Monday, January 11, 2010

Israeli Zionism faces similar crisis of legitimacy that unraveled Communism in 70's and 80's; Jewish-nationalist Americans remain trenchant, in denial

Israel’s crisis
(Mondoweiss) -- by Philip Weiss --

Just back from Israel/Palestine, the overwhelming sense I carry away is that the present state cannot last. Just how it goes down I have no idea. But conditions are so obviously discriminatory, and the knowledge of these conditions now so widespread– among the Christian pilgrims in my Jerusalem guesthouse, among European leaders, and now too among the Israeli elite and American left–that the situation is reminiscent of the delegitimizing of communism in the 70s and 80s. The period of apartheid struggle that Ehud Olmert warned of two years ago is upon us. So too his warning of possible “national suicide."

The surprise for me is that the indifference of American Jews to this injustice is more than matched by that of the mass of Israelis: They live inside the bubble of their opinion that Israeli society is fair. So this trip has left me pretty depressed, even as it has renewed my sense of ethnocentric purpose: I will do what I can to bring the American Jewish community into the world conversation about the reality of Israel/Palestine...

This is the war that Micha Kurz told me about. Zionism is today divided between those who want the Land of Israel and the more pragmatic Zionists who think that the landgrab is destroying the state; and the second group is joined by non-Zionists and anti’s. This division did not exist for most of the occupation; previously, Labor Zionists went along with the religious crazies and Revisionist fanatics who wanted to populate Eretz Israel. But today liberal Zionist Tom Segev writes in the New York Review of Books that Zionism was never about having the land, it was about maintaining a Jewish majority. And Yoel Marcus writes in Haaretz that Israel must do everything to stave off the “demographic dominance” of non-Jews.

The same war is visible in Ameican Jewish life, between mainstream Jewish organizations like AIPAC that have pushed the messianic occupation and J Street which has opposed it, so far mildly. But in Israel the battle is raging openly, and of course the expansionists are winning, as they always have. Netanyahu’s settlement freeze means nothing when you consider that there are thousands of freshly-poured foundations across the West Bank and the settlers will now undertake to build houses on them during the freeze, and East Jerusalem continues to be ethnically cleansed...

The feverish have taken political cover from the Jewish-only bubble. I mean all the Jews, including Americans, who are swaddled in Holocaust consciousness of Jews as victims and have refused to develop any knowledge of a situation in which Jews exercise oppressive control. One of the most startling discoveries of my trip was learning from Mikhael Manekin, a leaders of the soldiers’ group Breaking the Silence, that the group had taken leading Israeli establishment figures, including government officials, on its tour of Hebron in recent months and they had come away disturbed and angry at the blatant apartheid conditions in the city, in which some Palestinians cannot walk on the street that they live on. The shock is that I took this tour nearly 4 years ago, but that even Israeli leaders have blinded themselves to a situation that has been an outrage for 40 years. Not to mention American Jewish leaders, here in the country where liberals attack you if you use the word apartheid...

My despair springs from the fact that while I saw Arab media everywhere I went, the larger Israeli Jewish community and the American Jewish one are in denial. They have little knowledge of what is going on, and enfolded in nationalist ideals of 100 years ago, are ill-prepared for the impending crisis. And I’m afraid that this hardened, self-righteous resistance to the truth– let alone to 21st century liberal values– will result in greater violence and draw in the United States...MORE...LINK

Chris Moore comments:

There's a lot to pick through here, and I recommend readers follow the link above and read the entire piece. I think Weiss is mostly correct in his analysis of Zionism's external crisis of legitimacy on both the Levant and "the nations" fronts, but less so on its internal Jewish crisis of legitimacy in the diaspora, although indeed, there are increasing stirrings there as well.

In previous writings, I've seen Weiss occasionally adopt an identity of American patriot in the (mythical) Abraham Lincoln/Civil War/Civil Rights struggle-worshipping vein (not unlike, say, a Thomas Friedman might try to spin all of those events to bulwark his own Neoliberal Zionist ideology), but at heart Weiss is a Marxist, thus his anti-Zionism flows from that false religion, and it colors his analysis. Hence, some of what he writes probably needs to be taken with a grain of salt as the wishful thinking and intrigue of a soft-Marxist operative (his description of religious Jews as "fevered," "religious crazies," for example, is standard Marxist fare; Lefties regularly smear Muslims and Christians this way, too); but I hasten to add that Weiss isn't an ideologue, and in my opinion generally honestly assesses and reports what he sees.

This piece and others like it raise the question of Jewish identity; more specifically, what will be the Jewish identity if Zionism implodes like Communism did, which Weiss seems to believe is relatively imminent? Weiss seems to want Jews to adopt his left-wing identity, which as I said is just a variation of Friedman's violent Neoliberal identity. Then what? All the "crazed" Zionist Jews flee to America, with some embracing a crazed Marxist/Neoliberal identity, but most embracing Neoconservatism. Many immediately begin obsessing about what an "injustice" it was, what the "anti-Semitic world" did to them and their state, how it set them up to fail, how the world has always had it in for the Jews, how it began partnering with the Islamofascists and the Left to finish them off, and how they are entitled to hundreds of billions in reparations for their loss and suffering and, yes, a state of their own, but not as guests in some foreign land, but rather where they're "from," where they belong -- in the Levant!

And therein lies the problem with a lot of left-wing, anti-religious thinking on this issue: it plays chess two or three moves down the line instead of ten or twelve, and papers all of this over with a leap of its own: Keep the faith, and eventually we will all be one in the loving embrace of collectivism!

Weiss forgets (or doesn't want to know) that it's possible to be anti-Zionist without cheering for the demise of Israel entirely. Sure, he's embarrassed by Zionism because it is a poor reflection on Jewry, and hence on himself. Yeah, he has this rosy-goggled image of Jewry's sublime morality and ethics in his mind's eye. And man, if only my people could shake off that evil Zionism, he thinks, well then our sublime morality would return and we could all march forward to a brave new Marxist world with our Gentile comrades together.

But, not unlike the Zionist American Jews in denial that he so aptly describes, he himself maintains a studied obliviousness of certain facts -- for example that organized Jewry never was comprised of the "good guys" of his imagination, and has nearly always been a cut-throat, ethno-religious racket. And that left-wing Jews are about as murderous as they come.

So I say let Jewry keep being a racket in Israel proper until it finally grows up, but instead of subsidizing and arming it to the teeth, and encouraging its gangsterism and expansionism, contain and undermine it the same way Reagan did Communism -- peacefully but firmly -- and encourage Jewish nationalists to make aliyah. That way, when Zionism implodes (and it will) Israel can remain, (just as Russia did), perpetually-bleating organized Jewry can still have their state, and the rest of us can finally have some peace and quiet.

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