Zionism: seeing the Nation-state in a warped mirror?

I regard Zionism as a problematic political project. The essence of it entails the exclusion of everything non-Jewish, and its actual implementation in the shape of the state of Israel has created a militarist state that oppresses and dispossesses a large number of human beings – because they are not Jewish. I suspect that this state of affairs not only causes suffering externally, but also causes suffering among Jews in Israel because of the violence and the negative effects of militarism. A martial society blocks many forms of social development.

My understanding is that ZIonism is a response to the European Nationalist projects of the 19th century. These projects both challenged what it meant to be Jewish in a European Nation-state, and suggested a way out of the dilemmas that arose (“am I Danish or Jewish?”) in the shape of a Jewish Nation-state. Thus Israel is no different from, say, Poland: a country for Poles.

There are differences, though, and these are generally not recognised by the world in general. They are certainly not part of the public discussions about Israel. In my view the Israeli, Zionist project, entails a far more extensive and more sinister form of exclusion than most Nationalist projects – but I admit this is open to debate. The Kurds in Turkey spring to mind

More on that elsewhere.

The ideal of Zionism is a state that is for Jews only. Exactly what this entails in terms of the role of the Jewish Church, I do not know; it is sufficient to note that a state FOR Jews must exclude the others, those that are not defined as Jews.

How does this compare to, say, the Danish notion of Nation? After all, Denmark exists to look after the interest of the Danish people, by drawing a border around them and letting them tend to their own affairs. And indeed, the notion that non-Danes, Turks for instance, have any business in Denmark, is anathema to many Danes. But not all, and not to the law, nor to the Danish state institutions. So while migration challenges the concept of the Danish Nation state, the reality of the Danish state absorbs the challenge: the migrant is allowed in by a vetting process, and once inside, gains the same rights as the “indigenous” population. Everyone is equal before the state and the law.

In Israel, this is not true. Everyone is not equal, since the Jews are a lot more equal than everyone else. This is a fact, though not widely acknowledged. One of the reasons it is not acknowledged, is that it is hidden in plain sight. Everybody knows of the Law of return, the settlements, the Occupation, the Wall. These all operate along the same divide: Jew and non-Jew. What´s more, in Israel, large quasi-non-governmental organisation like the Jewish National Fund fulfill key roles in controlling access to land. These organisations exist, according to their charters, to look after the interests of Jews. This in itself is not problematic, but when these organisations are given huge power by the state, and the state withdraws from the same areas of jurisdiction, the net effect is that the state discriminates in favour of some of its own citizens, and by extension, against other citizens. Reading the Wikipedia articles on eg JNF give some idea of their character, but you need to dig deeper. Try Adalah.

While the modern Nations-states all embody the contradiction of inclusion / exclusion, none are anywhere near Israel in their commitment to excluding those persons that are not included, those that are not Jews. For Zionism, they are are not wanted. But they are there.

Post scriptum: If you Google this topic, you may stumble upon this article: http://www.meforum.org/370/can-arabs-buy-land-in-israel . It is a well written piece of propaganda, but gives the game away in some of the details (the odd Bedouin gets some land for his flock) and omits the big picture. It is also worth googling the author and visiting the homepage at http://www.meforum.org to see which angle this is coming from.


Update October: Ilan Pappe on a similar topic: http://www.globalresearch.ca/reclaiming-judaism-from-zionism/5355123

2 thoughts on “Zionism: seeing the Nation-state in a warped mirror?

  1. Odlonra May 5, 2013 / 19:38

    Ok, where to start? First, what am I? In reality a quite easy question. Myself. Ok, what about my cultural, religious, political views, compared to that of my family? This per se is a quite uninteresting question, in my view. I can say what I am, and we can start to look for the influences I have collected along my life (50 years or so), which have lead to what I am. Why is it so interesting to know WHY I am like I am? The reason is that we cluster people into boxes. Easier. Zionism, a box. It is not so simple as you tell it. What about the Labor Zionism? There are tons of Jews which are not zionists, but are israeli citizens, and would like to remain such. There is a lot of confusion in your story.

    History: the european nationalisms, which are the ones that created the European nations, where all “zionistic”. Usually they used war to throw out the others. Many examples. Norwegians wrote in their constitution that no jew and no Jesuit could enter the country. Different? History is full of zionism, and no-one can be proud of that. The arab isreali (20% of the population) have leagally the same writes than the jewish israeli. The Israel’s Declaration of Independence called for the establishment of a Jewish state with equality of social and political rights, irrespective of religion, race, or sex.

    Discrimination: In reality, the majority of the arab israeli are poorer than then jewish israeli (but not the christian arabs, which are often upper class) and suffer very much. But we have to wait until we will see the first non-jewish prime minister in Israel, maybe never? Before or after the first turkish prime minister in Germany? Arabic is one of Israel’s official languages, like Turkish in Germany? German is indeed a legal language in SudTirol. It is hard to be arab israeli: For example, there is clear tendency to impose heavier prison terms to arab citizens than to jewish ones. There is the same evidence with respect to afro-american in the USA.

    The Law of return is the most important aspect of Zionism today. If you have one of your 8 great grand fathers who was Italian at birth, then you have the right to get an Italian passport. There are about 24 million such Italians in Argentina and about 7 have got their passport. They can come to Italy as they want. Different? The return to Israel has always been a fundamental Jewish religious aspiration. The Italians do not have that; the Italian passport is useful to get a job in the EU (if there were jobs). Money or religion. All countries that follow the jus SANGUINIS, have their law of return, implicitly. There are about 30. Jus SOLI, what counts is where you are born, is much more democratic, in my view. Today, we fight for jus soli for the children of immigrants born in Norway. No law of return for Palestinians, of course, not to Israel where they have been thrown out, and not to Jordan or Egypt either.

    War: The occupation of Palestinian territories, won in war, even if war was in some occasions started by others, is illegal. Keeping Gaza as a prison is terrible and illegal. Killing is illegal. Settlements are illegal. The wall is horrible and devastating. Controlling the supply of water to the territories is criminal. This is politics. There are 40% of Israeli that do not support any of this. half of the jews (who are not Israeli) want a two state solution and no aggressions. (Nobody asks the 24 milion Italians in argentina what they think about Berlusconi, but it of course less dramatic). All this has nothing to do with Zionism. It has little to do with religion. It has to do with resources, land, power.

    And so? Zionism is the enemy of the jews, of course. Nationalism is the enemy of Norway. The we and the others. There is not a better way of being fascist; there is not a worse way of being nationalist. Can you scale racism? The only solution is to fight all nationalisms. The 17th of May is a sort of kind nationalism. Children with flags, was this Oslo or Cuba or North Korea? What do we celebrate? Us compared to the others? As different and special? Better? Not good, sorry. Better abolishing the 17th of May indoctrination. I still think that Israel has a lot to do. Much more than Norway.

    I do not really care on what passport is in my pocket. I do not really care in which nation I live. I do not really care which of the many languages I speak. I do not care where I pay tax or where I will be buried. If people want to be religious, fine, but no religious imperialism. And I do not like religions that prevent people to be free.

    Ellers, I try to be happy, I try to help, I teach and learn. I tell my children to be free and open, and ask them not to forget to make their revolution. There are many revolutions needed, please find the one that you can conduct.

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