Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Zionist panic!

The effervescent Tony Karon (I know, I cite him an awful lot, but if you read his priceless blog, you can see why.) observed more Zionist panic upon reading the Daniel Pipes entry that Zionism is in decline (that was posted here not long ago). Tony also quotes lengthy another favourite of mine, Philip Weiss, who was present at a CAMERA summit. Here's what Tony took out of Weiss' take on the Zionist gathering:

"The CAMERA people are losing and they know it. Near the end Cynthia Ozick was asked how we should go about delegitimizing the delegitimizers of the Jewish state and she sighed and said, “It’s hopeless.” Alvin Rosenfeld, the author of the disgraceful report on Jewish anti-Semitism put out by the American Jewish Committee, was mildly more optimistic. He said exactly what I say: “We are in a furious intellectual struggle. There is a war of ideas going on… it won’t end quickly…. It is steady work.” And it is “serious and worrisome” inasmuch as these ideas may now “enter the mainstream.” Amen.

…The reason It’s hopeless for the other side is that there was, in the basement of the synagogue, little to zero acknowledgement of the three great realities that are feeding Jewish post-Zionism.

1. the end of anti-Semitism. My old friend and I talked about a Jewish Daily News columnist who refused to hire Jews. That was 50 years ago. The injury is fresh. As the memories of anti-Semitism are for my parents. And they are virtually meaningless to young Americans. A panelist very briefly acknowledged this at the end, saying that Jews are so comfortable in America, how do we stir them?

2. the Israeli occupation of Arab lands and Israel’s brutal treatment of Palestinians were at no time acknowledged, but endlessly rationalized. The separate roadway system for settlers and Palestinian Arabs–rationalized. The incursion into Jenin–whitewashed. And so on. This sort of denial went on in South Africa during the campaign against apartheid. Young people don’t feel quite so defiant.

3. Not a word about Iraq. I have this feeling often in conservative Jewish gatherings. Iraq doesn’t touch them. It’s not a big deal to them, they are removed from it, they are for a hawkish policy in the Mideast and so they talk about Darfur/Sudan more than Baghdad..."

Weiss is then continued to be quoted:

"The heart of Levin’s concern was the American discourse. When Haaretz was just published in Israel, CAMERA didn’t care about its statements about the occupation and the destruction of Palestinian hopes and dreams and olive trees. “This all happened in Hebrew… causing little outward impact..”

Outward impact. She means: now Haaretz is affecting U.S. opinion and foreign policy. The most important statement Levin made was that she gets the brushoff from Amos Schocken, the Haaretz publisher, but with the American media, “there is an unwritten contract between them and us.” (Verbatim transcript to come later, when I have a little time…) An unwritten contract: to be fair to Israel, to print CAMERA members’ letters, to pick up the phone.

Isn’t that amazing and scandalous? Levin is explaining why there is a free debate in Israel and not here. Because of the lobby and its “unwritten contract.” Because U.S. support is crucial to Israel’s existence. And so Americans, who supposedly so love the Middle East democracy that they support it out of the goodness of their hearts, must not read the news from Israel."

And the final word is reserved for Tony himself:

"When the Zionist right in America “defends Israel” by going after one of Israel’s most respected newspapers which happens to tell the truth about the occupation and related matters, it’s not hard to see why Pipes & co. have little cause for optimism. The Zionist moment is over, because most Jews around the world (and even many in Israel) are not inclined to a nationalist view of their Jewishness. And remember, Zionism is not much more than 100 years old, arising along with the nationalist currents of late 19th century Europe that accompanied the breakup of the Hapsburg empire. It’s hardly surprising that in a 21st century where we have had a free choice, almost two thirds of us have chosen to live not in a “Jewish State” but wherever in the world we choose to. Many Israelis today are excercising the same choice. And Jews who are not prone to nationalism have no need to rationalize Israel’s abuses against others."

The allure of Zionism is lost to the younger generation, perhaps for the lucid fact that Semites are easily integrated into any society that they are found in. While Herzl argued that Anti-Semitism could not be fought and had to be accepted by the Jew so they could remove the illusion of assimilation into Europe, hence the need for a separate state for Jews, by today's standards this is too foreign to fathom. Most would identify themselves as American, Canadian, Australian, Polish, etc. first rather than Jewish. Entangled with this is the poor PR that Israel is continuely dogged by, and it is a recipe for estrangement from the Jewish State. Or maybe segragation is not the answer anymore to "Anti-Semitic" problems. I leave this from a quote from Sara Roy (who was quoting her mother):

"She told me many times during my life that her decision not to live in Israel was based on a belief, learned and reinforced by her experiences during the war, that tolerance, compassion, and justice cannot be practiced or extended when one lives only among one's own. “I could not live as a Jew among Jews alone,” she said. “For me, it wasn’t possible and it wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to live as a Jew in a pluralist society, where my group remained important to me but where others were important to me, too."

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