Saturday, May 05, 2007

Another Response to M.

m said:
Why look to religion to illuminate links between Judaism and Zionism when so much of Zionism has traditionally been secular? Although certainly rooted in Jewish mythology, modern Zionism is a significantly different beast than its religious antecedent.
Zionism is grounded in Judaic theology and tradition. Even before mainstream Judaism and Zionism coalesced, Zionism had a religious base. The idea that "Zionism has traditionally been secular" is a real example of "Jewish mythology." Zionism was always "overtly or specifically religious" in its goal of a Jewish state for the Jewish people.

As I indicated in my first response to you, in The Jewish State, Theodor Herzl--the key figure in the creation of the modern Zionist movement--wrote: "... we [Jews] feel our historic affinity only through the faith of our fathers ..." and the Jewish "Faith unites us." Moses Hess, in his influential "Rome and Jerusalem," wrote of the Zionist movement: We will "draw our inspiration from the deep well of Judaism." David Ben-Gurion, first prime minister of Israel, wrote in his Recollections (London: McDonald Unit 75, 1970): "Everything we are as Jews ... comes directly from the Bible. In size we are nothing as a people and never have been. Had we not been children of the Book, who would have heard of us?" (p. 16) and:
As to the Jews, I can only point to our Bible and to its sequence in the many Jewish initiatives to regain Israel stretching across the centuries since Masada and say: This is our Mandate. Come see for yourselves.

Since I invoke Torah so often, let me state that I don't personally believe in the God it postulates. I mean that I cannot 'turn to God', or pray to a super-human Almighty Being living up in the sky. ...

Yet, though my philosophy is secular, I believe profoundly in the God of Jeremiah and Elijah. Indeed, I consider it part of the Jewish heritage and the Jewish obligation to hold to this concept of God. ...

Certainly in Israel today we are Messianic. The Jews feel themselves to have a mission here; they have a sense of mission. Restoration of sovereignty is tied to a concept of redemption. This had determined Jewish survival and it is the core of Jewish religious, moral and national consciousness. It explains the immigration to Israel of hundreds of thousands of Jews who never heard of Zionist doctrine but who, nevertheless, were moved to leave the lands wherein they dwelt to contribute with their own effort to the revival of the Hebrew nation in its historic home. (pp. 120-122)
In 1936, when asked about the basis for the Jewish claim to Palestine, Ben-Gurion told the British Peel Commission: "The Bible is our mandate.''

So, if Judaism was not the unifying element of Jewish Zionist identity then will you please tell me what was? Who gets to live and rule in the Jewish state if not those recognized as Jewish?

As Mazin Qumsiyeh notes, "Israel is the only country that nationalizes any person regardless of where they live only by virtue of a religious identification (being Jewish)." Today, every major branch of Judaism is explicitly Zionist, even the Reconstructionist and Secular Humanist sects are Zionist. This is no accident.

The key religious factor is the construction of Jewish identity and, that, as an identity of innocent victimhood. The outcome Idith Zertal identifies is "the nationalist fanaticism, the messianic belief in a borderless Greater Israel, the practices of power and violence, and the rituals of blood, victimhood, and the Holocaust ... " that dominate Jewish society. Zertal is speaking specifically of Israeli Jewish society but I see no evidence that her observation is not applicable to mainstream American Jews, too. Of course, the Prophets have a somewhat contrary message but those prophetic teachings against the violent propensities of Judah aren't too popular any more with Jews nor is the orthodox position that exile was the result of sin.

In any case, to return to your question: "Why look to religion to illuminate links between Judaism and Zionism." Would you make a similar query about the religious roots of the 1979 Iranian revolution or the fighting in northern Ireland?
I fail to see the causal relationship between religious violence in the Bible and the modern state of Israel. You certainly didn't make the case in your post, except to say that they're both violent.
I'm glad you don't see that "causal relationship" because I never posited one. In the first post in this thread, I wrote: "Last year's Israeli slaughter in Lebanon and the ongoing war against Palestinians are natural expressions of a Judaic culture of death." In my last post in this thread, I wrote: "The culture of death in mainstream Judaism ... as it is practiced today is the same culture of death that energizes Zionism and its violence." See? No causality. Traditional Judaism provides the basis of Jewish identity and lends moral license to Jewish violence but it does not necessarily cause them.
Furthermore, if the bloodthirstyness of the Jewish religion was all that Zionism had, it would never have succeeded. It needed the support from the colonialist regimes of the time, and it still needs the support of the US and Christian Zionists.
Agreed, and Zionists work(ed) very diligently to create and maintain that support because it was contrary to the national interests of those imperial regimes.
I think your claim that your earlier post's purpose was to illuminate links between Judaism and Zionism is too little too late.
"Too late" for what? In any case, I made the claim in the very first post in this thread.
What if someone had posted on the violent religious heritage of Islam. Then when somebody suggested that that might be a problem in the current political climate, the original poster replied that they were trying to illustrate links between Islam and so-called Islamic Fundamentalism. I don't think that would work exactly.
Like I said, I made my claim about the relationship between Judaism and violence in the very first post in this thread. That said, the situations of Islam and Judaism "in the current political climate" are hardly comparable.

So, M., after all is said and done, do you have anything of substance to say on these matters? It's clear that you don't want to accept that there is a culture of death in Judaism and that it is related to Zionism but where I have quoted scripture, Zertal, Mezvinsky, Shahak, Horowitz, Ben-Gurion, Herzl, Hess, and others you really have very little to offer in the way of facts or reason. Can you offer a solid, reasoned refutation of anything I have written in this thread? Are you comfortable with the celebration of Purim and Passover knowing there are massacres at their cores? Do you deny what I wrote about Tikkun Olam? If you can't refute what I've written then do you at least have the integrity to admit that I may be right and you may need to rethink some of your beliefs?

See also "Zionism As Judaism" by Robert Wolfe

Last revised: 05/14/2007

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I came to this site from Palestine blogs. I'm sorry they link to such an overtly anti-Jewish blog. The last things the Palestinian movement needs is "friends" like you.
One of the epigraphs to this blog reads: "To defeat the aggressors is not enough to make peace durable. The main thing is to discard the ideology that generates war." I think the author, Ludwig von Mises, had an important point and if calling out the violence and racism in so much of Judaism, and which informs Zionism, is "anti-Jewish" then so be it. I'm proud to be lumped in with the likes of Israel Shahak and the prophet Isaiah. Jews and non-Jews who really care about Palestinians need to challenge the deadly religious chauvinism that animates Zionism and is its vital precondition.

I can't but help notice that you, like M., say little or nothing of substance. You don't refute a single word I've written you just go ad hominem on me. Funny how that works.
One doesn't need to refute your words in order to say that you are anti-Jewish. An ad hominem attack is an attack against the person. I don't have any idea who you are, but it's clear from the content of your content of your blog that you have a problem with Judaism aside from Zionism. You can't seem to see that there is a difference between the two.

If you can't see a difference between Judaism and Zionism then you suffer from the same delusion as the most fervent of Zionists.
Anonymous said: "One doesn't need to refute your words in order to say that you are anti-Jewish. An ad hominem attack is an attack against the person."

Yes, such assertions are cheap and easy, requiring no evidence. Saying "you are anti-Jewish" is clearly ad hominem, which, judging by experience, is all one can expect from folks like you.

Even a facile reading of my post and comment should make it clear to any reader that I can and do distinguish between Judaism and Zionism. However, it is patently dishonest to argue that these two systems of thought-action are not strongly linked--distinguishable does not mean unrelated. If we were arguing about the undeniable relationship between Christianity and the Crusades this would be uncontroversial.
Are the "aggresors" limited to the Jews in the Arab-Israeli conflict? What about the Arab ideology that generates war? More specifically the Palestinian ideology that genertes war (e.g. Farfour)? I think that the fact that you don't speak to any of these let's readers of moderate intelligence know that your an anti-semite, or are the Arabs in your view not culpible for any of the mess in the mid-east?

I don't have a blogger profile so I hate for you to think I'm attempting to be annonymous, my name is Mike Kitts, so you can address your response to me as such
Mike, the "they do it, too" or "but what about them" charge is one of the most childish, but common, fallacies I encounter from defenders of Zionism. Even if there is an Arab or Palestinian "ideology that generates war," as you suggest, that is no answer whatosever to the arguments put forth on this blog. This type of logical and factual bankruptcy is, however, to be expected from supporters of Israel--defenders of indefensible.

As for your anonymity, if I wanted I could block all anonymous comments but anonymity and pseudonymity have a long and respectable history in political rhetoric and discourse and anonymous comments are welcome here.
In response to Mike, it bears pointing that Palestinian resistance to Zionism was and is not primarily based on ideology. It is based on the simple fact that when European Jews started arriving in Palestine in the late 1800s they encountered a non-Jewish majority who were already living there and had been for centuries--people Zionists sought to subjugate or displace entirely. No ideology of violence is/was required to get people to fight for their own homes and livelihoods but Zionism required an ideology and a narrative to motivate Jews to go into someone else's homeland and violently uproot them. That ideology and narrative came largely from Judaism.
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