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

Hamas Won’t Compromise with the Palestinian Authority, and Gazans Won’t Overthrow Hamas

July 24 2017

Since the terrorist organization Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, much of Israeli strategy toward it has stemmed from the belief that, if sufficient pressure is applied, the territory’s residents will rise up against it. Yaakov Amidror argues this is unlikely to happen, and he also doubts that improved living conditions for ordinary Gazans would deter Hamas from terrorism or war:

The hardships experienced by the Strip’s residents, no matter how terrible, will not drive them to stage a coup to topple Hamas. The organization is entrenched in Gaza and is notorious for its brutality toward any sign of dissidence, and the Palestinians know there is no viable alternative waiting for an opportunity to [take over].

[Therefore], it is time everyone got used to the idea that Hamas is not about to relinquish its dominant position in the Gaza Strip, let alone concede to the Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas. . . . [Yet the] assumption is also baseless that if Gaza experiences economic stability and prosperity, Hamas would refrain from provoking hostilities. This misconception is based on the theory that Hamas operates by governmental norms and prioritizes the needs and welfare of its citizens. This logic does not apply to Hamas. . . .

[Hamas’s] priorities are to bolster its military power and cement its iron grip. This is why all the supplies Israel allows into Gaza on a daily basis to facilitate normal life have little chance of reaching the people. Hamas first and foremost takes care of its leaders and makes sure it has what it needs to sustain its terror-tunnel-digging enterprise and its weapon-production efforts. It then sees to the needs of its members, and then—and only then—what little is left is diverted to rehabilitation efforts that benefit the population.

This is why the argument that Israel is responsible for Gaza’s inability to recover from its plight is baseless. Hamas is the one that determines the priorities by which to allocate resources in the enclave, and the more construction materials that enter Gaza, the easier and faster it is for Hamas to restore its military capabilities. Should Israel sacrifice its own security on the altar of Gazans’ living conditions? I don’t think so.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security