When attempting to redefine the word Zionism, the way Israel tries to rebrand its occupation of Palestine as a well-intentioned attempt to restore peace, one should at least avoid leaving out the details.
Last week, a blogger at The Daily Beast ran a brazen article in which she declares herself a Zionist who openly “fight[s] for Palestinian rights”. Her argument is that contrary to public opinion, Zionism is a nationalist rather than an oppressive movement that holds just as much merit as the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. A captioned photograph reads, “Jews deserve a flag, and a nation, just like everyone else”. But even at the expense of others?
In the author’s hasty attempt to rebrand Zionism, she fails to identify how, historically-speaking, Zionism has sought to achieve its end goal and how, logically-speaking, Zionism continues to achieve this end goal. Instead, she writes, “‘Zionist’ doesn’t mean ‘fascist,’ or an ‘imperialist,’ or ‘running dog.’ It doesn’t even mean ‘Israeli.’ It means, very simply, ‘Jewish nationalist.’”
Defining herself as an “American-Israeli writer who has studied and written about the contemporary Middle East since the early 1990s”, I’m sure she is well-versed in the history of Zionism. But just so that it’s out there, let me remind everyone that Zionism isn’t just a form of Jewish nationalism. It is a form of politically-motivated nationalism that incorporates select elements of Jewish history to establish a Jewish state in a land already populated by others. Upon the inception of the movement in the late 1800s, well before Israel ever existed, Theodor Herzl called on Jews to move to Palestine to lay the framework for a future Jewish state. The indigenous population’s legal claims to the land were to be ignored, a strategy enforced by Israel today. [Read more...]