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at the water's edge
Zionism is a mass political movement, originating in the 19th century, to establish a political and geographic nation-state for the Jewish people so they could escape the persecution and anti-Semitism that was then so prevalent throughout Europe, as it had been throughout the preceding centuries. By the early 20th century Palestine would be chosen as the location. Zionism has long been a political movement and is typically synonymous with Jewish nationalism. Indeed, the two are identical in the most salient aspects – "backing of a national identity with credible force" – whatever less salient or theoretical distinctions some may make between them. The movement was named for Mt. Zion, one of the mountains that Jerusalem was built on. "Zion" is also a synonym for the Holy Land or the Jewish national homeland.
In more recent times, the term Zionism is often used to denote Israel's ongoing settlements in areas beyond the Green Line (that is, in the West Bank and Gaza), commonly referred to as the Palestinian territories. Jewish settlers have been aggressively staking claims on Palestinian land especially in the last decade.
It should be noted that good old-fashioned anti-Semites also use "Zionist" as a snarl word to refer to anything they don't like done by anyone (supposedly or actually) Jewish. But meaningful discussion of Zionism – including criticism, not infrequently made by Jews – can and does occur outside of the precincts of Stormfront-ville.
- 1 Historical background
- 2 Historical woo
- 3 Jews and Zionism
- 4 Christian Zionism
- 5 Islamic Zionism
- 6 Modern anti-Zionism; Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement
- 7 Anti-Zionism
- 8 Religious Jews remaining opposed to Zionism
- 9 See also
- 10 External links
- 11 References
Herzl and Der Judenstaat
Theodor Herzl, a Serbian/Austro-Hungarian Jew and a journalist, published in 1896 a work entitled Der Judenstaat which laid out the foundational principles and goals of Zionism. Central to his argument was the claim that:
[t]he 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.
These words were penned in the wake of such incidents as the Dreyfus affair in France, and into the face of a growing movement among Jews supporting assimilation into other cultures. Indeed, during Herzl's day hatred towards Jews which had briefly looked to be subsiding with more and more states "emancipating" Jews, was growing again. For centuries Jew hatred – often called "anti-Judaism" – had existed, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries a new form of "racial" hatred emerged, which was coined anti-Semitism. While old-style, religious Jew hatred offered at least the theoretical way out by converting to the dominant religion of the time (usually Christianity or Islam), anti-Semitism left no escape. Zionism arose in that milieu and as a response to it.
As to location of a Zionist state, Herzl exhibited flexibility in Der Judenstaat: "Shall we choose Palestine or Argentina? We shall take what is given us, and what is selected by public opinion." However, shortly before his death in 1904, Herzl declared that the Jewish State he envisioned must be in Palestine. Moreover, by 1902, when Herzl wrote a letter to Cecil Rhodes, he had explicitly adopted a European, colonialist model for Zionism:
You are being invited to help make history,” Herzl wrote to Rhodes. “[I]t doesn’t involve Africa, but a piece of Asia Minor; not Englishmen but Jews… How, then, do I happen to turn to you since this is an out-of-the-way matter for you? How indeed? Because it is something colonial… [Y]ou, Mr. Rhodes, are a visionary politician or a practical visionary… I want you to.. put the stamp of your authority on the Zionist plan and to make the following declaration to a few people who swear by you: I, Rhodes have examined this plan and found it correct and practicable. It is a plan full of culture, excellent for the group of people for whom it is directly designed, and quite good for England, for Greater Britain….
The Balfour Declaration
In the midst of World War I, when many Jews supported Germany as it was fighting Russia, Great Britain came under increasing pressure to attempt to secure the support of American Jews, and in turn influence the US towards the allied side. To this end, the UK's foreign secretary issued a memo known as the Balfour Declaration, reading as follows:
“”His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
Of course, the British Empire's notions of what constitutes not "prejudicing" the rights of an indigenous population had not generally met especially rigorous standards of justice, a reality that might have given some pause concerning this proposal. Moreover, it's almost quaint how the British felt that the land of Palestine was theirs to divvy up and award to others.
Long story short, the British Empire defeated the Turks in WWI and the League of Nations gave the former control over what would be Mandate Palestine – under British rule until 1948. For those several decades the British would permit varying levels of Jewish immigration and oversee the struggle between two mutually antagonistic peoples: Zionist Jews whose increasing numbers seriously annoyed indigenous Arabs who weren't asked for their opinion of the project.
Jabotinsky, the Iron Wall, and the legacy
Ze'ev Jabotinsky (Russian: Владимир Евгеньевич Жаботинский - Vladimir Yevg'enevich Zhabotinskiy), a Russian Jew (now honored in Israel, but who for a time was controversial there,) carried Herzl's political Zionism further; his "Revisionist Zionism" opposed British control over Palestine (see below) and advocated the establishment of a Jewish state in that land by military means. Jabotinsky moved to Palestine in the 1920s and published various works supporting his Revisionist Zionism, including The Iron Wall, a 1923 piece elaborating on the political and military requirements of making a Jewish state happen. Despite including an introduction stating that he is politely indifferent to Arabs, Iron Wall declares "[t]here can be no voluntary agreement between ourselves [Zionist Jews] and the Palestine Arabs", asserting that no peaceful exchange could ever secure for the Jewish people a homeland in Palestine. He continues, "we keep spoiling our own case, by talking about 'agreement' which means telling the Mandatory Government that the important thing is not the iron wall [of soldiers], but discussions. Empty rhetoric of this kind is dangerous." Jabotinsky makes it clear that military force, e.g. "bayonets," is necessary to bring about the Jewish State, whether these are "Jewish bayonets" or "British bayonets."
Moreover, Jabotinsky explicitly defended the "morality" of stealing land from an indigenous population:
Let us consider for a moment the point of view of those to whom this seems immoral. We shall trace the root of the evil to this – that we are seeking to colonise a country against the wishes of its population, in other words, by force. Everything else that is undesirable grows out of this root with axiomatic inevitability. What then is to be done?
The simplest way out would be to look for a different country [other than Palestine] to colonise. Like Uganda. But if we look more closely into the matter we shall find that the same evil exists there, too. Uganda also has a native population, which consciously or unconsciously as in every other instance in history, will resist the coming of the colonisers.Yet if homeless Jewry demands Palestine for itself it is "immoral" because it does not suit the native population. Such morality may be accepted among cannibals, but not in a civilised world....Self-determination means revision – such a revision of the distribution of the earth among the nations that those nations who have too much should have to give up some of it to those nations who have not enough or who have none, so that all should have some place on which to exercise their right of self-determination.
In short, if you want to find the origins of the present policies of Israel vis-a-vis Palestinians – e.g., ever-increasing Jewish settlers taking over Arab land – Jabotinsky is a good place to start.
Zionist continuity with Jabotinsky's Revisionist Zionism is in some ways literal. Benzion Netanyahu, Benjamin Netanyahu's father, served as Jabotinsky's personal secretary, and a young Menachem Begin – who would one day be elected prime minister of Israel – was a primary Jabotinsky disciple.
Spiritual Zionism, Judah Magnes
Some Jews rejected and were even horrified by Jabotinsky's vision of political Zionism and bayonets. Prominent among these was Judah Magnes, the president and founder of Jerusalem's Hebrew University. The California native, who had moved to Palestine in 1922, wrote in 1929 that "a Jewish Home in Palestine built up on bayonets and oppression is not worth having, even though it succeed, whereas the very attempt to build it up peacefully, cooperatively, with understanding, education, and good will, is worth a great deal, even though the attempt should fail." To this end, he advocated "a pacific policy that treats as entirely secondary such things as a 'Jewish State' or a Jewish majority, or even 'The Jewish National Home.'" Magnes advocated a "spiritual Zionism" entailing development of a Jewish spiritual, educational, moral and religious center in Palestine:
The imperialist, military and political policy is based upon mass immigration of Jews and the creation (forcible if necessary) of a Jewish majority, no matter how much this oppresses the Arabs meanwhile, or deprives them of their rights. In this kind of policy the end always justifies the means. The policy, on the other hand, of developing a Jewish spiritual Center does not depend upon mass immigration, a Jewish majority, a Jewish State, or upon depriving the Arabs (or the Jews) of their political rights for a generation or a day; but on the contrary, is desirous of having Palestine become a country of two nations and three religions, all of them having equal rights and none of them having special privileges; a country where nationalism is but the basis of internationalism...
Magnes had too few allies and did not prevail. But history seems to have borne out his concerns: He accurately predicted that a state that did not take into account the political strivings of both peoples would be doomed to perpetual strife. Magnes never surrendered, and until his death in 1948, he fought to establish a binational state in which Jews and Arabs could live as equals."
Zionist terrorism In 1954 Israel hijacked a Syrian airways civilian jet to obtain hostages, and in 1956 shot down an Egyptian civilian airplane, killing 16 civilians, in order to assassinate a military leader. Moreover, without terrorism the State of Israel likely would not have come to exist in 1948. Zionist terrorism demonstrated that "terrorism can, in the right conditions and with the appropriate strategy and tactics, succeed in attaining at least some of its practitioners’ fundamental aims.” Indeed, "[i]n the end, the [Zionist] terrorists got what they wanted."
Pre-state Zionists carried out extensive terror against Arab civilians, the British and politically unacceptable Jews. They also murdered UN mediator Folke Bernadotte, who as head of the Swedish Red Cross during WWII had rescued thousands of concentration camp survivors. In 1943 Yitzhak Shamir wrote the article Terror for the journal of Lehi — the terrorist organization he headed — and therein advocated the "dismiss[al of] all the 'phobia' and babble against terror with simple, obvious arguments." "Neither Jewish morality nor Jewish tradition can be used to disallow terror as a means of war," he wrote, and "We are very far from any moral hesitations when concerned with the national struggle." "First and foremost, terror is for us a part of the political war appropriate for the circumstances of today, and its task is a major one: it demonstrates in the clearest language, heard throughout the world including by our unfortunate brethren outside the gates of this country, our war against the occupier."
Additionally, Menachem Begin slaughtered many Arabs in pre-state Israel and was responsible for the infamous massacre of innocent Palestinians in their village of Deir Yassin. Both Begin and Shamir appeared on Palestine Police wanted posters for crimes of terrorism, and both would some day be elected prime minister of Israel. So, although Israel doesn't negotiate with terrorists it evidently has no problem making them chief executive.
The Jewish Defense League, a group labeled as terrorists by the FBI, has also been active in Israel in the past several decades. In 1994, JDL member Baruch Goldstein slaughtered 29 Muslims who were kneeling in prayer in a Hebron mosque. Goldstein is revered as a hero by many Israelis, especially settlers.
Most recently, Zionist terrorism has erupted among settlers staking claims on Palestinian land in the West Bank (and many of them were born in America). According to Yuval Diskin, Israel’s former internal security service chief, many settlers "apply some level of violence or terrorism against the persons or possessions of Palestinians" and that these stand ready to also commit violence against Jews who are, in the terrorists' view, insufficiently Zionist. Diskin states that Jewish terrorists act with near impunity, that there are "two justice systems, one for Jews (Israeli law) and the other for Palestinians (martial law). Whether we want it or not, these two justice systems have divergent measures to adjudicate identical offenses." For instance, Israeli citizens are subject to civilian trials and lesser legal penalties if convicted. Palestinians are subject to military trials and higher penalties.
One example of this seeming double standard is a 2015 arson attack by settlers upon a family, killing a mother, father and toddler. For months, no one was charged for these murders, although a number of suspects were detained. On December 3, 2015 three Jewish settlers were arrested for indirect involvement, and one was quickly released to house arrest in his home in an illegal settlement; another three were held for allegedly being directly involved. In contrast with Israel's collective punishment policy for Palestinians, the homes of the accused Jewish terrorists have not been demolished. A member of the Dawabshe family said "We don’t have any trust in the Israeli justice system any more – neither the courts, nor the army."
The transfer policy
The concept of transfer was essential to the ideology of Zionism; to create a Jewish state in an area that was overwhelmingly non-Jewish, removing the indigenous Arabs was required. Predictably, this component of Zionism exacerbated fear and anger among the Palestinians at the prospect of being dispossessed. Israeli historian Benny Morris notes "[f]or many Zionists, beginning with Herzl, the only realistic solution lay in transfer. From 1880 to 1920, some entertained the prospect of Jews and Arabs coexisting in peace. But increasingly after 1920, and more emphatically after 1929, for the vast majority a denouement of conflict appeared inescapable. Following the outbreak of 1936, no main- stream leader was able to conceive of future coexistence and peace without a clear physical separation between the two peoples—achievable only by way of transfer and expulsion".
David Ben-Gurion promoted the benefits of compulsory transfer, writing in 1937 "The compulsory transfer of the [Palestinian] Arabs from the valleys of the proposed Jewish state could give us something which we never had, even when we stood on our own during the days of the first and second Temples . . . We are given an opportunity which we never dared to dream of in our wildest imaginings. This is MORE than a state, government and sovereignty-this is national consolidation in a free homeland".
Ben-Gurion's enthusiastic support for transfer continued in the lead-up to the 1948 war, stating to the Mapal Council in February 1948: "From your entry into Jerusalem, through Lifta, Romema [East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood]. . . there are no [Palestinian] Arabs. One hundred percent Jews. Since Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, it has not been Jewish as it is now. In many [Palestinian] Arab neighborhoods in the west one sees not a single [Palestinian] Arab. I do not assume that this will change. . . . What had happened in Jerusalem. . . . is likely to happen in many parts of the country. . . in the six, eight, or ten months of the campaign there will certainly be great changes in the composition of the population in the country"
Moshe Sharett, the first Israeli foreign minister, declared in 1947 "Transfer could be the crowning achievements, the final stage in the development of [our] policy, but certainly not the point of departure. By [speaking publicly and prematurely] we could mobilizing vast forces against the matter and cause it to fail, in advance". He also added "[W]hen the Jewish state is established—it is very possible that the result will be transfer of [the Palestinian] Arabs".
Israeli historian Benny Morris' conclusion regarding the transfer policy was: "[it] was inevitable and inbuilt into Zionism — because it sought to transform a land which was “Arab” into a “Jewish” state and a Jewish state could not have arisen without a major displacement of Arab population; and because this aim automatically produced resistance among the Arabs which, in turn, persuaded the Yishuv’s leaders that a hostile Arab majority or large minority could not remain in place if a Jewish state was to arise or safely endure".
The State of Israel is Founded, Nakba occurs
In 1948, upon the expiration of the British mandate, the Jewish Agency declared an independent Jewish state over the objections of Palestinian Arabs. In 1914 Palestine, Jews had only constituted 7.6% of the population with Arabs constituting the huge remainder. By 1931, the Jewish percentage had more than doubled due to the Zionist immigration project. As of 1941 Jews were 30% of the population. Some Zionists claimed divine entitlement to the land based on the Hebrew Bible's being virtually the Almighty's land deed, while others claim a continuous Jewish DNA presence over the centuries – however fractional – constitutes some "place-holding" claim. Whatever their motives, the steady influx of Zionist Jews who were advocating the establishment of a Jewish national state – and discriminating against Arab workers via the Histadrut, the Jewish labor federation – pissed off the indigenous Arab population, which was outraged when the State of Israel was declared in 1948.
Zionism, like any political ideology, is not immune from criticism and empirical analysis. Some of the claims promoted by Zionists constitute pseudohistory.
Zionists were not the tools of European imperialism nor did they come to Palestine with the intention of conquest
Historian Yosef Gorny wrote of Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann, who was influential in formulating Zionism's politics, that he acted
above all, on the assumption that the alliance with Great Britain was the sole external guarantee for the achievement of Zionist goals ... Hence Weizmann’s untiring efforts to persuade the British Government of the identity of interests between the national goals of the two peoples. In this respect there was a consensus from the ﬁrst within the Zionist movement, encompassing all sectors".
Gorny also writes that Weizmann attempted to persuade "the British leaders that a large Jewish community in Palestine would effectively further British imperialist interests in the Middle East and elsewhere". Additionally, sociologist Uri Ben-Eliezer mentions that among the Jewish settlers of Palestine they felt the "worker-ﬁghter was...the archetypal ﬁgure...conquer[ing] the land with a popular, militia-like army which would complete the work of settlement", whereas the kibbutzniks preserved the "ideal and perfect fusion between the plow and the rifle."
Palestinians desired an independent state
The Palestinian Arabs sought for national independence at a time when nationalism was on the rise. A British royal commission report chaired in 1936 by Lord William Robert Peel was charged with determining the causes of conflict in Mandate Palestine. The report found that
[t]he overriding desire of the Arab leaders...was...national independence". It also stated that “[i]t was only to be expected that Palestinian Arabs should...envy and seek to emulate their successful fellow-nationalists in those countries just across their northern and southern borders. For now of all the Arab peoples in the Middle East they were the only people, except the people of Trans-Jordan, who had not attained or were not soon to attain full national freedom: and...the Government of Trans-Jordan had long been recognized as an ‘independent government'".
Jews and Zionism
The effects of WWII, support for Zionism increases
For the first half-century of its existence, Zionism was overwhelmingly a movement of secular Jews. Herzl himself was not particularly observant and actually considered himself rather assimilated until the anti-Semitic rage that followed the Dreyfus affair (see above) convinced him that even the most assimilated Jews would always be perceived as "other". But liberal Jews often had commitments to liberal internationalism or socialism, and regarded Zionism as subversive of those values.
Orthodox religious Jews (especially Haredi and Hasidic) believed that the re-establishment of a Jewish state in Israel was a task to be undertaken by the Messiah alone — Zionists, by attempting to hurry up the divine plan of redemption, were committing a sin. They pointed to various rabbinical passages which prohibited the return of Jews to Israel en masse prior to the coming of the Messiah.
The case of secular American Jews is illustrative of the change: they were not especially supportive of Zionism before WWII, but they largely became so after the abomination that was Hitler's Germany. The Holocaust seemed to have blinded a great many liberal Jews to what political Zionism entailed. In his review of John Judis' recent book, Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict, Paul L. Scham addresses Judis' puzzlement that liberal American Zionists in 1948 "evinced no recognition that Zionism involved, in practice, dispossessing the Palestinian Arabs of their own homeland." Scham, however, observes:
I think Judis underestimates the sublimated tribal passions of many liberal non-observant American Jews, which may have been sublimated or repressed but came to the fore with revelations of the Holocaust and the fight for a Jewish state that so closely followed it. (My own parents illustrated that process, though they eventually became dovish on the issue after 1967.) It would have been surprising if more than a small fraction of Jews had been able, in that context, to sympathize with Palestinian Arabs, a people of whom they knew little and who seemed to be irreconcilable enemies.
Judis documents in his book that against his better judgment Truman recognized the State of Israel in 1948. Though he privately expressed concern that doing so could help launch WWIII, he said the fact was that he and his fellow Democrats didn't face Arab voters while there were significant blocs of Jewish ones. According to Judis, this was when America's Israel Lobby first made its pressure felt in American politics.
Religious Jews underwent a similar change of theological opinion after WWII.
Secular opposition reemerges
Though he invokes the Jewish "prophetic tradition," Jesse Alexander Meyerson writes in The Village Voice that younger Jews are rejecting Zionism; his endorsement and defense of the phenomenon is fundamentally nonreligious. Addressing his liberal Zionist critic, J.J. Goldberg, Meyerson declares that Goldberg gets him right on some things:
My insistence on "linking...anti-Zionism with the prophetic tradition of social justice" implies that I think "Zionism is...somehow opposed to the best in Judaism." Bingo! He is also correct to associate me with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which I support. BDS is "gaining adherents at an alarming rate," Goldberg hyperventilates, "turning well-meaning young Jews into enemies of the Jewish state." The alarm this causes Goldberg is complemented by the apprehension he feels about the "worrisome rifts between Israel and American Jews" that are opening up.
He should have seen it coming. These rifts were prophesied as early as 1948 by the sage Hannah Arendt, when she predicted that the "Palestine Jewry would eventually separate itself from the larger body of world Jewry and in its isolation develop into an entirely new people."
Meyerson argues that many, if not most, young American Jews are pretty well to the left, and they find Zionism incompatible with their worldview. These younger people, claims Meyerson, understand "that Jewish ethnocentric nationalism is no different from other forms of ethnocentric nationalism, and that ethno-nationalist endeavors inevitably favor right-wing politics."
“”"[A] lot of the Jews are great friends of mine. They swarm around me and are friendly to me. Because they know I am friendly to Israel and so forth. They don’t know how I really feel about what they’re doing to this country."
Many Christians in the United States, particularly fundamentalists, support the State of Israel for their own religious reasons, calling themselves "Christian Zionists". They believe that the return of the Jews to Israel is vital to fulfilling prophesies of the end times and the Second Coming of Christ. Some of them even believe that all but 144,000 (male, celibate) Jews and everyone else in the world who is not a Christian will die in a hellfire, as per their interpretation of the Book of Revelation.
The underlying belief system generates political support for Israel in the United States, but this conceals an anti-Semitic core that includes John Hagee's depraved notion that God's "loving plan" for Jews caused God to send the Holocaust to make them found Israel. Dispensationalists believe that in a coming Rapture, all the world's Christians, or at least the ones that are fundamentalist enough, will be magically poofed up to Heaven. This, in turn, will be the cue for the world's surviving Jews to abandon Judaism and convert to Christianity. These converted Jews will remain to evangelize the world while Israel endures the hostility of the Antichrist and suffers through the plagues of the Tribulation period. Eventually, the world's armies will muster against Israel at the battle of Armageddon. Jesus will then return to defeat these hordes, kill billions of people, and establish the remaining converted Jews as rulers of an earthly Zion, while the saved Christians enjoy the kingdom of Heaven.
These Christian Zionists believe that the return of Jews to Israel lit the fuse that leads to the end of the world, a notion that suddenly seemed plausible in the born-again world after the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War. The prophecy also means that attempts to achieve peace between Jews and Palestinian Arabs are foredoomed. Middle Eastern conflict is ordained by God, and peace proposals for the region may in fact be the work of the Antichrist. These beliefs lead these Christians to applaud Israeli belligerence and support settlements in the occupied territories. Non-Christian Arabs are doomed and damned anyways (Christian Arabs are simply ignored). They also believe that alliance with Israel will spare the United States the worst of the Tribulation, even if the United States plays only a minor role in biblical prophecy.
In modern times Israel has been willing to take Christian Zionist money to fund Zionist projects in the West Bank.  Further, Israel enjoys their tourist dollars; wingnuts such as Mike Huckabee and many others conduct Christian Zionist tours of the Holy Land.
As for Christians actually from the Middle East, well, it's mixed. Some lukewarmly support Israel because Maronites and other Christians are concerned about what will happen if Israel falls. The Maronite community experienced their own series of ethnic cleansings at the hands of Pan-Arabists, including the PLO. At the same time, it should be noted that Robert Kennedy was murdered by a Christian Palestinian nationalist upset about Robert's support of Israel and the Six Day War. Maronites committed their own massacres (allegedly with Israeli support) of Palestinians, such as Sabra and Shatila. The Damour massacre was itself a reprisal for the Maronites' Karantina massacre.
“”"Thus (were those things taken from them) and We caused the Children of Israel to inherit them."
But throughout the rest of the Islamic world, Zionism is a fringe opinion. It was for a short time much more popular during the early days of Arab Nationalism (though never a majority opinion), when Jews were still considered fellow Arabs of a sort; specifically, highly educated Arabs, with connections in the European world that would enable the Arab world to modernize without being subject to European rule. However, Arab Nationalism aimed at creating a united super-state dominated by Arabs, something that was incompatible with Zionism's goal of an independent Jewish state, so the two views were ultimately at odds. Any significant amount of support for Zionism from the Islamic world was thus short-lived.
Within Israel itself, according to a 2015 poll, 48% of Arabs preferred that Israel returned to its 1967 borders with an independent Palestinian state next door, 19% were not interested in answering the question, 14% chose one state for two peoples between the Jordan River & Mediterranean Sea, 11% chose Israel as it is today, while 8% would like to have a country that is part of a larger Islamic Caliphate. For comparison, 52% of Israeli Jews support returning to the '67 borders with adjustments and more support some sort of independent Palestinian state but, well, domestic and international politics are in the way.
Modern anti-Zionism; Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement
Palestinians founded the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in July of 2005, "when a broad alliance of more than 170 Palestinian political parties, trade unions, refugee networks, NGOs and grassroots associations published an open boycott call to international civil society organizations and people of conscience." BDS's stated goals are three:
...an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories since 1967, including dismantling the wall and colonies; an end to Israel’s system of racial discrimination against its Palestinian citizens; and respecting the UN-sanctioned, fundamental right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.
Liberal BDS critics have said that while many liberal Zionists might support the first two goals, the third is a deal-breaker:"[it] means putting an end to Israel as a Jewish state. This is a demand that virtually no Israeli Jews, even the most liberal, would accede to"; BDS is, then, anti-Zionist. Some liberal Zionists, however, such as the organization J Street, strongly urge acceptance of BDS supporters, taking the positions that:
Opposition to the Global BDS Movement that refuses to countenance any criticism of the occupation or of Israeli policy will never succeed in winning over any Movement supporters, and will only drive more and more frustrated and concerned people into their camp. It is precisely the wrong approach, and it is having a devastatingly counter-productive effect, especially on campus.
Conservative Zionists, however, argue that BDS is antisemitic because it "singles out Israel." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agrees and has declared that BDS represents an existential threat to Israel, claiming:
“We are in the midst of a great struggle being waged against the state of Israel, an international campaign to blacken its name,” Netanyahu warned his new cabinet last week, referring to the BDS movement. “It is not connected to our actions; it is connected to our very existence.”
Nevertheless, there are many Jewish BDS supporters such as Jewish Voice for Peace, a phenomenon which is causing controversy within the Jewish community. Indeed, in the 21st century, many Western Jews have become very critical of Israel, and even rejecting of Zionism. In addition to Jewish Voice for Peace is the International Jewish Anti-Zionism Network.
Israel's reaction to BDS
In late March of 2016, Israel's best-selling newspaper held an international conference in Jerusalem for brainstorming about how to combat BDS. That BDS is impacting Israel economically and destroying its reputation is evidenced by the extreme proposals expressed there:
Speaker after speaker stepped up to the podium and said, in the same breath, that although BDS is succeeding, it is not a success; that it is not a threat but must be taken as a serious threat; that it has not negatively impacted Israel’s economy but that Israel must allocate more of its budget to fighting it. Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said (Heb) that Israel should engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders with the help of Israeli intelligence, intentionally using language that plays on the Hebrew term for “targeted assassinations.”
Around that same time, Bar Heffetz, an Israeli farmer and peace activist wrote on Facebook:
Contrary to what you get told, the boycott and BDS are working, and how. At you can feel it everywhere, at least in my field of agricultural exports to Europe. And that’s apart from the fact that you must sign a document that your produce does not come from the settlements, with aerial photographs attached. Even plain Israeli products [from inside the Green Line] encounter a lot of problems because the buyers cannot think of a reason why they need all that hassle.... The conclusion? The road to South Africa has never been shorter.
In the United States, even some Zionists are coming out in favor of BDS. The controversy within the Jewish community can, then, be expected to continue as more Jews sign on to BDS while Israel is gearing up to combat it, and allocating significant funds to do so.
Many conspiracy theories, particularly those that revolve around the supposed "New World Order," refer to a Zionist conspiracy to establish and maintain a "Zionist government" in the U.S. Adherents will often claim that "Zionists" control the United States for the purpose of realizing fiendish plots involving word domination. Thus, the U.S. is saddled with the Zionist Occupation Government, or ZOG. When used by these cranks the term "Zionist" is an obvious stand-in for "Jewish" — the groups using the term are anti-Semitic and/or neo-Nazi.
Comparing Zionism and Nazism
Many opponents of Zionism and/or critics of Israel find themselves tempted to make comparisons to Nazism, given the perceived opportunity to call Zionists hypocrites. While even self-critical Israelis sometimes make such comparisons, e.g. when former director of Shine Bet Avraham Shalom said Israel had become "a brutal occupation force similar to the Germans in World War II, unlike Nazism, Zionism is not inherently genocidal and did not make a point of setting up racial hierarchies through a eugenics lens. The intention of Zionists was to establish a place of refuge for Jewish people. Some regarded the indigenous Arabs as less civilized — they commonly described them as "savage" — and as not belonging in land believed to really belong to Jews; the Nazis, however, wanted to subjugate all nations and to exterminate entire categories of human beings. The only commonalities between Zionism and Nazism, then, is that they are both forms of ethnic nationalism with an expansionist territorial project to "repossess" ancestral lands, and a spirit of "blood and soil" nationalism. Extreme nationalism in Israel — and its popular, very right-wing government — have caused some Israelis to apply terms such as "neo-Nazi, " and the like. Nevertheless, and for obvious reasons, this comparison is one Western gentiles might well be advised to entirely avoid, given the offensiveness it holds for most Jews.
Religious Jews remaining opposed to Zionism
A number of Jewish groups believe that Zionism is a form of heresy and is incompatible with true Judaism; such are usually found among Hareidi (Ultra-Orthodox) Jewish sects, many of which teach that Zionism was an unscriptural attempt to restore the Land to the Jews that only God was supposed to do (when he feels good and ready).
Some Jewish religious websites opposed to Zionism include:
- Jews Not Zionists
- True Torah Jews Against Zionism
- Neuteurei Karta Orthodox Jews United Against Zionism (and against gays for that matter)
- Israel Versus Judaism
However, it's not like many of these Jews are peace-loving hippies. Many of them would be happy to clear out Arabs when the Messiah comes, and establishes a state according to Jewish law. Several antizionist Hasidic theologians have blamed the Holocaust on Zionists and other forms of secular Jewish culture. In more recent times, these extremists have also compared the State of Israel to Nazis; and blamed civillian victims of Palestinian terrorism on "Zionists".
Der Judenstaat, by Theodor Herzl. Free for download.
- Der Judenstaat at Project Gutenberg
- i.e. granting equal civil and social rights to Jews and gentiles
- See the Wikipedia article on Revisionist Zionism.
- Although, to be sure, even before before Jabotinsky Zionist violence was contemplated. Israel Zangwill, an ardent Zionist, realized that trying to form a Jewish majority in Palestine would require force. In 1905 Zangwill stated, "Palestine proper has already its inhabitants. The pashalik of Jerusalem is already twice as thickly populated as the United States, having fifty-two souls to the square mile, and not 25% of them Jews ..... [We] must be prepared either to drive out by the sword the [Arab] tribes in possession as our forefathers did or to grapple with the problem of a large alien population, mostly Mohammedan and accustomed for centuries to despise us". Benny Morris, Righteous Victims, p. 140
- Judah Magnes: A Disappointed American Zionist http://www.acjna.org/acjna/articles_detail.aspx?id=356
- Judah Magnes: A Disappointed American Zionist
- International Terrorism: Image and Reality by Noam Chomsky https://chomsky.info/199112__02/
- In a typical example "Israeli forces on Monday demolished the family home of a Palestinian attacker killed in October and sealed off the home of another attacker's family with cement...The homes...belonged to relatives of Alaa Abu Jamal and Baha Elayyan who were both shot dead on Oct. 13  after carrying out separate attacks that left four Israelis dead. Israeli forces reportedly stormed the homes and ordered the families to evacuate them before they proceeded with the demolitions." http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=769642
- Benny Morris, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conﬂict, 1881–1999 (New York, 1999), p. 139
- Benny Morris, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conﬂict, 1881–1999 (New York, 1999), p. 142
- Benny Morris, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conﬂict, 1881–1999 (New York, 1999), p.254
- Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited (Cambridge: 2004), p. 60
- Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah, p. 300
- Uri Ben-Eliezer, The Making of Israeli Militarism, pp. 62,89
- Palestine Royal Commission Report, pp. 76,94
- "Undoubtedly the growth and importance of such groups as the World Jewish Congress and the fact that longtime critics of Zionism .... Rabbi Louis Wolsey (who was originally associated with the Euclid Avenue Temple in Cleveland) went over to the Zionists in 1945 may be attributed to historic pressures: after World War II and the Holocaust, the establishment of a Jewish state seemed both necessary and just. (The Palestinians were peripheral to this decision; many Americans believed Palestine was largely unsettled before European Jews went there to live.)" http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/jews-against-israel/
- Sorry, Forward, You're Wrong About Bernie
- When Billy Graham Urged Nixon to Kill a Million People
- An example. Don't read while sober.
- Boyer, Paul, Bible Prophecy Belief in American Culture and Its Political Implications
- Lindsey, Hal, The Late Great Planet Earth (Bantam, 1969)
- Canadian Imam claims Muslims should learn English, accept Israel as part of Quran
- "An officer and a Muslim Zionist", Israel Hayom, 2012.
- [http://972mag.com/what-do-israelis-think-of-1967-borders-with-swaps/14896/ Polls on Israeli opinion of '67 borders
- On August 17th 2015, Matisyahu, the ultra-Orthodox reggae singer, was banned from a Spanish reggae festival because he did not sign a letter stating his support for the BDS movement. Matisyahu, who is not Israeli and was the only obviously Jewish artist present, was the only person asked to sign any statement. http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-news/1.671389
- In Israel, BDS is winning
- We are lifelong Zionists. Here’s why we’ve chosen to boycott Israel.
- Some anti-nationalists and universalists reject Zionism for being rooted in tribal affiliation. "The late and deeply mourned Tony Judt got it exactly right in his NYRB piece back in 2003: 'The problem with Israel, in short, is not—as is sometimes suggested—that it is a European enclave in the Arab world; but rather that it arrived too late. It has imported a characteristically late-nineteenth-century separatist project into a world that has moved on, a world of individual rights, open frontiers, and international law. The very idea of a “Jewish state”—a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded—is rooted in another time and place.'" Mark Braverman, Hostages to Zionism http://mondoweiss.net/2011/02/hostages-to-zionism#sthash.mz3D2Izg.dpuf.
- Even Judah Magnes, the proponent of "spiritual Zionism," referred to the native Arabs as "savage."
- Holocaust survivor, Hajo Meyer, An Ethical Tradition Betrayed http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hajo-meyer/an-ethical-tradition-betr_b_438660.html
- Land and Desire in Early Zionism - Brandeis Universityhttps://books.google.com/books?id=w6aFYoyjiXgC&pg=PT136&lpg=PT136&dq=Zionism+blood+and+soil&source=bl&ots=Iqyy_U_Dgh&sig=zq7iHuO_Fwc1fYRCIsWEnlEv4vc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CD0Q6AEwBTgKahUKEwjGhfCu5JXIAhVKWh4KHcknCH0#v=onepage&q=Zionism%20blood%20and%20soil&f=false pdf version http://www.brandeis.edu/israelcenter/pdfs/NeumannInside.pdf
- Zionism and the Quest for Justice in the Holy Landhttps://books.google.com/books?id=WOKjBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA3&lpg=PA3&dq=Zionism+blood+and+soil&source=bl&ots=5LnQC7YNNd&sig=C357WtQHcIvUboidaD_KzC22SqA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CEkQ6AEwCDgKahUKEwjGhfCu5JXIAhVKWh4KHcknCH0#v=onepage&q=Zionism%20blood%20and%20soil&f=false