Thursday, February 19, 2009


Recently an anonymous reader discovered a post I wrote a back in November, in which I defended Zionists and pro-Israeli activists on the Berkeley campus. As is widely known, the campus of the University of California at Berkeley is one of the most Jew-hating environments on the planet, coddling racists and bigots flying under "cause of the day" colours.
University officials, while aware of the problem, and happy to take money from donors on both the Jewish and Arab sides of the fence, gently close their eyes and pretend that all is well.

The posting was this one:
It is dated 11/14/2008.

The anonymous commenter who discovered it shortly after ten o'clock yesterday evening wrote:
"I don't understand Zionists' claim to a land that was already inhabited by other people. We live in a modern era. Why should Americans support an apartheid state because it believes that religious texts have 'granted' a single people the right to establish a racially defined state to the exclusion of the residents who were living there throughout the 19th and 20th centuries when Jesiwh immigrants were being imported from Europe. While the Holocaust is a horrendous legacy, how does the Jewish state honor the memory of those who were killed by Nazi Germany by perpetrating similar acts of exclusion and oppression? I really don't understand the Zionist mentality...Also, many Jews are anti-Zionist."

I have responded to his query in the comment string, but as the tropes he trumpets are common, it may serve some useful purpose to deal with them in a new post.

I don't understand Zionists' claim to a land that was already inhabited by other people.

There were always Jews living there among the other people. The other people came in with conquerors over the centuries. Jews, however, have ALWAYS lived there. Furthermore, the Zionist purchased land - and developed the barren areas which they bought. It was the economic development of those lands that drew in even more people.
Also, the Jewish quarters of Jerusalem and Hebron, as well as other places inside the land, were ethnically cleansed by Arab mobs in the twenties and thirties - how do you justify Arabs even daring to claim those areas?

Why should Americans support an apartheid state

America does not support an Apartheid state - Israeli Arabs have the right to vote, to own property, and to participate at all levels in Israeli society. And there are Arabs in the ranks of most political parties and all ministries. There are also Arab parties in the Knesset. There are jobs and stations where having served in the IDF give you a much greater entry - Arabs are free to join the IDF. Druze Arabs and many Bedouin do serve in the military (and note that there are Knesset speakers, ministers, officers, and department heads from the Arab Israeli side). All who stayed in 1948 became citizens.

The distinction is with the population in the territories - who are not citizens, and do not wish to be citizens, of a praedominantly Jewish state. They have their own institutions, which are overwhelmingly Judenrein - this despite there having been Jewish populations in both the West Bank and Gaza (that latter population ethnically cleansed several times, the last time during the British period) which date back to the pre-Roman period. Obviously, a population which will not become citizens, and is not even desirous of that - which in fact is acknowledged by all sides as heading towards eventual statehood of its own - cannot be administered in the same way as citizens. They are administered under British Mandate codes and Ottoman law. As they were when the Jordanians ruled over them, and as they were after Egypt had seized Gaza. The laws in those areas are a confusing and oppressive welter, due to it being illegal to change them until locally valid representative bodies do so.

Apartheid state ....

Like Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Japan, Germany, and several others which have nationality laws based on racial and religious exclusionism, coupled with a large number of 'guest-workers' who are treated worse than animals?

But Israel treats its guest-workers and resident aliens far better. So, NOT like the countries just mentioned.

Do you wish to talk about Mexican dishwashers and lettuce pickers? How about Turks who have been three generations in Northern Europe, and are still "foreigners"? Chinese and Indians in Malaysia who have been there for centuries and are discriminated against?
Koreans in Japan? Indians and Pakistanis in the Gulf?

[02/20/2009: Adding Italy to the list above. Per Italian law, children born to foreigners do not automatically receive citizenship, some are left in limbo. This particularly applies to Gypsies and Eastern Europeans. ]

because it believes that religious texts have 'granted' a single people the right to establish a racially defined state to the exclusion of the residents who were living there throughout the 19th and 20th centuries when Jewish immigrants were being imported from Europe.

Zionism is not based on the Bible but on that land being the historic homeland of the Jewish people - even the Romans admitted precisely that.
As did the Arabs - in the Quran, during the various Caliphates, under the Ottomans, and even in the 1920s when the Arabs were becoming nations. Kings Abdullah (assassinated by a Palestinian in Jerusalem) and Hussein (of blessed memory) also admitted the Jewish right to the land.

Nor is the state racially defined (and 'race' in any case is no longer used as a defining term by most anthropologists). There are Jews of every "racial" stripe known to man. In what way is a glow-in-the-dark Hassid from Lithuania the same race as a Persian Jew, an Egyptian Jew, a Baghdadi, a Jew from Samarkand or Bokhara, or a Sfard from Morocco?

And exclusion? Did I already mention that those who stayed, contrary to the commands of the invading Arab armies and at the express request of Jewish leaders in 1948, were automatically granted citizenship? If I didn't mention it yet, I apologize - I should have.

And speaking of 'exclusion', I should also mention that since 1948 the Jews were excluded in very large numbers from Islamic countries - were they had lived since before Islam, in many cases, and in some cases before the current population settled there (that being most notably ALL the lands inhabited today by Turkic majorities, all of which were conquered by invaders from the steppes between ten and four centuries ago - Istanbul used to be Constantinople, and the Greeks still want it back).

Jewish immigrants imported from Europe? Indeed, many of the citizens of Israel have ancestors who came from there (though, of course, the ancestors of the European Jews were not from Europe - see 'Historic Homeland' mentioned above).
Over half the Jewish population however came from Arab and Muslim lands that they were kicked out of in 1948 and years since.
And do not forget, there were already Jews there when they returned to Israel. Many of whom had never been elsewhere - the territory 'assigned' to them by the United Nations was the area of Jewish majority, not the total area where there were Jews. Those who were thrown out of the Arab countries were robbed by the Arabs before they left, and arrived with nothing. As the US Congress in fact recognizes. Note also that these exiles were absorbed by their kin - precisely as the Arabs have refused to absorb their own brothers who fled.

to the exclusion of the residents who were living there throughout the 19th and 20th centuries

The Jewish return to the land was already happening in small measure long before Zionism - Jews returned to Jerusalem, Hebron, Tzfat, and Gaza throughout Ottoman times, and there were Jews who already lived there.
For eight decades till 1948, Jewish population there increased more markedly than under the Caliphate.
Since 1948, it has been the Jewish state - but all in all, Jews have been a majority in their land now for several generations, since before independence. Many were born there, their parents were born there. And many even have grandparents, great grandparents, and even further kin who were born there. They live there now, and most have not lived anywhere else.
If being born in the US makes you an American, or a citizen of many other countries, then by that same reason the Jews in Israel are validly of Israel, and the "Palestinians" born in Nahr El Bard or Jordan are Lebanese and Jordanian.

Oh wait, Arabs practice an exclusionism even more bitter than Europeans and Malays. They discriminate against their own family.

While the Holocaust is a horrendous legacy, how does the Jewish state honor the memory of those who were killed by Nazi Germany by perpetrating similar acts of exclusion and oppression?

The comparison is obscene. After 1967, the Arab population in the territories more than tripled. Even in Gaza since the intifada, there has been a forty percent increase in the population, as per a news item on the BBC website which quotes UN figures. There are more Palestinians now than ever before. They have thrived most marvelously since 1948.

There are no death camps. There are no gas chambers. There are no torture rooms. The Arabs in the West Bank largely have their own officials to blame for the mess they are in (corruption nurtured and encouraged by the UN), and the Arabs in Gaza can thank Hamas (whose nickname, by the way, is SHIA - in snarky acknowledgement of the Iranian contribution) for their situation.

I really don't understand the Zionist mentality

That may be due to ignorance. Give it another shot.

Also, many Jews are anti-Zionist

That also may be due to ignorance. Provided we give them the benefit of doubt.

But more because they desperately wish to be unobjectionable to all, in every possible way. Blending in is a powerful motivator for Uncle-Tomism.
As is profound self-hatred.

[02/20/2009: I actually thought of refering to the anti-Zionist Jews as Kapos-in-training, but the situation is more complex than that. As "A" points out, "The whole issue of Jewish anti-Zionism is much more complex and should be treated in better detail and with less acrimony toward non-Jews.
Ultraorthodox Jews (Neturei Karte) did not want Zionism to usurp the traditional rabbinic leadership of the Jews.
Assimilationist Jews were/are afraid that Zionism will cast doubt on their loyalty to their current state.
Both Marxist and Assimilationist Jews believed that "progress" in a liberal or communist society would allow them to integrate and be part of larger society. In Germany and USSR, this proved to be an illusion.".

By the same token, many pro-Palestinian activists assert that they are not anti-Semites because their 'best friends' are Jewish (in other words, strictly anti-Zionist Jews). A more common tendency among them is to avoid Jews who they feel are too "Jewish", especially as regards the Israel and Palestine issues.
And, of course, there are still convinced anti-Semites in their ranks.
Not wishing to associate with a taboo minority is also a powerful motivator, as is profound subconscious hatred.

Any questions sofar? There will be a test.


Now, I find it interesting that the word 'apartheid' is so often used by the anti-Israel crowd. Interesting, because it does not mean what they intend it to mean, nor what they wish to think it means.
Apartheid is a Dutch word that strictly speaking means 'separateness', and in the South African context referred to a legal separation within the same country into ethnic classes (based, in fact, on old Dutch-Roman law and the feudal concept of Romans, nobles, freemen, and serfs) - something which in so varied and diverse a country as Israel is patently absurd.

The West Bank, of course, is different; the Arabs wish their eventual state to be as Judenrein as possible, and have made abundantly clear that they wish Jews to keep out, but do not object to dogs or Persians.

As my regular readers know, I speak, read, and write Dutch fluently. I also understand a number of Dutch dialects, including Afrikaans. Do not presume to lecture me on what 'apartheid' means. Do not even think of doing so. It is a word in my language, not yours - you have merely hijacked it, and 'colonized' it - precisely like the Arabs did to the Christian lands in North Africa, the Levant, and Iberia, exactly like Muslims did to Asia Minor, Western India, Central Asia, and parts of Indonesia. If you use that word, you betray your ignorance, and your linguistic carpetbaggery.
Plus, in this case, you devalue that word to the point of irrelevance.
As you are also doing by comparing the fairly minor Gaza war to the full-scale extermination of six million people over a five year period.