The European problem with Zionism

The always-perceptive Daniel Gordis explains the significance of the ludicrous and stunningly narcissistic decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the dysfunctional European Union:

The Nobel Committee noted that “the dreadful suffering in World War II demonstrated the need for a new Europe.” Who understood that better than the Jews, millions of whom had been exterminated in Germany and Poland with little response from the rest of the world? But as they staggered out of what remained of postwar Europe, the Jews drew conclusions about their future that immediately put them at odds with Europe’s forward-thinkers.

European intellectuals decided that the nation-state was a model that needed to be relegated to the ash heap of history; the Jews, in contrast, decided that the only thing that would avert their continual victimization was creating a nation-state of their own.

So naturally, Gordis continues, the Europeans dislike Jewish nationalism — Zionism — and its concrete realization, Israel:

Thus, the Jewish state, without question the world’s highest-profile example of the ethnic nation-state, emerged onto the international stage just as Europe decided that the model had run its course. That is why historian Tony Judt called Israel “an anachronism,” urging that it be dismantled.

Widespread European disdain for Israel, while certainly fueled by both the enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Muslim immigration to Europe, was thus all but inevitable.

Yes, Israel affords civil rights and freedom of worship to its many minorities; but it makes no attempt to deny that there is one specific people, one particular narrative, one religion to which is it most centrally committed. The State of Israel is, to paraphrase Lincoln, “by the Jews, of the Jews and for the Jews.” How could those who labored to create the European Union not consider the very idea of a Jewish state anathema?

Of course, Gordis is right. And not only does the EU’s ideological problem with Israel express itself at the UN and in the EU’s expensive support for the Palestinian cause, but a continuing (and also expensive) attempt to subvert Israel’s democratic government by funding extreme left-wing NGOs in Israel.

In fact, it’s not only the Europeans, but many who call themselves ‘progressives’ in the US who criticize Israel for its Jewish nationalism, which they wrongly characterize as ‘racism’. Here in America, the Left can put its money where its anti-Zionist mouth is by donating to the New Israel Fund.

Gordis politely leaves it as an ideological disagreement and goes on to suggest that

Zionism, Israel’s leaders must begin to insist, should not be seen as the last gasp of a discredited worldview, but rather as a millennia-old claim that human difference is noble and that the preservation of ethnic distinctiveness is a deep-seated and natural human aspiration.

I certainly agree, but how can I fail to notice that it is only Jewish nationalism that evokes such a negative reaction on the part of the Europeans and the Left? They don’t seem to have a problem with ethnic homogeneity in countries like Japan (which is now dealing with foreign workers who don’t want to go home in a poor economy), nor to a great extent with the ethnic chauvinism of Arabs, the doctrine of Muslim superiority in Islamic nations, or the real and blatant racism in Saudi Arabia or the Sudan.

No, I’m afraid that there’s more to it than just an ideological disagreement!

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2 Responses to “The European problem with Zionism”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    The real question, as you rightly indicate is not European repugnance to the nation- state, but their special repugnance for the Jewish nation- state.
    Gordis makes a strong case against the Europeans. But he also makes an effort to give a kind of special justification for Israel i.e. It’s kind of nation- state model can be a guiding light for other nations and for mankind.
    I am not sure that this kind of ‘special justification’ for our existence is in this case something we should be promoting.
    I would prefer to think that we need no such ‘rationale’ or ‘proof’ to justify our existence. By this time the fact of Israel’s being here, being a Jewish state gives it as much a ‘right to exist’ as any other state. The fact that it is a more democratic, more basically decent state than most may add strength to the ‘justificaiton’ But our very being here is ‘right’ enough.

  2. juvanya says:

    Its the socialist/left elites. They are antisemitic, so they are antizionist. The foot soldiers follow the antizionism, but arent always antisemitic themselves. Thats why theres this seeming discord. I saw Sherry Wolf speak a few months ago. As a libertarian, Zionist, antifeminist, somewhat antigay (altho I have gay friends and support gay marriage) it was absolute torture to listen to her speak. She was raised Jewish, but I have no doubt that she is deeply antisemitic.

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