Jewish Nationalists believe their Freedom is Complete only when Palestinian Freedom is Incomplete
The world would be a better place without Jewish Nationalism. Certainly, millions of Palestinians would be better off — off the chart better off.
Jewish Nationalism is the root cause of the Palestinian tragedy, and without addressing the root cause of a problem, no deal or fix is going to make a single bit of difference. Jewish Nationalism is coupled with Arabophobia and Islamophobia, and, in that sense, the whole world would be better off without it.
Jewish Nationalism is slowly but surely shaping the modern world in the image of the old, where proto-fascist ideologies of “might is right” were unhindered by international humanitarian law, international conventions or UN resolutions.
The Zionist credo from which all further premises among politicians and diplomats develop is this: Israel is and must remain a Jewish state. It was George W. Bush Sr. who coined the implausible phrase “right to exist” as belonging to Israel in his 1991 UN speech to override the UN 1975 ruling that Zionism is a form of racism.
The constant drumbeat that what is now called religious or right-wing extremism in Israel does not describe the Jewish Nationalism that established the Jewish state in the first place on 78% of Palestine in 1948 is no more than a sleight of hand. Here is Theodor Herzl, the founding father of this ideology: “Our first object is, as I said before, supremacy, assured to us by international law, over a portion of the globe sufficiently large to satisfy our just requirements.”
The cover-up of naked supremacy was Zionism as Social Nationalism. For example, Ben Gurion had Marxist and later on Social Democratic leanings. But in practical policies, there never has been a difference between the Right and Left sides of Jewish Nationalism.
When we hear in Newsweek about Jared Kushner’s “patronizing, colonial attitude that shines through” in his racialist remarks about Palestinian inadequacies, we are hearing only half the story. Jared Kushner’s Jewish identity, not just his “white supremacist” attitude, is driving his world view. Yes, yes, yes, Jewish Nationalism is European and colonial in origin and the Ashkenazi elite have, in typical colonial fashion, looked down upon and oppressed Israel’s Mizrahim, but the ideology of Jewish Nationalism has taken root in Israel and elsewhere.
It has taken root as a Jewish identity, not as colonialism.
Despite the fact that the majority Jewish population in Israel today is of Eastern extraction, the “New Jew”, the Israeli, has come to be seen as an extension of the West. Despite Israel’s location in the Middle East, that is now the identity of the Israeli Jew.
A case in point is the metamorphosis of the Tunisian Jew Albert Memmi from a champion of anti-colonial national liberation to unflagging support of the Jewish state. It is a cognitive incongruity that many intellectual Jews on the Left adhere to, so why not the socially oppressed Mizrahi Jews in Israel as well?
To the Israeli government, perhaps it is a matter of not all Jews being created equal, but all Jews are certainly more equal than all other non-Jews. The collective Jewish identity Zionism’s nationalist politics have so long nurtured has already congealed and hardened.
Jewish Nationalism is an ideologically exclusionary social and political policy toward non-Jews based on an ancient tribal identity. Nevertheless, “Zionism” has been slow to acquire a well-deserved pejorative connotation in common discourse to denote racism, apartheid, tribalism and Jewish supremacist aspirations, which the ideology undoubtedly embraces.
That’s not surprising given the extraordinary efforts undertaken by George Bush Sr., as I mention above, and currently in European countries and in the United States to legislate against the pejorative usage of Zionism, deliberately conflating Jewish Nationalism with Judaism.
In her report to the UK Labour Party, Baroness Chakrabarti advises critics of the Jewish state “to use the term ‘Zionist’ advisedly, carefully and never euphemistically or as part of personal abuse.”
Some words denoting political ideologies carry negative or positive connotations — for example “socialist”, “liberal”, “conservative”, “feminist” — depending on the individual world view of the user or receiver. Others, like “fascist”, for example, begin as neutral terms and then slowly acquire objective negative connotations in social discourse based on a collective consensus that the system of beliefs, ideas and values such terms describe are undesirable.
Jewish Nationalism has a lot in common with fascism. It embraces the superiority of a particular “race” that must be kept apart from the rest of humanity; it desires to restore Jews to their “God-given estate” in this world; and it targets Palestinian Arabs as the root of all evil.
Jewish hegemony is secured through the immigration of Jews to Israel, through terror perpetrated against Palestinian Arabs and their expulsion from their own homeland, and through effectively turning all Jews around the world into potential enemies of the Palestinians. It is high time that Jews are looked upon as people like everyone else.
Jewish Nationalism is what stands between one secular democratic state in Palestine and the misery of the current status quo. The Zionist idea of Jewish Nationalism is a racist and racialist idea. The Jewish State, Israel, is a nakba (catastrophe). Jewish Nationalism has shamefully robbed the Palestinian people of their basic humanity.
I’d like to end my thoughts with a few positive lines from a poem written by Palestinian-Australian-Canadian writer, commentator, author and playwright Samah Sabawi, who says, “To the people of Israel who fear our freedom: Don’t be afraid, we will liberate you too.” The poem is titled, ‘You will Rise with me’:
The day I rise from the ruins of your oppression
I promise you I will not rise alone
You too will rise with me
You will be liberated from your tyranny
And my freedom will bring your salvation.
Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.