Philip Weiss hates Israel like nobody’s business. His blog is a blend of vitriol against Israel, sarcasm directed at Zionists, and history and current events filtered through Arab fantasies. To argue with someone, you need a common point of reference, something you both agree on, as a starting point; and Weiss and I live in such different universes that I don’t know where to start.
But let’s take this: “Rethinking Zionism“, in the Huffington Post this January. Weiss compares ‘post-Zionism’ with anti-Zionism and comes down on the anti side:
My feelings are not neutral about Zionism; I don’t like it. As a Jew [watch out! -- ed.] , I think about it a lot and there is nothing I can really feel positive about outside of the Jewish pride and its historical significance of it and its visionary component. All these elements have lost their value: Zionism privileges Jews and justifies oppression, and this appalls me. Saying I’m anti-Zionist is a sincere expression of my minority-respecting worldview…
…anti-Zionism is an idealistic Jewish tradition. In fact, it draws on the same visionary and If-you-dream-it feeling that Zionism did 100 years ago, before the militants ruined it, and engages the same young restless sensibilities and liberationist feeling as Zionism did by imagining Israel as a state of its citizens, not a Jewish state. We anti-Zionists can say with honor that anti-Zionists like Rabbi Elmer Berger identified the problems with Zionism 60 years ago, accurately when he said that Zionism meant contempt for the Arab population, dependence on a backroom lobby in the United States, and the introduction of dual loyalty into American Jewish life. All true.
Of course some nations, like the US, are very definitely ‘states of their citizens’, but by no means all are. I wonder why Weiss is not writing about the large number of UN member nations which also are nation-states of a particular people. I don’t just mean Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, but Japan, for example, whose constitution begins with the words “We, the Japanese people”, or Armenia:
The Armenian People,
Recognizing as a basis the fundamental principles of Armenian statehood and the national aspirations engraved in the Declaration of Independence of Armenia,
Having fulfilled the sacred message of its freedom-loving ancestors for the restoration of the sovereign state,
Committed to the strengthening and prosperity of the fatherland…
Israel is a state founded by and for the Jewish people — not practitioners of Judaism, but Jews secular and observant. This is the essence of Zionism. The state is also committed to civil equality for all of its citizens, Jewish and Arab: equality before the law, in education, opportunity, benefits, etc. and Zionism implies no contempt for Arabs or non-Jews.
At this point Weiss and friends are jumping up and down shouting that it’s not true, both Arab citizens and residents of the territories are discriminated against, oppressed, killed, walled up, etc.
Well, yes, to some extent things are not as they should be. Why is this?
Maybe it has something to do with the state of war that’s existed between Israel and its neighbors — including the Palestinian Arabs — from even before Israel was a state?
If this state of war had not existed, would it not be likely that the relationship between Jews and Arabs, both within and outside of Israel, would be greatly different? If there hadn’t been countless suicide bombings, Qassam rockets, exploding buses, murdered Olympic athletes, etc.? If there hadn’t been a ‘second intifada’ in which more than a thousand Jews were murdered, immediately after the Palestinians were offered a state?
Even given this history of endless war — which ultimately stems from Arab racism that does not abide Jews between the river and the sea — can we doubt that Israel would, tomorrow, willingly undergo yet another partition to create the 23rd Arab state in the Middle East if it thought that it could do so without empowering the truly murderous Hamas to kill even more Jews?
Weiss would say this is the “same tired old hasbara,” but the fact is that — despite Arafat’s lies — Barak and Clinton did make a good offer in 2000, and Israeli families were dragged by their own soldiers out of Gaza settlements in 2005.
The point is, the problem is not Zionism. The problem is not that there is a state of the Jewish people, like there are 22 states of Arab peoples and I don’t know how many states throughout the world that are defined in nationalistic terms (some even, unlike Israel, with established religions).
The problem is that even today, the Arab world and especially the Palestinian Arabs simply reject the idea of a Jewish state. And this is complicated by the fact — something Weiss et al never talk about — that they are backed today by Iran, which has a powerful ‘foreign legion’ in Lebanon with tens of thousands of missiles aimed at Israel, and which will soon have nuclear weapons.