[I first drafted this review in October 2006 and this version was completed on 13 January 2007.]
Antony Loewenstein’s My
The book starts off with an account of the controversy aroused in 2003 when the moderate Palestinian intellectual and politician, Hanan Ashrawi, received the Sydney Peace Prize. Since the mainstream Jewish organizations in
Antony goes on to chronicle his personal development into a ‘chic anti-Zionist’, which led him to travel to Isr
The second section of the book comprises a summary of the standard liberal view of the history of Zionism. For a polemical approach to particular periods in Isr
A third section, ‘Adventures in lobby land’ has a chapter reiterating what I have come to call the Walt and Mearscheimer dog wagging hypothesis. In March 2006, John Mearsheimer, Professor of Political Science at
It goes without saying that AIPAC and the US Zionist right instantly met the paper with howls of rage, branding Walt and Mearscheimer antisemites. The reaction on the left was more nuanced. Some thought Walt and Mearscheimer were essentially correct. Others that the most powerful country in all history does not dance to the tune of an insignificant, if strategic, country of 7 million on the other side of the globe. Some emphasised that the business and geopolitical interests of the
Ultimately, Walt and Mearscheimer’s reasoning fails because it proceeds from the assumption that countries have interests independent of the interests of their ruling classes. The
Another chapter discusses attacks on British MP George Galloway and London Mayor Ken Livingstone, and includes a rather more informative discussion of the Zionist organizations in
The fourth and last section focuses on media treatment of the issues, with an emphasis on the Australian media. As a journalist, he is deeply concerned about balance, not just in media coverage, but also in political parties’ positions, an issue I will return to.
The main impression you get reading the book is that Antony is concerned about the issues, that he’s started to do some reading, and that he’s very, very confused. The purpose of this review is to tease out the source of the confusion and try to introduce some clarity to a position on the issue of
In the introduction,
I support the state of
This paragraph raises a number of issues – What is Zionism? Is it to blame for the conflict? Is the conflict intractable? What does it mean for
Jewish is an inherently ambiguous term because of the confusion between the ethnicity and the religion it describes. Since it is nationalism we’re talking about, it makes more sense to stick to the ethnic interpretation while allowing some flexibility to incorporate converts and the like. An ethnicity, or ‘race’ as it used to be called, is a strictly social category. The members of an ethnicity are defined by themselves, by their communities, and perhaps above all, by their oppressors. So, if I say I’m a Jew, I’m a Jew. If the rabbi says I’m a Jew, I’m a Jew. And if the Nazis say I’m a Jew, I’m definitely a Jew, whatever anyone else might think.
Nationalism is an ideology that divides people into groups on the basis of the territory where they were born or reside or have allegiance to. So it’s kind of metaphorical to speak of ‘Jewish nationalism’, but what makes it a sound metaphor is that Zionism is specifically about the creation of a Jewish state on a particular territory – about transforming an ethnic group into a nation.
To ask ‘how much Zionism…is responsible for this intractable conflict’ presupposes that Zionism is responsible to at least some extent.
Is the creation of a Jewish state in
So ‘the ideology of Jewish nationalism’, and more importantly putting that ideology into practice by actually creating a Jewish state, is entirely responsible for the conflict. Even if the Palestinians had offered no resistance, there would still be violence – the violence of the colonists.
To understand what it means for
But it goes beyond just being undemocratic. Because the Jewish state necessarily privileges Jews as an ethnicity, it is also inherently racist. Zionism arises from the premise that all Jews have common interests, that all non Jews have opposing interests, and that Jews and non Jews cannot join forces to combat anti-Semitism. Furthermore, Zionism assumes that anti-Semitism will inevitably arise wherever Jews live among non Jews and the only practical way to overcome anti-Semitism is for Jews to isolate ourselves from non Jews. In some versions, isolation is the only possible way to avoid it – Moses Hess, for example, writes of the Germans’ ‘inborn racial antagonism to the Jews’ (Rome & Jerusalem, 1862 (http://www.zionismontheweb.org/Moses_Hess_Rome_and_Jerusalem.htm)).
In this respect, Zionism counterposes itself directly to the socialist principle of class solidarity. Specifically, Jewish employees have interests in common with their Jewish employer that they do not have in common with their non Jewish coworkers. It fosters the illusion of alliance between classes whose interests are directly contradictory and the illusion of division between those with common material interests.
Wherever a Jewish state was established it would have to displace somebody. Although primarily a secular ideology, Zionism has always preferred
Throughout the early 20th Century, the Zionist movement always aspired to create a Jewish majority in
The idea was not new – Herzl mentioned it in his diary in 1895. And there is no doubt that there was an explicit plan. On 10 March 1948, David Ben-Gurion and his closest advisors, ‘the Consultancy’, finalised ‘Plan Dalet’, to rid the country of its indigenous population. Ilan Pappé’s new book, The ethnic cleansing of
The number of Arabs forced to flee the area that became
‘Allowing justice for the Palestinian people’ begins with redressing the grievous injustice of the Nakbah. Nobody knows how many would exercise the right of return, but the returnees would reduce or eliminate the Jewish majority in Isr
Another requirement for justice concerns the so called Isr
The refugees are not the only Palestinians who have lost their property to
Finally, the occupation of 1967 must come to an end.
The principal reason is that such an arrangement not only leaves the ethnocratic Jewish state intact, but creates yet another sectarian non Jewish state. Furthermore, it does not address the right of return to homes within
Advocates of the two state ‘solution’ often assert that because of Isr
In discussing the wall
I’m starting to share the view of …advocating the one-state solution, principally because the so-called state that is sometimes dangled in-front of the Palestinians is both questionable and divided. (linked from http://antonyloewenstein.com/blog/2006/12/11/the-journalist-and-islam/)
Cook, Jonathan. 2006. Blood and religion: the unmasking of the Jewish and democratic state.
Finkelstein, Norman G. 2003. Image and reality of the Isr
Pappé, Ilan. 2004. A history of modern
---- 2006. The ethnic cleansing of
Reinhart, Tanya. 2005. Isr
---- 2006. The road map to nowhere: Isr
Rose, John. 2004. The myths of Zionism.
Selfa, Lance, ed. 2002. The struggle for Palestine.