Israel is losing its friends

Roger Cohen writes: I am a Zionist because the story of my forebears convinces me that Jews needed the homeland voted into existence by United Nations Resolution 181 of 1947, calling for the establishment of two states — one Jewish, one Arab — in Mandate Palestine. I am a Zionist who believes in the words of Israel’s founding charter of 1948 declaring that the nascent state would be based “on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel.”

What I cannot accept, however, is the perversion of Zionism that has seen the inexorable growth of a Messianic Israeli nationalism claiming all the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River; that has, for almost a half-century now, produced the systematic oppression of another people in the West Bank; that has led to the steady expansion of Israeli settlements on the very West Bank land of any Palestinian state; that isolates moderate Palestinians like Salam Fayyad in the name of divide-and-rule; that pursues policies that will make it impossible to remain a Jewish and democratic state; that seeks tactical advantage rather than the strategic breakthrough of a two-state peace; that blockades Gaza with 1.8 million people locked in its prison and is then surprised by the periodic eruptions of the inmates; and that responds disproportionately to attack in a way that kills hundreds of children.

This, as a Zionist, I cannot accept. Jews, above all people, know what oppression is.

Jonathan Chait writes: Netanyahu and his coalition have no strategy of their own except endless counterinsurgency against the backdrop of a steadily deteriorating diplomatic position within the world and an inexorable demographic decline. The operation in Gaza is not Netanyahu’s strategy in excess; it is Netanyahu’s strategy in its entirety. The liberal Zionist, two-state vision with which I identify, which once commanded a mainstream position within Israeli political life, has been relegated to a left-wing rump within it.

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2 thoughts on “Israel is losing its friends

  1. hquain

    Why is the liberal Zionist such a distressing figure? I suspect it’s because of the contradiction between the two terms of the (self-)description, and the combination of fantasy and faux naïveté that are required to brazen past it. Zionism requires an ethnically- and religiously-based state; at the ground level, it also requires the expulsion of whole populations and setting up shop in a hostile environment made more hostile by Zionism itself. No heavy calculation or deep historical knowledge is needed to grasp the dynamic that this inevitably leads to. “Freedom, justice and peace” — what are they talking about?

  2. Paul Woodward

    Even though Zionism is incoherent as a political philosophy, that should not prevent us from understanding the foundation of the Zionist dream: the desire to live in a society where no one is penalized for being Jewish.

    Unfortunately, those who live under oppression are susceptible to the belief that liberation means acquiring the same power as ones oppressors. Since Zionism was born when the world was ruled by Western colonialism, it was perhaps inevitable that European Zionists would want to claim their “right” to practice their own form of colonialism.

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