This is an article I intended to post some time back but it is still highly relevant. Rafael Castro, an Israeli Zionist, argues that the demon of anti-Zionism will only be addressed when the West stops demonising colonialism. Instead of Zionism pretending that Israel is not a colonial state its defenders should be proud to accept that Israel is a colonial state and furthermore to go on to the attack and openly state that there is nothing wrong with colonialism.
Castro effectively deals with the Zionist libel that its opponents are anti-Semitic. He notes that this is simply not true since they are also in the forefront of anti-fascist activities. And besides, it is also not effective any longer. Yet Zionism is trapped by its past. You can’t just turn a large ship of state around overnight.
The problem that Castro doesn’t address is that whatever views he holds of colonialism, most people understand that under colonialism the indigenous population was at the mercy and whim of the colonizer and in Palestine this is particularly true. Apart from the racist paternalism, it presupposes that the ideological justification of colonialism – the White Man’s Burden and its civilising mission – were actually true.
In essence this article betrays the fact that Zionism is more and more on the defensive ideologically as none of its hasbarah (propaganda) seems to be working. The reason? No amount of propaganda can contradict the reality on the ground.
But Castro at least comes clean about the reality of the Israeli state. Compare that to Gilad Atzmon who pretends that Israel is not a colonial enterprise because it has no mother country, as if Jewish colonists didn’t perpetrate exactly the same crimes as those with a ‘mother country’ (the Afrikaaners also didn’t have a mother country, nor did the American settlers post 1783).
Op-ed: Zionism will only cease being demonized when West stops to demonize colonialism
Published: 03.06.12, 18:04 / Israel Opinion
It is a curious paradox that despite its many achievements in all fields, Israel has yet to craft a convincing strategy to combat anti-Zionism. One of the reasons for this is that the roots of this phenomenon have been misdiagnosed.
Leftist anti-Zionism is not bred by anti-Semitism. The secular intelligentsia that supports Palestinians abhors Christian anti-Semitism and Nazi racism. Their favorite thinkers are Jewish intellectuals like Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, and Noam Chomsky. These anti-Zionists gladly rally against neo-Nazis and have no qualms about socializing with or marrying Jews.
Contrast this to the genuine anti-Semitism of pro-Israel evangelical Christians who believe that Jews are doomed to burn in hell or of xenophobic politicians who court Zionists to wage war against Islam, and we understand why the roots of anti-Zionism are usually not to be found in anti-Semitism. More crucially, the remedy prescribed to anti-Semites must not be prescribed to anti-Zionists.
Anti-Semitism can be effectively fought by showing documentaries and films on the Holocaust. But how do anti-Zionists react to claims that Jews after the Holocaust need a national homeland? They either question why Jews should get a state if the Gypsies did not get one or claim that Nazis – not Arabs – murdered Jews and that therefore a Jewish homeland in Palestine is immoral. Not taking note of these objections only helps Holocaust education fuel the libel that Jews use the Holocaust as a pretext to oppress Arabs.
What about Arab prosperity?
The root of anti-Zionism must be sought elsewhere – in anti-colonialism. The belief that colonialism was an absolute evil is so deeply engrained in the contemporary Western psyche that all enterprises bearing any parallels to it are automatically censored. This explains why people whose heroes are Bolivar and Gandhi instinctively side with the Palestinians.
To these people, claims that God promised the Land of Israel to the Jews reek of religious fanaticism. To make the argument that Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East invites allegations that it pursues apartheid policies. To counter all these claims is time-consuming and requires a taste for nuances. But why should anyone trade nuances for the facile certainty that colonialism is inherently evil?
Zionism will only cease being demonized in the politically correct corners of the West once our schools and film industry cease to demonize colonialism. The politically correct depiction of the colonialist as a racist and covetous brute must give space to the majority of well-meaning administrators that helped build roads, schools, and hospitals for the natives.
It must be shown that colonialists administered law and justice far more fairly than most pre-colonial chieftains or post-colonial despots. It must be taught that human development indicators plummeted in the majority of African and Asian countries following independence.
Once an honest discussion about colonialism is tabled, hostility to Zionism will wane in leftist circles. Not because they will shed the belief that Zionism is a form of colonialism, but because it will be possible for them to appreciate the merits of Zionism.
Indeed, the unprecedented peace and prosperity that Arabs enjoy in Israel and enjoyed in Judea and Samaria prior to the Oslo Accords is perhaps the best evidence of the morality of Zionism. Yet nowadays this reality cannot be trumpeted. Why? Because it might imply that Palestinians flourish wherever they are not ruled by fellow Arabs. And in a world where self-determination is still viewed as the ultimate good, this is a sacrilegious truth.