders finally have figured out the errors of their logic, what would have been a broken leg or arm requiring maybe 6 weeks to heal for China turns out to not be worth pointing a fully loaded gun at our own heads.

    So we didn’t pull the trigger so all is well, right? No, the damage is done and our bluff was called, this rabbit is not going back into the hat no matter how hard we try. The SWIFT system has already been “skirted” by multiple side deals where countries plan to settle in their own currencies. This is the same thing as when a banking system actually goes down, yes trade and business slows but deals are still made and settled in barter. I don’t know what the logic was that excluding anyone from the SWIFT system was such a big stick but it surely isn’t and now can no longer used for any leverage. While China was touring the globe and doing deals (buying up resources), they were making these alternative settlement deals AND just so happened to purchase the LME which, oh by the way, will be moved to Hong Kong.”

    http://www.jsmineset.com/

  15. giladg
    July 2, 2012, 1:47 am

    The death of the self hating Jew.

    The only contribution self hating Jews can make to society, and it is a negative one, is to destroy what others have built. I do not understand why Philip is so pro the “tradition” of tolerance through assimilation. Firstly it will never work and secondly the net result is that it moves people from the “We” to the “Me”. There is no other replacement for the masses to identify together, than one being affiliated to a religion, an affiliation that can bring out the masses to work for the betterment of others. This has failed at times in history but so have secular societies. If there is another such vehicle Philip, why don’t you tell us? Instead Philip wants everyone to be the same and within the confusion that this creates, individuals remain trapped. Philips ideas offer little of note, to anyone.
    Like an injured caged animal, the self hating Jew lashes out in all directions. The self hating Jew knows only how to criticize others and destroy and very little about how to build.

    • newposter
      July 2, 2012, 3:53 pm

      Quite incredible how a belief in human equality could be described as self-hatred.

      • giladg
        July 2, 2012, 8:17 pm

        Learn to be charitable. Give those perceived as weaker than you a boat, fishing rod and net. Don’t give them fish and then pretend they are not hungry.
        In synagogue and church, there is much talk about charity. Giving that is. Where exactly do the assimilated, non affiliated get their messages from? You cannot force equality newposter and you might want to wake up to this fact, no matter what they tell you in San Franscisco.

      • Dexter
        July 3, 2012, 12:34 am

        Gilad, you can be equal in Eastern Europe, where your family comes from, right?

      • giladg
        July 3, 2012, 1:56 am

        I don’t understand your comment Dexter. Of course I want people to be equal and I do not want to see one people abusing another. The Palestinians are not this tiny isolated entity on their own. They belong to the huge Arab and Muslim family that has abused Jews and Israel for a long, long time that shows no sign of ending this aggression. The only reason that Israel has acted as it has, is because the existential threat to Israel is still there and the Palestinian story is blinding many of that threat. The story is not only about Palestinian human rights. It is also about the rights of the Jews in their historic homeland, but you choose to place this right, and it is also a human right, out of the equation. Jewish history is being de-legitimized and many Jews refuse to stand up for their own religion. Thus the comment on self-hating Jews. Jerusalem is the religious and historic capital of the Jewish people. Palestinians refute this connection.
        Back to Philips comments. He fails to understand that it is okay and a good thing to maintain ones strong identities, and to keep building on what one perceives as strong elements within that identity. It is okay be Jewish and have Jewish schools as this also creates communities and galvanizes communities to do good for others. Philip is selective in his call to assimilate and then refrains from telling us the end result of assimilation. He does not call for Muslims to assimilate, only Jews. The Palestinian society has strong affiliations to religion and the Muslim Brotherhood, you may have noticed, is on the march. Islam is also growing in the US. The number of mosques has doubled since 9/11. He will tell you that he hates all religions, however, unlike Islam, Jews are deft at attacking their own.

      • ColinWright
        July 3, 2012, 2:29 am

        “Learn to be charitable. Give those perceived as weaker than you a boat, fishing rod and net…”

        But I thought you were an Israel supporter. Don’t they usually prefer to take away boats?

      • Woody Tanaka
        July 3, 2012, 8:54 am

        “Give those perceived as weaker than you a boat, fishing rod and net.”

        And then watch as the israelis attack the fishermen for sport, as happens outside Gaza.

      • giladg
        July 3, 2012, 8:58 am

        Are you out of your mind Colin? You don’t give charity to someone who wants to destroy you and has this in their charter. You defend yourself and fight back.
        By the way, if you must know, since you asked about boats, a common tactic to smuggle arms into Gaza is for boats to run down/up the coast and drop crates of arms into the sea (they float of course). Fisherman from Gaza would/do scoop these up and bring them on land. Many such incidents have been stopped. Many others haven’t.

      • seanmcbride
        July 3, 2012, 9:26 am

        giladg,

        What does your narrow set of ethnic nationalist issues have to do with the concerns of Anglo Americans, Irish Americans, Japanese Americans, German Americans, Italian Americans, French Americans, etc., the vast majority of whom have emphatically rejected ethnic nationalism as a device for organizing their politics and social behavior?

        What would motivate them to support an ethnic nationalism that is not their own when they have already renounced and denounced all forms of ethnic and religious nationalism on principled and rational grounds and committed themselves to Americanism and modern Western democratic values?

        Which ethnic nationalist movements around the world do you support other than your own? For which ethnic nationalist movements around the world other than your own have made contributions or sacrifices?

        I look forward to your answer.

      • American
        July 3, 2012, 12:39 pm

        “The Palestinians are not this tiny isolated entity on their own. They belong to the huge Arab and Muslim family that has abused Jews and Israel for a long, long time that shows no sign of ending this aggression. “…giladg

        So what?
        Jews have abused others for long, long time also and show no signs of ending their agression either.

      • ColinWright
        July 3, 2012, 2:19 am

        “Quite incredible how a belief in human equality could be described as self-hatred.

        Welcome to Planet Israel.

      • Mooser
        July 3, 2012, 4:56 pm

        “Quite incredible how a belief in human equality could be described as self-hatred.”

        Are you kidding? Now that Giladg has been shown the HTML code for bold, he’s on a roll. After all, he’s the only one who can do it!

    • ColinWright
      July 3, 2012, 2:18 am

      “Like an injured caged animal, the self hating Jew lashes out in all directions. ..”

      Actually, isn’t it Israel that lashes out in all directions? After all, she has literally invaded every single one of her neighbors since she was created. It seems reasonable to describe that as ‘lashing out in all directions.’

      • giladg
        July 3, 2012, 8:59 am

        I see you attended only half of the history lessons Colin.

      • Mooser
        July 3, 2012, 5:11 pm

        “I see you attended only half of the history lessons Colin.”

        Gee, Giladg, maybe you can tell us what hush-puppies taste like? You really stuck your foot in it that time. I hate to mention it, but I think “history lessons” is exactly what Colin Wright attends.

    • ColinWright
      July 3, 2012, 2:27 am

      “…There is no other replacement for the masses to identify together, than one being affiliated to a religion, an affiliation that can bring out the masses to work for the betterment of others…”

      Fascinating. This is why Rome was such a flop, I take it? That goopy, amorphous polytheism where just about any deity could skate by with ‘oh we call him Zeus’?

      Or perhaps this explains why British India was such a flop. All that scrupulous avoidance of religious issues, you see.

      Or maybe the United States. You know, we tried out that ‘separation of Church and State’ and religious freedom nonsense. Crashed and burned — we went nowhere.

      Yep. Ya gotta have religious unity. Else you just can’t build a society.

      • Mooser
        July 3, 2012, 4:52 pm

        “…There is no other replacement for the masses to identify together, than one being affiliated to a religion, an affiliation that can bring out the masses to work for the betterment of others…”

        “…There is no other replacement for the masses to identify together, than one being affiliated to a class consciousness, an affiliation that can bring out the masses to work for the betterment of others…”

        Aw, wouldn’t Stalin have been touched! A boy never forgets his first lessons in political indoctrination.

    • Citizen
      July 3, 2012, 2:47 pm

      giladg, re your: ” I do not understand why Philip is so pro the “tradition” of tolerance through assimilation. Firstly it will never work and secondly the net result is that it moves people from the “We” to the “Me”. There is no other replacement for the masses to identify together, than one being affiliated to a religion, an affiliation that can bring out the masses to work for the betterment of others.”

      giladg, Phil has been born and raised as an American. Obviously you have not or you wouldn’t make such a comment. The US is known throughout the world as “the proposition nation,” and a melting pot. It is not a nation holding up any religion or ethnic group as the highest priority value. Where were you born and raised that you do not know this?

      • Mooser
        July 3, 2012, 4:50 pm

        “Where were you born and raised that you do not know this?”

        I don’t know either, but I know the Cheka would give anything to have agents like giladg. And who needs a melting pot when you’ve got a worker’s paradise.

  16. ColinWright
    July 2, 2012, 3:42 am

    I recall reading Walt and Mearsheimer’s The Israel Lobby.

    While it was certainly worth reading, one thing that detracted from it were the endless protestations that the authors ‘supported Israel’s right to exist,’ etc.

    Happily, Walt at least seems to have been radicalized a bit by his treatment since. I did a search on the article here for ‘support’ and ‘right to exist.’ He didn’t claim to ‘support Israel’s right to exist’ once.

  17. wondering jew
    July 3, 2012, 7:25 am

    Modern Zionism was born of need of Diaspora Jews, to be specific, the Jews of Europe beginning in 1881 (or so). 1881 was the year of the assassination of Czar (whatever, Nicholas or Alexander the II or the III) and the Jew hatred unleashed in the aftermath of that assassination. At the time most of the Jews in the world lived under the Czar’s domain. The Czars or Czarinas had taken over Poland in 1795 and with it gained an “unwanted” Jewish population. I don’t know the exact percentage but there were more Jews in the Czar controlled territory than there were in Rumania, Hungary, Germany, France, the US, Britain, the entire levant including Turkey and all the Arab countries controlled by Turkey at the time.

    In 1881 began the vast migration of Jews to the United States (not vast in terms of the world or the United States, but vast in terms of the percentage of world’s Jewry who made their way to the US.)

    This was also the period that saw the idea of self rule proposed by Pinsker and the idea that Jews must be in charge of their own destiny and not allow their destiny to be decided by others (czars and such). Pinsker (I’ve only read Ahad Ha’am’s description of Pinsker’s Autoemancipation) did not trust the enlightenment which had promised equality with the French Revolution. He felt that humans were fickle and thus the promise of equality could disappear on a whim.

    I think most of you here would mock the contention that the freedoms and equality that exist in the US and Europe today could be undone on a whim. Such a fear might be labeled paranoid. But in 1881 in Czar controlled territory, this was decidedly not paranoid. In fact that territory became a killing ground for Ukranians and Jews and others in the time period between 1914 and 1945, and it was prescient to denigrate the enlightenment’s ability to win human hearts and loyalty, rather than paranoid.

    The situation today is the presence of a large Jewish community in Israel. The founding of the state of Israel that controls the territory where these Jews live, involved the exiling of a large community of indigenous. The history of that state involved and involves the control of territory where there has been no attempt to give its inhabitants citizenship or rights or enlightenment “goodies” that we in the west now consider to be our rights at birth. The extended state of war has also led to the concept of a “demographic threat” whereby any nonJew born in Israel is considered a negative and only Jewish births deserving a “mazel tov”.

    The Arab Spring is still in spin, but its current stage, that of Muslim Brotherhood democratic choice of the electorate in Egypt facing the entrenched power of the military on the one hand and a civil war of cruel Assad to Israel’s north, certainly do not encourage Jews living in Israel to think for even a second that the region has the enlightenment at heart. Hezbollah in Lebanon can be viewed as a restrained reaction to Israeli warmaking, but exemplars of the enlightenment, they ain’t.

    Ideally in 1967 Israel would have set aside the West Bank as a stewardship for the Palestinians living there. Given enmity it would have been a bit much to expect anyone other than bleeding hearts to give the Palestinians freedom, but at least Israel would have kept out Israelis and maintained guardianship of the West Bank for the future enlightenment Palestine. That was not to be. The territory, the terrain, the very stones of the West Bank were too similar to Jerusalem stones and too continuous with Jerusalem stones and the spiritual high they evoke in some worshipful Jews, to hold back those Jews from the urge to live in all of the land. And of course the thought of maintaining the West Bank as a guardianship for its inhabitants for an enlightenment future was not near the real thoughts of the members of the Knesset or of the prime ministers.

    Liberalism implies impracticality in the given circumstances of Israel, wishing away the turmoil that Egypt and Syria and others will have to endure and pretending that the Arab Spring has already yielded the enlightenment vision. Israel is not in a position of enlightenment, certainly, but reality requires more than dissing Israel, it requires a hard eyed view of the current state of affairs in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and I suppose also Saudi Arabia. I do not deny the urge for freedom in the hearts of most of the people of those countries. But the urge for freedom and the values of the enlightenment are not one and the same and this is a gap with which you must deal to be considered serious intellectually on this topic, I think.

    On another topic, books to read regarding Zionism, I would start with “To Jerusalem and Back” a memoir by Saul Bellow and then “Tales of Love and Darkness” a memoir by Amos Oz.

    (By the way, Exodus by Uris, a common cause for mockery here, and deservedly so on the issue of the Nakba, was according to the Beckerman book about Soviet Jewry, a major samizdat, if I’m using the word correctly, a manuscript passed around surreptitiously to encourage Jewish pride among the culturally oppressed Jews of the Soviet Union in the 1960’s.)

    • Woody Tanaka
      July 3, 2012, 8:46 am

      I think that the problem with your thesis is the unstated notion that if one is a liberal, that one must support the “most liberal” state in the region against the less liberal until such time that… whatever. The fallacy is this: israel is not, nor has it ever been “liberal.” It has some liberal elements to it, but nothing more. So the true liberal must condemn all of the non-liberal states in the region, which would include israel. It is not enough — especially for a state that gets unprecedented support from the West and professes to be enlightened — to be “more liberal than the rest.”

    • Ellen
      July 3, 2012, 10:42 am

      Wondering….can you get over yourself. look beyond some narrow and distorted interpretation?

      ….and the Jew hatred unleashed in the aftermath of that assassination.

      First that is not true. Most all Russians welcomed the revolution. Life in Tsarist Russia was miserable for most. The Czar was weak and not loved.

      Why do you wallow in this “everyone hates us” meme? It is weak, pathetic, narcissistic.

      • wondering jew
        July 3, 2012, 4:22 pm

        Ellen- I consider your response to be lacking in any seriousness. You express an attitude, without a single fact, attack my state of mind and this is what? a serious response? good, your friends agree with you and nod their heads. on the internet that passes for wisdom.

        Most all russians welcomed the revolution.
        Which revolution? Kerensky’s revolution or Trotsky’s revolution? That was 1917 and I’m talking 1881. How many polls of the public were taken in Russia. Pinsker and Herzl had their pulse on history and you have your pulse on your own wishes of what history was.

        You are taking today’s situation in the US and extrapolating that all history everywhere was like that. It ain’t so.

        You’re not serious.

      • Mooser
        July 3, 2012, 5:07 pm

        “You’re not serious.”

        Ellen, for God’s sake be careful. You are in the presence of a mind loaded on Ziocaine, which gives omniscience, knowledge of the past and future, and correct insight into all human behavior. You know, like Marxism does. Or even Scientology!
        Don’t pit your poor, regular, unserious mind against it, you will fail.
        Besides, Ziocaine amnesia usually follows a Ziocaine high, and “wondering Jew” will forget everything you said anyway, and everything he said.

        But isn’t that so modest of him, so self effacing, to call himself “wondering” Jew, when he knows every goddam thing in the world, and is serious, besides. We all know who those unserious people are, of course. They were the ones who were against the War on Iraq, remember. Which proved, I guess, once and forever how wonderful being “serious” is.

    • Mooser
      July 3, 2012, 11:22 am

      “Modern Zionism was born of need of Diaspora Jews, to be specific, the Jews of Europe beginning in 1881 (or so).”

      Did you get invited to the bris in 1881, wondering Jew? Wait a minute, now that we know each other, I think I’ll just call you “Jew”. You’ll like that. (and aren’t even clever enought to say “To you, that’s Mr. Jew”) Anyway, Jew (hey, Jew, it’s your name, isn’t it, Jew?) isn’t it wonderful how Zionism endows you with omniscience? Jew, is there anything you don’t know?
      Hey, Jew, you aren’t going to complain because I call you by the name you’ve choosen?

  18. Kathleen
    July 3, 2012, 12:06 pm

    Glad you went and read that piece.

    “Kathleen June 26, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    ot
    Steve Walt has a new one up that I think you might be interested in. Great clear read
    On ‘The Crisis of Zionism’: Why you should read Peter Beinart
    Posted By Stephen M. Walt Sunday, June 24, 2012”

    His three points hit the nail on the head as far as I am concerned. Have always had trouble with folks who refer to themselves as “liberal zionist” When “Zionism” is at its roots ethnocentric /racist.

    No government funds to religious schools. Period. I went to religious schools.

    And yes the I/P issue is not just for American Jews to discuss or change. This conflict touches all American lives. Many non Jews have been lobbying their reps, working on campuses etc about this critical issue.

    • seafoid
      July 3, 2012, 1:00 pm

      Have always had trouble with folks who refer to themselves as “liberal zionist

      As the philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr remarked, moral individuals can still constitute an immoral society.

      Zionism is immoral. Israeli society is deeply damaged.

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