An Impressive Volume Uses a Discussion of “Jewish Modernity” as an Occasion for Fashionable Anti-Israelism

A massive collection of 43 specially commissioned biographical essays, Makers of Jewish Modernity: Thinkers, Artists, Leaders, and the World They Made covers figures ranging from Theodor Herzl to Emile Durkheim and from Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook to the art critic Aby Warburg. While Elḥanan Yakira deems the quality of the individual essays mixed and some of the particular choices of both subjects and authors “disturbing,” he objects most strongly to the way the book serves as a vehicle for anti-Zionism:

[N]early all the Israeli writers in this anthology belong to a specific political-ideological group. It is clear to the reviewer that this tendency was important in the choice of contributors. This feature is particularly striking in the article on Theodor Herzl, which must be read with extreme caution. . . .

[It] is neither well written nor original. The reader learns more about its author Raef Zreik’s attitude toward Zionism than about Herzl. [Zreik] argues that there are logical flaws in Herzl’s thinking and that the “conclusion in favor of the Jewish state does not derive naturally from the fact of anti-Semitism.” Furthermore, Herzl had “a typical colonial mindset.” . . . Finally, after several clichés, he asserts that “the Herzlian state . . . assumes two kinds of liquidation: that of Jewish religious life in exile and that of an Arab collective life in Palestine.”

The article is sorely lacking in scholarly objectivity. It is clear that Zreik does not have much understanding of his subject, and Herzl simply serves as a vehicle for voicing his dislike of Zionism and the state of Israel. [Elsewhere,] Zreik goes further and calls Zionism a “settler-colonial project,” and argues that the process of decolonizing Israel must “rally all powers against the Israeli aggression. One of the factors in this rallying process is fury: moral rage, anger, even enmity. Some sense of enmity is required in political struggles, and some level of ignorance of ‘The Other’ might be productive in such political struggles.”

While Zreik is entitled to his opinions, the reader may question the editors’ choice of this author for the article on so important a maker of Jewish modernity. Indeed, this is symptomatic of the book and reveals its subtext—a fashionable anti-Israelism and vague favoritism toward life in the Diaspora.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Anti-Zionism, Herzl, History & Ideas, Israel & Zionism, Jewish history


Close the PLO Office in Washington

April 24 2017

In the wake of the Oslo Accords, and in order to facilitate futher negotiations, Congress carved out an exception to the 1987 Anti-Terrorism Act to permit the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—a known terrorist group—to open an office in the U.S. capital. The legislation allows the president to extend this “temporary” waiver at his discretion—which every president since Bill Clinton has done. Shoshana Bryen argues that putting an end to the policy is a proper punishment for the PLO’s continued financial support for terrorists and their families.

[The waiver] was conditional on the PLO’s meeting its Oslo Accords obligations, including refraining from terrorism and renouncing international moves that would impede a bilateral agreement on final-status issues. . . .

In 2011, a Palestinian bid for recognition as a full member of the UN failed, but the waiver remained. Over U.S. objections, “Palestine” joined the International Criminal Court in 2015 [in violation of the Accords and thus of the waiver’s conditions]. . . .

[Furthermore], worried about foreign-aid payments from the U.S. and the EU, in 2014 the Palestinian Authority (PA) claimed it stopped paying salaries [to terrorists and their familites] and that future money would come from a new PLO Commission of Prisoner Affairs. . . . [I]n 2015, a year after the PA “officially” transferred authority over Palestinian prisoners to the PLO, it also transferred an extra 444-million shekels (more than $116 million) to the PLO—nearly the same amount that the PA had allocated in the previous years to its now-defunct Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs. . . .

[T]he U.S. government should let the PLO and PA know that we are onto their game. Disincentivizing terrorism by closing the PLO office in Washington would be a good first step.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, PLO, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy