Blaming Zionism for Jewish Suffering

August 3, 2016 | Haviv Rettig Gur
About the author: Haviv Rettig Gur is the senior analyst for the Times of Israel.

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.

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