Keith's NO EMPIRE Blog

A radical dissident perspective on various topics. Comments welcome at

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

American Neo-Zionism

Zionism arose in Europe in the late 19th century, primarily in the eastern part, in a reaction to the enlightenment with its emphasis on the assimilation of the Jews into society as a whole. American neo-Zionism has arisen fairly recently as a means of maintaining Jewish kinship solidarity by opposing Israeli behavior. American neo-Zionism is somewhat akin to Jewish support for desegregating the South in the 1960s (while resisting desegregation in the North) as a means of attacking the Southern non-Jewish power structure. Likewise, Jewish Zionist support for multiculturalism in the U.S. concurrent with support for Jewish apartheid in Israel is indicative of the power dynamics at work and is clearly hypocritical. And just as the "Blood and Soil" nationalism of early 20th century Eastern Europe made assimilation problematic, so too does the "official" multiculturalism of the  U.S. make blatant Jewish sectarianism increasingly problematic. American neo-Zionism, therefore, is an adaptation of Zionist based Jewish peoplehood to a multicultural society.

During medieval times, the Christian nobility was on top, the Christian peasants on the bottom and the Jews in the middle providing service to the Christian nobility in controlling and exploiting the Christian peasants. One aspect of the Jewish role in medieval Europe was the evolution of an ideology justifying their economic and administrative function in regards to the non-Jewish peasants. According to Israel Shahak, the Jewish townspeople exhibited contempt for agriculture as an occupation and for the peasants as a class. At the time, the Jews were a distinct, semi-autonomous group surrounded by the community of non-Jews. With the advent of the enlightenment and industrialism, the old medieval social organization along with the economic function of the Jews became obsolete. Modernity required social reorganization and the elimination of medieval economic rigidity. And while assimilation into the surrounding community had appeal to many of the Jews within the closed Jewish society, many Jewish elites enjoyed their relatively privileged status and resisted assimilation. Thus Zionism was born.

At the time of the birth of Zionism, Eastern Europe was undergoing a wave of "Blood and Soil" nationalistic fervor. This reality profoundly influence early Zionism. First, the power of the "Blood and Soil" appeal was clearly manifest and lent itself to appeals to Jewish peoplehood centered in the Middle East, the metaphysical "home" of the "Jewish people." Second, "Blood and Soil" nationalism regarded European Jews as outsiders and foreigners in the lands they were living, hence, assimilation would be problematic at best. For the Zionists, the obvious solution was to "return" to the metaphysical "homeland" of their Judaic religion with the help of one or more European imperial powers. The Zionist Jews would displace the local Palestinian Arabs, and would provide valuable service to their imperial patron by providing an imperial outpost in this increasingly important area. In their own words, they would become the Jew of nations. Although many of the early Zionists were atheists, they nonetheless relied significantly upon biblical texts as a justification for their actions. Later, the Holocaust would provide the ultimate justification for what was up until then a marginal movement. As initially conceived, Zionism sought the "ingathering" of all of the world's Jews to Israel. An Israel dependent upon the support of a successful and powerful permanent Diaspora community of Jews would have been inconceivable to the early Zionists.

The Holocaust was a uniquely significant and defining event in Jewish history. This mass murder of Jews based upon birth identity was massively traumatic for the survivors as well as frightening for its implications for their future safety. It empowered the focus on Jewish peoplehood even as it dealt a devastating blow to majority Jewish desire for assimilation into the surrounding community. It should be remembered that up until the Holocaust, Zionism was relatively unpopular among the majority of Jews even though popular among many Jewish elites who profited from Jewish tribal solidarity. Furthermore, the majority of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust were either non-Zionists or anti-Zionists fearful of the prospect of charges of dual loyalty. Yet, as significant as the effects of the Nazi holocaust were, it was the Zionist interpretation of the Holocaust as the culmination of 2000 years of Gentile anti-Semitism which rendered the Holocaust thoroughly transformative of the concept of "Jewishness" which now became associated with an unalterable condition of birth rather than an ideological/religious construct. Also transformative was the substitution of a mythologized Jewish state in place of the metaphysical land of Israel of the Judaic religion. Judeo-Zionism.

This Zionist interpretation of the Holocaust was not immediately emphasized, Jewish survivors in the DP camps still preferring resettlement in the West to Palestine. Up until the 1967 Six Day War, the Holocaust was viewed as a consequence of Nazi anti-Semitism run amok during World War II. It was only after 1967, when Israel and American Jewish elites demonstrated their value and commitment to empire through the Israeli victory over the Arabs, that the last remnants of imperial anti-Semitism (in the broad interpretation of the term) melted away. Now the Jewish elite were free to pursue their kinship empowered power-seeking full speed ahead. It was after 1967 that Hollywood discovered the Holocaust big time and the "eternal" anti-Semitism of Jewish myth-history was promulgated. It was then that "Jewishness" became associated with the "Jewish" state of Israel, "good Jews" loyal supporters and defenders of Israel, critics either anti-Semites or self-hating Jews. This Zionist worldview overwhelmed organized Jewry gaining rabbinical support. Judaism became reinterpreted through the Zionist ideology such that Judaism entered a new phase which I describe as Judeo-Zionism, where Zionism, Israel, and a belief in eternal Gentile anti-Semitism become the ideological unifiers of a re-united Jewish people.

It must be remembered that Zionism was a response to the "threat" of assimilation and the effect that this would have upon relative elite Jewish power and privilege. It is a retrenchment into the ideology of Classical Judaism updated into secular forms, hence, an ideology of Jewish separation which is inherently anti-Gentile, the non-Jew the essential evil/dangerous other. This manifestation of anti-Gentilism is influenced by relative Jewish power. In Israel, Jews, having ethnically cleansed most of the native inhabitants, are the majority and control the government. This has permitted a return to a visible separation from the non-Jews who live there, along with laws which surreptitiously privilege Jews at the expense of the non-Jews by specifying "the right of return" which refers to Jews only. This along with a society in which racism and discrimination run rampant. This is a society which celebrates Jewish sectarianism while reviling universalism.

American Jewish Zionist support for a sectarian Jewish state is justified by appeal to the Holocaust and the Jewish need for a safe haven. Jewish media power allowed Jewish Zionist ethnic cleansing of the natives to be downplayed or hidden completely, the native victims transformed into anti-Semitic terrorists who wanted to throw the Jews into the sea rather than living side by side peacefully. Jewish Zionists always had considerable Jewish Diaspora financial and other support, along with imperial support from Britain and then the U.S. thanks to the political power of the Diaspora Jewish Zionists. Always depicted as a fragile Jewish David pitted against an anti-Semitc Arab Goliath, the Zionists eventually formed a Jewish state which they misrepresented as the only democracy in the Middle East. This version of events meshed well with the imperial demonization of the Muslim Arabs whose oil resources the U.S. coveted. Examination of Jewish power and power-seeking is discouraged through charges of anti-Semitism, charges which owe their effectiveness primarily to the Holocaust and the sympathy it invoked, and to the wealth, power and organizational solidarity of organized Jewry.

Israel and the Zionist ideology greatly increased the power-seeking effectiveness of organized American Jewry. Under the phrase "Never Again," Zionist Jews could organize and commit to a quasi religious cause as if their lives depended upon it. Far from crass and self-serving, power-seeking was seen as defensive and essential, its effect on the common good irrelevant. Israel's triumph in the one-sided six day war was seen as a powerful nation of Jews defeating the existential threat posed by the Arab hordes. Non-Jews in general were lumped together as "Gentiles" implying a certain group dynamic to the actions of non-Jews, now interpreted through Judeo-Zionism as eternally hostile, lack of conflict merely a lull in Gentile anti-Semitic aggression. The Zionist ideology worked to motivate the organized Zionist Jews and to increase the power-seeking effectiveness of Jewish Zionist elites. Jewish Zionism is essentially a restructuring of the myths of Classical Judaism in secular form, hence, is inherently anti-Gentile.

There is a significant difference between the overt Jewish sectarianism of Israel and the unspoken Jewish sectarianism of multicultural America. In the U.S., it behooves Zionist Jews to more-or-less blend in within the larger non-Jewish society. Hence, physical separation of Jews versus non-Jews which is at the heart of Classical Judaism is replaced by psychological separation induced by the Zionist ideology, and reinforced by Jewish organizations pursuing shared Jewish goal seeking activities and commitment. Also, there is the ongoing Jewish social milieu including Jewish neighborhoods, summer camps, schools, etc. In other words, Jewish interconnectedness, while obvious to Jews, is not consciously visible to most non-Jews who would dismiss its importance in any event. In fact, Jewish Zionist propaganda has been so effective in shaping the doctrinal system that to even broach the subject may be considered anti-Semitic, Jews still accorded victim status. This, in spite of the lack of empirical data to demonstrate that Jews are anything other than the wealthiest, most powerful, most privileged and safest ethno-religious group in America.

While Zionism has empowered American Jews, there is a problem. The stunning hypocrisy of supposedly multiculural liberals supporting a brutal sectarian Jewish state, along with the potential for charges of dual loyalty, have caused many "liberal" Jews to seek to distance themselves from Israeli actions. Additionally, the power of the Israel Lobby has come under increased scrutiny. So while "liberal" Zionists criticize Israeli actions even while supporting the Jewish state, neo-Zionist Jews seek to further distance themselves from Israel by calling for a single and democratic Israel, essentially challenging the "Jewishness" of the Jewish state. There seems to me to be more to this than initially meets the eye. Even as veteran champions of Palestinian human rights such as Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein have disputed the efficacy of this strategy, the "anti-Zionist" Jews have dug in their heels, even going so far as to excommunicate activist Norman Finkelstein (and others), as well as severely criticize Left icon Noam Chomsky. The neo-Zionist Jews have effectively commandeered the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement initially begun by Palestinian organizations, mostly NGOs. Currently, BDS appears to focus on garnering publicity for their anti-Zionist activities primarily by pushing for a handful of high profile boycott efforts. The most visible being the announcement of performers that they cancelled a concert in Israel. Economically, BDS has had no impact whatsoever. It has, however, generated increased publicity and awareness of Israel's nefarious conduct towards the Palestinians. At this point, it seems to me that this increased publicity has had little if any impact on the conditions of Palestinians, but has mostly accrued to the benefit of those explicitly Jewish organizations supporting BDS.

Jewish anti-Zionist (neo-Zionist) organizations seem to have two primary objectives. The first is to distance themselves from association with the actions of the Jewish state, and with the dual loyalty implications inherent in modern Zionism. The second is to organize as Jews in opposition to Israel as a means of reinforcing Jewish kinship solidarity divorced from traditional Zionist organization and support for Israel. However, Israel remains the central focus of neo-Zionist activity. Neo-Zionist Jews share substantial elements of Zionist ideology with the Zionist Jews. These involve Jewish myth-history which depicts a 2000 year tale of Jewish woe and the centrality of the Holocaust and eternal anti-Semitism. That is, Jews as a distinct group sharing a more-or-less common history and a collective fate. To this end, these so-called anti-Zionist Jewish organizations seem more concerned with searching out instances of perceived anti-Semitism (broadly construed) than with ameliorating the situation in regards to the Palestinians.

Rather than focus on illegality and human rights in the occupied territories, in particular in Gaza, BDS wades into the occupation itself and the Palestinian right of return, calling for an international boycott of Israel. These are major issues which have been discussed for decades with no resolution in sight, not the type of straightforward human rights issues easily understood. Not only is this unlikely to be effective, but one consequence of BDS appears to be the re-energizing of the Zionist power structure to oppose what is portrayed as as an existential threat to the Jewish state. This has resulted in Jewish Zionist countermeasures such as passing state laws prohibiting the states from doing business with boycotters. Such laws have already been passed in 26 US states and are pending in 13 others. Then there are the ongoing instances of "anti-Semite" witch hunts within these "pro-Palestinian" neo-Zionist Jewish organizations which strongly suggests that their activism is more concerned with Jewish kinship solidarity than with the well-being of the Palestinians. While Zionism is a return to the ideology of Classical Judaism in modern garb, American neo-Zionism is, in effect, Zionism adapted to multiculturalism, the primacy of Jewish kinship not apparent. And like both Classical Judaism and modern Zionism, it is intrinsically anti-Gentile in nature consistent with its tribal ideology reinforced by group solidarity and camaraderie. Nowadays, Jews are far from a beleaguered minority, rather, being born a Jew is to be born into a powerful and privileged group which seeks to maintain its relative status through organized activity.


Post a Comment

<< Home