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JVP’s anti-Zionist statement can reach liberal Zionists, and that’s important

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Jewish Voice for Peace’s (JVP) recently published “Our Approach to Zionism,” a compassionate and timely stand against Zionism, has the potential to break liberal Zionist consensus within the Jewish community when it comes to Israel and widen the discussion around Zionism.  In this document, the progressive organization has unapologetically stated its opposition to Zionism, declaring it a dangerous, settler-colonial movement for Jews because it continues to hurt Palestinian life and steal Palestinian land.

Given the ongoing uproar within the Democratic Party conflating criticism of Israel with antisemitism, seen most recently with the backlash from Democrats against Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for challenging U.S. policy in Israel, the timing of this statement couldn’t be better. As the Omar debate shows, the Jewish community is still the gatekeeper on the mainstream consideration of Israel. And a liberal Zionist organization is today the most representative body of Democratic Party opinion on the question: J Street. The JVP statement has the power to encourage more liberal Zionists to extricate themselves from Zionism, thereby breaking up the monolith of Jewish consensus around Israel. If the left can win over some of these liberal Zionists, we have the potential to move U.S. policy toward the principle of equal rights and away from religious nationalism. The JVP document may be just the catalyst needed to help people make that shift.

Published on the JVP site in January, the announcement provides historical context for how Jewish trauma and Zionism are connected–and it does so empathetically.  Jewish persecution, according to the statement, namely antisemitism and the Holocaust, created the need for a national movement:

We know that opposing Zionism, or even discussing it, can be painful, can strike at the deepest trauma and greatest fears of many of us. Zionism is a nineteenth-century political ideology that emerged in a moment where Jews were defined as irrevocably outside of a Christian Europe. European antisemitism threatened and ended millions of Jewish lives–in pogroms, in exile, and in the Holocaust.

Jewish trauma is indisputable, the document reads, and clinging to Zionism as a result was understandable within this context of Jewish history. Opposing Zionism, then, can be a difficult and painful process.

Zionist ideology is deeply connected to Jewish identity, the statement explains, and subsequently contributes to the fear of antisemitism within the Jewish community:

Zionist interpretations of history taught us that Jewish people are alone, that to remedy the harms of antisemitism we must think of ourselves as always under attack and that we cannot trust others. It teaches us fear, and that the best response to fear is a bigger gun, a taller wall, a more humiliating checkpoint.

The JVP announcement recognizes these wounds as palpable, but also understands that Jewish trauma, in part, can prevent Zionists from exploring their idealization of Israel.  This pain blocks their ability to acknowledge Palestinian history and suffering as alongside their own.  As long as we are scared for ourselves, the thinking goes, we will not be concerned about others.

The current split within the Democratic party over Israel shows how volatile and fraught this fear is, of course, as witnessed by elite Democratic leaders going after Congressman Omar for foreign policy views that challenge the party’s unconditional support for Israel.  These Democrats believe the mythology that Israel is a helpless, passive victim, incapable of doing wrong, and in need of our undying support.  Anyone who says otherwise, well, we’ll just criticize them for being anti-semitic and for hating Israel, and the entire liberal Zionist community will back us up.

Thomas Friedman’s March 6, 2018, New York Times piece, “Ilhan Omar, Aipac and Me,” is a good example of U.S. liberal Zionism’s resistance to a discourse that threatens the status quo when it comes to Israel.  Friedman writes that Omar “dislikes Israel, because she does not really believe the Jewish people have a right to an independent state in their ancestral homeland.”  Rather than try to engage her position in any way–or try to understand its potential nuances–Friedman dismisses her entirely.  He’s committed to maintaining a static liberal Zionist viewpoint, and Omar has simply gone too far beyond the liberal gate.

Friedman also shows his liberal Zionist limitations by calling Omar’s support of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) as speaking in “code”:

By being specific about the rights of Palestinians to return to their home and not unequivocally committing to a two-state solution, the movement leaves me and many others to believe that B.D.S. is just code for getting rid of the state of Israel.

Though he accuses Omar of speaking in code, Friedman speaks in his own “code”–one that deploys progressive-sounding rhetoric as a mask for liberal quietism.  Like a bouncer at a dance club who stands at the door checking IDs, Friedman decides who’s let in to the dance.  If they go too far like he feels Omar has, they can’t get into the club.

Unlike Friedman, Peter Beinart, another liberal Zionist, shows it is possible for powerful liberal Zionists to shift to the left.  After Omar was elected to Congress, Beinart explained in the Forward why neither BDS nor Omar are antisemitic:

The argument equating BDS with anti-Semitism isn’t new. In the organized American Jewish community, it’s a cliche. Omar’s case offers another opportunity to explain why it’s wrong.

Beinart breaks down the very argument that Friedman upholds, and explains why it’s wrong to conflate BDS with antisemitism.  Even though Beinart is still a Zionist, his voice has become an important one in challenging the status quo upheld by liberal Zionists like Friedman, who still equate BDS with hatred of Israel.

But the statement explains that support of the Israeli status quo is no longer a viable response to antisemitism:

Through study and action, through deep relationship with Palestinians fighting for their own liberation, and through our own understanding of Jewish safety and self determination, we have come to see that Zionism was a false and failed answer to the desperately real question many of our ancestors faced of how to protect Jewish lives from murderous antisemitism in Europe.

Zionism is a “false and failed answer” to the real problem of antisemitism, and clinging to this nationalist, colonial ideology has perpetuated a phobia within the Zionist community that allows them to never consider Palestinian history alongside Jewish history.

The new JVP statement points out these limitations inherent in liberal Zionism, asserting that one can be Jewish without being Zionist.  Unlike powerful liberal Zionists like Friedman, JVP argues in its statement that we must acknowledge Palestinian history:

We are all the more humbled by the vibrance, resilience, and steadfastness of Palestinian life, culture, and organizing, as it is a deep refusal of a political ideology founded on erasure.

JVP’s document offers a way to think about Israel that is markedly different from mainstream liberal Zionism but is understanding enough that it could invite liberal Zionists to make a shift.  Rather than discounting them, I’d argue we need more liberal Zionists to join the left in order to break the Jewish monolith in the U.S. when it comes to Israel.  The Jewish community is currently standing at a precipice–such as the current divide over Israel within the democratic party–and it will only continue to become more fractured.

Liberal Zionists might soon have to resolve their liberalism anyway, according to JVP’s director Rebecca Vilkomerson.  She believes the current political climate in the U.S. is pushing liberal Zionists to decide where they stand when it comes to Israel.

In a January 30, 2019, interview with Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man for the Israeli news site +972, Vilkomerson says:

Especially among liberals, and liberal Zionists, there is an increasing pressure to choose. There’s a way that this political moment writ large is forcing people to really grapple with what their values are–and being consistent with them.

Liberal Zionists can help grow the movement, Vilkomerson says, and JVP’s Approach to Zionism was written, in part, to invite them in:

To a large extent, the audience that we want to reach are liberal Zionists. There are people who still identify as Zionist, who are uncomfortably Zionist, or who are Zionists but with reservations, and those are the people who I think are moving right now. Some of them are saying ‘I can’t let [Zionism] go and therefore I’m going to throw in with the camp on the right.’ And some people are like, ‘okay, it’s the Zionism that I have to let go of and stick to my values.’

Liberal Zionists will ultimately need to decide if their liberalism in the U.S. will extend to Palestine.  JVP–a movement far more progressive than liberal Zionist organizations–is strategically trying to reach the liberal Zionists who previously may not have been open to this discussion.  “It’s starting to be seen standard that if you support single-payer healthcare, if you support immigrant rights, and support the fight for $15,” Vilkomerson states, “then you’re also going to support Palestinian rights.”

Above all else, liberal Zionism is committed to protecting what it falsely believes is an Israeli democracy” that is just and fair, but of course it’s not.  Israel is a “racist hierarchy with European Jews at the top,” the JVP statement warns:

In Israel, Jewish people of color–from the Arab world, North Africa, and East Africa–have long been subjected to systemic discrimination and violence by the Israeli government. That hierarchy also creates Jewish spaces where Jews of color are marginalized, our identities and commitments questioned & interrogated, and our experiences invalidated. It prevents us from seeing each other–fellow Jews and other fellow human beings–in our full humanity.

The JVP statement describes Israel for what it is–a country committed to “systemic discrimination” towards Jews of Color, breaking apart the mythology that idealizes Israel.

 

Inviting these Zionists to come to the left might seem like a last resort, and maybe it is. It’s certainly not a very exciting way to be an activist, but I think we need to go there.  I’d like to try.

We’ve already seen young liberal Zionists make a shift.  Several took on Taglit Birthright last summer. In January, Beinart wrote in the Forward that Birthright should change its focus to include trips to the West Bank to meet with Palestinians if it wants to include liberal Zionists who are moving more to the left. Beinart argues that if “Birthright continues on its current path, fewer and fewer liberal Jews will go.”  The JVP statement offers liberal Zionists, like those who walked away from Birthright, an alternative way of thinking–one that encourages a true social justice mode of Judaism that could reach them, “guided by a vision of justice, equality and freedom for all people,” one that acknowledges Palestinian history–but that also acknowledges why it’s so hard to change.

As an anti-Zionist, it’s easy–tempting–to disregard liberal Zionists.  It’s maddening to have conversations with them about Israel.  I experience this regularly when I talk to my mother about Israel.  I used to be a liberal Zionist, too, and I had the same blind spots.  I see them in many of my Jewish students at school.  They attend protests for healthcare and women’s rights and acknowledge their white privilege and volunteer at homeless shelters and tutor disadvantaged youth and have a sparkle in their eye as they tell me these things, because they believe that they are that progressive.  But when Palestine comes up, the shimmer fades, for they are unconsciously trained to scoff and turn away.  And then they talk about their upcoming trip to Israel–in between their visits to the homeless shelters in town–and the twinkle in their eye returns.

As a teacher, I am committed to reaching my liberal Zionist students, but I have to do it in stages–I must build on the questions I ask them.  If I challenge them outright about Israel’s existence as a colonial state, their response, at first, is usually, “We need Israel because of the Holocaust!”  When they respond in this way, I want to give them Ilan Pappe’s 2006 The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine–the book that confirms, with documentation from Israeli archives, that plans to colonize Palestine were in the works long before World War II.

I want to be patient, but it is difficult.  If liberal Zionists are going to be able to reconsider their previously held opinions about the romanticized Israel in their mind, the Israel they have been taught can do no wrong, the Israel as passive victim–it will take time.  With my students, I must identify the various developmental emotional places they are at and build towards ultimately challenging them on Israel’s entire existence as an imperial, colonial project.

It’s frustrating, of course, when it seems like I’m simply meeting liberal Zionists where they’re at.  The urgency of the situation in Palestine demands immediate action.  Palestinians continue to be imprisoned, killed, the land continues to be stolen.  To approach liberal Zionists with patience can appear like a kind of catering–a pandering, perhaps–to the oppressor.  A similar dynamic occurs in the anti-racist circles I’ve been in, too, where patience for white people’s fragility can seem like accommodation for their discomfort.  A struggle always exists to balance the sense of urgency with the patience required to help someone make an emotional shift in one’s worldview.

I don’t write this to garner sympathy for a liberal Zionist’s epiphany about Palestine–their delayed and overdue shift in worldview.  I write it because their deep love for Israel is a complex pathology that needs to be dismantled systemically and individually.  And even though the discourse is shifting, it’s still a difficult and painful thing to realize that you were wrong about everything you once fiercely believed in, that you’ll have to change your worldview in a community that is committed to not changing its opinions, a community that speaks for you without your consent–and to ultimately stand in solidarity with Palestinians in their struggle for self-determination.

A few days before I read the new JVP statement, I was sitting in my classroom before school started chatting with a former student, Joseph, who had recently returned from his first trip to Israel.  His cheeks were rosy and he was glowing as he talked about how beautiful Jerusalem was.  His family had rented an apartment on AirBnB in David’s Village, the upscale apartment complex adjacent to Mamilla Mall, the outdoor pedestrian area that seamlessly fuses the Old City with West Jerusalem at Jaffa Gate.  Joseph is a liberal Zionist, but he doesn’t refer to himself as a Zionist, because his love of Israel is inherently connected to being Jewish, braided together like it was for me when I was his age.

The morning Joseph talked with me before school started, he told me he was feeling pressure from his mother to move to Israel.  “My mom is pushing me to go to Israel for college so she can retire there,” Joseph confided in me.  Then the bell rang, and he left for geometry class.  It will be difficult for Joseph if he is to ever separate his Judaism from Zionism, for it could result, on a personal level, in being alienated from his family, friends, and community.  But I’m hopeful that the JVP statement could help him to understand why he thinks a certain way, and to help him make the shift.  “The Zionism that took hold and stands today is a settler-colonial movement, establishing an apartheid state where Jews have more rights than others,” the statement declares.  “Our own history teaches us how dangerous this can be.”

The JVP document could encourage people like Joseph who could learn that his love for Israel has been constructed on a myth–on an entire people who were already there.  It gives him the opportunity to see that room exists to be Jewish and to oppose Zionism.  The end of the JVP statement emphasizes that this is possible.  “Rather than accept the inevitability of occupation and dispossession,” it states, “we choose a different path.”

 

 

Liz Rose

Liz Rose is a Chicago teacher.

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33 Responses

  1. Jonathan Ofir on March 14, 2019, 2:11 pm

    Thank you for your personal, introspective, deep, empathetic, courageous and thoughtful writings and work, Liz.

    • johneill on March 15, 2019, 1:52 am

      “Zionism is a “false and failed answer” to the real problem of antisemitism, and clinging to this nationalist, colonial ideology has perpetuated a phobia within the Zionist community that allows them to never consider Palestinian history alongside Jewish history.” stands out for me as a clear situation of contemporary zionism as it tries (or, looks like it’s trying) to address antisemitism.

  2. JWalters on March 14, 2019, 7:45 pm

    We must also keep in mind that Zionism is essentially a cult which intentionally programs the Jewish community to be deeply afraid and silent because it serves the cult leaders’ purposes. Israel-born, Jewish therapist Avigail Abarbanel discusses this reality in
    “Why I left the cult”
    http://mondoweiss.net/2016/10/why-i-left-the-cult

    Further trauma and fear are also induced by child abuse within the community, mostly covered up, but revealed by Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg here.
    “The Child-Rape Assembly Line”
    https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qbe8bp/the-child-rape-assembly-line-0000141-v20n11

    I suggest the Jewish community may need a mass therapy process to free themselves from their war profiteering cult masters. e.g.https://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com/p/war-profiteers-and-roots-of-war-on.html
    “It’s time for American Jews to recognize they have been duped”
    http://mondoweiss.net/2015/07/american-recognize-duped

    Psychologist Abarbanel also explains how these traumas lead to the Israeli government’s brutal policies.
    “The Israeli police state”
    https://electronicintifada.net/content/israeli-police-state/7049

  3. Stephen Shenfield on March 14, 2019, 8:32 pm

    I know you are afraid of losing your job, but couldn’t you sow some doubt into the minds of your young Zionists with their rosy view of Israel — introduce them to problems and phenomena they may not know about or express some discordant feelings of your own? Like why you personally would not like to live in Israel? And then retreat…

  4. wondering jew on March 14, 2019, 8:50 pm

    I looked at JVP’s antiZionism statement again.

    There are two problems that strike me immediately about the statement. What opinion regarding Zionism would JVP propose to a Jew in Poland in 1935? And second: there are other reasons for Zionism other than fear: namely Jewish identity or continuity.

    From JVP’s statement: “we have come to see that Zionism was a false and failed answer to the desperately real question many of our ancestors faced of how to protect Jewish lives from murderous antisemitism in Europe.” So it seems that the Jew in Poland in 1935 should reject Zionism because it was a false and failed answer. Therefore that Jew should have chosen a train ride to Auschwitz over Zionism. I categorically reject this.

    My defense of Zionism is primarily based upon that point: that in fact Zionism saved hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives and as such to reject Zionism is to reject those lives that were saved.

    There is also a lesser idea that should be mentioned (although it is insufficient to overcome the downside of Zionism): If the Jews wished/wish to maintain a Jewish identity rather than to melt away into the world and disappear into the nations, once the belief in Torah is taken away, there is a paucity of possible paths to a survival of that identity. One possible path is nationalism.

    Nationalism as a way of resisting disappearance of the identity is certainly insufficient to overcome the damage done to the Palestinians, and that is why I emphasize and usually only mention the physical survival aspect of Jews rather than this identity aspect.

    As far as the JVP argument being useful to convince young Jews like Joseph, it seems unlikely. Joseph probably born 55 or 60 years after the cataclysm in Europe is not that near to the dangers that caused the birth of Zionism. But if his eyes sparkle when discussing Jerusalem, he probably loves Hebrew and loves being Jewish. JVP proposes to replace these loves with solidarity with the oppressed Palestinians. It does not seem like a fair exchange. Trading in a feeling of belonging for a feeling of guilt.

    There are adequate reasons for those who study the issue to feel that the oppression of Palestinians has to be overcome and given Zionism’s current tense and its mainstream history it is natural for empathy for the Palestinians to result in rejection of Zionism. I doubt that JVP’s statement would do the trick. Something simple like: On the day that Balfour issued his declaration: was that a good day for the Palestinians or a bad day? (obviously a bad day.)

    There is also a question regarding the future. If indeed a rejection of Zionism is the only way for the oppression of Palestinians to stop, what are the odds that the idealistic vision of peaceful harmony in the new Palestine will be the reality rather than something that reflects the current dominant form of polity in the surrounding states, one where tolerance towards non Muslims is not really part of the current zeitgeist. I would say that the odds are poor.

    I would advise Joseph and others like him to consult Peter Beinart (or maybe even) Avraham Burg before he signs up with JVP. Reading JVP’s statement on Zionism will be useful as a marker, but not as a goal that will readily fit into his life and his love for Jerusalem.

    • RoHa on March 15, 2019, 2:08 am

      ” So it seems that the Jew in Poland in 1935 should reject Zionism because it was a false and failed answer.”

      He wouldn’t have been sure about the practical failure, but the moral failure should have been obvious.

      “Therefore that Jew should have chosen a train ride to Auschwitz over Zionism.”

      False dichotomy. He could still have decided to skip out to Argentina or Australia or Canada. Even New Zealand, if he was really desperate. Failing those, yes, go to Palestine, but join forces with the Palestinian Arabs against the Zionists. Try to build a new Palestine, not a Jewish state.

      “in fact Zionism saved hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives and as such to reject Zionism is to reject those lives that were saved.”

      And Zionism has cost many lives, and to accept Zionism is to reject those lives. But they weren’t Jewish lives, so they don’t really count.

      ” If the Jews wished/wish to maintain a Jewish identity rather than to melt away into the world and disappear into the nations, once the belief in Torah is taken away,”

      I have to admit that I cannot understand the point of trying to maintain a Jewish identity when you don’t believe the religious stuff.

      ” It does not seem like a fair exchange. Trading in a feeling of belonging for a feeling of guilt.”

      The unfairness started with Zionism. Joseph is one of its victims.

    • Talkback on March 15, 2019, 6:18 am

      wondering jew: “So it seems that the Jew in Poland in 1935 should reject Zionism because it was a false and failed answer. Therefore that Jew should have chosen a train ride to Auschwitz over Zionism.”

      Correct. Jews in Poland had two and only two options (we have to ignore emmigration or even flight in general):
      1.) Zionism
      2.) Taking a train ride to Auschwitz and delay its arrival until the concentration camp became operational in May 1940.

      Everything makes so much more sense if one has to justify Zionism.

    • eljay on March 15, 2019, 7:44 am

      || wondering jew: … From JVP’s statement: “we have come to see that Zionism was a false and failed answer to the desperately real question many of our ancestors faced of how to protect Jewish lives from murderous antisemitism in Europe.” So it seems that the Jew in Poland in 1935 should reject Zionism because it was a false and failed answer. Therefore that Jew should have chosen a train ride to Auschwitz over Zionism. I categorically reject this. … ||

      The actions of a Jew in Poland in 1935 do not justify:
      – the unjust and immoral actions since 1935 of Jewish citizens of homelands all over the world; or
      – the past and on-going (war) crimes of Zionism, Zionists and the religion-supremacist “Jewish State” construct.

      || … There is also a lesser idea that should be mentioned (although it is insufficient to overcome the downside of Zionism): If the Jews wished/wish to maintain a Jewish identity rather than to melt away into the world and disappear into the nations, once the belief in Torah is taken away, there is a paucity of possible paths to a survival of that identity. One possible path is nationalism. … ||

      The idea that a “Jewish identity”…
      – matters more than the human rights of the indigenous inhabitants of a geographic region; and
      – which cannot survive on its own merits is entitled to be maintained by force and injustice,
      …is indeed a “lesser idea”.

      || … Joseph probably born 55 or 60 years after the cataclysm in Europe is not that near to the dangers that caused the birth of Zionism. But if his eyes sparkle when discussing Jerusalem, he probably loves Hebrew and loves being Jewish. … ||

      What does it mean when the eyes of non-Jews sparkle when discussing Jerusalem? And does that sparkle give them the right to do the same sort of evil unto Jews that Jews have been doing unto them in Palestine?

      • RoHa on March 16, 2019, 2:01 am

        “The idea that a “Jewish identity”…
        – matters more than the human rights of the indigenous inhabitants of a geographic region; and
        – which cannot survive on its own merits is entitled to be maintained by force and injustice,
        …is indeed a “lesser idea”.

        Well said.

        (There are only two “identities” that really matter, anyway. One is that of being English, like God and his angels, and the other is that of being French, like the opposition camp.)

      • eljay on March 16, 2019, 7:59 am

        || RoHa: … (There are only two “identities” that really matter, anyway. One is that of being English, like God and his angels, and the other is that of being French, like the opposition camp.) ||

        Sacrebleu!

    • Talkback on March 16, 2019, 1:39 pm

      wondering jew: “that in fact Zionism saved hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives and as such to reject Zionism is to reject those lives that were saved.”

      Really? Which Zionist favored solutions proposed at the Évian conference?

    • Donald on March 16, 2019, 3:27 pm

      WJ—

      Jews fleeing the Nazis had the moral right to save themselves by fleeing wherever they could.

      The problem with Zionism comes in with the notion that Jews had the right to expel Palestinians.

      As for liberal Zionists, if I were in charge of persuading them to drop their ideology I would probably recommend reading Peter Beinart or David Shulman over at the New York Review or maybe they could peruse the BTselem website ( which I haven’t visited in awhile). Hardly anyone undergoes a drastic change in their ideology by being browbeaten, so no, I wouldn’t recommend any blog comment section, at least not at first. But they should also read Palestinian writers and activists.

      I haven’t read much JVP material. Can’t people love Hebrew and Judaism and want to visit Biblical sites or even want to live there ( assuming a fair and just solution had been established) and still despise all that had been done to Palestinians? I get the impression this is true of some.

    • annie on March 16, 2019, 3:35 pm

      Zionism saved hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives and as such to reject Zionism is to reject those lives that were saved

      metaphorically speaking perhaps, but i do not know that Zionism saved hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives. but for the sake of argument, let’s assume it did. it still doesn’t follow that if one rejects zionism it rejects the lives that were saved. that’s pretzel logic.

      • JWalters on March 16, 2019, 7:13 pm

        There is a serious question as to how much Zionists were motivated by saving Jewish lives versus establishing their “holy” state.

        “If I knew it was possible to save all [Jewish] children of Germany by their transfer to England and only half of them by transferring them to Eretz-Yisrael, I would choose the latter” – Ben-Gurion (1938)

        As quoted in Benny Morris’ Righteous Victims, p. 162
        http://www.hybridstates.com/2011/03/historical-quotes-ben-gurions-willingness-to-trade-off-dead-jewish-children-for-the-jewish-state-of-israel/

      • YoniFalic on March 16, 2019, 10:27 pm

        BTW, it is worth mentioning that both Egypt and also Syria offered to admit European Jews during the 30s and 40s as long as they abandoned Zionism and any desire to settle in Palestine. During the 30s it was also relatively easy to get into several of the Indian principalities. As far as I know, such possibilities of emigration were never explored.

    • umm al-hamam on March 17, 2019, 11:18 am

      Zionism did not save any Jewish lives—in fact if Zionism had never existed, countless more Jewish lives would have been saved.

      Zionist leaders worked hard to prevent countries like the USA, Canada and Britain from taking in Jewish refugees, pressuring them to turn them back so that they could instead be sent to Palestine. Famously they even met with Nazis before the mass extermination began, and helped circumvent the boycott of the Nazi regime by funnelling arms to it. After the war, when displaced Jews languished in refugee camps, Zionists ensured they could not return to their homes & demanded they instead be shipped to Palestine, where they (Holocaust survivors no less) were promptly drafted into Zionist militias to attack Arabs, & had their native language suppressed. These Holocaust survivors had some of the highest casualty rates in the 1948 war.

      Both before and after 1948 Zionist militias attacked and killed Jews, in Palestine and throughout the Middle East & North Africa. Zionists were responsible for bombing synagogues and community centres in places like Baghdad and Cairo in order to induce the Jews of the area to flee (to Israel). Within Palestine they would kill Jews who collaborated with Palestinian Arabs or the British, with a particular focus on killing or torturing Jewish women who had relationships with non-Jewish men. It is not improbable that some high-profile antisemitic attacks of the later 20th century, such as the AMIA bombing, were also Zionist operations serving similar purposes.

      If Zionism had never existed many more European Jews would have been able to flee the Holocaust; Middle Eastern & North African Jews would not have experienced the same wave of violence and persecution; and of course plenty of Jewish lives that otherwise would have ended in the various Israeli wars from 1948 to 2014 would have been saved.

      More: http://mondoweiss.net/2017/01/terrorism-israeli-state/

  5. Misterioso on March 15, 2019, 8:33 am

    @wondering Jew

    Let’s cut to the chase:

    Zionism is racism; Zionism is fascism; Zionism is theft; Zionism is a horror story for the indigenous Palestinians; Zionism and its consequences are a betrayal of the six million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis; indeed, Zionists are today’s Nazis.

    Bottom line: Foreign Jews had the same right to claim Palestine as Irish Catholics and Mexican atheists, i.e., none whatsoever.

    The good news is that Zionism is doomed. No one understands this more than ever increasing numbers of young, enlightened Jews around the world who are abandoning Zionism and its evil spawn, the anachronistic, monstrous entity known as “Israel.”

  6. Nathan on March 15, 2019, 8:57 am

    This may come as a shock to some of the readers here, but it needs to be said: The State of Israel was founded a very long time ago. It really is a waste of energy to try and convince the Jewish community that the state shouldn’t have been founded. It surely is a joke to try and convince them that it is a failed ideology. It’s a big success story.

    The message of the JVP is that we must undo the Jewish state. Obviously, like all anti-Israel propaganda, there is never a clear and straight-foward statement that this is the aim, but we all understand it nevertheless. Here, in this article, the move “away from religious nationalism” was the obvious hint that there shouldn’t be a Jewish state. Well, even the best of propaganda is not going to succeed in making the Jewish community rise up and work against their own people. Our author herself tells us that “it’s maddening to have conversations with them about Israel”, and I can imagine why. People identify with their own. I think that the most obsessed and committed anti-Israel activist should still be able to understand that we’re not going to turn our backs on half of the Jewish people.

    I always find it amazing that an anti-Israel organization presents the exact same case that the Palestinians present. People’s views are influenced by their background, language, society and religion. How can it be that an English-speaking Jew who has heard a few Bible stories in Sunday school has the exact same point of view as an Arabic-speaking person who is from a very traditional Islamic society? Well, in this above article, there was a topic that was presented differently than in Palestinian society. If you can read Arabic, you might want to get a hold of Mahmoud Abbas’ PhD thesis. You can find it in any bookshop in the West Bank or in Amman. Mr Abbas presents an argument that it was planned already before the Second World War that it will be claimed afterwards that six million Jews were murder. This ploy was meant to convince the world that Palestine should be given to the Jews as compensation (and it succeeded)! The JVP claim is quite different, of course. Their case is that the Holocaust is not a justification for a Jewish national movement (Zionism).

    But why is Mr Abbas busy with the Holocaust? Well, it’s quite simple. He knows that for many people in the world the Holocaust is the justification for founding the Jewish state, so he wishes to prove that is all just a manipulation. And why is the JVP busy with Holocaust as well? They, too, understand that for many of the Jews in America this is the reason they support the existence of the Jewish state. So, although there is an obvious difference in the analysis of the events between the Palestinian denial and the sense of mourning in the JVP presentation – still there is a common denominator. Neither presentation is willing to see that there is a Jewish connection to the land. In both cases, it is merely a colonial project, and the Holocaust is the tool in justifying it.

    • Misterioso on March 15, 2019, 10:10 am

      @Nathan

      “It’s a big success story”

      Ha, ha, au contraire.

      The racist/fascistic entity known as “Israel” is a failure. It’s over 70 years and it is still utterly dependent on aid provided by U.S. taxpayers and Washington’s protection in the geopolitical arena.

      A reminder:
      “Congressional Research Service, U.S. Foreign aid to Israel, Jeremy M. Sharpe, Specialist in Middle East Affairs, April 10, 2018.”

      “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $134.7 billion (current, or non inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance. At a signing ceremony at the State Department on September 14, 2016, representatives of the U.S. and Israeli governments signed a new 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on military aid covering FY2019 to FY2028. Under the terms of the MOU, the United States pledges to provide $38 billion in military aid ($33 billion in Foreign Military Financing grants plus $5 billion in missile defense appropriations) to Israel. This MOU replaces a previous $30 billion 10-year agreement, which runs through FY2018.”

      Furthermore: Jewish immigration to “Israel” is plummeting and emigration is soaring.

      Newsweek, May 10/18

      “More Israelis are moving to the U.S.—and staying for good”

      “Spurred by the high cost of living, low salaries, and political and demographic trends, Israelis are leaving the country in droves.” By Yardena Schwartz.

      EXCERPTS:
      “Israel celebrates its 70th birthday in May with the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Yet the country is grappling with an existential crisis—one that doesn’t involve Iranian nukes or Palestinian protests. Spurred by the high cost of living, low salaries, and political and demographic trends, Israelis are leaving the country in droves, trying to build their lives elsewhere, mostly in the United States. Many of these young Israelis are moving to big cities, and yet, even in these often expensive places, they see more opportunities to advance.”

      “The available data is telling, analysts say. Between 2006 and 2016, more than 87,000 Israelis became U.S. citizens or legalized permanent residents, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. That’s up from 66,000 between 1995 and 2005. These figures take into account only those who took the legal route (many Israelis, analysts say, arrive on temporary tourist, student or work visas, then stay). And in addition to the Israelis now living stateside, according to the country’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, hundreds of thousands have moved to Europe, Canada and elsewhere.

      “The country’s brain drain isn’t new. For years, many of its most talented scholars and researchers moved to the U.S., where the salaries are far higher and there are more jobs at top-tier universities. One report by Dan Ben-David, an economist at Tel Aviv University, found that the emigration rate of Israeli researchers was the highest in the Western world. Recently, however, the exodus has expanded to include average young people, many of whom say there’s simply no future in Israel.

      “Though this embattled country has become known as the ‘Startup Nation’ —it has more early-stage tech companies per capita than any other country—the average Israeli has little connection to that prosperous field. According to government data, 8 percent of Israelis work in high-tech, which pays up to seven times the national average salary of $2,765 a month (before taxes). Israel has one of the highest poverty rates and levels of income inequality in the Western world. Meanwhile, it also has one of the highest costs of living. Tel Aviv ranks ninth among the world’s most expensive cities, higher than New York and Los Angeles; five years ago, it ranked 34th. The situation is so dire that a 2013 survey by the financial newspaper Calcalist (the most recent Israeli study conducted on this topic) found that 87 percent of adults—many with children of their own—depend on substantial financial support from their parents.

      “In the summer of 2011, these economic pressures spilled onto the streets, as half a million young Israelis spent months protesting against the high cost of living, as well as decaying health and education systems.”

      Aug. 15, 2017, Haaretz.
      EXCERPT:
      “More Israelis Left Israel Than Moved Back in Six Year Record. 16,700 left and 8,500 came back in 2015, the first year since 2009 that more Israelis exited than returned.” By Lior Dattel.

      Also of major significance regarding Jewish American youth: “Support for Israel on Campus Drops by ‘Devastating’ 27%: Study” – The Forward, June 21/17
      EXCERPTS:
      “The Brand Israel Group, a coalition of volunteer advertising and marketing specialists, has released a survey that shows a significant decrease in Israel’s approval rating among Americans.

      “’The future of America no longer believe that Israel shares their values. This is huge! Devastating,’ Fern Oppenheim, a co-founder of BIG, told The Times of Israel. While approval of Israel among American college students dropped 27% between the group’s 2010 and 2016 surveys, Israel’s approval rating among all Americans dropped 14 points, from 76% to 62%.”

      Furthermore, regarding the USA: http://forward.com/news/ national/376097/study-israel- losing-support-among- democrats-minorities- millennials/ The Forward July 2, 2017
      EXCERPT:
      ”Study: Israel Losing Support Among Democrats, Minorities, Millennials. ‘It appears that the more Americans learn about Israel, the less they like it.’”

      http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=20982'%20style='color:#000;The Real News, Jan. 25/18
      EXCERPTS:
      “The bipartisan consensus of support for Israel over the Palestinians is breaking down in the United States.

      “A new study by the leading polling agency the Pew Research Center has found that the partisan divide in Americans’ sympathies for Israel or the Palestinians is the largest it has been in 40 years.”

      Times of Israel, June 21/17: http://www.timesofisrael.com/devastating-survey-shows-huge-loss-of-israel-support-among-jewish-college-students/
      https://www.haaretz.com/israel -news/.premium-jewish-agency- chief-warns-young-u-s-jews- more-turned-off-to-israel-1. 5751616

      Haaretz – Jan 22, 2018, by Judy Maltz
      “Young American Jews Increasingly Turning Away From Israel, Jewish Agency Leader Warns”
      “The Jewish Agency’s CEO and director-general called the trend ‘extremely worrisome,’ and said that a new strategy must be undertaken to engage young American Jews with Israel.”

      https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-vast-numbers-of-california-jews-disengaging-from-israel-survey-finds-1.5821675
      Haaretz, Feb. 14/18
      “Vast Numbers of Progressive California Jews Are Disengaging From Israel, Survey Finds.” By Judy Maltz.

      EXCERPT:
      “Only a minority of young Jews in San Francisco’s Bay Area believe a Jewish state is important and only a third sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians.”

      The writing is on the wall. However, Zionist zealots like you refuse to read it.

      • Sibiriak on March 15, 2019, 11:09 am

        Misterioso: …Jewish immigration to “Israel” is plummeting and emigration is soaring.
        —————————————————————————————–

        But net migration remains positive: more people are immigrating to Israel than emigrating.

        More importantly, the Jewish Israeli birthrate is very high; the population is calculated to double in 40 some years.

      • YoniFalic on March 15, 2019, 1:05 pm

        The CBS counts Jewish residents of Israel in a way that tends to inflate the Jewish population tremendously. People that long ago emigrated continue to be treated as residents.

    • eljay on March 15, 2019, 10:10 am

      || Nathan: This may come as a shock to some of the readers here, but it needs to be said: The State of Israel was founded a very long time ago. … ||

      This may come as a shock to some of the readers here, but it needs to be said: The colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist “Jewish State” project is as unjust and immoral today as it was when it began a very long time ago.

      || … for many people in the world the Holocaust is the justification for founding the Jewish state … ||

      It’s true: Many Zionists in the world believe, promote and stand by this belief.

      || … there is a Jewish connection to the land. … ||

      Tangible Palestinian indigeneity to geographic Palestine trumps intangible “Jewish connection” to the region.

      Say, when are you going to answer Donald’s two clear and concise questions?

      Donald  March 13, 2019, 9:48 am

      Nathan, let’s get this out in the open. Do you deny that Israel deliberately expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in a process that included a number of massacres? Do you deny that once expelled the Israelis kept them out by force?

      • Donald on March 16, 2019, 3:12 pm

        Beat me to it, eljay. Yonah asks serious questions. Nathan is a troll.

    • Talkback on March 15, 2019, 2:06 pm

      Nathan: “Neither presentation is willing to see that there is a Jewish connection to the land. In both cases, it is merely a colonial project, and the Holocaust is the tool in justifying it.”

      Well, enforcing Jewish settler unto a native population is nothing else but colonialism. The “Jewish connection” is legally as irrelevant as the Italian connection to Londinum (London), Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (Cologne) or the Greek connections to all the cities Alexander the Great founded.

      So what’s left that could justify violating the Palestinian’s right to an independent state in Palestine? Nothing. Nada. It’s just violence. War and expulsion. That’s Israel’s “success” story.

      • Nathan on March 17, 2019, 12:16 pm

        Talkback – You’re not going to convince a Jewish audience that there’s no Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. So, it was really very interesting to read about the above JVP campaign, but the Jewish audience in America is still going to maintain that the Land of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people. I understand that it is just inconceivable for an anti-Israel person to imagine that someone else sees the world differently. You see it as colonialism, and yet someone else sees it as the return of the Jewish people to its ancient homeland. That’s life.

        Israel really is the “only show in town” (she’s the only item on the agenda in the contemporary history of the Jewish people). One has to be rather oblivious to the reality of Jewish life in order to imagine that the Jews are going to adopt the narrative of those who deny the very drama of Jewish history.

      • eljay on March 17, 2019, 2:36 pm

        || Nathan: … You see it as colonialism, and yet someone else sees it as the return of the Jewish people to its ancient homeland. That’s life. … ||

        So…if evil is just another word for “life” why do you Zionists get so upset – and blatantly hypocritical – about anti-Semitism and other injustices committed against citizens of homelands all over the world simply because they have chosen to embrace the religion-based identity of Jewish?

        Why does evil…sorry, “life” matter when it’s done unto Jews, but not when Jews do it unto others?

        And when are you going to demonstrate a little courtesy and reply to Donald’s two clear and concise questions?

        Donald  March 13, 2019, 9:48 am

        Nathan, let’s get this out in the open. Do you deny that Israel deliberately expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in a process that included a number of massacres? Do you deny that once expelled the Israelis kept them out by force?

      • Talkback on March 17, 2019, 3:34 pm

        Nathan: “You’re not going to convince a Jewish audience that there’s no Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.”

        That’s a red herring. Read what I actually wrote.

        Nathan: “… but the Jewish audience in America is still going to maintain that the Land of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people.”

        “Ancestral homeland” it is. Because the Jewish settlers had their homeland somewhere else. And the actual Jewish natives of Palestine are not the “Jewish people”. And sure, they can also claim that pink elephants exist if that’s good for the Jews.

        Nathan: ” Iunderstand that it is just inconceivable for an anti-Israel person to imagine that someone else sees the world differently”

        I understand that it is just inconceivable for an anti-Üalastine person to imagine that someone else sees the world differently. See how hollow your phrases are? And by the way, I’m not “anti-Israel”. I’m against Apartheid. But you are too afraid to call me that, aren’t you?

        Nathan: “You see it as colonialism, and yet someone else sees it as the return of the Jewish people to its ancient homeland. That’s life.”

        Nope. That’s a self delusion. Settlers being enforced upon a native population is settler colonialism now matter how much you need to spin it as a “return” allthough nobody can prove an exile. Keep lying to yourself if it does make you feel ‘calm’.

        Nathan: “Israel really is the “only show in town” …”

        As Nazi Germany was in Poland for a while. So what?

        Nathan: “… Jews are going to adopt the narrative of those who deny the very drama of Jewish history.”

        Who denies that? Is this another legally irrelevant red herring?

    • YoniFalic on March 16, 2019, 9:32 pm

      Religious Jews have a connection to a fairy tale.

      Hitler and Eckhart created a fairy tale of the Aryan race to justify the crimes of Nazism.

      N. American slavery started in the 17th century. It was destroyed in the 19th century.

      Opposing abolition of SOI today is evil as opposing abolition of US slavery before the US Civil War.

      It should surprise no one that the US Christians most enamoured of SOI descend from the Redemeers that defeated Reconstruction. They want to do to blacks what we Eastern European colonial-settler invader-genocidaires did to the natives of Palestine.

  7. Jejasalo on March 15, 2019, 1:54 pm

    Judaism never implied geographical Zionism, or a physical return to the land of Zion written about in the bible. Zionism was spiritual long before it was spoiled by the closely related phenomena of Nation and State. They are not the same thing.

    Then, the physical return of the Jewish people to “Zion” had its idealistic backers who saw no contradiction in sharing the land of Palestine and building up a cultural and religious center for world Jewry. But that changed dramatically already by the early 1920s at least.

    In the early 1950s, Noam Chomsky was a Zionist who went to live on a kibbutz in Israel. Today he holds virtually the same views as he did back then — except that today these views are called “anti-Zionist”- and that’s how he describes himself. An ideal, such as “Zionism” can be ruined by actions and interpretations that destroy its original essence. That makes it important to be vigilant regarding the ways people manifest their views.

    I was a non-Zionist when I was old enough to think about it, and I’m a non-Zionist today. I went through a phase of being “Zionist” until I saw what I thought were the inherent flaws of any people claiming sovereignty or ownership of any land. It is unlikely that Israel will survive in its current form because it turns all of the once desirable and idealistic elements in the idea of a “homeland” into their evil twins. The US can sustain it only as long as it continues down its own path to pariah state.

  8. echinococcus on March 16, 2019, 12:37 am

    “Reach liberal Zionists”… reaching there takes you absolutely nowhere. They are the original perps of the invasion and the genocide until well into the 80s, and they are today’s genocidaire “opposition”.

    The only need for “liberal Zionists” is on the genocidaire Zionist side of the front. To sucker the most gullible and make them believe it’s OK for Zionist criminals to continue occupying any part of Palestine –by hook if not by crook. The invaded and massacred colonial people need liberal Zionists like a hole in the head.

    Question to the “moderator”: do you believe that systematically censoring opposition to “liberal” Zionism helps you guys to be seen as a site with serious discussion?

  9. pabelmont on March 16, 2019, 12:26 pm

    I like the JVP statement and hope it gains wide currency.

    I have a problem about being “against Israel” (or “for Israel” for that matter) in just the same way I have a problem about being “for capitalism” or “against capitalism”.

    Both the “for” and “against” formulations are too binary, too “either or”, and certainly the “against Israel” position affronts people who might agree to a more (sorry) “nuanced” position. They negate the possibility of beneficial — and satisfactory — change.

    And both are statements w.r.t. a vastly uneven contest between real Davids and real Goliaths, the Goliaths having huge political clout and followings.

    I myself agree with the anti-Zionism statement that JVP propounded. But is that the same as being “against Israel”?

    How would the following go over in downtown J-Street or at the dinner table of people like Thomas Friedman?: “I would not object to Israel if it were truly democratic, truly non-violent except where violence is actually warranted, and truly non-discriminatory in regard both to its actual citizens and to those who would have been its citizens had they not been expelled in 1947-8 and refused readmitance ever since.”

    Oops. That’s approximately the BDS position, isn’t it?

    • Nathan on March 17, 2019, 2:54 pm

      Actually, pabelmont, you have not understood the BDS position. You have presented a quote about ending the objection to Israel after meeting certain demands. The BDS raises very similar demands, but there is no indication that fulfilling these demands would mean that there is no objection to Israel. There is no intention whatsoever of accepting the existence of Israel, period. In the propaganda war against Israel, one does not come out and say that the issue at hand is the very existence of Israel. The general audience in the international community does not question the legitimacy of Israel, so demanding her demise is not going to be very well received. So, the ploy is to raise grievances that the general audience might agree to; however, never will you hear that the intention is to end the conflict, and never will you hear that there would be a willingness to accept the presence of the Jews who live in the country.

      Yes, pabelmont, the anti-Zionist statement of JVP is exactly the same as being against Israel. The opposition to Jewish nationalism is an opposition to the Jews’ view that Israel is their homeland and that in this homeland they shall live in their own sovereign state. In the JVP view, the Jews should not have come to live in the country and they should not have founded the State of Israel. The “Jewish voice for peace” is suggesting that the undoing of Israel is the definition of peace. So, indeed, they are against Israel.

      • Talkback on March 17, 2019, 5:19 pm

        Your accusations against BDS are nonsense, because BSK asks the “fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality” to be recognized. This implies the existence and continuation of Israel.

        Everything BDS asks is in full compliance with international and human rights law and according to the consensus of the internationally community. If you think that Israel’s existence depends upon violating international and human rights law then please elaborate why Israel or has a right to exist or Jews have a right to violate the rights of Nonjews.

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