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Quoting Orwell against Trump, Bill Kristol leaves out the anti-Zionism of ‘Notes on Nationalism’

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In taking on Donald Trump today, Bill Kristol has been tweeting about the dangers of nationalism, and quoting George Orwell’s great essay of 1945, “Notes on Nationalism.”

“By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions and tens of millions of people can be confidently labeled ‘good’ or ‘bad.’” — George Orwell, “Notes on Nationalism,” 1945

A lot of people have been retweeting Kristol, including many Zionists. They should be careful quoting from this essay. Orwell several times criticizes Zionism and the idea of Jewish superiority in his effort to counter nationalist thinking in English politics. He writes (in the essay published in Polemic in Oct. 1945):

Nationalism, in the extended sense in which I am using the word, includes such movements and tendencies as Communism, political Catholicism, Zionism, Antisemitism, Trotskyism and Pacifism.

Orwell again cites Zionism specifically in savaging the “principal characteristics of nationalist thought.” Those characteristics include “Obsession.”

As nearly as possible, no nationalist ever thinks, talks, or writes about anything except the superiority of his own power unit.

And another characteristic is “Indifference to Reality.” Nationalists live in denial:

The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them. For quite six years the English admirers of Hitler contrived not to learn of the existence of Dachau and Buchenwald. And those who are loudest in denouncing the German concentration camps are often quite unaware, or only very dimly aware, that there are also concentration camps in Russia. Huge events like the Ukraine famine of 1933, involving the deaths of millions of people, have actually escaped the attention of the majority of English russophiles. Many English people have heard almost nothing about the extermination of German and Polish Jews during the present war. Their own antisemitism has caused this vast crime to bounce off their consciousness.

Finally, Orwell referred to Zionism as a form of “positive nationalism,” as opposed to “negative” or “transferred nationalism.” But he understood that Zionism entailed a belief in Jewish superiority

 3. ZIONISM. This has the unusual characteristics of a nationalist movement, but the American variant of it seems to be more violent and malignant than the British…. In England, for several rather incongruous reasons, the intelligentsia are mostly pro-Jew on the Palestine issue, but they do not feel strongly about it. All English people of goodwill are also pro-Jew in the sense of disapproving of Nazi persecution. But any actual nationalistic loyalty, or belief in the innate superiority of Jews, is hardly to be found among Gentiles.

The point of Orwell’s essay is that everyone engaged in political causes/disputes is subject to nationalism, a form of self-serving bias, in which speakers assign superiority to their own group. He urged all political players to undertake the “moral effort” to prevent such fervor from taking over their thinking.

If you hate and fear Russia, if you are jealous of the wealth and power of America, if you despise Jews, if you have a sentiment of inferiority towards the British ruling class, you cannot get rid of those feelings simply by taking thought. But you can at least recognize that you have them, and prevent them from contaminating your mental processes.

I can only hope that Bill Kristol and other Zionists will now undertake this self-interrogation– Bill Kristol who launched the Emergency Committee for Israel, Kristol who has said that American Jews should not be critical of Israel because they don’t face the risks Israelis do, Kristol who conflated American interests and Israeli interests re Palestinians in pushing the disastrous Iraq war. That is one good byproduct of Trumpism. White nationalists have repeatedly stated that they only want here what Jews have sought in Israel, higher national rights. That’s why so many of us at this site find Zionism objectionable: It entails a belief in Jewish superiority. That belief is clear in its fruits, the persecution of Palestinians.

 

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About Philip Weiss

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

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11 Responses

  1. John O
    John O
    October 23, 2018, 3:19 pm

    Just call it “Patriotism” and everything will be OK.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      October 24, 2018, 10:13 am

      @John O, et al

      Zionism defined:

      Rabbi Perin, in an eulogy for mass murderer, Baruch Goldstein, in 1994: “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.” (New York Times, Feb. 28, 1994)

      In April, 2001, during his Passover sermon, Rabbi Ovadia Yossef, the spiritual leader of the Shas party and former Israeli Chief Rabbi, described the Arabs as “serpents” and in his Passover sermon, he stated that “the Lord shall waste their seed, devastate them and vanish them from this world. It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable.”

      Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir declared during an interview with the foreign editor of the London Sunday Times that “it was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine…and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.” (Sunday Times, London, June 15, 1969)

      In the view of another prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Shamir, the Palestinians are of no more significance than insects when compared to Jews: “From this mountain top and from the vantage point of history I say that these people [the Palestinians] are like grasshoppers compared to us.” (The Independent, April 1988, from Reuter, Tel Aviv; quoted by Michael Rice, False Inheritance, Kegan Paul International, London and New York, 1994, p. 127).

      While delivering a televised address to his Likud party in 1989, Shamir further maligned Palestinians by describing them as “alien invaders of the Holy Land…. They are brutal, wild alien invaders in the land of Israel that belongs to the people of Israel, and only to them.” (New York Post, February 6, 1989)

      During a speech to the Knesset, Menachem Begin, Israel’s sixth prime minister, referred to Palestinians as “beasts walking on two legs.” (New Statesman, 25 June 1982)

      Regarding Palestinians residing in the occupied West Bank, Raphael Eitan, then Israel’s Chief of Staff, declared: “When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle…. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours.” (New York Times, 14 April 1983)

      Prime Minister Ehud Barak: “The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more…” (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 30, 2002)

      Rafael Eitan, Israeli Chief of Staff, stated:” When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.” [N.Y. Times, 14 April 1988].

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        October 24, 2018, 7:16 pm

        Rabbi Ovadia Yossef seems a bit confused. If “the Lord shall waste their seed, devastate them and vanish them from this world”, then there is no need for Israelis to “send missiles to them and annihilate them. ”
        The Israelis can let the Lord deal with the Arabs,, and save the missiles to annihilate the Iranians.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        October 24, 2018, 10:51 pm

        I offer the extra comma as a contribution to MW, but use it carefully.

      • eljay
        eljay
        October 25, 2018, 7:05 am

        || RoHa: I offer the extra comma as a contribution to MW, but use it carefully. ||

        Thanks!  :-)  I’ll make sure, that it doesn’t get abused.

        Oops…  :-(

    • Paranam Kid
      Paranam Kid
      October 24, 2018, 1:02 pm

      @John O: there is a very fine line between patriotism and nationalism, and that line is getting thinner, more blurred.

  2. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    October 23, 2018, 4:01 pm

    RE: “The point of Orwell’s essay is that everyone engaged in political causes/disputes is subject to nationalism, a form of self-serving bias, in which speakers assign superiority to their own group. He urged all political players to undertake the ‘moral effort’ to prevent such fervor from taking over their thinking.” ~ Weiss

    Collective narcissism
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collective_narcissism
    (EXCERPT) Collective narcissism (or group narcissism) extends the concept of individual narcissism onto the social level of self. It is a tendency to exaggerate the positive image and importance of a group the individual belongs to – i.e. the ingroup.[1][2] While the classic definition of narcissism focuses on the individual, collective narcissism asserts that one can have a similar excessively high opinion of a group, and that a group can function as a narcissistic entity.[1] Collective narcissism is related to ethnocentrism. However, ethnocentrism primarily focuses on self-centeredness at an ethnic or cultural level, while collective narcissism is extended to any type of ingroup, beyond just cultures and ethnicities.[1][3] While ethnocentrism is an assertion of the ingroup’s supremacy, collective narcissism is a self-defensive tendency to invest unfulfilled self-entitlement into a belief about ingroup’s uniqueness and greatness. Thus, the ingroup is expected to become a vehicle of actualisation of frustrated self-entitlement.[2] When applied to a national group, collective narcissism is similar to nationalism: a desire for national supremacy.[4] Positive overlap between ingroup satisfaction and collective narcissism suppresses collective narcissistic intergroup hostility.[2] . . .

    What is COLLECTIVE NARCISSISM? What does COLLECTIVE NARCISSISM mean? COLLECTIVE NARCISSISM meaning

  3. John Smithson
    John Smithson
    October 24, 2018, 10:07 am

    Peter Gabriel addressed these ideas…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbwQ0Wy3ljQ

    You’re Not One Of Us…

    All of Life’s questions are answered by Rock and Roll songs.

    “It’s only water in a strangers tears…”

    • JLewisDickerson
      JLewisDickerson
      October 24, 2018, 7:09 pm

      Peter Gabriel – Not One Of Us

      It’s only water
      In a stranger’s tear
      Looks are deceptive
      But distinctions are clear
      A foreign body
      And a foreign mind
      Never welcome
      In the land of the blind
      You may look like we do
      Talk like we do
      But you know how it is

      You’re not one of us
      Not one of us . . .

      . . . There’s safety in numbers
      When you learn to divide
      How can we be in
      If there is no outside
      All shades of opinion
      Feed an open mind
      But your values are twisted
      Let us help you unwind
      You may look like we do
      Talk like we do
      But you know how it is . . .
      LYRICS SOURCE – https://songmeanings.com/songs/view/101437/

  4. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    October 24, 2018, 2:07 pm

    @PanamaKid
    ” there is a very fine line between patriotism and nationalism, and that line is getting thinner, more blurred”

    In the case of Zioland patriotism/nationalism is the last refuge of Fascist cowards(with apologies to Samuel Johnson)

  5. DaBakr
    DaBakr
    October 25, 2018, 3:09 pm

    White Orwell’s message about unbridled nationalism in Europe in the ages between WW1 and 2 resonates Phil Weiss still fails to make the direct connection between Orwell’s actual words and Phil’s warning about jews that are supposedly claiming ‘superiority’ to other humans. Nowhere does Orwell state this and makes the claim the British of “good will” do not hate jews but would never consider them superior.

    Phil again, fails to make the case that zionism and Jewish nationalism has done anything but protect world jewry despite the conflicts that rage around it.

    Pw also seems to always conveniently ignore rampant Arab nationalism that was dead set against any Jewish sovereignty on’sacred Muslim’ land.

    Again, more chicken little from pw. Orwell would likely have a different view of the world now. Plus, Orwell was no saint. Some of his views on race and sex would have had him fired in seconds flat by today’s climate

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