We are aware that when it comes to Zionism, most people are not clear as to what that ideology is all about. As the Middle East in engulfed is conflict once more, the word ‘Zionism’ is heard with great frequency. Arab diplomats appearing on the evening news, refer to ‘Zionism’ as the cause of all evil in the region.
In fact, most people have real misconceptions about Zionism. For many, Zionism is at worst something very ugly or at best, something barely tolerable.
To understand much of the Middle East conflict, it is imperative that Zionism, from it’s origins to current day manifestations are explained and understood.
Some see Zionism as a predominantly religious expression, while others see it as a more political expression. Arab political and (state funded) religious leaders exert tremendous effort in portraying Zionism as evil incarnate. (That of course, has as much credibility as a syphilis infected call girl speaking on family values and hygiene) More on that later.
First, a bit of what Zionism isn’t.
Zionism does not have it’s origin in religious expression. In fact, Zionism was a social and political movement founded and propagated by secular Jews. The idea was not well received by religious Jews. Initially, despite the daily prayers for redemption and return to the Holy Land, religious Jews wanted no part of a political movement that would bring them back to Israel without God’s endorsement. With the passage of time, that attitude would change- but not entirely. There are still a few very religious Jews that remain anti Zionist, but they are a decidedly fringe minority.
Western anti Zionism is very different from the Arab variety. Outright racism and bigotry is barely discernible ("We're not anti semites!") Still, recent pronouncements by some mainstream liberal churches equating Zionism with apartheid for example, serve to illustrate how little these churches understand Zionism. Sadly, some churches and liberal 'progressive' ideologues deliberately misrepresent Zionism even as they legitimize this newest iteration of antisemitism.The mainstream media of course, ever 'progressively' agendized, is only too happy to participate in the surreal school play.
See this for a full and clear explanation.
Recently, Bill Moyers, PBS commentator and ordained Baptist minister caused a bit of stir when he remarked that Jews today were genetically predisposed to violence. First, Richard Landes of Augean Stables provides the transcript of the Moyers remarks (and some excellent commentary in his post):
Go to the Book of Deuteronomy. When the ancient Israelites entered Canaan their leaders urged violence against its inhabitants. The very Moses who had brought down the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” now proclaimed, “You must destroy completely all the places where the nations have served their gods. You must tear down their altars, smash their pillars, cut down their sacred poles, set fire to the carved images of their gods, and wipe out their name from that place.”
While Moyers is no stranger to charges of bias, he ought not be judged so harshly for his observations.
The Jews who refused to resist or were unable to fight back are indeed gone. The went up in smoke at Auschwitz, Dachau and Treblinka. Natural selection weeded out those weak Jews by way of centuries of European and Muslim world pogroms, violence, racism and bigotry. Slowly but surely, thousands of years of of weak Jews have been exterminated, leaving only the those Jews now willing to defend and themselves and their right to exist. Darwin may not have been perfect, but he was no fool.
The Arab world sees themselves as cursed. They erroneously believed that accursed Jews they would dispatch were same Jews that walked passively into the gas chambers and into shtetl synagogues, to burned alive, or lined up wholesale and shot and then buried in unmarked pits. As it turns out, the Arabs had to face Jews who fight back. The Arabs had to face a very different kind of Jew, one for whom second class dhimmi status was not acceptable. In an ironic twist of fate, it was the Arabs who by way of their own dysfunctional hate allowed themselves to become the very same dhimmis of the western world. They became what they were taught to hate most.
The Arab interpretation of the Jews who might defend themselves is interesting. If the Jews just laid down to die, they would not be so humiliated, they say. Why couldn’t they just agree to die like they did in Europe? Why did they have to finally stand up when it was Arabs who wanted to kill them? To make matters worse, the Jew built a successful and properous nation in their back yard. Unlike the Arabs, the Jews worked hard to build their nation, they built schools and universities that are the envy of the world and they built a functioning world class economy. Led by dysfucntional political and religious leaders, the Arabs can only throw their hands up in the air and ask, ' What does Allah want from us? It isn’t fair, it just isn’t fair.'
The State of Israel was born on May 14, 1948. A partition plan, creating two states, Israel and Palestine, was ratified by the United Nations. Unlike virtually every other nation before her, Israel’s borders were not defined by conflict but rather, by treaty. Notwithstanding that reality, the Arab world rejected the UN partition and Arab initiated wars created new boundaries. It was Arab hostilities that made Israel an equal among nations. Virtually every country and virtually all national boundaries are arrived at by virtue of conflict. Arab world hostilities gave Israel and Zionism their international bona fides. There are no difference between the boundaries of Israel and those of virtually ever other nation were established.
What is often lost in any discussion of Zionism is that Israelis- including Israeli Arabs- are far better off than they would be if they lived in any other country in the region. Israelis, guided by Zionist principles, have created a free, tolerant and productive society in a sea of bigotry, hate and dysfunction. Zionism has served as the catalyst for the only free and democratic regime in the region.
It was Zionist ideals that enrobed the cold and numbed surviving victims of the hottest hell of Nazi evil that was to serve as the petri dish for some of the most significant and important educational institutions in the world. Zionism also serves as the foundation for the most vibrant economy in the region.
Had the Arab world done for itself only 10% of what Zionism did for Israel, that Arab world would not be the greatest assemblage of failed nation states in the history of the modern world.
A clear and final case for the morality of Zionism can be made by way of comparison. Racism, bigotry and hate permeates the region and every level of society in the Arab world. As we have noted, hatred of Jews, Christians, America and Israel are the only significant and world class achievements of note in the Arab world.
In discussing Zionism, it is also true that the religious component cannot be ignored, if for no other reason than the religious component has been a major issue for Israel’s adversaries. Clearly, the Arab world cannot be taken seriously if they attempt to condemn Israel on moral grounds. Thus, Arab populations are whipped into a religious frenzy, calling for Islam to rid itself of the hated Jews. In many circles, calls to genocide are now a religious mandate.
The very last words of the last book of the Jewish Bible- the Old Testament, read as follows:
Thus says King Cyrus of Persia: the Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has charged me to build Him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all His people, may the Lord his God be with him! Let him go up” (II Chronicles 36:23).
The status of the Israelite people at the close of the biblical period is drawn into alignment with her founding charter. Israel has been about a people waiting just outside the land, for the moment when God will allow them home. Inasmuch as Israel’s adversaries have made religion a part of their political ideology, Israel too, has the right to respond in kind (The differences are stark. Jews wanted to build and restore the land. Contrast that with those adversaries who openly proclaim delight in the promised slaughter of Jews).
To carry forward the religious thought as viewed through the prism of religion (as opposed to a political ideology), the return of the Jews to their homeland is the fulfillment of the promise made by God to Israel. That homecoming of the Jews, the ‘ingathering of the exiled’ is a manifestation of ‘opus Dei,’ a work of God. For believers, that alone is enough. The Divine push, religious people believe, set into motion God’s play- and the next act they believe, is the Messianic Era. That too, has proved to be intolerable for those who object to Israel’s existence.
For Muslims, it is clear that Christians cannot be allowed to accept that the Messianic Age is upon us, because that puts them into direct conflict with Islam- and thus widens the gap between Islam and Christianity even further. It is Islam alone that speaks for God, they must insist. Christians and Jews must be denied their beliefs at all costs. Arabs have been taught that the existence of Israel as a Jewish homeland poses a challenge to Islam and thus cannot be tolerated. Those progressives who challenge that idea risk the wrath of the state falling on their heads. Religious fatwas are very effective at stifling the free marketplace of thoughts and ideas. Middle East tyrannies, be they harsh or soft, have an effective hammer- religion.
Israel, guided by Zionist principles, is nation that has proved the worth of democracy. The survivors of brutalNazism, plucked from despair and hopelessness, created a country that paid homage to both God and the Divine Right of freedom. There is no clearer ‘lamp unto the nations.’
It is in the physical expression and manifestation of the State of Israel that the definition of Zionism becomes clear: Zionism is the expression of a group of people, to live in freedom and to determine their own future. Period. That’s it.
Now, let us be clear. Much of the Arab world sees itself as a part of the Ummah (the ‘nation’ or the ‘people’), the political expression of a religious ideology, destined to rule the Muslim world. Freedom is antithetical to Arab and Islamic nationalism.
Islamic national expression is very different from Jewish nationalism, as expressed by Zionism. The State of Israel, the political expression of Zionism, allows for and grants equal rights to all citizens. Virtually all Islamic regimes decidedly do not. As a practical expression, Muslims in Israel, for example, do not have to worry about being blown up as they pray in their mosques- unlike Pakistani Christians. Israel offers freedom of worship, irrespective of faith. Saudi Arabia for example, does not.
Often repeated is that ‘Zionism is racism.’ In fact, that shibboleth is a case of ‘He doth protesteth too much.’ More often than not, it is apparent and clear that ugly kind of behavior is more common of Israel’s accusers. In fact, there have been far fewer deaths of Arabs and Muslims under ‘brutal Zionism’ than there has been under ‘enlightened’ Arab regimes.
It is true Israel offers Jews the ‘Right of Return.’ That too, is much misunderstood and often described by Israel’s critics as ‘racist.’
Citizenship is granted by one of two ‘virtues,’ land or blood.
Americans grant citizenship by virtue of land. We don’t care if you are black, white or anything else. If you live in this country by virtue of birth or legal immigrant status (and choose to seek citizenship), you are a citizen.
Other countries do it differently. The Poles, Irish, Russians or a myriad of other nations that offer citizenship to the children of one their nationals, wherever they might live, whenever they seek it. For them, it is a matter of ‘blood.’ They are accorded citizenship even if they never set foot on the Motherland.
As a sovereign nation, Israel has the right to determine it’s own citizenship policies. Period. There are millions of Arabs in Israel that hold an Israeli passport. Arabs are not precluded from Israeli citizenship, any more than Brits are precluded Polish citizenship. There are different rules, that’s all. That is not racism.
Saudi Arabia has their own citizenship rules. Jews or Christians are precluded from citizenship.
The fact that Israel has lasted two millennia without a homeland or any sort of native rule is miraculous or remarkable, depending on your point of view. No matter how you regard that truth, it was possible because of the tenacity of a people. As we have noted, one writer put it this way:
Where are the Hittites? Why does no one find it remarkable that in most world cities today there are Jews but not one single Hittite even though the Hittites had a great flourishing civilization while the Jews nearby were a weak and obscure people? When one meets a Jew in New York or New Orleans or Paris or Melbourne, it is remarkable that no one considers the event remarkable. What are they doing here? But it is even more remarkable to wonder, if there are Jews here, why are there not Hittites here? Where are the Hittites? Show me one Hittite in New York City.
One would think that a land, with a history of local heroes and legends, monuments and armies, would have proved more weighted than a promissory note from God, real or not. That was not the case. The Jews didn’t just make the desert bloom- they made freedom bloom, in a region that has never seen that gift.
It is Zionism that has reminded us- and Israel’s adversaries- just how precious freedom really is.
Whatever the reason, the Jews have proved themselves to be remarkably resilient- and more importantly, remarkably adept at maintaining a faith and community. Zionism is but another testament to that truth. We can all learn from it.
Whether we in our hubris will admit it or not, the truth is that free nations need Israel and Zionism a whole lot more than Israel or Zionism need us. We have let Israel down, by demanding and placing upon her, demands and conditions that we ask from no other nation on earth- not even our own. More than once those demands have made the ground red.
As a free people, we have an obligation to those who share our values. We owe them- all of them, wherever they may be- and ourselves, a whole lot more.
Dr Sanity's Practical Guide to Victimhood is particularly instructive. She writes of the Palestinians and notes:
One group in particular deserves special mention for their unfailing and extraordinary efforts at maintaining and feeding their Victimhood for decades. I am speaking of course, about the Palestinians. Through their previous president, Yasser Arafat, they creatively resisted worldwide attempts to ease them gently from their role of victim. Their efforts have inspired many others --especially people and nations in the Middle East...
Her post points to an incredible truth. It is not the Israelis or the Jewish community that have turned the Holocaust into an unstoppable machine designed to oppress the Arab world. Rather, it is the Arab world that have desperately latched on to the Holocaust and Holocaust denial as means and method of perpetuating and justifying Arab world cult of victimhood. It is the Arab world that uses the Holocaust as an excuse for their failures.
Israel and the Jews have demonstrated that they have not allowed the horrors of the Holocaust to in any way, shape or form, provide an excuse for not exercising their potential.
Indeed, Dr Sanity provides clear lessons and ideas that the Palestinians and Bill Moyers could stand to learn.
In creating the modern State of Israel, the refugees from a smoldering Europe went on to build a modern, democratic state, with world class educational facilities, institutions and a vibrant economy. The Israelis did in 50 years what the obscenely oil rich Arab nations could not do in 2,000- make the desert bloom.
Jews remembering the Holocaust and remaining ever vigilant to the lessons that must be learned from that horrible time, is very different from the Arab world needing the Holocaust and subsequent Holocaust denial, so that they might create a reason for centuries of failure, despair and denial. Dr Sanity goes on to note,
To all those real victims out there, who are struggling to overcome diseases; recover from disasters and events; and move beyond those traumas that have temporarily and painfully interrupted your lives--I heartily salute you and in no way aim to denigrate your efforts. Taking responsibility for your life will empower you and enable you to grow beyond whatever you have experienced. May you always rise above what Life has presented to you and exceed all expectations--even your own.
Pay attention, Arab world.