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Ilan Pappé on Israel’s ‘post-Zionist moment’ and the triumph of ‘neo-Zionism’

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Ilan Pappé, The Idea of Israel: A History of Power and Knowledge (London and New York; Verso, 2014)

The name of Ilan Pappé will be familiar to many readers of Mondoweiss as the Israeli “new historian” and author (among other works) of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine who now lives in exile in Britain, where he is on the faculty of the University of Exeter. In this latest book he tells the story of the rise and fall of the intellectual and cultural movement in Israel that came to be known as “post-Zionism” – a story in which he himself played one of the most prominent roles.

pappe-citadel_reviseThe “post-Zionists” were a group of academic and cultural figures – historians, sociologists, anthropologists, economists, journalists, educationalists, writers of fiction, poets, artists, playwrights, makers of artistic and documentary films – who challenged the myths and stereotypes that underlay the Zionist near-consensus of Israel’s first few decades. Emerging in the 1980s and early 1990s, the movement acquired impetus in the hopeful atmosphere of the years that followed the Oslo Accords of 1993 only to collapse precipitously at the start of the new millennium.

In terms of substance the book consists of four parts:

Chapters 1—3 analyze the old Zionist consensus, with an emphasis on its defamatory image of the Palestinian and its denial of the Nakba.

Chapter 4 is about the “trailblazers” – the anti-Zionist voices on the fringe of Israeli Jewish society who prepared the way for the later more broadly based challenge. The author talks about people like Maxim Ghilan, Israel Shahak, Boaz Evron, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, and the members of Matzpen (Israeli Socialist Organization). It is a pity that he does not mention the psychologist George R. Tamarin, who was fired from Tel Aviv University in 1963 for his research on the use of the Book of Joshua in the Zionist indoctrination of school students and whose book The Israeli Dilemma: Essays on a Warfare State (Rotterdam University Press, 1973) is full of penetrating insights into the psychology of Zionism.

Chapters 5—10 constitute the core of the book. Here Professor Pappé examines various aspects of the “new thinking” (to borrow an apposite expression from Russia, which has followed a similar trajectory over roughly the same timescale). He focuses on three issues in particular: recognition of the Nakba, criticism of the manipulation of Holocaust memory, and the situation and identity of the Mizrachi or Arab Jews. He comments more briefly on the anti-militarist and feminist dimensions of the new thinking and also describes plays and films that presented a more rounded and empathetic image of Palestinians.

The last two chapters analyze the collapse of the “post-Zionist” movement under increasing pressure from the triumphant “neo-Zionist” forces, with most “post-Zionists” meekly returning to the Zionist fold and others (like Pappé himself) seeking refuge abroad.

Like many others, I have found the term “post-Zionist” somewhat perplexing. It seems to imply that Zionism is already a thing of the past, which is manifestly not the case. The author clarifies this point. While some participants in the movement (including Pappé) were indeed anti-Zionists, others were reluctant to go so far: they sought to “go beyond” Zionism without completely negating its past. It can be argued, however, that by challenging so many of the ideas on which Israel’s Zionist society was based they were objectively undermining Zionism and pointing the way toward a non-Zionist future. Their enemies certainly viewed them in that light. They were a “de-Zionizing” movement.

Just how significant were the “post-Zionists”? Professor Pappé admits that they were always very much in the minority, even in academia and the arts. And yet they were not marginal to Israeli Jewish society in the sense that the “trailblazers” had been marginal. At the peak of the movement they numbered in the hundreds and many of them occupied influential positions in various institutions, including the media. Their influence on the society at large was not very great, but they were seen as sufficiently threatening by the Zionist elite to give rise to the current backlash. And they produced a huge body of valuable work that will provide the starting point for the next wave of dissent in their society.

One very important point in the author’s argument is his insistence that there has been no return to the earlier Zionist near-consensus in Israel. Instead Zionism has re-emerged in a new form, which he calls “neo-Zionism.” In particular, the “neo-Zionists” no longer try to deny that the Nakba took place; rather they defend it as necessary and therefore justified. But I would ask: just how new is this “neo-Zionism”? Is it not the Zionism of what used to be the “extremist” ultra-nationalist fringe, now elevated to the status of a new near-consensus? Is it not a bolder Zionism that dares to say openly what used to be hidden in embarrassed silence?

However that may be, I would like to close by stressing another significant difference between the “old” and the “new” Zionism. The old version could be used to maintain both internal cohesion and a respectable international image for Israel. The new version is capable of performing only the first of these two functions. In today’s world no one can hope successfully to defend ethnic cleansing and ethnic supremacy. And indeed Israeli hasbara makes no attempt to do so, merely trying to divert attention from them by means of absurd PR antics like those described by Ilan Pappé in his Epilogue on “Brand Israel 2013.”

This is one of the few books that raise our understanding of the overall pattern of political development to a new level. It is not very long or very difficult to read. Please get it.

Stephen Shenfield
About Stephen Shenfield

Stephen Shenfield is a British-born writer. After several years as a government statistician, he entered the field of Soviet Studies. He was active in the nuclear disarmament movement. Later he came to the U.S. and taught International Relations at Brown University. He is the author of Russian Fascism: Traditions, Tendencies, Movements (M.E. Sharpe, 2001). He now works as an independent researcher and translator. He is a member of the World Socialist Movement. A collection of his writings is on his new website at stephenshenfield.net.

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53 Responses

  1. Talkback
    Talkback
    October 2, 2014, 2:37 pm

    “I have found the term “post-Zionist” somewhat perplexing.”

    It’s a bit like a mass murderer who resents killing animals.

    • Talkback
      Talkback
      October 2, 2014, 2:40 pm

      No, sorry. It’s a bit like a mass murderer who decides to go vegan.

      • lysias
        lysias
        October 3, 2014, 12:19 pm

        Hitler and some other Nazis were vegetarians. (There’s evidence that Hitler ate meat — and drank acohol — on special occasions through most of his career, but he seems to have stopped doing so by 1942 or so.)

      • catporn
        catporn
        October 4, 2014, 6:27 am

        @lysias I’ve never trusted non-smoking, vegetarian, teetotallers. ;))

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        October 5, 2014, 2:33 pm

        “No, sorry. It’s a bit like a mass murderer who decides to go vegan.”

        That’s because they know what Soylent Green really is!

  2. just
    just
    October 2, 2014, 3:13 pm

    “Like many others, I have found the term “post-Zionist” somewhat perplexing. It seems to imply that Zionism is already a thing of the past, which is manifestly not the case.”

    You’ve written a very good and important article, Stephen. It’s a subject I am also perplexed by. Are “post- Zionists” akin to Liberal Zionists? Zionism is apparently alive and well as represented by the 95% of Israelis and their cohorts worldwide.

    I think it tremendously important that many Jewish folk prefer to live in exile from Israel.

    • pabelmont
      pabelmont
      October 2, 2014, 5:43 pm

      I have not read the book.

      My guess is that “post-Zionists” are people who once believed that the premise for creating Israel (1930-1948) was correct, that the act of creating Israel AS IT WAS CREATED was also OK, but these people’s views changed after the passage of time (hence ‘post” Zionism) to the view that:

      [1] the Israel of today (thus the Zionism of today) is not OK (Israel was OK but is no longer OK); or

      [2] the seeds of the Israel of today necessarily grew out of the history up until 1948 or a bit later (Israel was never OK, but we only came to understand that a bit late).

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        October 3, 2014, 1:48 pm

        A post-Zionist is someone who believes Zionism can keep almost all of its ill-gotten gains if everybody would just pretend it never happened.

    • catporn
      catporn
      October 4, 2014, 6:51 am

      I’ve read a couple of Ilan Pappé books, he believes the desire of Central and Eastern European Jews to have a state of their own was valid and also in keeping with other contemporary groups of the late 18 and early 1900s, but as soon as they choose Palestine as their new ‘state to be’ it became a colonialist enterprise.
      In his books and lectures he denounces wholeheartedly the treatment of the Palestinians, both by Zionists and their foreign collaborators.
      Whether this is true of ‘post-Zionists’ in general I can’t say.

  3. Donald
    Donald
    October 2, 2014, 3:28 pm

    When I think of the term “post Zionist” I think of Tom Segev and his history of the Mandate period, “One Palestine, Complete”. The impression I get is of a man who is simply writing the history of the Zionists and the Palestinians, trying to be objective (I thought it fell short in some ways) and looking at the issue almost from the viewpoint of someone outside. It had its appeal when it might have seemed like there was going to be a solution acceptable to both sides, but of course it didn’t turn out that way.

  4. Shmuel
    Shmuel
    October 2, 2014, 3:35 pm

    Thanks, Stephen.

    I considered myself a post-Zionist for a while, in the 90s — at first because I wasn’t willing to give up all of the myths, and then because I was uncomfortable calling myself an anti-Zionist. It certainly eased my own transition, at the time, but I have a lot of trouble understanding post–Zionists today (there are still a few of them around).

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      October 2, 2014, 4:31 pm

      Shmuel

      I was really struck by an op-ed by a soldier in Haaretz in August

      http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/.premium-1.610607

      “I was never a great Zionist, but like many others, I too feel connected now in an especially strong way to the people of Israel, and to the security of people whom I don’t even know as well as I knew the terrorists I handed over to the Shin Bet after every operation, or, in a somewhat less direct manner, to the Red Crescent’s burial department.”

      It must be hard to think about where Israel is headed and what it will mean for the people there- even if they appear hard hearted or traumatised or whatever to the outside world – most are misinformed and they don’t deserve the leaders they choose….

      I think that must be the most difficult thing about moving away from the Israeli consensus – leaving Yossi Israeli behind intellectually and wondering what is going to happen to him. When it is your people I imagine there are no easy choices.

      The walrus story in Alaska reminds me of Israel – how they are huddled together for safety , how it appears dangerous to strike out alone , how the bigger picture is changing and past behavior is no longer suitable for the challenges of the future, how hard it is to know what to do

      http://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2014/oct/01/walrus-mass-on-alaska-beach-in-pictures?index=1

  5. Bumblebye
    Bumblebye
    October 2, 2014, 3:51 pm

    The first time I heard the term “neo-zionist” was some weeks ago, an episode of “The Moral Maze” on bbcR4 “Just War and Gaza”. The speaker was Ted Honderich and “Mad Mel” (Melanie) Phillips, devout Israelophile, went ballistic at him – there were complaints about her behavior raised on a different program.
    It’s apperently available for a year!
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04b1v8q

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      October 2, 2014, 7:27 pm

      Good to see Honderich is still around and still active. I was looking at my copy of his book on conservatism just the other day. Haven’t looked at his work on philosophy of mind for a while.

  6. seafoid
    seafoid
    October 2, 2014, 4:00 pm

    ‘But I would ask: just how new is this “neo-Zionism”? Is it not the Zionism of what used to be the “extremist” ultra-nationalist fringe, now elevated to the status of a new near-consensus? Is it not a bolder Zionism that dares to say openly what used to be hidden in embarrassed silence?”

    Neo Zionism is Shavit. It’s “yes the Nakba was dreadful but we are going to fukc Gaza over right now because we are Jewish”
    It is a further iteration of Zionism that tries to be more PR friendly. Shamir could never have been on MS whatever that cable channel is

    “Few of these details are known to the Israeli electorate, and even if better known would likely do little to alter the conclusion most Israelis have drawn: there is no Palestinian partner for peace. In the words of a leading promoter of this view, Ari Shavit, a columnist with the liberal daily Haaretz who identifies himself as a member of the Zionist left: “To this day Abbas has not responded positively to the offer of 100 percent made to him by…Olmert.” In a column about the futility of further negotiations, Shavit wrote: “Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni offered the whole world to the Palestinians, and the Palestinians were not satisfied.””

    What matters now in Zionism is those outside the tent. Because the tent is falling apart.

  7. ivri
    ivri
    October 2, 2014, 4:03 pm

    Like all movements Zionism evolved with time and developments – nothing in history is stuck where it began. The early need for revolutionary zeal – just to be able “to lift” the project (practically from scratch) – has given way to more “normal” attitudes that characterize matured countries. Yet this trend was slowed down by the continual violent episodes throughout Israel`s history and that kept the country together and also kept alive the original drive. This phenomenon repeats itself throughout Jewish history, namely the hostility of others forces a minimal level of societal or community cohesion. So, paradoxically, it is the enemies` role to make sure that the movement is always “on track” – assimilation don`t swallow the nation, even after millennia of being in exile, and moreover Jews end up coming back to their ancient homeland where, once more, they are separated from the broader region and keep its own distinct identity in it.
    In this sense Israel and its Jewish population are perhaps better characterized as “meta-Zionist” – a meta-historical journey underlying it all.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      October 3, 2014, 1:53 pm

      “In this sense Israel and its Jewish population are perhaps better characterized as “meta-Zionist” – a meta-historical journey underlying it all.”

      Ah yes, it was just that bane of the leisure set, a sort of religious nostalgie de la boue, wouldn’t you say, “ivri”?

    • Shingo
      Shingo
      October 3, 2014, 7:46 pm

      The early need for revolutionary zeal – just to be able “to lift” the project (practically from scratch) – has given way to more “normal” attitudes that characterize matured countries.

      Zionism has shown no maturity – it has only descended into further depths of extremism, racism, militarism and nihilism. It could be that this was always Zionism and that the facade has simply been lifted.

    • catporn
      catporn
      October 4, 2014, 9:31 am

      even after millennia of being in exile, and moreover Jews end up coming back to their ancient homeland where, once more, they are separated from the broader region

      Come now, that’s just lazy, the days when European Jews could claim some biological tie to Palestine or the Levant are long gone.
      A genome study done by Dr. Eran Elhaik of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health ‘The Missing Link of Jewish European Ancestry’, released in the journal Genome Biology and Evolution, proves this beyond any doubt.
      You can find the paper here:
      http://eranelhaik.staff.shef.ac.uk/index.htm
      or a summary here:
      http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-01/oup-nss011413.php

      Conversely, many Palestinians are in fact the real descendants of the Jews of historical Judea, who converted after Muslim invasions of the region.

      The argument was never validation for colonization and occupation anyway, but at least you can move on and try to find some other spurious justification.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        October 4, 2014, 3:59 pm

        Oh, ” ivri’s} got spurious justifications that go jingo-jingo-jangle as he goes riding merrily along.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      October 6, 2014, 3:11 pm

      ” This phenomenon repeats itself throughout Jewish history, namely the hostility of others forces a minimal level of societal or community cohesion.”

      Ivri, are you sure you want to take credit for the work of anti-Semites? Cause that’s what you are doing, chump.

  8. Keith
    Keith
    October 2, 2014, 6:32 pm

    STEPHEN SHENFIELD- “Like many others, I have found the term “post-Zionist” somewhat perplexing. It seems to imply that Zionism is already a thing of the past, which is manifestly not the case.”

    Perhaps, had you been born and raised in Israel, you would feel differently. Uri Avnery has made the same point that Zionism was the scaffolding upon which the Jewish state was created and that, once created, the Zionist scaffolding should have come down, ie post-Zionist. The Israeli post-Zionist, therfore, would accept the Jewish state as given, but would create new and improved mythology/ideology to justify a kinder, gentler Jewish state.

    An Israeli neo-Zionist, however, doen’t want a kinder, gentler Jewish state, rather the neo-Zionist desires a militarized warfare state to maintain an internal cohesion and commitment roughly equivalent to the original pioneering spirit which discouraged dissent. Both of these categories relate to Israeli Jews, not American Jewish Zionists.

    For American Jews, particularly American Jewish Zionists, Israel was/is both real and metaphysical. American Jews don’t live in Israel, rather, they experience Israel through Jewish-Zionist mythology. American Jewish Zionists are mostly interested in preserving mythological Israel and the quasi-religious unification of the tribe, a function once filled by classical Judaism. So for most American Jewish Zionists, Israel is an object of veneration which they uncritically support, and which symbolically represents tribal power and tribal salvation. Therefore, for American Jewish Zionists, Zionism continues as it was with little desire for change. In fact, any true liberalizing of the Jewish state would be resisted by American Jewish Zionists.

    • Krauss
      Krauss
      October 3, 2014, 7:43 am

      There are so many inaccuracies and fallacies in what you write I can hardly begin. I doubt you’re Jewish, and I don’t mean to say that non-Jews can’t weigh in on these matters, but your shockingly poor grasp of American Jewry’s politics suggests you aren’t.

      • ziusudra
        ziusudra
        October 3, 2014, 11:43 am

        Greetings Krauss,
        ….i doubt you’re Jewish……
        Bubala, what makes you think that US Jews know anything about anything more than Christians? Of all the commentators here on MW, i respect seafoid knowing he would ne’er accept an adjective before Zionism. He’s able to see through to Judaism w/o Zionism.
        Ideologies need no adjectives.
        ziusudra
        PS I know that the US is no longer a Democracy, it’s a Plutocracy.
        The State of Israel is nationalistic & only for Jews. Zionism is but a Canaanite word meaning Hill of an ancient fortress on the hill which was Schalim, Canaanite for Jerusalem before the tribes federated in 1250BC.

      • Keith
        Keith
        October 3, 2014, 1:44 pm

        KRAUSS- “I doubt you’re Jewish….”

        No, but I read “Portnoy’s Complaint” multiple times and that should count for something.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        October 3, 2014, 1:55 pm

        “American Jewry’s”

        Now there, given the collective nature of the existence of the Jews in America, is a description which makes perfect sense! Of course, that’s what we are, we’re the “Jewry”.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        October 3, 2014, 2:00 pm

        . “I doubt you’re Jewish”

        Good Lord, Krauss, do you commonly direct the worst insults you know at someone at the beginning of a discussion? Let me tell you something, Krauss, old man. If somebody said to me “I doubt you’re Jewish!” I would look him right in the eye, simper, and say “Oh, I bet you say that to all the boys.” And I would say it in a very affected tone, too!

        You know, Krauss, Keith may be up on a stepladder right now, attaching a noose to the crystal chandelier. You need to say you are sorry!

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        October 3, 2014, 6:11 pm

        “No, but I read “Portnoy’s Complaint” multiple times and that should count for something. “

        Multiple times? So that’s what goes on in a yeshiva! Who knew?

      • bryan
        bryan
        October 4, 2014, 3:12 am

        KRAUSS – “There are so many inaccuracies and fallacies in what you write I can hardly begin.” That’s a typically Zionist response to what seemed like a perfectly reasonable argument. Other people’s points of view demand respect, or at least reasoned refutation. :-)

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        October 4, 2014, 4:06 pm

        “PS I know that the US is no longer a Democracy, it’s a Plutocracy.”

        Well, I would, and have, called it a “senile dementocracy”. But a lot of people in positions of power are young, you say? Of course they are, chronologically, but ever since Reagen senility avec dementia has been the reigning intellectual and social model.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        October 4, 2014, 4:10 pm

        “That’s a typically Zionist response….”

        Except (and this is what makes it so scary) that from reading Mr. Krauss’ comments, I do not think he is a Zionist. I’d sure like to think that “I doubt you’re Jewish” came from a Zionist point-of-view, but maybe it didn’t, and that’s really scary, to me.

    • Stephen Shenfield
      Stephen Shenfield
      October 3, 2014, 10:30 am

      The idea of Zionism as scaffolding that is only needed during construction of the “Jewish” state is helpful in understanding the post-Zionist point of view. But the scaffolding becomes superfluous only when the Palestinians cease to resist their displacement. Otherwise the state loses its “Jewish” character and the Zionist project is defeated. Oslo inspired the hope that the Palestinians would indeed cease to resist in exchange for Israel abandoning its maximal goal of a “Jewish” state in the whole of Palestine and accepting the pre-1967 borders as permanent. Israel might then have started to remove the Zionist scaffolding and progress to a post-Zionist phase. That is why the post-Zionists flourished in the mid-1990s when many Israelis (rightly or wrongly) saw this as a real prospect. In fact, this would also have required reaching a mutually tolerable modus vivendi with the Palestinian citizens of Israel, though this requirement was mostly overlooked.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        October 3, 2014, 2:02 pm

        Gosh, if that had indeed happened, perhaps a new religious holiday, celebrating the Jewish victory of the Palestinians would need to be instituted.

      • Keith
        Keith
        October 3, 2014, 2:06 pm

        STEPHEN SHENFIELD- “That is why the post-Zionists flourished in the mid-1990s when many Israelis (rightly or wrongly) saw this as a real prospect.”

        I agree, and this slight, initial loosening of Israel’s ideological rigidity panicked the the diehard Zionists (neo-Zionists?) who launched an ideological counter attack. This was aided and abetted by wealthy American Jewish Zionists who provide considerable funding for settlements and right-wing politicians (recall that Netanyahu received over 90% of his campaign funding from foreign sources, and over 50% from one American Jewish family). There is a nice discussion of this ideological offensive in “Towards an Open Tomb: The Crisis of Israeli Society,” by Michel Warschawski.

      • catporn
        catporn
        October 4, 2014, 10:23 am

        Maybe they didn’t know that Oslo was subterfuge, like lets have a protracted debate about this glass of water while I sip it.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      October 3, 2014, 2:14 pm

      “American Jewish Zionists are mostly interested in preserving mythological Israel and the quasi-religious unification of the tribe, a function once filled by classical Judaism”

      And not just “classical Judaism”, either. There was a lot of great pop, R&B, and jazz Judaism, too.

  9. Krauss
    Krauss
    October 3, 2014, 7:47 am

    Mr. Shenfield has written a very concise and interesting review. I had hoped that the text would be longer, so he could go further into depth in each of his points.

    Allow me to quibble on just one:

    In today’s world no one can hope successfully to defend ethnic cleansing and ethnic supremacy.

    This is not necessarily true. Ethnic supremacy is the de-facto policy of much of East Asia. I use supremacy in the sense of holding the priorities of your own race above all others.

    But it is true that it is impossible to defend in the West, or at least for now. A lot of Zionists consider “the world” to be the West, because that’s where 90% of all diaspora Jews live. And it is also the cultural sphere where most Jews feel most at home.

    Israel can go on economically without the West, although most of its trade is with Western countries as of now, that can change within a few decades. The more interesting question is the cultural one: can it go on without the West in the cultural sense? Israel doesn’t consider itself as part of the Middle East, but rather a “bulwark of the West” in a “sea of barbarity”, or a “villa in the jungle” as Ehud Barak once quipped.

    • ziusudra
      ziusudra
      October 3, 2014, 11:56 am

      Re.: Krauss,
      …a lot of Zionists consider the world to be the west……
      Pssst, the Sephardim came to Europe 200BC; the Khazars came in the 12thC.
      They have a European mentality. It will take generations more for them to settle down in the ME. The assorted types of ME & Levant Jews are a minority compared to the Polish, Russian immigran Israelis. They would feel much more at home down in Jew Town, n.y. The fulton fish market is in the area. You can’t get any better Bagles anywhere either.
      ziusudra
      PS maybe Barak has a flat up in the Jewish alps in the poconoes, n.y.?

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      October 3, 2014, 2:04 pm

      “in the sense of holding the priorities of your own race above all others.”

      Hold on there, Krauss! Just so we can know the context of the discussion, what is your “race”? You seem to be convinced people have them, and they matter, what’s yours?

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      October 3, 2014, 2:17 pm

      ” Ethnic supremacy is the de-facto policy of much of East Asia.”

      Yes, but in Israel, it’s de jure, isn’t it?

      Why it might be in the Constitution, if they had one.

    • catporn
      catporn
      October 4, 2014, 11:30 am

      Ethnic supremacy is the de-facto policy of much of East Asia. I use supremacy in the sense of holding the priorities of your own race above all others.

      No, no, no, that’s utter racist crap. CNN “in the news tonight, a tragic earthquake in central Africa killed 30,000,000 people, sadly 2 of them were Americans”.
      Almost every country favours their own citizens in a multitude of ways, to suggest East Asia is somehow different to the outstanding benevolence and altruism practised by the West is bollocks, if you want to find a country that does stand out from all others regarding the above qualities look at Cuba’s overseas medical aid, it shames everyone else and does so under a continued embargo by the US, who also aid and shelter terrorists that attack Cuba.
      My above news broadcast should have been
      CNN “in the news tonight, a tragic earthquake in central Africa killed 30,000,000 people, sadly 2 of them were Americans, the president has pledged to send 4000 marines, and Cuba 5000 Doctors”, but they’d never tell you about it on the news.
      Sorry, a bit off topic.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        October 5, 2014, 2:37 pm

        “In today’s world no one can hope successfully to defend ethnic cleansing and ethnic supremacy.”

        But that didn’t stop Richard Cohen from trying!

  10. breakingthesilence
    breakingthesilence
    October 3, 2014, 11:25 am

    The author says at the article’s end: .”In today’s world no one can hope successfully to defend ethnic cleansing and ethnic supremacy. And indeed Israeli hasbara makes no attempt to do so, merely trying to divert attention from them by means of absurd PR antics…” But that is not true. An astonishing development that Pappe touches on in his new book is the fact that now that the Nakba cannot be entirely denied, it is simply justified because it helped lead to the establishment of the marvelous Jewish state of Israel. Ari Shavit in the chapter of “My Promised Land” that was in The New Yorker several months ago tells the moving, horrific story of the mass expulsions from Ramla, including mention of the new born children and others dying along the way, and then tells the reader that when all’s said and done, all that is okay because because those expulsions led to the establishment of the state of Israel. It was utterly shocking to read someone saying that so openly but apparently the critics of his book in the USA were very very friendly and supportive and thought it was a terrific book about wonderful Israel. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, in her recent book “Palestine in Israeli School Books makes the point that the Ramla ethnic cleansing and others that cannot be any longer denied are simply justified as being necessary tragedies that had a wonderful outcome–the establishment of Israel. Then too, Mondoweiss told us a day or two ago about the Washington Post op-ed writer Richard Cohen’s new book about Israel in which he acknowledges the Nakiba and blames it on the Palestinians because they refused to accept massive immigration by European Jews. Yes, human being are capable justifying anything they find convenient to justify. Surely had Germany been successful & won the 2nd World War they would have first denied the millions put to death in Auschwitz et al and then eventually explained that the extermination of the Gypsies and Jews was a necessary tragedy that led to the creation of the promised land, the Third Reich that would flourish for a thousand years! And Americans do it every day with the droning of civilians in Afghanistan & Iraq & now Syria. The human mind tends to believe, as Chomsky observed, what it finds convenient to believe. .

    • Stephen Shenfield
      Stephen Shenfield
      October 3, 2014, 12:38 pm

      The message aimed at the Israeli public, including children, is now that the Nakba happened and was justified. I was referring to the messages aimed at the international audience. There is as yet no uniform message. The Zionists seem to be trying out alternative approaches. Individuals like Richard Cohen are testing the waters to see whether a non-Israeli readership will swallow the neo-Zionist message neat. I think they will discover that such a frank approach does not succeed. The United States may be a partial exception, but I think most of the world will not swallow it. The official Israeli hasbara of “Brand Israel” prefers to remain silent on these distasteful matters and divert attention away from them. Well, that too will not work very well.

      • annie
        annie
        October 3, 2014, 1:15 pm

        The Zionists seem to be trying out alternative approaches. Individuals like Richard Cohen are testing the waters to see whether a non-Israeli readership will swallow the neo-Zionist message neat

        my particular theory (and this if after reading every review on the innertubes) is that there was some rallying of the troops by perhaps some persuasive encouraging zionists for the ol stalwarts of liberal zionism (yes, cohen is considered liberal by hard core zios) to produce more pro israel literature (if one could call it that), possibly replicating the resounding success of avi shavit (accompanied by the american tour which was very popular for the libzios crowd) to promote israel. but i don’t think, or i doubt, cohen intended to ‘test the waters’ or ‘try out alternatives’, at 73 he’s no spring chicken. plus, doubling down on shavit’s ‘we had to do it’ ‘it was worth it’ or whatever you call attempts at justifying nakba and the denial the accompanies it, this is not “an alternative”. brazen yes, but there’s little new in justifying ethnic cleansing. it’s just so old school (and not pc) it’s surprising cohen found a publisher (Simon & Schuster no less, talk about tone deaf!).

        i’m rather partial to this kind of brazen revisionism/manipulation of facts tho. it really screams of the broader old school mentality that (hopefully) is becoming extinct hasbara-wise. if there’s any kind of revival of this kind of thinking, it will sink like a stone. definitely not a winning argument. but as an historical document given the time it was written (beginning of this century) it will later serve as an example (along w/statements like mowing the grass) of zionisms downfall. another nail in the coffin of pro israeli hasbara.

      • American
        American
        October 3, 2014, 5:34 pm

        ” Stephen ShenfieldOctober 3, 2014, 12:38 pm

        The message aimed at the Israeli public, including children, is now that the Nakba happened and was justified.
        >>>>>>>>

        Thats been the message aimed at everyone.
        Prof Jerry Slater who is a occasional writer here and liberal zionist claims the same thing….that the Nakba was justified by the greater good for the Jews….and further tries to suggest the Palestines shoud have been bought out instead….and then uses the ‘number’ of victims to ‘measure’ the ‘injustice’.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        October 5, 2014, 2:38 pm

        “that the Nakba was justified by the greater good for the Jews”

        Something Prof. Slater is well-positioned and equipped to judge.

  11. catporn
    catporn
    October 4, 2014, 6:22 am

    In particular, the “neo-Zionists” no longer try to deny that the Nakba took place; rather they defend it as necessary and therefore justified.
    Richard Cohen’s book with the ‘ethnic cleansing for a better world’ chapter is a perfect example of this, historical sophistry it seems is no longer needed, or such obvious fallacies can no longer be maintained, the ‘cult of silence’ that aided Israel’s crimes doesn’t count for much in the information age, time for a new tack.

    On the upside ‘post-Zionists’ can’t be easily dismissed as anti-Semitic, and are a good source of information and inspiration for young Israelis with a conscience.

  12. Steve Macklevore
    Steve Macklevore
    October 4, 2014, 12:28 pm

    I wonder if the book mentions the brilliant work of David Hirst?

    His ground breaking “The Gun and the Olive Branch” was (and remains) the best history of Palestine from about 1880 to 2003 told from a Palestinian viewpoint.

    It was first published in 1977 to howls of outrage from the usual suspects, and then, realising it was well researched and compelling, subject to deafening silence. It’s a brilliantly readable book and the ‘discoveries’ of the Israeli new historians in the 1980s have done nothing but strengthen its credibility.

  13. Pixel
    Pixel
    October 4, 2014, 3:05 pm

    .

    Post- (Zionist)

    Something in process; something “beyond;” something aspired to.

  14. Horizontal
    Horizontal
    October 4, 2014, 8:14 pm

    I’m currently swimming my way through this one:

    Genesis: Truman, American Jews and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict

    And I think it will keep me occupied for a while. I highly recommend it.

    As far as the collapse of the “post-Zionist” movement; I think I’d prefer reading about this at some future time once the current, lethal form of Zionism is finally extinguished. Sorry, but it’s just not the time for “if/onlys.” Of course, it’s always dangerous making assumptions about books one hasn’t read, so I could be wrong about this take on it. But I agree with breakingthesilence’s comments upthread that there are plenty of current defenders of Israel who claim that whatever horrors resulted from the creation of the State of Israel were worth it because they resulted in the State of Israel.

    A short comment on the Book of Joshua. I read the Bible years ago, as an adult, since I figured it had shaped so much of the American culture and beliefs that should try and make sense of it. Wow. What an eye-opener. The Book of Joshua was more like something out of Russia around 1941. It was then that I knew whoever wrote the Bible had nothing to do with God, because in just a few thousand years we’d progressed beyond the ethnic cleansing and other tortures that the Biblical God supposedly sanctioned.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      October 5, 2014, 2:41 pm

      “Wow. What an eye-opener.”

      Funny, I’ve always found it had the opposite effect.

  15. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    October 5, 2014, 1:03 pm

    To me Zionism means belief in an exclusive Jewish right to the Holy Land. That cannot be given up without radical change, notably an acknowledgement of the rival claim of Palestinians to a right of return. No one living in Israel can pass beyond Zionism in the sense of no longer being interested in what right (s)he and others have to be there. No one anywhere can completely lose interest in or become completely neutral about what possessions are deserved. The idea of post-Zionism is in a sense yet another smokescreen.
    Someone might use ‘Zionism’ in a sense different from mine, of course, but without being a belief in some kind of entitlement for Jewish people it would not have any great relevance to the actual situation in the ME.
    The change from Nakba denial to Nakba justification is not in any way a promising one: I’m not sure it’s even that new, except perhaps in choice of words. It seems odd to say that no one now can defend ethnic supremacism when that is exactly what is being defended, at least in local form, when the Nakba is justified.
    I’ve just read Nathan Thrall’s review of Shavit in the London Review of Books, which makes several interesting points, almost all strongly contrary to Shavit’s, though from the point of view of a legalistic Zionism which supports a 2ss on the basis of international law expressed through UN resolutions. I’d say that even this is genuinely Zionism, with rights for Jewish people in the Land which no other right matches.

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