Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Zionism in crisis

Daniel Pipes, founder of the Middle East Forum and a Zionist himself, wrote that the trend of the "once-tiny haredi", Jewish opponents of Zionism, is on the rise. The telling signs are as follows:

  • Young Israelis are avoiding the military in record numbers, with 26 percent of enlistment-age Jewish males and 43 percent of females not drafted in 2006. An alarmed Israel Defense Forces has requested legislation to deny state-provided benefits to Jewish Israelis who do not serve.

  • Israel's Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz has up-ended the work of the Jewish National Fund, one of the pioneer Zionist institutions (founded in 1901) by determining that its role of acquiring land specifically for Jews cannot continue in the future with state assistance.

  • Prominent Israeli historians focus on showing how Israel was conceived in sin and has been a force for evil.

  • Israel's ministry of education has approved schoolbooks for third-grade Arab students that present the creation of Israel in 1948 as a "catastrophe" (Arabic: nakba).

  • Avraham Burg, scion of a leading Zionist household and himself a prominent Labor Party figure, has published a book comparing Israel with 1930s Germany.

  • A 2004 poll found only 17 percent of American Jews call themselves "Zionist."

Pipes is hopeful for a revival, while Philip Weiss says "history is progressive, go with the flow." While certainly those points do their worth to contribute to the decline of Zionism, that 19th century ideology is something foreign by today's standards, with Israel having all the power and prestige that the Jews did not have back when it was born. And you know that it is in deep crisis when the Middle East Peace Envoy is "shocked" by the West Bank segregation.

"He was shocked by what he was told about conditions in Hebron and diplomats say he was genuinely taken aback by his trip to the West Bank sector of the Jordan Valley – where Palestinians are allowed to dig wells only a third as deep as Israelis – at the exploitation of resources by the rich Jewish agricultural settlements at the expense of closed in Palestinian farmers. And he has been privately dismissive – rather more so perhaps than he was as Prime Minister – of the argument by some Israelis that security comes first, with economics and a political deal well behind it."

It's a pity that Blair only could go so far in his condemnation, but then again, he did piggy-back Bushie to invade Iraq. Too bad he forgets about Gaza, a place that is now compared to "a zoo".

"The comparison to a zoo was made by Dr. Mamdouh al Aker, a doctor who heads the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights. For another Gazan, a prominent businessman whose food plant is working at about 5 percent of its capacity, the situation is reminiscent of a hospital: Like patients, the inhabitants do not work, but they receive food. They do not work, because for four months Israel has prohibited not only the exit of any Gazan products to market, but also the entry of any raw materials or means of production. If the prices of goods continue to rise and the cash crisis worsens because of the severing of contact between banks in Israel and the banks in Gaza, the international aid organizations will soon increase the quantities of food that they donate, which today account for about 10 percent of the supplies that are brought in. Perhaps the day will come when they will drop food packages from helicopters.

The governments of Israel, the United States and Europe see the hermetic imprisonment of 1.5 million human beings and the final destruction of Gaza's economic infrastructure as a suitable answer to Hamas, at least until it falls. It appears that the Ramallah "government" agrees with them. Indeed, the head of the Gazan "government," Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, has hinted that the exclusive Hamas regime in Gaza is temporary. But, this temporary nature depends on the success of a dialogue between Hamas and Fatah, whereas Israel and the United States are forbidding Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas from carrying on such a dialogue. And Abbas, in any case, is for the moment sticking to the approach that Hamas is a hostile entity."

Forget about Gazans, they deserve what they get, for they are "hostile". But nothing passes by our "peace" envoy.

"He thinks the similarities with Northern Ireland are as great as the differences but since it irritates Israelis for him to say so, he doesn't."

Apartheid is a no-no; so is Northern Ireland. What could one compare Israel's occupation to?

Finally, Ray HaCohen writes about the new initiative coming from the Hard Right, who eschews that

"The settlers' ideology is usually shared by the Israeli military, and the military is the central political agent in Israel, much more important than any short-lived government or prime minister. This is why plans, demands, and suggestions of the Israeli far Right, no matter how lunatic they sound when launched, are often the best prediction for future reality, which usually lags just a few years behind."

This is Zionism at its greatest. They aim to sweep out all Palestinians to Jordan, and annex the entire West Bank, dismantle UNRWA and make the Palestinians a foreign entity, similar to tourists, in their own homes. Perhaps this tactic most of all is why people are so exhausted with peace proposals. How much will Abbas give up for his own whelp of a fragmented nation?

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