Blaming Zionism for Jewish Suffering

Yesterday, the Israeli daily Haaretz published twin essays by American scholars of Jewish history announcing their disillusionment with and antipathy toward Zionism. The first author—who declares she will not only cease attending the World Zionist Congress but also cease buying Israeli products—complains that the “death of vast numbers of Jewish communities as a result of Zionist activity has impoverished the Jewish people.” Haviv Rettig Gur responds:

You read that right. Zionists, not Arabs or Europeans in the 20th century, are the ones responsible for the decimation of Jewish life and history across three continents. If Israel wasn’t there, the ancient Jewish communities of Baghdad and Warsaw would presumably now be flourishing and happy.

The [piece] continues: “The ideal of a religiously neutral state worked amazingly well for the millions of Jews who came to America.” Indeed. So it is unspeakably tragic that when millions of Jews needed refuge from annihilation, the doors to that ideal America were sealed shut. . . .

It’s entirely legitimate to complain about Israeli culture or Israeli policy. It is simple, inane prejudice to complain about the existence of a community of Jews that literally had nowhere else to go. The early Zionists weren’t proved right in intellectual debates, but by the destruction of the remaining options. The Nazis, not the Zionists, ended the German-Jewish [symbiosis]. The Iraqis, not the Zionists, caused very nearly every Jewish man, woman, and child to flee Baghdad. . . .

Nations do not lose their right to exist when they err. The argument that Israeli crimes or injustices disqualify millions of Hebrew-speaking Jews from our right to be, or to be ourselves, would be counted a genocidal idea if it was made against another people.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Anti-Zionism, Holocaust, Idiocy, Iraqi Jewry, Israel & Zionism, Zionism

 

Israel Can’t Stake Its Fate on “Ironclad” Promises from Allies

Israeli tanks reportedly reached the center of the Gazan city of Rafah yesterday, suggesting that the campaign there is progressing swiftly. And despite repeatedly warning Jerusalem not to undertake an operation in Rafah, Washington has not indicated any displeasure, nor is it following through on its threat to withhold arms. Even after an IDF airstrike led to the deaths of Gazan civilians on Sunday night, the White House refrained from outright condemnation.

What caused this apparent American change of heart is unclear. But the temporary suspension of arms shipments, the threat of a complete embargo if Israel continued the war, and comments like the president’s assertion in February that the Israeli military response has been “over the top” all call into question the reliability of Joe Biden’s earlier promises of an “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security. Douglas Feith and Ze’ev Jabotinsky write:

There’s a lesson here: the promises of foreign officials are never entirely trustworthy. Moreover, those officials cannot always be counted on to protect even their own country’s interests, let alone those of others.

Israelis, like Americans, often have excessive faith in the trustworthiness of promises from abroad. This applies to arms-control and peacekeeping arrangements, diplomatic accords, mutual-defense agreements, and membership in multilateral organizations. There can be value in such things—and countries do have interests in their reputations for reliability—but one should be realistic. Commitments from foreign powers are never “ironclad.”

Israel should, of course, maintain and cultivate connections with the United States and other powers. But Zionism is, in essence, about the Jewish people taking responsibility for their own fate.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship