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January 17, 2003

Zionism a relic of the Past?

To understand Matt Rees's assessment of Zionism in Time magazine is to understand that Zionism is a reaction to the past reality of Arab hatred of Israel:
"For the past decade, Israelis felt they were leaving behind the pioneering days of Zionism, the movement that campaigned to found the Jewish state and create a strong character in its young people, all of whom had to serve in the army. The phrase post-Zionism came to describe the country's effort to build an individualistic, high-tech economy. Most Israelis hoped their country would become like anyplace else: ordinary, boring and safe. But two years of violent intifadeh — bloody Israeli occupation of West Bank towns and frequent Palestinian suicide bombings, like the twin attacks in Tel Aviv that claimed 22 lives on Jan. 5 — have snapped Israelis back into the mixture of nationalism and fear at the root of Zionism. What used to be a minority view — the conviction that Israel's enemies mean to wipe it off the map and that to make peace is to invite extinction — is now mainstream thinking. It can be measured in the high level of response to call-ups for army reserve duty by ordinary Israelis, and it's erased almost entirely any lingering support for the concessions offered to the Palestinians in the 1993 Oslo peace accord."
The fact is that Zionism exists quite apart from Arab hatred. Zionism is simply the belief that Jews came from the land originally known as Israel and that the Jewish right to the land is rooted in that history. The Arab hatred of Israel, is in no small part a reaction to Zionism; Rees has it backwards. The historical Jewish right to the land of Israel is incompatible with the tenets of Islam. In case anyone doubts that the Arabs still hate Israel and have hated Israel (and would wipe it off the map if given a chance) despite sometimes making "peace" with Israel, he should read this interview with Meir Litvak, which says, in part:
“Even for Egyptian intellectuals today, many years after the Peace Treaty, Israel's existence represents an admission of the defeat of the Arab national vision. It is a confession that Egypt has failed to realize its historical destiny and greatness. For Arab regimes it is convenient to let the anti-Semitic propaganda flourish in order to divert the attention of Arab public opinion away from their own failures. A rulers' covenant of convenience exists with the intellectuals who can vent all their frustration on the status of the Arabs against the Jews and Israel. That is much more agreeable to the Arab governments than focusing on the economic, cultural and social failure of the Arab world."
And if that's how Egypt feels do you think the feelings for Israel are any warmer in Syria?

Cross posted to David's Israel Blog