Zionism – And an invitation to reflection..
Oprindeligt postet på TV2-blog 2/3-09
Det er vel ved at være på tide med et nyt indlæg:o).. Og da jeg fik skrevet dette indlæg, godt nok på engelsk, som en note på min Facebook profil, så tænkte jeg at jeg også ville dele det med jer:o)..
So here goes:
So, I’m staying home today, being a little sick (and really tired lacking sleep, thank you neighbours!)..
That doesn’t mean that I should give my brain a rest, does it? Or, to say it more clearly, maybe that should be an opportunity to shake it a little from it’s rest;o)..
Anyway.. After a little talk about the Zionist fathers of Israel with a dearly beloved, I thought a little about this concept, Zionism.. What is it, how is it portrayed, who is a Zionist and how does such a person behave?
To be honest, I consider myself Zionist.. I also do tell myself that I do know a little about the concept, but there’s probably those out there, who knows a lot more than me:o).. No doubt.. That’s good and well, but it disturbs me a little when I read how some people portrays Zionism and Zionists.. To be honest, sometimes when I read what some people write about Zionists, then I wonder whether I’m an okay guy who basically just want to live and let live, or whether I’m an evil suppressor, who just want to kill (KILL) innocent people while trying to take over the world.. Okay, I do have my days where I really just want to, well, not kill, but at least tell people what I think about them.. But who doesn’t? Anyway, when I read those certain people’s, of whom I’m talking about, thoughts on Zionists and Zionism, then I have to say that either they don’t really know about either, or I don’t know about either.. So what is it?
A little history.. Zionism is a concept, whose name is made of the word ציון – Tzion, or Zion, which normally is another word for Jerusalem.. Basically it consist of the Jewish dream to return to Zion, which means to get back home to Israel.. How that portrays itself, how the dream comes to expression, is very individual I think.. A secular person probably have another understanding of the dream than a religious person.. But no matter the person, the dream is about a home for Jews, where we can be Jews among Jews in a Jewish state..
Most persons know about Herzl, who actually was a totally secular person without any connection to Judaism.. He really didn’t consider Judaism an option or reason to exist, and to him the pure notion “Jewish people” was stupid.. People needed to be enlightened and assimilate into the environment in which they lived.. It changed though.. When he was in Paris to view the case against Richard Dreyfuss, a Jewish officer in the French army, he experienced anti-Semitism (or anti-Jewishness for our semantics out there).. That was like a revelation to him.. He admitted to himself that no matter how much a Jew tries to be like the rest of the society and how little he connected to his Jewishness, then the society would still view him as a Jew and that not being a positive thing.. This happened in 1894 and let to his book “Der Judenstaat” (The Jewish State), where he among many other things, writes about his reflection on the Jewish presence among Gentiles:
“The Jewish question persists wherever Jews live in appreciable numbers. Wherever it does not exist, it is brought in together with Jewish immigrants. We are naturally drawn into those places where we are not persecuted, and our appearance there gives rise to persecution. This is the case, and will inevitably be so, everywhere, even in highly civilised countries–see, for instance, France–so long as the Jewish question is not solved on the political level. The unfortunate Jews are now carrying the seeds of anti-Semitism into England; they have already introduced it into America.”
Interestingly enough, he argues that it’s the presence of Jews that creates anti-Semitism.. I’m not sure that I agree in this, ’cause the seeds of hatred has to exist before the hate can blossom.. If people hate you for being a Jew (or something else for that matter), it doesn’t matter whether you’re there or not, it’s his perception of you that he hates.. I’ve talked with people who’ve never met a Jew, but still hates Jews..
Anyway.. This was the spark for the Zionist movement.. But it wasn’t the first of these kinds of thoughts though.. While many people know about Herzl, not so many know about Pinsker.. Pinsker was a Russian Jew, who like Herzl believed in assimilation.. At first.. After the anti-Jewish pogroms in 1870-1884, Pinsker advocated Jewish independence.. He acknowledged for himself that:
“… to the living the Jew is a corpse, to the native a foreigner, to the homesteader a vagrant, to the proprietary a beggar, to the poor an exploiter and a millionaire, to the patriot a man without a country, for all a hated rival.”
That no matter what a Jew does, he will never be viewed as one of the people in the country he lives in..
In 1882, Pinsker wrote his pamphlet “Auto-Emancipation”.. If you have any interest, it can be read here:
Pinsker died in 1891..
And! Even before Pinsker there was Moses Hess, one of the Socialist fathers, who in 1861 wrote “Rome and Jerusalem”.. I don’t want to write too much more about the important figures of this century here, just note that Zionism has much deeper roots than many people normally conceive..
“Rome and Jerusalem” can be read here:
(sometimes I do love Wiki:o)
But to make it clear: Zionism is much older than this!! When we talk about Zionism, it’s normally conceived as meaning “The political modern movement that started in the 1880’s” and not the millennium old Jewish dream of returning to our country.. Our Home! This is what Jews have dreamed about and prayed for for thousands of years, since Bar Kochba lost against the Romans in 135 CE.. The difference is that the modern Zionism is a pure political (and in the beginning a purely secular) movement.. In the beginning of this movement the religious Jews were strongly opposed to it, and it really didn’t change much before father and son Rabbi and Rabbi Cook emerged on the scene..
But all that is well and good.. What about the murderous Zionists and all that? That Jews just want to expel Arabs from their land (not to talk about taking over the world)??
I know that there are quite many “quotes” from Herzl, Ben Gurion and so on and so on, on how much they hate Arabs and how little they think the Arabs should be allowed to exists.. They are false though..
Ben Gurion was always opposed to such extremists as Begin (yes, Begin was quite extremist in his young days – later he became a hardliner, but stopped being an extremist).. Ben Gurion didn’t want Arabs out of Israel, he even sent Golda Meir to Hayfa during the war of Independence in ’48, to plead for the Arabs residents to stay.. He was also among that large and dominant group of Socialist Zionist who wanted to make a struggle together with the Arab workers..
I also want to point to another noteworthy, but not very mentioned (at least in this matter), Zionist; Martin Buber, who argued for a bi national state (something that some Palestinian intellectuals today argue for, among those is Ali Abunimah, one of the creators of Electronic Intifada)..
Zionism never argued for the expelling of Arabs, it only argued for the return of Jews to Palestine..
So, what about today? That was then and now is now..
Well, after the war in 1967, something changed.. Suddenly Israel became something else than before.. Israel conquered Yehuda v’Shom’ron (the Westbank) and Gaza (and together with that reunited Jerusalem).. Suddenly Israel became controllers of areas with no Jews but on the contrary with a huge groups of non-Israeli Arabs.. To be honest, this wasn’t good for anybody.. First of, Israel as a Zionist state had never thought about a situation like this, it has only thought about being a Jewish state with non-Jewish resident (as well as Jewish of course).. The problem, besides the security of the State, was how to deal with Zionist values with people that hated anything related to Zionism? It was, and still is, impossible.. But Israel couldn’t give up the territories of several reasons.. One is the security.. In 1956 Israel was forced to leave Sinai, even though she was threatened by Arab terror.. UN promised to guard the borders and secure Israel.. It wasn’t the great success though.. When Nasser demanded the UN-troops to leave, he didn’t even get to blink his eyes, before UN had said “oki-doki” and removed the troops.. Israel didn’t want to accept such a situation again..
Another thing was the symbolic issue of the territories.. Yehuda is the heartland of Eretz Yisrael (not to differ with Medinat Yisrael, the State of Israel), and the most holy area after Jerusalem herself in Judaism.. It’s here we find the cave of Avraham Avinu (our father Abraham), Hevron and Yerico.. And many other places.. Conquering this also meant the rise of the modern Religious Zionism and the Neo-Zionism..
It also meant that the world slowly started to look different at Israel (especially with the help of the Soviet Union), from before a small state fighting for survival to suddenly becoming a state that conquered land (we’re not only talking about Gaza and the West Bank, but all of Sinai and Golan too).. And conquering people..
But does that mean that Israel is only thinking about conquering as much land as possible? Well, not really.. First of, the war in 1967 was a defence war.. Yes, Israel started the actually battle, but the war was started sooner by Egypt.. King Hussein explains in his book “My ‘War’ With Israel”, that it was decided by the Arab league already in 1964 to create a joint army, which purpose was to defeat the Israeli army.. And Nasser of Egypt clearly showed this intention by his action up to the war’s beginning, by among other things to close the straits of Tiran, the closing of Israeli ships in Suez, the expelling of the UN-troops and so on.. There was also an incident, where Jordan and Syria attempted to block water to the Jordan river, which was ruined by the IDF..
And, and this is a pretty important thing to consider, Israel did give back all of Sinai to the Egyptians in 1979, when a peace treaty was signed by the two countries.. So while Israel might stay on land out of concern of security, this doesn’t mean that she intend to do so forever.. Okay, now there’s those who will claim that the building of settlements prove that Israel will NOT leave the West Bank.. But I beg to differ.. Israel build settlements in Sinai, and they were removed.. Israel build settlements in Gaza, and they were removed..
So, this wasn’t supposed to be a defense of Israel, but a reflection on Zionism, so back on track again:o).. It is important though to show some historic incidents to show that Zionism isn’t about conquest.. Clearly not, when we look at what I’ve just been through!
But then, what is Zionism? Well, it’s what I started explaining, the longing home to Zion.. That’s what it is.. Then there’s several streams within Zionism, certainly! There’s always been.. There was the communist Zionist, the Marxist Zionist, the Socialist Zionist (the largest group by far, who counts among others Ben Gurion and Golda Meir) and so on and so on.. And today we have the neo-Zionism, the religious-Zionist movement, the post-Zionism (well, that’s not really Zionism, but) and so on..
Personally I try to reinvent or evolve Zionism.. The Zionist movement was a success as I view it.. Yes, there’s still a conflict going on, but all in all Israel is a fact and that isn’t going to change.. There will always be challenges, no matter what..
Today i see a new way of thinking Zionism.. Let me quote Marcus Garvey, as to introduce my aproach:
“other races were engaged in seeing their cause through–the Jews through their Zionist movement and the Irish through their Irish movement–and I decided that, cost what it might, I would make this a favorable time to see the Negro’s interest through.”
And then, let me reflect on some various group of people around the world and their situation:
The Kurds.. A people that has a distinct history, language and culture.. A people that has been and still is oppressed.. They have finally received autonomy in the Nothern Iraq.. Why not let them have their own nation, a Kurdish nation for Kurds, where Kurds can be home.. A homeland.. I’m not talking about creating a Kurdistan with borders within Turkey and Iran, but about improving an established fact, that Kurdistan is a reality, we just have to accept it and allow them to pursue their dream, just as we have pursued our dream..
The Tibetans.. Isn’t they allowed to have their own country? They have never done harm against anybody when the Chinese conquered their land.. Now they’re a people without a country, just as we were..
The Copts.. They experience oppression in the country that once belonged to themselves.. Today they’re a minority in their own land, facing forced conversions, kidnappings of their children, rapes on their women, attacks by religious fanatics in their churches.. Aren’t they allowed to dream too?
The Gypsies.. I’m embarrassed to live in a world, where we still keep a people like this in a situation like theirs.. Last year two gypsies drowned in Italy.. And people just sat and ate next to their bodies, why not? It’s “just” Gypsies.. Ask around, and everybody “knows” that Gypsies “steal and cheat”.. They “don’t wash themselves” and really don’t have any place that they “belong”.. No, they haven’t.. Just like the Jews didn’t have any place, so the Gypsies haven’t.. Let them have a place that they can call theirs..
And I could go on..
What I’m trying to say is, that as I view Zionism today, it should become universal.. We have shown and proved that a people can claim their right for their own homeland.. And why should any distinct group of people accept to live oppressed?
So, thank for your time:o).. I’m looking forward to all your reactions:o)..
All the best!